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.”


St. Paul's Tate Gets National Track Honor

INDIANAPOLIS - Coach Jim Tate of St. Paul’s Episcopal School in Mobile, Ala., has been named the Gill Athletics National High School Coach of the Year for girls’ teams.
Tate and boys' teams winner Bob Nihells of Lake Park High School in Roselle, Ill., will be recognized in an awards ceremony Saturday, June 25, at the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Ore., in front of more than 10,000 track and field fans. Both award recipients’ schools will receive $5,000 worth of Gill Athletics track & field equipment.
            "High school track and field coaches are the backbone of the sport of track and field in the U.S.” says David Hodge, CEO of Gill Athletics. “Without their tireless work and dedication, the U.S. would not lead the world in the sport as it does. Gill Athletics is proud to recognize the great commitment of these coaches to our high school athletes.”
            Tate has led the Saints to 57 girls’ state championships in cross country, indoor and outdoor track & field as well as 22 second-place finishes. His girls’ cross country teams set a national record when they won 16 consecutive state titles from 1983-1998. Tate also has coached 10 of his boys and girls athletes to 15 Alabama state records.
          “The numbers reflect only a portion of the legacy Coach Tate imparts to each of his athletes,” said Tate’s co-worker and former athlete Lydia Johnson. “Tate is a gentle leader who turns teenagers into champions, young men and women into leaders, and instills a spirit of sportsmanship, service, and honor.” 
         Tate began coaching at St. Paul’s in 1978 and has won numerous awards in his 34-year tenure. He has been inducted into both the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame and the Mobile Sports Hall of Fame. In 2010, he was named the National High School Coaches’ Association Girls Track and Field Coach of the Year.          
        “It is a tremendous honor to me,” Tate said. “It is really a recognition of the success of our program that so many have had a part of — everyone in the St. Paul’s community can take pride in this award.”

         Nihells has coached at Lake Park High School for 29 years, serving 18 years as the head coach and 10 as the throws coach. During his tenure the Lancers have captured three state titles, and four finishes in the top 10. His athletes own state records in the shot put, discus and 200 meter dash.       
        Nihells, who was named the 1997 Illinois Coach of the Year, has had several athletes receive college athletic scholarships.