TAHLEQUAH — Jack Dobbins insists he won’t feel a sense of melancholy when he attends his final game in the house that is named after him.
Northeastern State plays arch-rival Central Oklahoma on Wednesday at Jack Dobbins Field House. Barring a delay in construction on a 78,000-square-foot event center, it will be the final game for the facility.
“No, not at all,” said the man who won 321 games from 1958 to 1981. “Of course it was an honor (to have it named after him) but the thing I appreciate most is watching the facilities and resources grow the way they have from a time in which we really didn’t have much of anything. I’ve seen the whole university program grow, not just in basketball but in all sports, including women’s sports.
“My commitment is to this university’s progress and this is progress.”
It’s a step up in many ways, from an arena that will seat almost three times the people (3,000), have the computer hookups in the locker room to watch film or a TV with cable capacity.
But the grand old guy, so to speak, has seen – and provided – its share of precious history.
Originally Redman Fieldhouse, the facility has been home to NSU men’s basketball since the fall of 1955. The lower gymnasium was added in 1954 and was renamed Jack Dobbins Field House in 1994. The women’s basketball teams also began playing inside JDF in 1979, before that in the original gym.
“It took Title IX to get us into the big gym,” said Willa Faye Mason, who coached women’s basketball at the school from 1663-80.
But once there, women’s hoops has had a history of its own, beating the likes of Division I programs Oklahoma and Tulsa over the early years, before Division I basketball had a renaissance of its own.