Officiating his first basketball game while President Dwight D. Eisenhower was in the White House, C.A. Dockins is still involved in the sport and was recognized with a special plaque this week by the Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association.
“C.A. is a tremendous asset not only to the schools in his area, but across the state as well,” commented TSSAA Assistant Executive Director Gene Meness at the area coaches’ basketball rules meeting, held Thursday at the Mountain View Inn.
“He’s an outstanding man,” Meness declared. “He was already a supervisor of officials when I first started (at the TSSAA), which was 23 years ago, and he’s still going strong.”
Now 74 years old, Dockins was presented a special plaque recognizing his 50 years of service with the TSSAA at the supervisor of officials meeting Tuesday.
“My first game was at Mayfield (Elementary) School in 1959,” Dockins recalled. “Back then the home team had one official and the visiting team had to bring an official with them, so I came with Charleston (Elementary). I got paid $2 for a single game and $4 for a doubleheader.”
Keeping the scorebook for Charleston home games in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Dockins was approached by legendary local official Bob “Dirty” Deal about becoming a TSSAA official and working high school games.
“I first joined the TSSAA in the 1962-63 school year and for the next 20-plus years worked on the court,” Dockins related. “I was privileged to be chosen to officiate several district and region tournaments, as well as numerous substate games and one state tournament. Back in those days, the coaches chose who worked those games, so it was a special honor to be selected.”
Dockins also worked several years on the court with his younger brother, Chip Dockins. “I always enjoyed working games with Chip,” C.A. stated.
The elder Dockins brother got the opportunity to become the supervisor and assignor for the Athens Basketball Officials Association in 1984 and accepted the responsibility.
“Taking the supervisor’s role, meant I had to come off the court (for high school), but I was still able to call college games. It was an opportunity that if I didn’t take it then, it might not come open again for a long time,” stated the man who has held the position for the past 30 years and doesn’t foresee giving it up anytime soon.
“Ralph Stout did it until he was 86,” Dockins remarked. “I hope to do it another six or seven years, or as long as the good Lord will allow me the good health to do it. I have a wonderful wife (JoeAnn), who has understood my love for the game all these years and put up with all the travel time that was involved with it.”
While overseeing a group of 55 officials, servicing 14 varsity high schools and 22 middle school programs, Dockins is a rarity in that he is both supervisor and assignor. “Most groups have separate supervisors and assignors, but I still do both,” he explained.
At Thursday’s meeting, Dockins welcomed a new school to the Athens association’s coverage area — Loudon, which joined District 5-AA this school year. The Athens’ group is one of a dozen officials’ associations servicing schools across the state.
Along with his high school and middle school duties, Dockins has also been hired by the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Southern Conference as an official observer for their games.
“I do Georgia Tech and Clemson in the ACC, along with UTC (Chattanooga) and some other schools in the Southern Conference,” he related. “I’ve been doing Southern Conference games for 13 years and ACC for the past five (seasons).” He has also worked the Southern Conference Tournament.
Along with Meness and Dockins instructing the area coaches on the new rules for the upcoming season, the Athens Association also handed out its annual sportsmanship awards Thursday.
McMinn County High School was given the Elmer Holder Award for its varsity programs, while Sequoyah High School was selected at the Bob “Dirty” Deal Award winner for its freshmen program.