It was 20 years ago this summer that Donald Dodgen, life-long educator and basketball head coach, started applying his craft at Farragut High School.
In that length of time, however, a severe storm hitting Farragut and the Knox County metropolitan area last Thursday afternoon, July 14, stood out.
“It’s the worst storm since I’ve been here. And I was in it yesterday for a while,” Dodgen, now FHS athletic director, said Friday after assessing damage to the school — hardest hit were the softball, football and baseball field facilities along Lendon Welch Way.
“The softball field we lost the roof off the dugout,” on the third base side, representing the most extensive damage, Dodgen added.
Dining with his wife, Mary-Ann, at Buddy’s Bar-b-q along West End Avenue around 4:45 p.m. last Thursday, “When it hit you couldn’t see a foot in front of you,” Dodgen said. “The doors at the place swung open and [we] moved away from the windows. A tree had fallen down on Stadium Drive, blocked it, and a tree fell down on West End Avenue.
“… The worst part of it was 35, 40 minutes.”
Other significant damage was at John Heatherly Field (baseball) and Bill Clabo Field (football).
“We lost part of the [baseball] press box. ... We’ve got a lot of trees down, football and baseball field,” Dodgen said. “… It lifted some of the new turf up on the football field.
“They just got through putting it back down.”
The school’s academic buildings and other athletic facilities were spared any significant structural damage, Dodgen said. “Not a lot, just a lot of trees down. A lot of limbs down. We lost some signage and stuff like that. … We’ve got some [air conditioning] units down.”
Melissa Tindell, director of Public Affairs for Knox County Schools, said total value of damage was “less than $4,000.”
Other damage included “some roof coping from the field house and some roof shingles from the weight room …,” Tindell added.
“Not considered excessively bad.”
Joining “about 10” KCS Maintenance workers plus Eddie Courtney, varsity football head coach, and Nick Green, varsity softball assistant coach, Dodgen said he spent more than five hours helping to clean up the campus Friday morning, July 15. “All the principals were there at the main building, checking everything out.
“I really appreciate Knox County Schools and the Maintenance department. They were here around 6:30 [Friday] morning and [by early afternoon] they had most of it cleaned up,” Dodgen added. “They really came through to help us out.”