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High school wins All Sports Award under athletic director of the year
A-High School athletics and AD Honored pic
Dawson County High School Athletic Director Grady Turner shows off the All Sports Award trophy that the school received for the second consecutive year. - photo by Amy French Dawson County News

When Dawson County High School's Athletic Director Grady Turner talks about his student athletes, he's like a proud dad bragging on his kids.

This year he's had plenty to brag about.

The high school just received the All Sports Award for the second consecutive year and Turner was named Athletic Director of the Year in Region 7-AAA.

"Grady is an icon in Dawson County. He grew up here, spent his entire career here. It is an honor to have any of our staff recognized outside of the school system," said Superintendent Damon Gibbs.

Region 7-AAA has been awarding the All Sports Trophy for the past 10 years to the school with the most points. Points are earned according to number of teams competing in 20 sports, as well how those teams fared within region play.

"Last year we won the trophy by about 14 points. This year we won it by 26 points," said Turner. "It doesn't seem like a whole lot, but our region has been doing this for 10 years. The previous highest point total margin was 12 points, so we just destroyed that."

For a team that finishes first in the region, 11 points are awarded, second place garners nine points and so on down the line.

Teams across the region compete in 20 sports, but Dawson County only competed in 19 of the 20, as the school did not have a volleyball team. That will change next school year.

Despite not receiving points for one of the sports, Dawson had no trouble still topping the list.

Turner is thrilled with the success, but not only for the obvious reasons.

Many of those sports teams are highly visible and many are not and Turner wants to be sure that all are recognized.

"That kid that is running in the trees in cross country that nobody ever sees, and that kid that is running for touchdowns are equal in terms of the individual student or individual parents. Sometimes we tend to forget that. In my viewpoint, in my position, I try to treat them all the same and that's not always easy," he said.

A lifelong Dawsonville resident, Turner has served as athletic director for the last 13 years. Prior to that, he had tenures as head basketball coach, head golf coach and as an assistant football coach.

He has had a hand in many of the programs that are achieving success on so many levels.

"I am really proud of some of the sports that never get a lot of attention. For example, our cross country team has finished in the top 10 of the state now, I think, four years running," Turner said.

He quickly cited the newly developed swimming team, rifle team and the first season of volleyball at Dawson County as some of those of which he is most proud.

Sixteen of the 19 sports programs finished in the top four spots of the region last year and Turner is excited for all of them.

His work, albeit mostly behind the scenes, is the reason he was voted as athletic director of the year.

"It is always a great honor to be recognized by peers, the people you work with and who see your work and decide that it is something of quality," Turner said. "I work hard for the school. People don't really know what I do.

"They don't see a lot of the stuff. When the scoreboard goes out and I am scrambling to get that fixed before the next game, they don't see that."

Though Turner is grateful for the recognition, it is clear that his priority is the kids.

"You know, I am hard on folks, but I am hard on folks because I care about them. I expect folks to do right, to act right. I mess up, we all do. The students who I have taught, in my experience, by and large after they graduate and grow up a little bit they tend to see me in a much more favorable light," he said.

Turner graduated from Dawson County High School and longs to see the success continue for the students on and off the field.

"I guess probably the biggest goal that I would have as [athletic director] and personally is that every kid that plays a sport here would wear maroon and gold proudly. That they would represent this school because they love this school and love the sport," Turner said.