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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.”

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AHSAA Mourns Death Of Longtime Official 

            The Alabama High School Athletic Association is saddened by the death of longtime football official and Alabama State Representative Owen Drake of Leeds.

         Drake, who served for many years as a football official in the Birmingham Football Officials Association, lost his battle with cancer Sunday night at the Medical Center East in Birmingham with his wife and family present.
              A popular mentor who dedicated his life to encouraging and teaching young football officials, he also served the AHSAA as a District Director for football and continued to serve the AHSAA as an observer.

            AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese said, “Mr. Drake has made so many important contributions to our state through his leadership in the State House and through his love of high school athletics. We offer our most sincere condolences to his family and to his many friends. He will be missed.”      

            Greg Brewer, AHSAA Director of Officials, described Drake as “a true supporter of high school athletics and an inspiration to us all.”

            A Republican, Drake was elected last year to a second four-year term in the Alabama House from District 45 in Jefferson and St. Clair counties.  He served 32 years in the U.S. Air Force and retired in 1988 as a chief master sergeant, the highest enlisted rank in the Air Force. He also was a former police detective in the city of Fairfield and served 13 years as communications director for the Jefferson County Commission.

              Republican House Speaker Mike Hubbard of Auburn called Drake “a tireless worker” and said his return to the House chamber showed Drake’s dedication.

            Visitation services for Drake will be held Wednesday, June 29, from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. at First Baptist Church in Leeds. Funeral services will be Thursday, June 30, at First Baptist Church in Leeds at 11 a.m. with interment to follow at Cedar Grove Cemetery in Leeds.