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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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Tucker Is Now State's Winningest Prep Football Coach  
          

 


            Friday night’s 35-7 Fayette County win over Haleyville was a big night for head coach Waldon Tucker. Even he didn’t exactly know how big his milestone 303rd prep football coaching victory would be.

            Moments after the final buzzer closed the books on the historic win that made Tucker the state’s all-time winningest prep fooball coach, fans lined the field in a victory column heading to the goal line. Dignitaries, including Fayette mayor Ray Nelson, came onto the field and Principal Rayford Hester had some special surprises in store for him.

            Tucker, who now has a 303-123-2 career coaching record in the state, moved past Luverne’s Glenn Daniel, who retired in 1992 with 302 wins. Daniel remains the winningest coach in AHSAA history with all his victories coming at AHSAA member schools Pine Hill and Luverne. Tucker, who 278 wins currently in the AHSAA, won 25 games at non-AHSAA member school Demopolis Academy, then the rest at Gordo and for the last 27 seasons at Fayette.

            The win over Haleyville was enough to draw out the emotion of the night for Tucker, but Hester’s surprises caught him off guard. First, Fayette County Superintendent of Education Reba Anderson announced her plans to ask the school board to name the field in his honor. She pointed out that it has been Tucker that groomed the field’s manicured turf so masterfully for the last three decades. Other dignitaries pointed out that he also groomed the many young men in his football program with the same care to be successful in life.

            The mayor, who coached with Tucker in his early years at Fayette, praised Tucker’s contributions to the city as the Tigers coach and a two-term city councilman. He then announced the city council has named the road outside the stadium “Waldon Tucker Drive.”

            “It’s been a great run. I’ve had a lot of good football players and great football coaches,” Tucker said. “To be successful, you have to have that first. This is a great community with great support and a great administration. They let us do things our way.”

            While Tucker is contemplating retirement along with longtime friend and principal Hester. Tucker pointed out prior to Friday’s game that any victory in his win column belongs to men like Hester and all his assistant coaches like longtime friend Jim Burkhalter, who played for him on Gordo's 1980 state championship team and coached with him for more than two decades at Fayette. Tucker said the milestone especially belongs to the many students who have played for him.

            He didn’t leave the 2010 team out. “These are special kids,” he said.

            The Linden native said Fayette has been a wonderful place to raise his family – a great place to call home. Now, his home bears his name – on a city street and the field where he has won 225 games since his arrival 27 years ago.

            In Friday's win over Haleyville, junior Cameron Poe-Mitchell scored four touchdowns to up his season total to 12 in four games.