The theme of Alfred Peavy’s life work was simple.
“May the work that I have done speak for me.”
That life’s work as a teacher, coach and administrator in the Coffee County and Enterprise School Systems has now earned him a place in the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame.
Peavy will be one of 11 individuals inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2016 Monday night, March 21. His wife Voncille will be representing her husband, who passed away in 2001.
The induction banquet, hosted by the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) and Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA), will be at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center at 6:30 p.m. A press conference introducing the 26th Class will be held at 5:30 at the Renaissance. He is being selected in the “old-timer” division.
Other members of the Class of 2016 include football coaches Richard Beverly, Tandy Gerelds and Ike Grant; basketball coaches Mike Cochran and Jerome Sanders; volleyball coaches Frances Crapet and Brenda Mayes; baseball coach Earl Miller; wrestling coach and official Dwight Buzbee; volleyball official Apple Kridakorn. Gerelds is also deceased.
Peavy, who spent his entire teaching and coaching career in Coffee County, was raised in Salitpa, Alabama (population 455), located near Salitpa Creek in Clarke County near the Alabama-Mississippi line. He graduated from Clarke County Training School in 1948, then attended Alabama State University where he received a bachelor’s degree in 1956. He earned a master’s degree from Troy University in 1975.
He became a math teacher and coach at Coffee County Training School (later renamed Coppinville) in Enterprise. He coached football, basketball, baseball, and track until the Coppinville program ended with integration in 1969. He remained in the Enterprise School System, however, until his retirement in 1991.
Peavy’s 1963 football team was the Class 2A regional champion and the 1968 team was undefeated with a 9-0 record. The 1962-63 basketball team played in the Alabama Interscholastic Athletic Association (AIAA) Class 2A state tournament. His teams won four track competitions and were runners-up in four other times.
He moved into administration at EHS for the final 20 years of his career in education.
Enterprise High School Assistant Principal Ricky Britt said Peavy’s extraordinary influence was reflected by the theme “May the work that I have done speak for me,” at his funeral in 2001.
“First, the dream and aspiration of competitive sports for black students was a dream for Coach (Peavy),” Britt said. “He had coached at Coffee County Training School from 1956-59 when it became Coppinville High School and opened for students in September of 1960. Coach was very instrumental in pushing for competitive sports and was proud of his teams and his coaching staff. He wanted them to see the potential that they had. Coach felt that his teams could compete with any team in the area.
“Second, Coach’s support for his community and others was unmatched during his blessed life. Coach cared so much about the success of Enterprise and all of its residents. For many, Coach was the most relevant and influential person they engaged. Coach was a model and inspiration for so many.”
Britt said Peavy served the students and their parents far above and beyond the norm. “He was there for parents who needed him to discipline their children,” he said. “He was there when parents needed to borrow money to pay utility bills. He was there to put clothes on the backs of those who did not have them. He was there to find summer work for youths in order for them to stay out of trouble. He was there when you needed his advice, male or female.
“He and his wife shared their home with children. I was one of those children. Therefore, I am compelled to express my personal feelings about Coach. He and his wife took me into their home at the age of 15 and treated me just like their own son. This was my home through high school and my college years.
“Coach Peavy had a heart of love like no other. He truly loved his neighbors as himself. I am a successful educational leader today because of the nurturing, support and influence of Coach! Like many others…we will be forever grateful for the community and personal support Coach gave.”
Z. I. Fleming, Jr. shared a similar experience – after he dropped out of Tuskegee Institute.
“I met Coach Peavy in 1956 when I was 16 years old,” Fleming said. “He came to Enterprise to coach and to teach physical education and mathematics. He was about 10 years older, but we became very good friends. Although I left home in 1957 to attended college at Tuskegee Institute, we picked up again as running partners when I dropped out one year later.
“During the one and one half years that I remained out of school, Coach Peavy is one of two men who I credit with ‘chipping away’ at my dread –and yes, fear – of the many real challenges of an anticipated return to school to attain my college degree. When I did return to school in 1959 – this time to Alabama State University – Coach supported me financially on many occasions until I completed school and returned to Enterprise.”
Upon graduation, Fleming returned to Enterprise and joined Peavy’s coaching staff at Coppinville. He saw Peavy’s leadership up close and personal again.
“Coach Peavy was a strong proponent of developing discipline and character in his athletes,” he said. “He never ‘threw away’ any of his athletes. He made it his business to know their parents and to help them raise the athletes to be the people that they were meant to be. As a patient and consistent father would, he guided them in life, using the athletic field as his basis.”
In 1970 Peavy moved over to Enterprise Jr. High as head basketball and football coach for a year. Then he transferred to Enterprise High School as assistant principal and boys’ B-team basketball coach. In 1975 he gave up coaching to become assistant principal fulltime, a job he held until his retirement in 1991. He continued to serve residents of Enterprise working with senior citizens the rest of his life.
With the AHSAA, Peavy received the Distinguished Service Award in 1991 for his 14 years of service on the Second District Board and his eight years on the Central Board of Control.
He was inducted into the Wiregrass Sports Hall of Fame in 1998. Alfred Peavy Park was named in his honor in 1986.
Two words seem to emerge when others describe Coach Jerome Sanders -- “loyalty” and “respect.”
Sanders’ loyalty and respect for his own alma mater, J.F. Shields High School, produced a basketball program committed to being loyal to Sanders’ coaching philosophies and respectful of the character traits he demands by his own example.
The results have been astounding. In 18 years at Shields, he compiled a 360-160 record with his 2004, 2005 and 2007 teams winning the Class 1A state boys’ basketball championship and the 2003 and 2010 teams capturing the runner-up spot. Altogether, he had six teams in the semifinals and won the South region championship seven times in 15 appearances.
Sanders will be inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2016 Monday night, March 21. The induction banquet, hosted by the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) and Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA), will be at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center at 6:30 p.m. A press conference introducing the 26th Class will be held at 5:30 at the Renaissance.
Other members of the Class of 2016 include football coaches Richard Beverly, Tandy Gerelds and Ike Grant; basketball coach Mike Cochran; volleyball coaches Frances Crapet and Brenda Mayes; baseball coach Earl Miller; wrestling coach and official Dwight Buzbee; volleyball official Apple Kridakorn; and coach/administrator Alfred Peavy, who was selected in the “old-timer” division. Peavy and Gerelds are deceased.
A native of Beatrice, a small town in northern Monroe County, Sanders attended J. F. Shields High School where played on the 1971-72 basketball team that won the Class 2A state championship. He was named to the All-Tournament team along with tournament MVP and teammate John Drew, who went on play in the NBA.
After graduation, he went to Daniel Payne College on a basketball scholarship, earning his bachelor’s degree in 1976. His first job out of college was in Butler County at Lomax-Hannon Junior College in Greenville. After serving as head basketball coach for seven years, he moved to Luverne High school to teach and coach at the secondary school level. He spent the remainder of his teaching career in public schools – the last two decades back at home at J.F. Shields.
He also taught physical education and driver’s education and coached basketball -- and coached it well.
Three teams won Class 1A state boys’ championships and 10 of his players were named to the all-state tournament teams: including MVPs Wesley Jones (2004), Shane Castopheny (2005) and Willie Nettles (2007).
His coaching honors included:
--NFHS Section 3 Coach of the Year in 2007; AHSADCA Class 1A Coach of the Year in 2003, 2005 and 2007, and Monroe County Coach of the Year, 13 times. He also served as a coach in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Basketball Game coach twice. And in 2014 he was named the Class 1A “Making A Difference” Award recipient, one of the highest honors bestowed by the AHSAA.
Former J. F. Shields Principal Larry Turner said, “I have known Coach Sanders for years through high school and sports-related activities, and he is a respected teacher and coach. Coach Sanders’ basketball record speaks greatly of him. He has over 35 years of coaching experience from junior college to high school sports. (His) winning record consists of an impressive 466 wins throughout his coaching career. In comparing Coach Sanders to other coaches in the state, there is no other that tops his dedication, character, coaching abilities and winning track record.”
Current J. F. Shields Principal Carol Brown said the “Making A Difference” Award in 2014 reflected the character and kindness Sanders displayed daily.
“I was told many people make suggestions, but leaders make decisions,” she said. “When Coach Sanders decided to return to his alma mater more than 20 years ago, he made a difference in the lives of so many. He has been doing that diligently every year since.”
Another colleague, Larry Woolfolk, principal at C. P. Carmichael Alternative School, said, “I have known Coach Sanders for many years. We played college sports together, coached high school boys’ basketball as well as worked side by side in the classroom. He is a community-oriented person who wants what is best for the children in his community and neighboring communities…Coach Sanders’ track record speaks for itself about his loyalty to his team and school, and his dedication, temperament and coaching abilities.”
SATURDAY: The AHSSHOF Class of 2016 series’ final installment (long-time coach and administrator Alfred Peavy, elected from the “Old-Timer” category).
Earl Miller’s baseball program at G.W. Long High School produced 10 state championships in 16 seasons from 1991-2005, including six in a row.
Yet, those who know him best remember something more.
“He was always a teacher first,” said Lamar Brooks, Associate Superintendent of Dale County Schools. “Anytime you walked into his classroom, he was engaged with his students. He took his position as a teacher very seriously.”
Miller will be inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2016 Monday night, March 21. The induction banquet, hosted by the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) and Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA), will be at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center at 6:30 p.m. A press conference introducing the 26th Class will be held at 5:30 at the Renaissance.
Other members of the Class of 2016 include football coaches Richard Beverly, Tandy Gerelds and Ike Grant; basketball coaches Mike Cochran and Jerome Sanders; volleyball coaches Frances Crapet and Brenda Mayes; wrestling coach and official Dwight Buzbee; volleyball official Apple Kridakorn and coach/administrator Alfred Peavy, who was selected in the “old-timer” division. Peavy and Gerelds are deceased.
Present G.W. Long head baseball coach Drew Miller, son of the legendary coach, said his dad taught him the game of baseball. But what he calls his dad’s “biggest triumph” taught Drew much, much more.
“His hard work, dedication and leadership were never more evident than during the summer of 2000,” Drew Miller said. “My brother Wade had just broken the National High School record for home runs in a season. G.W. Long had just won the Class 1A state championship. Wade and I were headed to Troy University to play baseball. Things were never better for the Millers.”
Things changed quickly for his family, however.
“On June 18, my youngest brother Clay was involved in a four-wheeler accident that almost took his life. I watched as my parents spent day after day next to my brother as he recovered from his brain injury. After 31 days in a coma and weeks of rehab in Birmingham, it was time for Clay to come home
“Clay started rehab in Dothan, but that was just not cutting it for Dad. He knew Clay had more in him than what the physical therapist was getting from him. So Dad decided to take a leave of absence from his job to become Clay’s therapist. He took him to the track at the football field, and they started a journey for Clay, not only to have full function of his body, but also for him to return to the baseball field.”
The journey took two years, but the Millers reached their destination. Not only did Clay return to school and the baseball field, He also returned as a member of the 2002 1A state champions and starting left fielder in what turned out to be one of the single most inspirational moments in AHSAA sports history.
A native of Atmore, Earl Miller graduated from Escambia County High School in 1971. He signed with the Cincinnati Reds out of high school and played a year in the rookie Gulf Coast League. He then attended Troy University, graduating in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education and biology.
He was hired as head baseball coach at Ashford Academy, a position he held for two years. In 1978 he moved to Houston County High School as assistant baseball coach, then to Pensacola High School in the same position.
In 1982 he left education to become district manager for the Pensacola News Journal. In 1984 he became field manager for QSP, Inc., in Pensacola. But the tug to teach and coach was still there.
He returned to coaching in 1991, accepting a position at G.W. Long High School teaching physical education and science. He was also named head baseball coach, a job he held through 2005.
His baseball program was unparalleled in South Alabama with 10 state championships, including six in a row, and reached the state playoffs in 14 of his 16 years at G.W. Long. When he retired from coaching, he had an overall record of 407-133.
Among the honors his players earned were:
-- Two Alabama Mr. Baseball selections.
-- Six Super All-State Team selections and 23 Class 1A/2A All-State selections.
-- One national home run champion.
-- Seven Dothan Eagle Players of the Year and 22 players on the Eagle’s Super 12
During those 16 years, Miller earned many individual coaching honors, including being named 2000 Section 3 Coach of the Year by the National Federation of High School Associations (NFHS). He was selected Alabama Sports Writers Association Coach of the Year three times, the Alabama Baseball Coaches Association and South Central Alabama Conference Coach of the Year six times, and the AHSADCA Coach of the Year 10 times.
Over the years, his other coaching duties have included varsity football assistant, 17 years; junior high football coach, 10 years; head varsity basketball coach, five years; and junior high basketball coach, three years.
Brooks summed up his observation of Earl Miller’s impact.
“I will not spend much time on Earl’s abilities or his record as a baseball coach,” said Brooks. “I feel winning 10 state baseball championships in approximately 15 years speaks volumes about his ability to coach the game. I would, however, like to speak regarding his abilities to convey his knowledge as a coach to his athletes.
“He always seemed to get more out of his student-athletes than most coaches. This, I feel, can be attributed to his attitude. One could never look at Coach Miller and know the score of the game or how his team was playing. His demeanor and behavior was always the same. He always kept his emotions in check and his mind on the game. Most of the time, his players took on this same behavior, which allowed them to always play at their best.
“His practices were organized and well executed. He took that time to find the athletes’ best assets and to enrich their skills while also teaching them to love the game of baseball.”
Miller was elected to the Alabama Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2003.
SATURDAY: The AHSHOF Class of 2016 series’ final installment (long-time coach and administrator Alfred Peavy, elected from the “Old-Timer” category).