MIKE BATTLES Graduated from Sylacauga High School and the University of Southern Mississippi. Beginning his football coaching career as an assistant coach in 1970, he became a head coach in 1973. His teams have compiled a 277-161-2 record (through 2013) in coaching stops at Pell City, Irwin County (Ga.), Walter Wellborn, Hueytown, Pascagoula (Miss.), Gautier (Miss.), Biloxi (Miss.) and Handley. He led Irwin County (Ga.) to a 13-0 record and the Georgia Class 1A state championship in 1975 and directed Handley to a perfect 15-0 record in 2011 to win the AHSAA Class 3A state title. His Wellborn teams had back-to-back 10-win seasons in 1988-89. The winningest coach in school history at Walter Wellborn and Handley, he led his Handley teams from a 1-9 mark in 2006 to 11-2, 10-3, 13-1 and 15-0 records the next four years.


RICHARD ‘DICKIE’ BROWN - Graduated from Smiths Station High School and Jacksonville State University. He holds a master’s degree in administration from Troy University and an education specialist degree from Auburn University. Brown began his education career at Cleburne County High School in 1969 where he was head baseball coach for two seasons. He moved to Beauregard High School in 1972 and coached the baseball team to a 66-25 record, the boys’ basketball team to an 84-42 mark and the football team to a 35-15 record. Serving as principal at Beauregard since 1978, he was named Alabama Principal of the Year in 2006. He has served on the AHSAA Central Board of Control and was the Class 4A Making A Difference Award winner in 2013.He was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2006 and the football stadium and athletic complex were named in his honor.


JIM GARNER - Graduated from Pleasant Home High School and Troy State College. He started his career as a teacher and boys’ basketball coach in 1964 with stints at T.R. Miller, New Hebron (Miss.) and New Brockton before becoming head coach at L.B. Wallace Community College from 1971-84. He then moved to his alma mater, Pleasant Home, and served as principal and athletic director from 1984-2008. Garner oversaw expansion of the athletic program to include softball, volleyball and football. The boys’ basketball program won back-to-back Class 1A state titles in 2001 and 2002. Vast improvements were made in the school’s facilities, including a new field house, new football field and renovation and expansion of the gymnasium. He served on the AHSAA Central Board of Control and District 2 Board from 1997-2010. Garner is currently the mayor of the town of Carolina.


MAJOR LANE - Graduated from Montgomery’s Robert E. High School and Alabama State University. He earned his masters and doctorate at Troy University and a second masters in Theology from the Birmingham Theological Seminary. He began his teaching and coaching career in 1982 at Pike County High School as the junior varsity basketball coach where his team went 14-1. He moved to Ariton High School from 1984-87 before returning to Pike County as head boys coach from 1987-93. He also served as the defensive coordinator in football as the Bulldogs won state championships in 1988 and 1989. He became the head basketball coach at Goshen High School in 1993 where his teams compiled a 187-46 record through 2002. He went into administration in 1997 as assistant principal and continues in that role today. Lane currently serves as pastor of Mt. Carmel Missionary Baptist Church.


ALVIN MOORE - Graduated from Birmingham’s Carver High School and Alcorn State University. He also earned a master’s degree from Alabama State University. He was the longest tenured coach in the Birmingham City Schools, serving as head basketball coach at Phillips High School and later Carver from 1974-2013. Moore’s teams won more than 600 games and made four appearances in the Final 48. Hundreds of student-athletes he coached received scholarships in basketball, football and track. He coached in the Alabama North-South All-Star Game twice (1975 and 2003) and was named Class 5A Coach of the Year in 1993. He was the Birmingham City Coach of the Year in 1982 and received the Coca-Cola Outstanding Service Award. An All-Conference offensive tackle, he was Inducted into the Alcorn State Football Hall of Fame in 2006 and also was named USA Man of the Year by the National Baptist Convention in 2011.


LARRY MORRIS - Graduated from Scottsboro High School and Jacksonville State University. Spending his entire teaching and coaching career in Scottsboro, he served as an assistant football coach from 1974-1991 and became head coach from 1991-2004–the longest tenure in school history. His teams compiled a 90-66 overall record and won five area or region titles. He coached in the Alabama-Mississippi football game in 2001 and in the AHSAA North-South game in 1998. He was also head track coach for eight years and assistant wrestling coach for 10. He served as athletic director from 2005 until his retirement in 2012 and was named AHSAA Athletic Director of the Year in 2012. Scottsboro teams captured 17 state titles under his watch. He also served on the AHSAA District 8 Board from 1999-2012 and the Central Board of Control from 2007-12. Scottsboro named its new football field house in his honor in 2013.

DONNIE ROBERTS - Graduated from Tremont High School (Miss.) and Delta State University (Miss). The Mississippi native spent his first 11 years at Tremont, and then moved to Red Bay (Ala.) High School where he has been the girls’ head coach since 1983. His Red Bay teams have posted a 664-224 mark and his overall coaching record is 806-351 (through 2013). Under Roberts, Red Bay won the Class 3A state championship in 1993 and Class 2A titles in 1997 and 2001. He also coached Red Bay to the Class 2A girls’ state track title in 2001 and has coached softball since 1983. He has also served as a football assistant coach. He coached the Alabama team in the 2001 Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Basketball Game and was named Class 2A Coach of the Year in 1987, 1993, 2000 and 2001. He is a member of the Franklin County Sports Hall of Fame

DR. JAMES ROBINSON - A native of New Orleans and a 1985 graduate of the Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans, Dr. Robinson has been an integral part of the AHSAA’s Medical Advisory Board since 2003. He has played an important role in the AHSAA’s medical health and safety policies and helped write the current concussion law that now governs all athletic events in Alabama. A family practice physician in Tuscaloosa, he serves as the University of Alabama football team physician and provides the same service for many high schools in the Tuscaloosa area. Dr. Robinson also developed the AHSAA pre-participation physical exam form used by all student-athletes since 1993. He has been a leader in developing health and safety practices for Alabama high schools and is an annual clinician at the AHSAA Summer Conference.  He supervises athletic trainers for DCH Health System and has been its Medical Director for Sports Medicine since 1989.

NANCY SHOQUIST - Graduated from Fairhope High School and Troy State University and also holds a master’s degree from the University of South Alabama. She is one of a handful of state volleyball coaches whose teams have won more than 1,000 matches with a career record of 1,067-386 (through 2013). Shoquist served as volleyball coach at St. Paul’s Episcopal School from 1982-2003 before moving to Murphy High School where she continues to coach. Her St. Paul’s teams won volleyball state titles in 1984, 1985, 1986, 1992 and 1995 and were runners-up in 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1997 and 1998. Her Murphy teams have reached the state semi-finals once and the quarter-finals four times. She also coached five St. Paul’s tennis teams to state titles and seven others finished second. She was the first female to be inducted into the Fairhope High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990 and has received numerous coaching awards for volleyball and tennis.


MIKE SMITH - Graduated from Hueytown High School and Jacksonville State University and also holds a master’s degree. He started the girls’ basketball program at Decatur High School and remained for 28 seasons. His teams compiled a 624-225 record with five state championships (1990, 1991, 1992, 1995 and 2000) and three runner-up finishes (1987, 1996 and 2001). Smith’s 1992 team was ranked No. 2 in the nation and the 2000 squad finished 34-0. He had three other teams that won 30-plus games and retired as the winningest girls’ basketball coach in AHSAA history. He coached in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Basketball Game three times (1992, 1995, and 2000) and also coached volleyball for six years and softball for nine. An outstanding classroom teacher, he taught advanced placement government and politics for more than 20 years. He is a member of the Morgan County Sports Hall of Fame. 

TONY STALLWORTH - Graduated from J.F. Shields High School in Beatrice and Huntingdon College. He also attended Lomax-Hannon Junior College in Greenville. He began his career as a teacher and coach at Lomax-Hannon and then at Monroe Senior High School. He moved to Brantley High School in 1988 and was the boys’ head basketball coach from 1990-2005 where his teams compiled a 298-47 record and won three straight state championships (1993, 1994 and 1995). He was named 1A Coach of the Year in 1993 and 1994 and 2A Coach of the Year in 1995. He also coached Brantley’s Junior High team to a perfect 48-0 record from 1988-90. Stallworth served Brantley High School as its principal from 2005-08 and later worked in various roles with the Crenshaw County School System before becoming the Associate Executive Director of the AHSAA in 2011. He was inducted into the Huntingdon College Hall of Fame in 2013. 

EUGENE WEATHERLY - After serving in the Army in World War II, Eugene Weatherly returned to Gadsden’s Carver High School and captained the football and basketball teams before graduating in 1948. He graduated from Alabama State in 1952 and earned a master’s degree from Georgia State. He began his teaching and coaching career at Hatcher High School in Cherokee County in 1953. He was the first coach in school history and was the only coach the school ever had. He was named Coach of the Year by the Northeastern Interscholastic Athletic Association twice (1961 and 1968). His 1961 boys’ basketball team was unbeaten until losing in the state finals and his football teams won district titles in 1961 and 1967. He coached Anniston’s Cobb Avenue High School basketball team from 1971-74 and ended his coaching career with 21 years at the Georgia School for the Deaf. His 1990 team won the Mason-Dixon basketball tournament. 

NFHS Network

6 Coaches To Receive 'Making A Difference' Award

              The Alabama High School Athletic Association and the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association will recognize six high school head coaches who have been selected to receive the first “Making A Difference” Coach of the Year Award next month at the Championship Coaches Banquet.
             The banquet at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel at the Civic Center will be July 15 at 6:30 p.m. It closes out the five-day 2011 All-Star Sports Week.

                One coach from each of the AHSAA’s six classifications was chosen from a field of 39 nominations submitted by AHSAA member schools and other support organizations. The inaugural winners are Greg Hamilton, Vina (1A); Jason Franklin, Horseshoe Bend (2A); Earlando Courtney, Greensboro (3A); Jack Hankins, Jr., Thomasville (4A); Jim Elgin, Pleasant Grove (5A); and Fred Riley, Davidson (6A).

                This award was established earlier this year by the AHSAA and AHSADCA to recognize member school coaches who go beyond their normal duties as a coach to make a positive impact in their schools and communities. A committee of Alabama Sports Writers Association members served as the selection committee.

          “This award I feel is the most important honor a coach can receive,” AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese said.  “Criteria for this prestigious award include a coach’s character, integrity and service above and beyond the norm which has had a life-changing impact on the community or school.”

         The nominee must also be a head coach of a sport in the AHSAA championship program.            “We are proud of all our coaches.  This is one way we can honor our coaches for the examples they set and the life lessons they teach on a daily basis in their schools and communities,” Savarese add.

          The Awards Banquet will also recognize coaches who led their teams to AHSAA state championships during the 2010-11 school year.

          This year’s “Making A Difference” Coaches of the Year:


Class 1A

Greg Hamilton, Vina High School

    Hamilton has served as head baseball coach at this small school Franklin County for 15 years.  He also has worn several other hats, including assistant principal.  He took over a fledgling baseball program and within five years had built it into a consistent winner and Top 10 team.

    His ability to encourage his players to reach past their ability is a testament to his being a role model as a coach, teacher, and committed family man. 
    One former player, U.S. Marine officer Patrick McCarley, said Hamilton has been the most influential figure in his life.  “Coach Hamilton taught me the importance of perseverance, determination, dedication and what he called “coachability”.  I could tell you how he affected my life by being there through the deaths of family members, personally driving me 10 hours to a recruiting visit in Indiana, and visiting me when I was in the hospital.

      “He once told me that if he never taught me anything else, he would make sure that when I left Vina I would be coachable.  By indirectly teaching me selflessness, Coach Hamilton primed me to be a leader and helped me understand what it takes to ensure a greater good. Now, as an officer in the Marine Corps, we must daily put the needs of our Marines ahead of our own.  Had I not grasped the concept of Coach Hamilton’s “coachability”, I may never have been fit to be a leader in the Marines.  I owe everything I have to Coach Hamilton.”


Class 2A

Jason Franklin, Horseshoe Bend High School

     When Franklin took over as head football coach at Horseshoe Bend, a Class 2A school located east of Alexander City in Tallapoosa County, the program barely had enough players to play – even dressing out only 12 in some games – and attendance at games had all but dried up, said assistant principal James Aulner.  The team had won only one game the two previous seasons.

     Now, however, the numbers are up to 65 youngsters in the program as Franklin enters his third season.  Attendance at games is near capacity and the mindset of the kids has gone from that of being defeated before a game started to now competing in every contest they play, he said.

     Franklin is described as a man of integrity, honesty and strong moral character.  “He has spent many hours above and beyond the norm encouraging students to come out for the team and has infused a self-confidence into them that has slowly changed the culture of losing into one of hard work and effort,” Aulner adds.  “A renewed community spirit and pride is now changing lives.  He doesn’t preach to the students, but there is a strong ministry of presence.  They know he cares.”


Class 3A

Earlando Courtney, Greensboro High School

      Courtney arrived in Hale County at Greensboro in 2009 and quickly made a difference in the Raiders’ basketball program as well as in the mindset of the Greensboro student-athletes.

      Employed as a math teacher and boys basketball coach, he replaced a coach that had major success, including a 27-2 record the previous year.  His arrival was not accepted wholeheartedly by everyone.

     Still, he met the challenge head-on.  His first team went just 6-16, but the young coach did not lose sight of his more important goals.  He immediately began tutoring players and other students that needed assistance in math.  He stressed hard work, discipline, determination and teamwork. He slowly began to convince his players that his way would be productive.

      He set academic expectations and guidelines.  A potential player who received a failing grade in a class was not allowed to try out for the team.  Two starters from the previous year did not make the cut.  These guidelines also got the other kids’ attention.  A buzz was created as students started talking about winning on the court and in the classroom,

     Two years later, Courtney’s team finished 28-6 and won the 2011 Class 3A state basketball championship.  In addition, his student-athletes are working hard to make the grade in the classroom.


Class 4A

Jack Hankins, Thomasville

      Thomasville’s Tigers rolled to a 15-0 record and the Class 4A state football championship this past season and with it improved Hankins’ overall record to 96-22 in 10 seasons as head coach.  While winning the state title is always a goal for the Tigers under Hankins’ leadership, it is not the end all. 
      He has transferred the success of off-the-field commitment to excellence into the football arena.  His nominator wrote, “Coach Hankins is the perfect example of what a coach should stand for in a young man’s life.  He is an outstanding role model who focuses on developing the young men he coaches and teaches to be future leaders, fathers and employees.  Our success on the football field is merely a by-product of the life lessons he teaches each and every day.”

      Hankins takes his team to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes summer camp each year and spends countless hours discussing topics like responsibility, leadership and character with every single student-athlete in the school.  His focus has not been to win championships but to build champions, said the nominator.


Class 5A

Jim Elgin, Pleasant Grove High School

      When Jim Elgin arrived at Pleasant Grove High School in 2004, he brought a resume that included coaching football at the college level.  His football knowledge has turned the Spartans into one of the top teams annually in Jefferson County and Class 5A with 51 wins and just 29 losses during that span.

      No doubt he has made a difference in the discipline and commitment shown by his players.  However, it’s that commitment to them that stands out.  Although he lived 20 miles away in Hoover when the devastating tornado system of April 27 left the town of Pleasant Grove in rubble, Elgin was one of the first responders that night as the storms moved through.

       He contacted his players in a matter of hours to make sure they and their families were safe.  He roamed by foot through the destruction helping anyone he could over the next weeks – sometimes clipping 10 to 12 miles a day.  He mobilized his players to help with debris removal and was at the forefront as they began picking up the pieces in the battered community.  He also got other coaches involved, found chain saws and mobilized them as they all worked long hours in the recovery effort.

      His tireless example is one that will remain with his players and that community for many years to come.  His nominator said, “As a coach he has talked of commitment and teamwork.  In a time of need, he put those words into action as Pleasant Grove rose above the rubble with a spirit of family and togetherness.”

     The work there and in other cities in recovery will take a long, long time.  Just like building a winning football team, it will take hard work and tenacity along with the spirit that is generated by a positive leader such as Elgin.


Class 6A

Fred Riley, Davidson High School

     The Warriors football team has compiled a 66-21 record, won three regional titles, and reached the Class 6A semifinals twice and the quarterfinals twice under Riley’s tutelage.  He has served as the Mobile school’s athletic director since 2004.  The football program is now considered a “Top 10” team each year.

     That’s just part of the story.  When he became AD, he instituted a core group of “Academic Athletics”, a team of educators that track students who are potential Division I or Division II college athletes.  That team of educators has operated as a support group helping to nurture a working relationship with parents and other teachers while steering student-athletes to more challenging academic courses that help better prepare them for college and college entrance tests, etc.

     The first year four Davidson students signed Division I scholarships, and the next year 12.  That list continues to grow and Riley’s model of academic support is being used now by other districts throughout the southeast.

    His high standard of excellence is now the standard all student-athletes are setting for themselves and has become the norm at Davidson, wrote a nominator.