Patriots honor the late Denise Dawson – Lowell Sun
TOWNSEND — After weeks of seemingly endless rain, the clouds parted at North Middlesex Regional High School.
The timing couldn’t have been any better if it were written as a Hollywood screenplay; as many gathered near the entrance to the school’s turf football field to honor on of the program’s greatest supporters, the prototype for a passionate football mother, the sun shined down on a picture perfect morning.
The North Middlesex Athletic Department unveiled a commemorative stone bench dedicated to the late Denise Dawson Tuesday morning, with dozens gathering to remember the contributions of the former boosters club member.
Dawson — who died in 2018 — saw a pair of sons, Mike and Matt, excel on the gridiron at North Middlesex before moving on to play collegiate football in Amherst at UMass. Ever the supportive mother and fan, Denise Dawson would regularly attend Patriots games on Friday night and then drive to wherever UMass was playing on Saturday.
“She was our biggest fan,” said Matt Dawson, who played on the 1998 National Championship team at UMass and is now the head coach of the Tilton School football team after stints with several college programs. “Everyone noticed how much time and effort she was putting into making this a great experience for not only Mike and I, but for everybody else, as well.”
Debra Woollacott, whose son Adam played Pop Warner with Matt Dawson, became close with Denise Dawson as the years went by and was one of the driving forces for the bench. She says Denise’s love of football went deeper than simply supporting her sons.
“Denise’s love of the game was infectious,” Wollacott said. “She knew every aspect of the game, both offense and defense, so well that I bet she could have even coached. She’d joke that she should ask if she could be an assistant coach on the team.”
The older of the Dawson brothers, Mike, is currently an assistant coach at the University of Nebraska after coaching elsewhere in the collegiate game and landing coaching gigs with the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles. On his way to Townsend from Lincoln, Nebraska, he says he was able to reflect on what the North Middlesex community meant to his family, especially his mother.
“This is really awesome,” said Mike Dawson, who served as North Middlesex’s athletic director in 2012. “My mother was woven in this community — both North Middlesex and Pepperell — through youth sports and then high school. She became friends with so many people through sports.”
After the unveiling of the bench just outside the turf field, attendees were invited to tour the new high school — which opened in 2017 — and join in a lunch reception. Several current North Middlesex football players were present in addition to dozens of friends and family members.
“It’s great to see Patriots from the past and present come together to reflect on the impact one person can make on a school community,” North Middlesex athletic director Cam Fisk said.
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