Not too long ago, Madison Park renamed its basketball court after longtime coach Dennis Wilson.
He and his late brother, Harry G. Wilson, now have a field that also bears their name.
After a lifetime of dedication to growing and improving the Boston Raiders Pop Warner football program the two helped create in 1974, the city renamed its home ground at Harambee Park to Wilson Field on Saturday afternoon. Around 100 people – including family members, former players, coaches and others close to the Raiders program – were on hand for an hour-long ceremony, during which they thanked the brothers and those who worked with them for their impact. State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Jamaica Plain) and State Representative Russell Holmes (D-Mattapan) each addressed Boston Parks and Recreation Commissioner Ryan Woods, who introduced Dennis Wilson, who delivered a moving speech ending with the iconic Raiders. loved to lead.
“It’s really deep in my heart,” Dennis Wilson said. “There really isn’t a man more deserving than my brother, to be able to be recognized as he is recognized. … My brother didn’t like marching band very much, he didn’t like glitz and glitter. … C He was a real Wilson, a real Marine, a real Raider and he never complained about anything because it was about (the community).
Along with a long and successful career coaching the Madison Park football team to great heights, Dennis coached the Raiders with his brother, who he says provided most of his football knowledge. The two founded the program with a cheerleading program after originally naming it the Roxbury Raiders, but sought to involve more children by renaming it Boston.
The program has since expanded to five different teams and made several trips to Florida for Pop Warner’s Super Bowls. The creation of the soccer field was part of a $3.4 million project that included the construction of a new playing field, training ground, new scoreboard, lighting and improvements to the entrance to the park.
A lot of that goes back to Harry, who worked for the city and championed young people after serving in the Marines.
“Harry Wilson’s goal was to start a viable football program for his sons as well as the kids in the neighborhood,” Woods said. “The brothers’ goals were not just to win championships, but to develop their players into responsible, respectful and disciplined young men and women who would be positive forces in their communities. Their accomplishments as coaches and educators are too numerous to mention in a single ceremony.
When Wilson asked all the former Raiders in attendance to raise their fists, more than a dozen did. The impact of the skills the program taught them and others was not lost on one person at the ceremony, as evidenced by the cheery Raiders cheering Dennis Wilson led at the end. This included the senator herself.
“Even hearing (Holmes) recount all the ways neighbors and community groups helped design this park, the word that continues to fill my mind is teamwork,” Chang-Diaz said. . “I think of the skills that young people are going to learn on these grounds through the Raiders and the programming that you are all going to fill this space with. … This spirit of teamwork is something that will ripple through their adult lives in a cyclical fashion.
Keith Thomason, the current president of the Boston Raiders, credited the Wilsons for where he is today.
“Harry is like a father to me and Dennis, I really appreciate you all,” he said. “I get emotional now as I get older. Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart, I really appreciate that.