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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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Tolbert To Join AHSAA Staff In Publications

          Alabama High School Athletic Association Executive Director Steve Savarese announced Friday the hiring of Jim Tolbert, currently the athletic director at AHSAA member school Montgomery Catholic Preparatory School. Tolbert will join the AHSAA July 5 as an assistant director working with publications.

Savarese also announced that long-time Assistant Director Alan Mitchell is retiring after 32 years at the end of 2011. Tolbert will work directly with Mitchell for the next six months as he transitions to his new role.
Mitchell, who is being recognized by the National Federation of State High School Associations with a Citation Award at the upcoming NFHS Summer Conference in Philadelphia, PA, oversees all publications, works with reclassification and manages the AHSAA website among his many duties.
            “When Alan came to me a few months back and informed me he planned to retire at the end of this year, I was saddened by the news,” Savarese said. “Since 1979, he has worked closely with three executive directors and through the years has been the foundation of what is the AHSAA. He has dedicated himself to serving the high schools of the AHSAA and has always performed his duties with professionalism, character and honor.”
Savarese, who conducted an extensive interview process, said Tolbert is a key addition to the AHSAA staff.
            “Jim has an extensive journalism and public relations background including working with two daily newspapers, serving as Public Affairs Director of the Alabama Public Service Commission (for 14 years) and working in sports information at Alabama State University,” Savarese said. “He also has knowledge of AHSAA rules and experience in sports bracketing and championship formatting.”
Tolbert said he is excited about joining the AHSAA staff.
            “Having worked closely with the AHSAA staff as an athletic director, I have always been impressed with their dedication and professionalism. The AHSAA does a tremendous job of serving member schools and student-athletes in our state and to join them in that effort is a dream come true.”
Tolbert grew up in Marshall County where he graduated from Albertville High School.
            "It is a bittersweet time in more than one respect. For me, it means leaving a place that will always hold a special place in my heart,” he said. “For the AHSAA, it also means the impending retirement of Alan Mitchell, who has meant so much to high school athletics in our state. I wish Alan much happiness in his retirement, and I look forward to working with him in the coming months as I try to learn from him as much as I can."