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 Mourns Deaths Of Three Coaches


             AHSAA member schools are mourning the deaths of three coaches who died during the last week after extended illnesses.

            Billy Livings, the first head football coach in Jeff Davis High School history, died Oct. 17, following a stroke due from complications in surgery in Vero Beach (FL).

 Saint James middle school volleyball coach Clara Johnson, 48, died Oct. 16 after  an extended bout with cancer.

Longtime Baldwin County High School head baseball coach Jerry Wright passed away Oct. 14 after battling cancer for more than a year.

            Livings, 75, compiled a 103-23-4 record at Jeff Davis in 11 seasons (1968–1979). His last five teams were 47-1-1 in the regular season with one state title. The Vols also won 32 straight games in a streak that ended in 1979. He then moved to Vero Beach where his teams were  211-86. He retired in 2006 with an overall career record of 314-109-4 and  the Vero Beach stadium was named in his honor. He was inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.
             Johnson, 48, who resided in Fort Deposit, was a very popular teacher and volleyball coach at Saint James School. An inspiration to her students during her career and throughout her battle with cancer, she coached the middle school team until her health prevented further coaching in 2010. Her daughter Casey then left the University of Alabama where she was a student and returned to Montgomery to coach the team.
            Wright, 58, a native of Rabun in Baldwin County, coached and taught at several AHSAA schools, including McGill-Toolen and Robertsdale. He moved to Baldwin County in 1989 as head baseball coach and assistant football coach and compiled a 491-290 baseball  record overall with a 383-245 mark. His teams at Bay Minette won seven area titles and had 11 playoff appearances.  He was inducted into the Baldwin County Varsity Coaches Association Hall of Fame, the Baldwin County High School Athletic Hall of Fame and the Alabama Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.