Red Bay's Roberts Notches 800th Career Victory


                                                           By KEITH LETBETTER
                                              Red Bay News (Special to the AHSAA)

    Red Bay High School girls coach Donnie Roberts notched the 800th win of his long prep basketball coaching career Jan. 25 as the Lady Tigers beat Colbert Heights 64-37. The Lady Tigers improved to 22-2 this season with the win.
    Roberts, who has compiled an 800-346 overall record in his 41-year coaching career, is now the state’s career wins leader for girls basketball and the first in state history to win 800 games.  He will be inducted into the Alabama High School Athletic Association Sports Hall of Fame in March as a member of the Class of 2014.

   “It’s not about me,” he said. “It’s about how fortunate my career has been at Red Bay and the 10 years Icoached at Tremont (Ms.). All I can do is thank the kids that played for me. They had a lot more to do with it than Idid.

   After earning a Master’s Degree from Mississippi State University, he returned to his alma mater, Tremont High School just across the state line from Red Bay and compiled a 142-127 record in the next 10 seasons. Roberts moved to Red Bay in 1983 and began working on the goal of making that first trip to Birmingham for the state playoffs.
    “I came here and took over a team that was 9-11 the year before. We had a real good year that first year and we went 19-5,” Roberts said.

    Roberts, who owns a 658-219 girls coaching record at Red Bay, led the Lady Tigers to state championships in 1987, 1993, 2001 and most recently directed Red Bay to the 2012 Class 2A state finals, a 54-49 loss to Section. Last year Roberts’ team won the Northwest Regional again and lost in the Final 48 semifinals.
     “It takes a combination of things to have a state championship program. It does take coaching, but it also takes pride in our program from our girls.”

      Roberts said that it also takes the involvement of the community.

“Everybody here is involved in it,”said Roberts. They back us and support us. The community likes to see us do well.

      Roberts said that over the years some of the best memories he has is that of having the opportunity to coach both of his daughters, Laura Beth and Leah.

“I think it’s rare to have coached two daughters and to have those two daughters on two different teams win state championships. I can tell you it’s a great experience.”



AHSAA, Birmingham Extend Final 48 Contract

        Steve Savarese, Executive Director of the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA), and Birmingham Mayor William Bell, Sr., announced Wednesday that the AHSAA Final 48 State Basketball Championships will continue to be played at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC) Arena through the 2020 season.
        The new agreement between the AHSAA and the City of Birmingham extends the current contract, which runs through 2015,
for five more years.
        “We are proud to extend the Final 48 contract,” Savarese said. “This solidifies our basketball championships through the rest of this decade and insures that our student-athletes and schools will be afforded the experience of life-long memories.
        “It has been a symbiotic relationship between the AHSAA and the City of Birmingham. We have a great venue and the economic impact has been very important for Birmingham.”
        Mayor Bell said the city appreciates its partnership with the AHSAA and is happy to keep the Final 48 in Birmingham through 2020.
        “This extension is a step forward in our efforts to make Birmingham a great sports city,” said Mayor Bell. “With the NCAA Division II Winter Championship Festival coming in a few weeks, and a new baseball stadium being completed this spring, we are certainly proving that Birmingham is the center for hosting sporting events.
        “Birmingham is growing in every aspect of sports, entertainment, parks and recreation. We hope that this extension is just one of many good things to come.”
        Savarese praised Mayor Bell, the BJCC and the Birmingham Tip-Off Club for their outstanding service and support since the inception of the Final 48 in 1994.
        “This is our 20th year at the BJCC, and none of it would have been possible without such fine leadership from the city and the Tip-Off Club. So many have sacrificed their time. We thank Mayor Bell for his willingness to make this such an outstanding event for our schools and student-athletes.
        “I also want to extend a heartfelt thanks to the Tip-Off Club and its leaders, especially those in the beginning like Edgar Welden, Janis and John Clements, Dick Coffee, Jim Conrad, Lynne and Tim Petro … there have been so many. I also want to thank the Alabama Sports Foundation for its management of the Final 48 and its leadership in solidifying the future of this tournament through the rest of the decade.”
        Savarese also praised the vision of former AHSAA Executive Director Dan Washburn, who brought this exciting format including both girls and boys to fruition in 1994.
        “We are constantly questioned by other state associations wanting to know more about how our regional and state format works. They are amazed at how we have incorporated the boys and girls at the same site so successfully year after year.”
        The AHSAA State Basketball Championships are in their 90th year for boys and 36th year for girls. Until 1994 the tournaments were played at different sites on different dates.