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Roanoke County football field named for Appalachian Power retiree, volunteer coach

by on November 13, 2014
The athletic field at Walrond Park in Roanoke County, Va. is now known as Bobby Ragland Football Field. The field was named this year in honor of the Appalachian Power retiree who was also profiled by local sports writer Randy King with the Roanoke Times. Photo by Stephanie Klein-Davis and courtesy the Roanoke Times.

The athletic field at Walrond Park in Roanoke County, Va. is now known as Bobby Ragland Football Field. The field was named this year in honor of the Appalachian Power retiree who was also profiled by local sports writer Randy King with the Roanoke Times. Photo by Stephanie Klein-Davis and courtesy the Roanoke Times.

(Story by Allison Barker)

ROANOKE, Va. — As the foliage begins to fade each fall, talk about football playoffs, from community recreation leagues to college sports, swings into full gear. In the Roanoke area, young athletes with dreams of making it big gather at Walrond Park, where the athletic field is now known as Bobby Ragland Football Field.

Named this year for Appalachian Power Company retiree Bobby Ragland, the Roanoke County field has been home to countless games, many of them coached by Ragland. For more than 40 years, Ragland, 79, served as a volunteer baseball, football and basketball coach through the North Roanoke Recreation Club, leading 97 teams and compiling a 900-445-18 record. He also spent two years coaching at other rec clubs in Villa Heights, Williamson Road and Salem. He has donated countless hours of practice and games to the community.

“You meet some of the best people in the world on the sports field and gyms,” Ragland told WSLS-TV, when honored by the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors. The move did not come easy as county leaders said they typically don’t name fields after people who are still alive.

“I told them just forget about it,” Ragland said. “I’d rather be alive and not have a field.”

But former players and rec club members, including Roanoke County Supervisor Butch Church, persisted. Perseverance and discipline are qualities many learned from Ragland. Since 2001, the longtime athlete has battled colon cancer and other health issues. His actions and words continue to encourage others to never give up.

“Do what is right, do the best you can and treat other people the way you want to be treated,” Ragland said. “If you do that you will come out winners regardless of what the score is on the scoreboard.”

Ragland retired from his draftsman position at Appalachian Power at 60 in 1995. He and his wife, Becky, have been married 54 years, and have three children and four grandchildren.

From → News From AEP

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