Field of Greatness

Field of Greatness

Everything that is born out of great merit must have a beginning. A place where an event took hold and established a precedent for all of those who would follow the path that was laid out before them; a destiny. The fate of a small group of village and farm boys who had never played organized football was changed significantly one summer in 1948 when the son of a Pensulvania could miner arrived in the small village of Dolgeville New York. His name was Bill Bynon, and he infused winning, true grit, and sportsmanship into the lifeblood of a high school football program that would make champions and role models out of ordinary young men forever. Two seasons after he arrived in 1950, this team of teenage boys from all walks of life went undefeated, and the rest is documented in the yearbooks and among the large display of trophies and championships down the hall of champions.  He was their greatest mentor and their unquestionable hero.  

Rarely does a real-life story come along that will capture your attention while taking you deep inside the life of a legendary small-town football coach. A man who set the bar, not only for the young men who played football for him, but for anyone who would be brave enough to reach beyond their boundaries and worthiness. Those young men who were coached by him were taught not only to win, but to win with pride, execution, determination, and remarkable sportsmanship. To set their mental, physical, and moral standards higher than not even they could have imagined that they were the least bit capable of achieving. They were taught that what seems to be impossible becomes possible, and that sheer courage and unquenchable determination are what it takes to be a winner in the game of life and in the game of football. The dream that a small group of dedicated hometown boys could could become champions within themselves to begin a legacy that would last a lifetime had begun.  

Dolgeville New York 1951
I was eight years old when I first heard the “whistle”. It rang loud and clear on that Sunday morning when I grabbed my bike and hoofed it to the top of one of the steepest hills around. My destination was known by everyone in town as the “hilltop”. On this particular day, I looked up at the hill and knew that it would take every ounce of stamina that I could muster up to make it to the top to pick as many blueberries as I could to bring home to my mother. Home-made blueberry pie, fresh whipped cream, and a glass of ice-cold milk always made it worth the effort. But first, I stopped to drink some ice-cold spring water from a stone trough that sat about a quarter of the way up. When you’re a kid, you feel like there isn’t a mountain you can’t climb, or a river too wide or deep to cross. I had no idea that I was about to meet a man that would show me how to cross any ocean or conquer the highest mountains that would lie ahead of me my whole life. So, with my innate intestinal fortitude intact, I forged my way up that giant hill while facing the intense heat from the asphalt road stopping occasionally to catch my breath.

When I finally got there, my eyes immediately focused on a large group of players who were being drilled on a wide range of calisthenics. As I got closer, I could tell by the intensity of the workout that they were struggling to keep up with the rhythm of the loud and deliberate commands brought for by the shrilling sound whistle. Then I heard it again, then again, and again. The players wasted no time moving from one drill to the next without any break in the methodical cadence, and with each piercing sound, they executed each exercise and drill with deliberate potency.

The man in charge resembled a drill sergeant who was making formidable use of his authoritative discipline to recruit for the military. His name was Bill Bynon.

An excerpt from an upcoming novel– Field of Greatness 

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Comments (3)

  • Alyssa McCombie

    Holy COW!! that was really awesome to learn about American football!! I didn't know it was formed in 1951 that's pretty awesome!! I bet it was awesome watching the drills going on, I would've had a blast!! I love football personally, I loved throwing the ball but I didn't really understand the rules 🤣 I used to want to play football or at least was thinking about playing but I figured I shouldn't, but I'll always love watching it or even playing it in the backyard or at school ❤️🤍💙🏈🏈🥇🇺🇲🇺🇲

  • Naomi

    What a great tribute to a man that I had the pleasure of knowing. He was a great mentor to many students in Dolgeville, on and off the field. And he did justice to the game of football. He demanded your best and produced great athletes that carried his teachings to this day. Field of Greatness will be an excellent read, as you have a firsthand account of Bill Bynon’s effect on those that were fortunate enough to have been under his wings. As you recalled the first “whistle “ , it’s evident how the event has stayed with you throughout your lifetime. We should discipline ourselves today with the same conviction that Mr. Bynon had back then.!!

  • Carol

    So cool that you were there to witness this in person. The game taught by the best.

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