NOTE: This is the seventh installment in a series introducing the AHSAA Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2015. Look for football coach Steve Rivers’ profile Monday. Tickets for the 25th AHSAA HOF Banquet set for March 23 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center are still available to the public by calling 334-263-6994 by March 16. Tickets will not be sold at the door and mail order ticket deadline has passed.
By BILL PLOTT
A native of Montgomery, James Alan Mitchell was graduated from Robert E. Lee High School in 1960 and Huntingdon College in 1964 with a degree in business administration.
Mitchell had starting cover sports part-time for The Montgomery Advertiser while a senior in high school. When he became a student at Huntingdon, he became the school’s sports information director, a position he held until 1966. In 1963, while nearing graduation, the Advertiser offered him a full-time sports-writing position. He continued the dual roles of sportswriter and sports information director until 1966.
That year he left Montgomery for Athens, TN. He became director of publicity for Tennessee Wesleyan College, serving in that capacity for five years.
In 1971, he returned to Montgomery to become sports editor of the Alabama Journal, the afternoon newspaper.
In 1979 he joined the Alabama High School Athletic Association as the organization’s first full-time director of publicity and publications. It was a position sorely needed by the AHSAA, which would soon see high school athletics expand from four to six classifications. It was also the time when the first girls’ sports programs were being put together at many schools.
The job quickly grew into much more. Eventually, Mitchell found himself responsible for the championship awards, springs sports sites, sports committee meetings, building maintenance and website development among other duties. He also saw expanded duties in coordinating the production and layouts of most AHSAA publications and handling many aspects of the Hall of Fame production each year.
By the time Mitchell reached what would prove to be semi-retirement in December 2011, he had logged more than 30 years with the association. He worked with three AHSAA executive directors – Herman L. “Bubba” Scott, Dan Washburn and Steve Saverese. His retirement was only temporary as Savarese related:
“Throughout my career in high school athletics, I have been privileged to work with some of the finest men and women in the field. This group includes coaches, officials, administrators, and AHSAA contributors who all have had one common trait – a desire to excel and to make a difference in the lives of those they serve.
“One of those individuals is Alan Mitchell. For over 35 years, Alan has served the AHSAA in numerous roles from publications to technology. [After retiring] he continued to serve in a part-time status until Jim Tolbert his replacement, left abruptly due to medical issues. Alan immediately stepped back into his previous position for a very minimal salary due to social security and retirement issues. Alan has always been an outstanding administrator, a dedicated professional and a true credit to this association….Alan’s most important contribution to this association is the fact that he nurtured three Executive Directors.”
AHSAA Director of Communications Ron Ingram, who first worked with Mitchell as a sports writer and then as a colleague at the AHSAA, wrote: “I had the pleasure to work closely with Alan in many events in the Alabama High School Athletic Association long before I came to work with the AHSAA. He has always been the ultimate professional – always courteous, patient and a very thorough in his planning and implementation. His leadership with the AHSAA has a been a key reason our state championship programs are so successful.
“His knowledge of AHSAA matters and his tireless work ethic helped me tremendously in covering high school sports for more than 30 years. He treated me no differently when I worked at The Dothan Progress and The Dothan Eagle than when I worked at The Birmingham News.
“Since becoming his co-worker at the AHSAA, I have come to fully appreciate Alan as a caring, dependable associate. He is someone we all turn to when we have questions about AHSAA policy, purpose and history. He is a friend, a mentor and an icon.
“His energy and enthusiasm are contagious. His love for the same principles and ideals that our organization stands for is also a major reason we have had a successful working relationship that has now budded into a close friendship.
“It is most appropriate that Alan Mitchell be selected for the AHSAA Hall of Fame. He is the one who has stood in the background since the Hall’s inception and watched with pride as the banquet he developed and managed helped put the crowning touch on so many special honorees’ life-long labors. Alan is an MVP, but is not one who seeks MVP honors. It is time that others reward him for his unselfish and tireless contributions.”
The National Federation of High Schools, at its 92nd annual summer meeting in Philadelphia, presented Mitchell the National Citation Award for Section 3. The award recognizes outstanding contributions to the mission of the NFHS and state associations. Section 3 encompasses seven southern states. He became only the fourth Alabamian to receive the award. The others were Ken Blankenship (2000), Greg Brewer (2006), and Houston Young (2010), all of whom worked closely with Mitchell over the years.
Mitchell has been inducted into the Huntingdon College Athletic Hall of Fame. He has held membership in the National Sportscasters and Sports Writers Association, the National Association of Baseball Writers and Sigma Delta Chi professional journalism society.
NOTE: This is the sixth installment in a series introducing the AHSAA Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2015. Look for long-time AHSAA Assistant Director Alan Mitchell’s profile Sunday. Tickets for the 25th AHSAA HOF Banquet set for March 23 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center are still available to the public by calling 334-263-6994 by March 16. Tickets will not be sold at the door and mail order ticket deadline has passed.
By BILL PLOTT
A native of Tuscumbia, Myra Elizabeth Miles graduated from Bradshaw High School in 1979. She attended Freed-Hardeman College and the University of North Alabama where she had a double major in health and physical education. She also earned a master’s degree in K-12 physical education.
After serving an internship at the University of North Alabama in 1984, she began her teaching and coaching career in Haleyville. She spent four years there, teaching six grades of PE and coaching volleyball, softball and girls’ basketball. Her volleyball teams were Class 4A state champions two years in a row and runner-up once. She had a state softball champion in 1987 and all four of her basketball teams made the state playoffs with the 1986-87 squad finishing third.
In 1989 she took a similar position at Brooks High School where she remained for nine years, winning numerous Lauderdale County, sectional and area championships in volleyball, basketball and softball. Eight of her nine softball teams played in the state tournament. The 1994 team was the Class 4A champion, the 1995 squad was runner-up and two other teams finished third.
In 1990 she moved to St. James School in Montgomery. She was named Capitol City Conference Coach of the Year and her team won the conference championship. She was also selected to coach the North All-Stars during All-Star Week. After two years at St. James, she moved to Coffee High school in Florence, rebuilding that school’s softball program.
In 2002 Coach Miles moved to Hoover as a coach and physical education teacher. While at Hoover she was asked to serve as interim athletic director when a controversy erupted involving the football program. She was then asked to assume the athletic director position permanently, which she did, serving until her retirement last year.
During her tenure at Hoover, the school won 18 state championships in a variety of sports, including boys’ indoor and outdoor track, football, wrestling, baseball, boys’ cross country, girls’ indoor and outdoor track, girls’ basketball and girls’ swimming.
Hoover High School Principal Don H. Hulin wrote: “Throughout her career, Myra’s success as an outstanding educator, coach and administrator is a direct reflection on her character, leadership and dedication to success in providing each student the greatest possible educational and athletic opportunity. She is a great representative of our school, our state and her profession.
“Myra is dedicated to accomplishing the greatest possible benchmarks of academic and athletic excellence at Hoover High School. She is always willing to go the extra mile in promoting leadership, discipline, communications skill and team building in our school. She is an athletic administrator who blends traditional and innovative cutting-edge methods in promotion all athletes and programs. In spite of numerous inherited issues associated with Hoover High athletic programs, she has transformed all of our programs into nationally recognized models of success. Her unwavering dedication to serving all students promotes athletic success for the full spectrum of teams under her direction.
“Her passion for Hoover High School athletics is evident by the results we have achieved through her guidance. She has been invaluable to me personally in guiding Hoover high athletics under my tenure as principal…Myra has changed the lives of numerous students throughout her career as a teacher and coach in schools across Alabama. Quite simply, she is just a winner.”
Bob Jones High School volleyball coach April Marsh wrote of Coach Miles’ importance during a painful time in her life: “As a seventh grade student-athlete, I went through a very difficult time in my life. In February of 1995, my parents went through a divorce. Two months later, in April of 1995, my older brother was killed in a car accident. Needless to, this was a vey a difficult time for my family and me. Coach Miles is the one person I remember being there for me every day afterwards. She could call me into her office when she could tell I was struggling and was sensitive to my needs. She never stopped coaching me but I gained a respect for her that I never imagined. She pushed me on a daily basis to be a better player/person but would check up on me during the school day.
“She always demanded we give our best and taught us to carry that into every aspect of our life. She loved every athlete she coached and always made decisions based on our needs. She was selfless and it was evident by her actions. She made a tremendous impact on my life. She molded me to become the person I am today.”
Kelli S. Harvey, a former athlete at Brooks, related a similar story of personal attention: “Coach Miles was a leader on and off the court. Countless times I went to Coach Miles for advice. I remember sitting in her office once crying about a personal issued at17 years old. I thought the world was coming to an end, and Coach Miles took the time to listen to my problem. Even though it was not school or sports related, she took time out of her busy day and made me see things in a different light. My world was not coming an end, it was just beginning.”
NOTE: This is the fifth installment in a series introducing the AHSAA Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2015. Look for Myra Miles’ profile Saturday. Tickets for the 25th AHSAA HOF Banquet set for March 23 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center are still available to the public by calling 334-263-6994 by March 16. Tickets will not be sold at the door and mail order ticket deadline has passed.
By BILL PLOTT
A native of Atmore, Steve Jefferson graduated from Escambia County Training School in 1958. He received his bachelor’s degree with a major in history and minor in physical education from Alabama State University in 1962.
He began his teaching and coaching career at Conecuh County Training School in Evergreen where he carried his very first team to the Alabama Interscholastic Athletic Association state tournament.
He moved to Birmingham in 1967, joining the faculty at Ullman High School. In 1969 he was named head coach of the school’s last football team. Integration closed the high school the following year.
In 1970 he moved over to Carver-Birmingham as head basketball coach and assistant football coach, producing a 15-12 record his first year on the job. His 1972-73 team went to the state tournament with a 27-3 record, foreshadowing great teams to come. Two of the best were the 1977-78 and 1978-79 squads. They won 32 and 30 games, respectively, and back-to-back Class 4A state championships. He was the first Birmingham coach to win back-to-back titles since Simpson’s Dick Webb in 1924 and 1925.
His winning percentage in the 1990s dropped when dwindling enrollment moved Carver from the large-school category down to Class 3A. “Our fans have expected us to continue to compete with the 6A schools. We’re expected to compete with Birmingham’s top teams. I had to adjust my goals from being the best in the city to being competitive. (But) we know now that if we’re competitive we have a chance to win the state championship,” he said in 1997 as Carver set its sites on a Final Four appearance. Of Carver’s 12 losses going into regional play, nine had come against the Birmingham’s top city programs.
During his 28 years at Carver, Coach Jefferson had nine teams in the state tournament. In addition to his two championships, he had runner-up clubs in 1983, 1997 and 1998. His state tournament teams produced 14 all-tournament players. He had seven 20-or-more win seasons including his final two which finished 21-13 and 24-11 in their state runner-up roles.
He was Birmingham City Schools Coach of the Year 10 times and Birmingham Tip-Off Club Coach of the Year twice. He was given the Frank Nix Distinguished Basketball award in 1998. His Carver teams won more than 430 games.
He retired from high school coaching in 1998 but returned to the court in 2003 as head coach at Lawson State Community College where he compiled a 102-26 record.
Former player Eddie Cauthen wrote, “Coach Jefferson was my high school coach. Coach Jefferson was successful in developing his players to be productive citizens in Birmingham and abroad. He was a positive role model who taught life lessons off the court as well as on the court. He required each of us to do our best and exemplify high moral standards. Coach Jefferson has maintained an outstanding reputation among his players and peers and has always been praised for his outstanding character. I’m sure that anyone who‘s ever come in contact with him will agree that he an exceptional man.”
Montgomery CPA Eugene Pitts seconded Jefferson’s exceptionality with this story. “As a former player, I remember my first season playing for him on the freshman team because that year was great. We went undefeated. I had to stop playing basketball to help my mother take of her five kids, me being the oldest of the family. Growing up listening to a song called ‘Patches’ by Clarence Carter, I always knew that was going to be the right thing for me to do because that is what Patches did when his father passed. My father had not passed. He was just not around to help my mom raise us. Coach Jeff would always remind me that when I was ready he had a place for me on the team again.
“Finally, the family was doing better and all of my mom’s kids were big and were helping out. I told Coach I was ready to try out as a senior. He kept his promise and gave me a fair chance.
“I did not want to disappoint Coach. I made the team. Coach stated to the team that I was the best conditioned athlete on the team since I had lapped everyone in our conditioning preparation and played hard on both ends of the court. The lesson taught here to me and my teammates was that there is no substitute for hard work. The lesson taught to me was that Coach Steve Jefferson was a man of his word and that he loved highly motivated individuals. We went on to have a successful 23-7 season in 1977 with only two seniors on that team. In the following two seasons, Carver won back-to-back state championships.
“I know from personal experience that Coach Jeff is a man of high integrity and puts the well-being of his players first.”
NOTE: This is the fourth installment in a series introducing the AHSAA Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2015. Look for long-time Carver-Birmingham basketball coach Steve Jefferson’s profile Friday. Tickets for the 25th AHSAA HOF Banquet set for March 23 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center are still available to the public by calling 334-263-6994 by March 16. Tickets will not be sold at the door and mail order ticket deadline has passed.
By BILL PLOTT
A native of Talladega, Dewey Douglas “Doug” Goodwin graduated from Sylacauga High School in 1980. At Sylacauga he played football for four years at defensive back, running back and linebacker. He also pitched and caught on the baseball team and played in the state East-West All-Star Game.
The AHSAA Hall of Fame inductee in the Class of 2015 attended Auburn University, graduating in 1984. At Auburn he was an invited walk-on at defensive back under head coaches Doug Barfield and Pat Dye.
Goodwin, 234-91 over his 27-year head football coaching career, got his early coaching experience at his high school alma mater, serving as a volunteer assistant coach for the junior varsity and then was a volunteer at Beulah High School.
His professional teaching and coaching career began in1985 at Lanett High School as assistant varsity football coach. He was also in charge of the weight program and coached the 9th grade basketball team.
In 1987 he moved to Marion County High School in Guin as athletic director, head football and baseball coach. He taught physical education and health and was in charge of the weight program. His first few football teams at Guin were not outstanding but they were highly competitive, In 1991 he carried the Red Raiders to the state playoffs, the first of many trips over the course of his career.
In 1993 he moved to Lineville with multiple responsibilities as athletic director, football coach, girls’ basketball and baseball coach as well as teaching physical education classes for six grades. Over the next seven years he compiled a record of 59-17, a 78 per cent winning record. Seven straight Lineville teams made the state playoffs, two of them advancing to the championship game. The 13-2 record of the 1996 team set a school record for wins. Two years later that record was broken by the 1998 squad’s 14-1 mark and a tough loss to Southern Choctaw in the Class 2A championship game.
Coach Goodwin moved to Demopolis in 1999 as athletic director and head football coach. The building blocks of success he had established at Lineville followed him. In eight years at Demopolis his record was 92-18, an impressive .836 winning percentage. He had four consecutive undefeated regular seasons from 2002-05. Two of those teams played into the quarterfinals of the state playoffs. The 2004 squad won the state championship with a perfect 15-0 record. It was the school’s first football championship. The Tigers scored a state record 761 points that season. All eight of Goodwin’s Demopolis teams made the playoffs.
In 2007 he moved to Russellville where he spent four years as athletic director and head football coach. His percentage of wins continued to rise. His four straight playoff teams compiled a record of 46-9. Two of those teams made it to the championship game. When he left for Homewood after the 2010 season, he had a string of 18 consecutive state playoff appearances and 11 double-digit winning seasons at Lineville, Demopolis and Russellville.
As head football coach at Homewood he compiled a 23-10 record, taking his last two teams to the playoffs. That gave him 21 playoff teams in 27 years of coaching. He retired from coaching after the 2013 season at Homewood and joined the athletic staff at Auburn University as Director of High School Relations and NFL Liaison.
Ronald J. Roberts, principal at Pascagoula, MS High School, worked with Goodwin as principal at Demopolis from 2000-05. In a letter of support he recalled those years:
“In my 38 years in the field of education, I have served with hundreds of great educators at all levels in the states of Alabama and Mississippi. Coach Doug Goodwin, in my opinion, is the very best. I marveled at the results consistently achieved by Coach Goodwin in building a championship football program for Demopolis High School.
“Coach Goodwin possesses a great work ethic, great initiative, and a personality that makes everyone around him want to do their very best. His accomplishments elevated him to legendary status in the Demopolis community. Our football program was a source of great pride for the Marengo County area.
“On a personal, my son Colby was a senior wide receiver on the 2004 championship team. He had a great experience playing for Coach Goodwin and holds him in very high regard. Colby told me that he learned more than football from Coach Goodwin. He learned to work as part of a high energy team for a common cause. This still serves my son well. I could never repay Coach Goodwin for what he meant to my son.
“Coach Goodwin was a great leader and had a wonderful rapport with our students, faculty and staff. His wife Donna, a great math teacher, was the unofficial mother to our football team and helped ‘raise’ our players. Dr. Wesley Hill, longtime superintendent of the Demopolis City School System, once told me that Coach Goodwin had the rare ability to connect with all of his players. He told me that Doug was probably his top hire of all time. I fully agree with Dr. Hill.”
Goodwin has received numerous football coach-of-the-year awards at the county, regional and state level. He has coached in the AHSAA All-Star game as well as the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game.
He was selected Northwest Alabama baseball coach of the year twice.
NOTE: This is the third installment in a series introducing the AHSAA Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2015. Look for football coach Doug Goodwin’s profile Thursday. Tickets for the 25th AHSAA HOF Banquet set for March 23 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center are still available to the public by calling 334-263-6994 by March 16. Tickets will not be sold at the door and mail order ticket deadline has passed.
By BILL PLOTT
A native of Anniston, Harold Jackson “Jack” Doss Jr., graduated from Oxford High School in 1965. After serving in the U.S. Air Force he played basketball at Gadsden State Community College, then earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Jacksonville State University.
His teaching and coaching career began at Hayes High School. It was at Hayes that he launched a career that would be nothing short of spectacular – a state-record eight AHSAA state basketball championships with this year’s Class 5A state title won by his current team J.O. Johnson. Doss, a member of the AHSAA Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2015 to be inducted March 23, also is one of only two coaches to win boys’ state titles at three different schools. He also won state championships at Hayes of Birmingham and Butler of Huntsville and had back-to-back titles three different times. His teams at Hayes, S. R. Butler and J. O. Johnson combined to compile a 749-320 record under his tutelage.
In his only two years at Hayes, he won his first two championships. They were consecutive Class 4A titles in 1980-81 and 1981-82. Those two teams had a combined record of 58-9. Doss became the only coach in state history to win championships in his first two years of coaching.
From Hayes he went to Florida for two years, and then returned to his home state to accept the head basketball coach position at S.R. Butler in Huntsville. Although his tenure at Butler did not enjoy as spectacular a start as it did at Hayes, he was quickly a basketball presence in North Alabama. Within a few years he had a team in the state tournament, then one in the semifinals finishing the 1990-91 season with a 31-4 record.
The 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons saw back-to-back Class 5A state championships. There was a repeat performance in 2007-08 and 2008-09. His fifth championship at Butler and seventh overall came in 2010-11. In 2013-14 he moved to J. O. Johnson High School. The Jaguars finished 32-4 in 2015 with a 59-52 win over Ramsay in the state finals at the BJCC.
His seven championship teams included 16 all-tournament selections, six of them the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
Other superlatives in his career include:
-- Madison County Athletic Hall of Fame, 2007.
-- The Birmingham News Coach of the Year seven times.
-- North Alabama team coach in the state all-star game, winning both years.
-- Alabama All-Stars coach against the Mississippi All Stars, winning both games.
--Produced more than 30 Division I scholarship players. Included the all-star games, he has coached four NBA players – Charles Barkley, Buck Johnson, Eric Bledsoe and Ennis Whatley.
Huntsville City School Board member Topper Birney shared an unusual anecdote about Coach Doss’s coaching ability, unusual in that it came from a practice session, not a game: I interrupted a Butler basketball practice to ask Coach Doss’s permission to invite two of his players to attend the Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Breakfast that is celebrated every year in Huntsville. He immediately gave his approval and then we settled into a fairly lengthy talk. His back was to the court but I was to witness the players going through their practice routine flawlessly. I remarked to Jack that I think they would have done the routine the same way had he not been there. He assured me that was true.”
Butler’s basketball character development strategies were showcased on CBS sports. Speaking to that character Butler Principal Chad LaQua wrote: “Jack displays extraordinary leadership…as a teacher, coach and mentor to our student-athletes. Jack displays positive leadership on the court, but his character can be easily defined by how students respect his teaching in the classroom of life. Jack teaches students lifelong lessons. He leads by example, and often refers to himself as the ‘sweeper’ or someone who is there to support everyone else. Jack’s players are highly recruited and continue to play college basketball at the Division I level.
“Most importantly, Jack gives the students in our Butler community hope. He was instrumental in the team effort to reopen Butler High School. During his tenure with us at Butler High School, Jack has worked with students in a diverse range of responsibilities that include tutoring, teaching, and mentoring. He also brought new ideas that helped raise the culture achievement at Butler High School. Jack is truly is a statesman for AHSAA basketball…He is always looking to improve his own coaching style and the technique of the students.
“Mr. Doss displays an incredible work ethic and models professionalism for our students. Jack also displays a knack for communicating and working with at-risk student-athletes in a humble manner. He shows understanding and provides constructive ideas that encourage achievement at Butler. Jack continues to assure that academics come first.”
J. O. Johnson principal Eric T. Jones wrote that Doss’s commitment to education far surpasses basic duty. “I have watched Coach Doss should be mold young men into gentlemen of character and integrity. He is an excellent teacher of not only the game of basketball but the game of life as well. He and his staff work tirelessly with our young men to ensure that they are spiritually, emotionally and physically ready for any challenges they may face on or off the court. His wealth of experience and success in coaching allow for many schools to take time to visit our campus on a regular basis. This exposure provides all of our athletes the opportunity to be seen by numerous colleges and universities, an aspect that was otherwise unavailable or lacking in previous years at J.O. Johnson High School. Although Coach Doss has retired from teaching, he remains highly visible in the school and stands, more than willing to give of his time for the benefit of JOJ.”
NOTE: This is the second in a series introducing the AHSAA Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2015. Look for basketball legend Jack Doss’ profile Wednesday. Tickets for the 25th AHSAA HOF Banquet set for March 23 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center are still available to the public by calling 334-263-6994 by March 16. No tickets will be sold at the door and mail order ticket deadline has passed.
By BILL PLOTT
A native of Coffee County, James Donald Chesteen graduated from Brantley High School in 1946 and from Troy University in 1951. He died on Dec. 19, 2014, just a few weeks after learning that he had been inducted into the Hall of Fame.
His son Donnie said J.D. knew early in high school that he wanted to be a football coach. The only way that could happen was to lay the groundwork in the military. He served two years in the U.S. Air Force, rising to the rank of staff sergeant, and then was able to enroll at Troy where he played football and earned his bachelor’s degree.
His teaching and coaching career began in 1951 as an assistant coach at Samson High School. He stayed three two years and then took his first head coach job at Coffee Springs High School. When they beat Cottonwood 7-6 in the fourth game of the seasons it was the revived Coffee Springs football program’s first win since before World War II.
In 1954 he returned to Samson, this time as head coach. After a 4-5-1 start he led Samson to four consecutive winning seasons. It was the days before the state playoff system and a number of towns held high school bowl games. Coach Chesteen’s teams appeared in the Lions Bowl and the Peanut Bowl. His five-year record was 19-18-4.
In 1960 he moved to Geneva County High School at Hartford. Again there was a slow start with his first team going 3-7. Then it was 26 wins and two more bowl appearances over the next three years. The 1962 squad finished with a school record 10 wins after beating Rehobeth 3-0 in Dothan’s Peanut Bowl game. It was the school’s first undefeated season since 1926.
The following year Geneva County finished 9-0-1 with another Peanut Bowl victory. They were named Class 2A state champs by The Birmingham News.
Coach Chesteen retired from coaching in 1969 but remained a teacher until 1989.
Among the coaching honors he received were:
--South Alabama Conference Coach of the Year, 1961 and 1962
--Head coach of South All Stars, 1963
--Represented state High School Coaches Association on the National Football Rules Committee
--President of Alabama High School Coaches Association
--President and vice president of South Alabama Conference
--Elected into Wiregrass Sports Hall of Fame in 1994.
Like so many coaches, Chesteen’s influence went far beyond sports. Hartford businessman Danny Fulford wrote: “Coach J.D. Chesteen is without a doubt one of the most influential people in my life…Although I didn’t attain greatness in the football sport world, I achieved far more than I ever expected because of this man. As my high school coach, he made me believe in myself enough to walk on at Auburn University and eventually attained a four-year grant-in-aid scholarship. Without his faith in me and encouragement I would have never thought this was possible. He personally carried me to Auburn in 1962 and left me in a world I was completely unfamiliar with, and, to be truthful, I probably would have never stuck it out had I not known this man was back in my hometown with complete confidence in me...Also, I know that I’m not the only person who he has influenced so much in past years. I know of numerous other people that he influenced to be better people in life as well as sports.”
Another former player, Tom Bryan, said Chesteen changed not only individual lives but also community pride: “When Coach Chesteen came to Hartford, he inherited a program that had won only three games in two years and had only 17 players on the team. In two years his 1962 team went to 10-0 and won the 2A state championship, and he followed that up with a
9-0-1 season in 1963. By then we had over 60 players on the team. Following the 1962 season he coached the 1963 AHSAA All-Star Game in Tuscaloosa and I was fortunate to be on that team.
“Turning around the football program at Hartford doesn’t come close to telling the story of J.D. Chesteen as a man of character, commitment, and community service. He completely changed the attitude of the whole town. His enthusiasm got everyone involved and the school became a source of town pride.
“My father died when I was 10-years old and Coach Chesteen became the father figure I needed at a critical time in my life. He did that for everyone who played for him. Without his encouragement and fatherly guidance I would not have been able to earn a scholarship to Auburn and a college degree that has enabled me to be in a position to help others like he helped me.”
Dale County associate superintendent Lamar Brooks grew up in Hartford when Chesteen was coaching. He recalled: “I was not old enough to play for Coach Chesteen. However, the influence that he had directly on me came from other places. Coach Chesteen was my Sunday School teacher. Many of the lessons he taught did not come from a book or any text. He taught us lessons about life and what was really important . To do this, he used real life situations in which we could relate.”
MONTGOMERY – Twelve major contributors to prep athletics in Alabama will be inducted into the 25th class of the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame March 23.
The 2015 class, which includes coaches, administrators, officials, media and an “oldtimer,” will be inducted at a special Silver Anniversary banquet commemorating all 25 years of the event. The banquet will be at the Renaissance Hotel at the Convention Center in Montgomery.
The public is invited to attend the banquet. The deadline for ordering tickets by mail was March 2, but anyone still wishing to purchase tickets ($40.00 each) has until March 16 to order tickets by phone at 334-263-6994.
Selected were tennis coach Nancy Becker, basketball coaches Steve Jefferson, Jack Doss and Bobby Wright, football coaches Steve Rivers, Doug Goodwin and John Tatum, athletic director Myra Miles, track official Houston Young, and administrators Alan Mitchell and Ron Ingram. Selected in the “Old Timer” category was longtime Geneva County football coach James D. Chesteen.
Beginning today, a series featuring the inductees written by state sports historian Bill Plott will begin at www.ahsaa.com. Today’s Class of 2015 Spotlight is Nancy Becker, Vestavia Hills High School girls’ tennis coach for more than two decades. Be sure to check the website daily for each installment.
Sponsors of the Hall of Fame program are the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA) and the AHSAA. The corporate sponsors are Cadence Bank, Coca-Cola, EBSCO Media, Encore Rehabilitation, Farmers Insurance, Russell Athletic, TeamIP and Wilson Sporting Goods.
AHSAA Hall of Fame Class of 2015
Nancy Becker Shares Love For Tennis
By BILL PLOTT
First of a Series
A native of Gadsden, Nancy Backer graduated from Gadsden High School in 1957 and Auburn University in 1961. The 2015 AHSAA Hall of Fame inductee holds a master’s degree in business education from the University of Alabama-Birmingham. Her teaching career spans 40 years, most of it in her native state of Alabama.
Upon graduation from Auburn, she went to Jacksonville, FL where she taught business for three years. In 1965, she accepted a similar position at John Carroll High School in Birmingham.
In 1984, she moved to Vestavia Hills High School as a business education teacher and girls’ varsity tennis coach, a position she held for 23 years. From 1987 until she retired in 2010, Coach Becker compiled a spectacular girls’ tennis coaching record.
During her 23-year tenure, her teams finished in the top four every year. They won 10 AHSAA state championships including strings of three and four in a row (1989, 1991-93, 1998-99, 2007-10). They finished second eight times (1998, 1990, 1994, 2001-05). There were also four third-place finishes. They won 20 sectional championships.
She was twice (2008 and 2010) named the National Federation of High Schools Coach of the Year.
In 2013 she came out of retirement to assist that team which also won a state championship.
She was recognized by The Birmingham News when her team presented her with her 200th coaching win. She was named state coach of the year in 2008 and received a 2011 Outstanding High School Teacher/Coach award from the Kiwanis Club of Birmingham.
Vestavia Hills Principal Wes Gordon wrote about Becker’s distinct personality:
“If you talk to Nancy Becker today, you are likely to hear stories about her weekly tap dancing class or her latest visit to the theater. Even after many, many years of teaching and coaching, Nancy Becker forgot to grow old. She is the only coach to show up in tights at a faculty Christmas breakfast and the only coach to cajole her teaching department to perform a song from A Chorus Line at the faculty talent show. Her involvement in the school community extends much further into the fabric of the school than coaching. She is a model coach and a model teacher.
“Vestavia Hills High School is a school with many long-time successful coaches The coaching staff at my high school is impressive and exceptional because of the level of commitment the men and woman give to high school athletics….Still a teacher at the high school, her smile and positive attitude continue to pervade the school community She continues to coach young men and woman, not so much in lessons of tennis anymore, but in lessons of life.”
Fellow teacher Timarie Fisk wrote that Becker’s commitment off the court has been as important to her players as her coaching:
“Nancy is not only a coach to her players. Her guidance as a mentor, friend, and leader has had an impact on hundreds of high school tennis players. Nancy expected the best from her players. While under her coaching, it did not matter whether a player was in the top six playing players or were further down the roster. Nancy expected each player to bring her best and to be a committed member of the team.
“Nancy was diligent about finding a player’s strengths both on and off the court. She expected her students to not only make a commitment to the team but also to their academic standards. Her high expectations resulted in the girls’ tennis team consistently holding some of the highest GPAs at Vestavia Hills High School.
“As a coach, Nancy was committed to good sportsmanship. Her players knew that if they exhibited a bad attitude on or off the court, they would be removed from competition. She expected that all players support each other by encouraging support and praise both on and off the court.
“Nancy has stayed involved in the tennis program even after her retirement from coaching. She has assisted the coaches that have followed her legacy by supporting them during competition and mentoring them through leading their own teams. Her help and support contributed to VHHS winning the 2013 6A state title.
“Nancy Becker has had an impact on tennis in both the Vestavia Hills and Birmingham communities. Her commitment to tennis, education and development of young people has established a legacy that is deserving the honor of being a select member of the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame.”
She has also earned a number of personal awards in tennis. She was a member of the committee that founded the Birmingham Ladies Inter-Club Tennis League and was on the championship team in 1975. She was tennis chairman for the Mountain Brook Swim and Tennis Club in 1975. In 1976 she was the mixed doubles champion at the Country Club of Birmingham. She won district, state and the Southern Equitable Family Tennis Challenge, enabling her to play doubles in the Nationals Finals of the U.S. Open Tennis Championship at Flushing Meadows, N.Y. in 1979.
Her additional community service has included serving on the boards of both the Charity League and the Civiettes for a number of years.
The Bryant-Jordan Student-Athlete Program’s 104 regional winners have been announced by Bryant-Jordan Director Shelton Thompson for 2015.
A total of 52 seniors, eight each from the AHSAA Classes 1A through 6A and four in Class 7A, were selected as Scholar-Athlete regional winners and 52 were chosen in the Student- Achievement division. Each student selected was nominated by their respective high schools. For the first time since 1988, the total number has expanded from the previous 96 total. Eight additional student-athletes will be recognized due to the addition of Class 7A, which has 32 total schools, by the AHSAA this school year. Approximately 60-64 schools comprise each of the other six classifications.
A committee of school principals chose the area winners. A committee of school administrators in each region then selected the regional winners. The overall winners will be selected by a statewide committee comprised of school administrators and state business leaders.
All 104 will be recognized at the 2015 Bryant-Jordan Banquet set for Birmingham’s Sheraton Hotel Ballroom April 13. Each regional winner will receive a $2,500 scholarship with class winners receiving an additional $3,000 scholarship. The overall Larry D. Striplin, Jr. Scholar-Athlete and the overall Ken and Betty Joy Blankenship Achievement Award state winners will receive an additional $3,000 each.
Regional winners are also eligible to receive several other scholarships that will be awarded by 13 Alabama four-year colleges and 13 Alabama community colleges participating in the program. The 13 colleges participating include: Auburn University, Auburn-Montgomery, Jacksonville State, Miles College, Samford, Troy University, University of Alabama, University of Alabama-Birmingham, University of Alabama-Huntsville, Montevallo, North Alabama, South Alabama and West Alabama.
The 13 community colleges are: Bevill State, Calhoun, Central Alabama, Chattahoochee Valley, Gadsden State, Jefferson State, Lawson State, Northeast Alabama, Northwest-Shoals, Shelton State, Snead State, Wallace-Dothan and Wallace-Hanceville.
Several special scholarships are also presented annually including the Dr. Gaylon McCollough Medical Scholarship ($2,500) earmarked for a selected regional winner who plans to go into the medical field, and the Herman “Bubba” Scott Coach’s Scholarship ($2,500) given to a selected regional winner who plans to go into teaching and coaching. The Auburn Football Lettermen and the University of Alabama “A” Club Educational and Charitable Foundation also present scholarships to selected regional winners who plan to attend either Auburn or Alabama, respectively. The Auburn Lettermen present two $2,500 scholarships while the Alabama “A” Club presents scholarships totaling $12,000.
In addition, each school that has an individual classification winner will receive a $2,000 cash award. Approximately $1 million in scholarships are awarded annually in the nationally acclaimed program named for legendary football coaches Paul “Bear” Bryant and Ralph “Shug” Jordan. The program began in 1986 as a project of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and the AHSAA and is now in its 30th year.
The 2015 regional winners are listed below:
2015 Bryant-Jordan Student Achievement Regional Winners
Region 1: MacKenzie Grace, Kinston
Region 2: Adriauna Alston, Linden
Region 3: Amber Uptain, Maplesville
Region 4: Phillip Cook, Winterboro
Region 5: Nathan Young, Hubbertville
Region 6: Mallary Guthrie, Meek
Region 7: Sarah Avans, Skylinje
Region 8: Kate Fortenberry, Athens Bible
Region 1: Trey Garris, Leroy
Region 2: Noah Cobb, Samson
Region 3: Donta’ Hall, Luverne
Region 4: MarKiece Williams, Reeltown
Region 5: Brittany Snyder, Fayetteville
Region 6: Carissa Barrios, Cleveland
Region 7: Michael Warner, Ider
Region 8: Chelsea Dewberry, Cherokee
Region 1: Cathrine Wiggins, Excel
Region 2: Timothy Skipper, Abbeville
Region 3: Nicole Hoots, Prattville Christian
Region 4: Ty Herron, Lamar County
Region 5: Max Erb, Winfield
Region 6: Hope Bishop, Glencoe
Region 7: Keely Ellison, Pisgah
Region 8: Zack Simbeck, Lauderdale County
Region 1: Carly Brooks, Ashford
Region 2: Carter Rief, LAMP
Region 3: Levi Warren, Elmore County
Region 4: Mikailah Good, Oak Grove
Region 5: Chandler Gann, Carbon Hill
Region 6: Brady Williams, Crossville
Region 7: Jesse Overton, Haleyville
Region 8: William Chandler, Wilson
Region 1: Robert Henderson, Jr., Escambia County
Region 2: Chase Smartt, Charles Henderson
Region 3: Kiriklin McWhorter, Tallassee
Region 4: Shakeith, Tyes, Calera
Region 5: Juan Waters, A.H. Parker
Region 6: Dontrez Green, Mortimer Jordan
Region 7: Conner Parrish, Boaz
Region 8: Breanna Peeples, East Limestone
Region 1: Tyler Brentzel, Spanish Fort
Region 2: Benjamin Dowd, Northview
Region 3: Whitley Bailey, Benjamin Russell
Region 4: Ethan Howard, Brookwood
Region 5: Samantha “Sammie” LaBeau, Chelsea
Region 6: Terelle West, Clay-Chalkville
Region 7: Easton Gorman, Fort Payne
Region 8: Devin Sanders, Decatur
Region 1: Chris Dillon, Foley
Region 2: Zach Higman, Prattville
Region 3: Ward Webb, Mountain Brook
Region 4: Ryan Sivak, Grissom
2015 Bryant-Jordan Scholar-Athlete Regional Winners
Region 1: Jared Alan Moss, Fruitdale
Region 2: Ashley Ballard, McKenzie
Region 3: Kacie Adams, Isabella
Region 4: Kasey Gamble, Victory Christian
Region 5: Brock Belcher, Shades Mountain Christian
Region 6: Lauren Kois, Brilliant
Region 7: Kelsi Lynn Sisk, Woodville
Region 8: Tyler Crumpton, Phillips
Region 1: Tripp Vickery, Flomaton
Region 2: Matthew Logan Skinner, Geneva County
Region 3: Tyler Phillips, Goshen
Region 4: Sydney Meadows, Horseshoe Bend
Region 5: John David Jacobs, Woodland
Region 6: Trent Tatum, Cleveland
Region 7: Carly Westermoreland, Addison
Region 8: Katie Clemons, Mars Hill Bible
Region 1: Amanda Jillian Daher, Geneva
Region 2: Nathaniel “Nate” Robinson, Slocomb
Region 3: Jillian Tinglin, Montgomery Academy
Region 4: Nate Freeman, Fultondale
Region 5: Judson Keith Hunt, Jr., Winfield
Region 6: Ali Porter, Westbrook Christian
Region 7: Will Cole, Sand Rock
Region 8: Sydney Homan, Madison Academy
Region 1: Robert M. Hope III, UMS-Wright
Region 2: Anna Curles, Trinity Presbyterian
Region 3: Morgan Tew, Elmore County
Region 4: Shane Adams, Handley
Region 5: Blake Foster, Locust Fork
Region 6: John “J.T.” Hill, Cherokee County
Region 7: Connar Franklin, Hamilton
Region 8: Zachary “Zack” Phillips, Wilson
Region 1: William “Will” Pickard, St. Paul’s Episcopal
Region 2: James “Trey” Tate III, Rehobeth
Region 3: Kylee Carter, Beauregard
Region 4: Braxton Stokes, Calera
Region 5: Blaine Kilgore, Corner
Region 6: Thomas R. Powers, Moody
Region 7: Isabella Wisener, Douglas
Region 8: Elizabeth Lopez, St. John Paul II Catholic
Region 1: Jordan T. Hess, Robertsville
Region 2: Holly M. Baker, Northview
Region 3: Abrianna Fornis, Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa
Region 4: Kyle Stuart, Northridge
Region 5: Charles “Chase” Kelly III, Homewood
Region 6: Hasan Sadiq Abdulla, Clay-Chalkville
Region 7: Lindsey Elizabeth Hindsman, Southside-Gadsden
Region 8: Max Erbe, Florence
Region 1: Caleb Casolaro, Fairhope
Region 2: Savanna Cooper, Prattville
Region 3: Jake Colburn, Tuscaloosa County
Region 4: Cameron Andrew Thomas, Fairhope
The AHSAA was saddened to learn of the death of longtime Elmore County High School athletic director Grady Rowe, 57. The AHSAA extends condolences to Coach Rowe’s family and his extended Elmore County High School family.
He is survived by wife, Gloria and children William Grady Rowe III and Thomas Luke Rowe.
Rowe served his entire teaching career at Elmore County High School where he was a math teacher, athletic director and coach in various sports over the course of more than 20 years. He played football at ECHS and was selected a prep All American in 1975. He went on to play college football at Marion Military Institute and Jacksonville State University. Rowe served in the 20th Special Forces Group of the Alabama National Guard and retired as Lieutenant Colonel.
Visitation will be tonight from 5 to 8 p.m. at Good Hope Baptist Church located at 1767 South Fleahop Road in Eclectic. The memorial service will also be at Good Hope Church at 2 p.m. Thursday.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to Coach Grady Rowe Scholarship Fund at any branch of First Community Bank.
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