As President of the Alabama High School Athletic Association Central Board of Control, I would like to address the numerous stories being circulated regarding a recent eligibility ruling assessed to a student-athlete attending Charles Henderson High School (CHHS). Several facts involved in the ruling have either been misstated or ignored; therefore, I feel the need to provide the following details:
No one (including USA Basketball or CHHS) disputes the Amateur Rule was violated. On August 15, 2018, USA Basketball paid the student $857.20 for lost wages while participating with the USA Basketball team over the past summer. Neither USA Basketball, the student’s parents, the student’s coach, nor CHHS administration reported the student had received the check until three months later, (specifically 91 days). During this time, the student played in several games. The AHSAA Amateur Rule states in part “A student cannot accept payment for loss of time or wages while participating in athletics as part of expenses . . . A student who has lost his/her amateur standing may be reinstated after the lapse of one high school season for the sport in which he/she has become professional . . .”
The check ($857.20) paid to the student was dated August 15, 2018, and endorsed by the student and posted to the student’s bank account on August 27, 2018. The student’s mother sent USA Basketball a check in the same amount three months later on November 28, 2018.
The student’s mother is a certified AHSAA Basketball Coach; therefore, she is required to uphold current AHSAA bylaws and rules, including the Amateur Rule quoted above. Furthermore, the Head Girls’ Basketball Coach at CHHS is a former member of the AHSAA Central Board of Control; thus, she should not only appreciate the importance of knowing and following the AHSAA bylaws and eligibility rules but also understand how imperative it is to consistently uphold the same rules.
Steve Savarese, as AHSAA Executive Director, made the eligibility ruling based upon the plain language of the Amateur Rule. As Executive Director, Mr. Savarese does not have the authority to change a rule. Rather, as Executive Director, his job is to apply the rules as written.
Following Mr. Savarese’s ruling, the school appealed to both appellate levels for the AHSAA. First, to the District 2 Board – affirmed by unanimous vote of the 4-member Board. Next, to the Central Board of Control - affirmed by unanimous vote of the 15-member Board which represents the entire State. Thus, this ruling was affirmed by the Board that under the AHSAA Constitution has complete and final jurisdiction over all questions of the Constitution and Bylaws or other facts appealed to it by a member school. Mr. Savarese was not present at the District appeal or during deliberation at the Central Board hearing. To be clear, this ruling was affirmed by the Central Board of Control and as Executive Director, Mr. Savarese does not have the authority to change or reverse a ruling made by the Central Board.
Also, please remember, the AHSAA member schools, not Mr. Savarese nor the AHSAA staff, write and approve the AHSAA eligibility rules which include the Amateur Rule.
The AHSAA Legislative Council has the authority each year at the annual meeting to amend the AHSAA Constitution and Rules. Meaning, each year the member schools (including Charles Henderson High School) have an opportunity to change a rule or create new ones. The penalty for violating the Amateur Rule has not been amended in at least the past 10 years with Mr. Savarese as Executive Director. Which, in turn, means each year Charles Henderson High School has agreed to the penalty for violating this Rule without comment or pursuing any kind of rule change within the legislative process.
Each year these Rules are reviewed multiple times during AHSAA sponsored and hosted seminars with the member schools and are available on the AHSAA website. A review of all Summer Conference and Principals’ and Athletic Directors’ Conference attendees show the Principal for Charles Henderson High School has not attended the 2016, 2017, or 2018 Summer Conferences or the 2016, 2017 or 2018 Principals’ and Athletic Directors’ Conferences.
The stories and comments being circulated throughout the media and social networks are asking that an exception be made to the Amateur Rule because it was not the student’s fault; the fact the money was repaid, and that the student is an exceptional athlete and will miss her senior year. However, if exceptions are made, there would no longer be a need for an Amateur Rule. The Rules are applied equally to ALL athletes. Furthermore, most eligibility violations are the result of adults failing to follow the rules. Here, the student’s mother as a certified AHSAA Coach should know the rules; the School’s Principal should know the rules, the Head Basketball Coach, as not only a Coach but also as a former Central Board member, should know the rules.
Another point not mentioned in the public stories being circulated is that creating an exception to this Rule would have provided an avenue to exploit student-athletes by providing an opportunity for students to receive money and prizes for athletic participation and if discovered, state they didn’t know the rule, thus allowing them to return the items and retain eligibility. This is why AHSAA stresses to the leadership of its member schools how important it is to know the rules and advise their students regarding all rules that affect eligibility. Informing student-athletes of the consequences for violating such rules is the responsibility of the adults supervising them.
It should be pointed out that a high school student from Illinois also received payment from USA Basketball. However, that student called her high school once she received the check and then returned the check to USA Basketball without cashing or depositing it. Here, the student received the check, endorsed it and it was posted to her bank account. Three months later, AHSAA was notified and the monies returned to USA Basketball.
A high school student from Missouri has also been ruled ineligible for this basketball season for accepting the lost wages payment from USA Basketball.
USA Basketball never called Charles Henderson High School or AHSAA to ask if payment for lost wages violated AHSAA rules until November which was three months after payment was made and accepted by the student. This was not a clerical error but a complete lack of administrative oversight on the part of USA Basketball, thus possibly rendering multiple student-athletes ineligible as most states have an Amateur Rule.
Lastly, misstated facts and placing Mr. Savarese’s email on social media has led to Mr. Savarese and the AHSAA staff receiving threatening, irresponsible, and vulgar communications.
We, as the Central Board of Control, stand by the staff of the AHSAA and thank them for their unwavering support of the AHSAA mission, educational athletics, as well as the AHSAA Constitution and Bylaws.
Steve Savarese, Executive Director of the Alabama High School Athletic Association, is one of eight selected to be inducted into the State of Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. The Board of Directors of the ASHOF announced the Class of 2019 Wednesday morning. The class will be inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame at its induction banquet on April 27, 2019.
The Class was selected by ballot through a statewide selection committee; votes were tabulated by the firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers.
The newly elected inductees for the Class of 2019 are as follows:
CATHERINE REDDICK WHITEHILL
Starting with the first class in 1969, this will be the 51st Class inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. The eight newly elected inductees will bring the total number of inductees to 361.
The 51st Induction Banquet and Ceremony will be held in the Birmingham Ballroom, at the Sheraton Birmingham Hotel, on April 27, 2019. For more information please contact the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame Museum at (205) 323-6665.
Savarese is being inducted in the administrator category. Others with AHSAA ties include football standouts Tommie Agee, who is a Maplesville High School graduate, and Antonio Langham, who graduated from Hazlewood High School in Town Creek; former coach Bill Burgess, a Banks High School graduate; track Olympian Willie Davenport of Troy; and soccer star Catherine Reddick Whitehill, who attended Briarwood Christian School in Shelby County.
Savarese was born October 16, 1952 in Glencoe, NY. Savarese grew up in Leeds, Alabama and graduated from Southwestern College in Kansas. After a very successful high school coaching career for more than three decades, he became just the fourth AHSAA Executive Director in the history of the AHSAA serving in that capacity since 2007.
He introduced several major changes at the AHSAA including rotating the Super 7 State Football Championships between Auburn and Tuscaloosa; expanding other championship sports such as softball, volleyball, swimming, wrestling, cross country and golf to include regional/sectional competition leading to more opportunities for participation for student-athletes. He introduced a revenue-sharing plan and sportsmanship initiatives that have made a significant impact on high school sports in the State of Alabama.
He currently serves on the NFHS Board of Directors and is chairman of the NFHS Network Board of Directors. Before joining the AHSAA, he coached a high state football championship in Kansas (Douglass) in 1978, in Alabama (Daphne) in 2001 and had successful tenues at Ensley, Benjamin Russell and McGill-Toolen as well.
Bios of of all the inductees are below:
CLASS OF 2019 BIOGRAPHIES:
TOMMIE AGEE | FOOTBALL Born February 22, 1964 in Maplesville, AL. Agee played football at Auburn University where he was a four-year starter at fullback as lead blocker for Bo Jackson. He finished his college career with 356 carries, 1,733 rushing yards, and 13 touchdowns. He was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the 5th Round of the 1987 NFL Draft. He played one year for the Seahawks, one year for the Kansas City Chiefs, and five years for the Dallas Cowboys. While he was with the Cowboys, they won two consecutive Super Bowl Championships (Super Bowl XXVII and XXVIII).
BILL BURGESS | FOOTBALL - COACHING Born January 26, 1941 in Birmingham, AL. Burgess was a letterman at fullback for Auburn University in 1962. He began his coaching career as a football assistant at Banks High School in Birmingham before accepting the head coach position at Woodlawn High School in 1966. Following his time at Woodlawn he coached the Oxford Yellow Jackets to nine playoff appearances, four area titles, and four regional titles. In 1985, he was named head coach at Jacksonville State University. Under Burgess, JSU won the 1988 Gulf South Conference and the 1992 NCAA Division II National Championship. Burgess was honored as the Gulf South Conference Coach of the Year three times and was named the 1992 NCAA Division II National Coach of the Year. His tenure as head coach at Jacksonville State spanned 12 seasons from 1985-1996; and he finished his college career with an 84-49-4 record. He has been inducted into the Jacksonville State University Athletic Hall of Fame and the NCAA Division II Football Hall of Fame.
WILLIE DAVENPORT | TRACK & FIELD Born June 8, 1943 in Troy, AL. Davenport competed in the 110-meter hurdles at the 1964, 1968, 1972 and 1976 Summer Olympics. After the 1964 Summer Olympics, he enrolled at Southern University and won the AAU outdoor title outright in 1965, 1966, and 1967; he tied for first place in 1969. At the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, he won a gold medal in the 110-meter hurdles. Eight years later, he won the bronze medal in the same event at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. At the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, Davenport and one of his bobsled teammates, Jeff Gadley, became the first two African-Americans to represent the United States at any Winter Olympics. Davenport is one of only ten Americans to compete in both the Summer and Winter Games. He was inducted into the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame in 1982 and the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1990.
LUIS GONZALEZ | BASEBALL Born September 3, 1967 in Tampa, FL. Gonzalez attended the University of South Alabama where he was named to Baseball America’s All-Freshman Second Team. He was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 4th Round of the 1988 MLB Draft. He played 18 seasons for seven different teams. In 2001, he was a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ only World Series championship team to date. His game-winning hit in Game 7 clinched the title for the Diamondbacks. He was a five-time All-Star, and won the Home Run Derby and Silver Slugger Award in 2001. He ended his career with a .283 BA, .479 SLG, .845 OPS, and 354 home runs. His No. 20 was the first Diamondback number to be retired. In 2005, he won the Branch Rickey Award for his community service after Hurricane Katrina. He was inducted into the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame in 2011.
BUD MOORE | FOOTBALL - COACHING Born October 16, 1939 in Jasper, AL. He played collegiately at the University of Alabama in both football and baseball. After his college career, he had coaching stints at Alabama, Kentucky, Texas A&M and North Carolina. In 1975, he became Head Coach at the University of Kansas and was named Big Eight Coach of the Year by the AP and UPI after taking the Jayhawks to a 7-5 record. He was named District Six Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association. In 1996 he was named recipient of the Paul W. Bryant Alumni-Athlete Award.
ANTONIO LANGHAM | FOOTBALL Born July 31, 1972 in Town Creek, AL. Langham played collegiately at the University of Alabama, where he was a three-year starter at left cornerback for the Crimson Tide. He holds the school record with 19 career interceptions. As a junior, he was recognized as a consensus first-team All-American. His senior season he was a consensus First-Team All-American and won the Jim Thorpe Award and the Jack Tatum Trophy, both of which are awarded to the nation’s top defensive back. Drafted in 1994 in the 1st Round (9th overall) by the Cleveland Browns, he was named 1994 NFL Rookie Defensive Player of the Year. He played two seasons with the Browns and also played with the Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers and New England Patriots over a seven-year career.
STEVE SAVARESE | ADMINISTRATION Born October 16, 1952 in Glencoe, NY. Savarese grew up in Leeds, Alabama and graduated from Southwestern College in Kansas. After a very successful high school coaching career for more than three decades, he became just the fourth AHSAA Executive Director in the history of the AHSAA serving in that capacity since 2007. He introduced several major changes at the AHSAA including rotating the Super 7 State Football Championships between Auburn and Tuscaloosa; expanding other championship sports such as softball, volleyball, swimming, wrestling, cross country and golf to include regional/sectional competition leading to more opportunities for participation for student-athletes. He introduced a revenue-sharing plan and sportsmanship initiatives that have made a significant impact on high school sports in the State of Alabama. He currently serves on the NFHS Board of Directors and is chairman of the NFHS Network Board of Directors. Before joining the AHSAA, he coached a high state football championship in Kansas (Douglass) in 1978, in Alabama (Daphne) in 2001 and had successful tenures at Ensley, Benjamin Russell and McGill-Toolen as well.
CATHERINE REDDICK WHITEHILL | SOCCER Born February 10, 1982, in Richmond, VA. She started her soccer career at Briarwood Christian School in Birmingham, AL. She played four seasons at the University of North Carolina where she won four national championships and was named to the NCAA All-Tournament Team four times. She was named NCAA Final Four Defensive MVP twice, NSCAA First-Team All-American twice and First-Team All-ACC three times. In 2003, her final season at UNC, she won the prestigious MAC Hermann Trophy and the Honda Sports Award, both of which are awarded to the best female player in college soccer. She played for the U.S. Women’s National Team from 2000-2010 where she scored 11 goals in 134 appearances. Whitehill played professional soccer in the United States from 2009-2015. She has also established a successful career in broadcasting, serving as a color commentator on television broadcasts.
MONTGOMERY – Eleven major contributors to prep athletics in Alabama have been selected from an outstanding field of 48 nominations for induction into the 29th class of the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame next March.
The 2019 class, which includes an “old-timer,” will be inducted at the 27th annual banquet at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel and Spa, March 18, 2019.
Selected for induction are football coaches Phil Lazenby, David Lowery, Willie Carl Martin, Billy Odom and Ronnie Sikes; basketball coaches Carolyn Wright and Scheussler Ware; track coach Claborn Campbell; baseball coach Mark Mincher; basketball official Johnny Robertson; and longtime coach and administrator Reynolds “R.C.” Cook, chosen in the old-timers’’ division. Mr. Cook is deceased.
Sponsors of the Hall of Fame program are the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA) and the AHSAA. The corporate partners include Alabama Power, ALFA, Cadence Bank, Coca-Cola, Encore Rehabilitation, Jack’s, Russell Athletic, TeamIP and Wilson Sporting Goods.
Veteran sportscaster Jeff Shearer will emcee the banquet. The NFHS Network is scheduled to live-stream the banquet.
The first class was inducted in 1991. These 11 new inductees will run the total enshrined into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame to 353.
A profile of each selectee:
CLABORN CAMPBELL: Campbell, 65, graduated from Cold Spring High School and Southern Benedictine College – then returned as a high school teacher and coach spending the bulk of his years in education at his alma mater Cold Springs (1979-83 & 1999-2018). He also had coaching stints at Winston County and West Point.
Considered one of the top track coaches in the state, he helped coach the Eagles’ boys to two state track titles and had four teams finish runner-up. His West Point and Cold Springs girls’ track teams won 17 Cullman County championships. He also directed the Cold Springs girls and boys to three state cross country crowns and had seven runner-up finishes.
A dedicated coach and devout man of faith, he has been inducted into the Cullman County Sports Hall of Fame, was an AHSAA Making A Difference Award recipient in 2016, was selected NFHS Alabama Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2017 (girls) and 2016 (boys). U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association named him Alabama Boys’ Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2014.
REYNOLDS G. COOK (OLDTIMER Division): Cook, now deceased, was born in 1913 and graduated from Sidney Lanier High School in 1933. He earned his college degree from Troy State Teachers College in 1950. He earned his master’s in 1964.
He began his teaching and coaching at Williams School in Montgomery, then moved to Union Springs High School in 1952 where he remained in various capacities through 1974.
He coached Union Springs’ only undefeated 10-0 football team in 1956 – earning him Birmingham Post-Herald Class 1A Coach of the Year. His 1957 team was 9-1 and participated in the prestigious Peanut Bowl at Dothan. As a basketball coach he had two teams go undefeated through the regular season – combining for a 46-2 record in 1963-64 and 1964-65.
He also coached baseball and helped bring the Alabama Lions Club regional East-West Baseball Game to Union Springs for several years. He also coached Union Springs to signature baseball victories over his much larger alma mater Sidney Lanier and its rival Robert E. Lee. He founded the youth baseball programs for Union Springs and remained active for many years.
He left coaching to become the Superintendent of Education in Bullock County – guiding the school system through 1974. He also served as president of the TSU Alumni Association and was District Governor of the Alabama Lions International.
PHIL LAZENBY: A graduate of Bessemer High School (1968) and Samford University (1974), Lazenby, 68, also received a master’s in education from the University of Montevallo in 1979. He played on Samford University’s 1971 National Championship football team and was selected Most Valuable Defensive Player for SU in 1973.
He embarked on a long-time career in teaching and coaching, first as an assistant football and head tennis coach at Bessemer’s Jess Lanier High School (1976-1980). He then moved to Mountain Brook where he served as defensive coordinator and assistant principal (1981-90).
He became a head coach, first at Guntersville (1991-95), was at Southside-Gadsden for one year in 1996, then moved to Benjamin Russell (1997-2000) and currently is at Bayside Academy (2007-present). He spent 2001-2006 at UMS-Wright as assistant coach and strength & conditioning coach. His overall head-coaching record is 169-89 with two state championship game appearances at Benjamin Russell and one at Bayside Academy. His teams had just two losing seasons in 21 years and have reached the state playoffs 17 times.
Lazenby coached as an assistant and head coach in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game, was ASWA Coach of the Year in 1997, 2011 and 2015 and has served as a past president of the Alabama Football Coaches Association. Lazenby was inducted into the Samford Athletic Hall of Fame in 2018. He served in the U.S. Army infantry reaching the rank of First Sergeant with tours in Europe and Central America.
DAVID LOWERY: A native of Butler County, Lowery, 53, graduated from Georgiana High School in 1983, Troy University in 1988 and earned a master’s at AUM in 1998. Hs first teaching/coaching position was at Evergreen High School in 1988. He moved to Elba High School as assistant coach and defensive coordinator from 1989-1998. He also was head baseball coach leading the Tigers to the playoff semifinals in 1993 and 1994. He was head football coach two years (1995-1996).
He then moved to Brantley High School where he was head football coach and athletic director from 1999-2013. He had an amazing run compiling a 156-27 overall record and 88-3 region record. His teams won the Class 1A state football title in 2009 and 2012 and finished runner-up in 1999 and 2005.
Lowery was named ASWA Class 1A Coach of the Year in 1999 and ALFCA Class 1A Coach of the Year in 2012. Brantley High School named the football field David Lowery Stadium in 2013, and he was inducted into the Wiregrass Sports Hall of Fame in 2014.
WILLIE CARL MARTIN: The Alexander City native and outstanding high school football lineman graduated from Laurel High School in 1969. He attended Northeastern Oklahoma on football scholarship. He was selected in the summer of 1969 to participate in the North-South All-Star Game – as one of the first three black participants in the game’s history.
After a successful playing career in the Canadian Football League (CFL), Martin, 67, returned to Alexander City and began a teaching and coaching career at Benjamin Russell High School that spanned the next 25 years. He served as an assistant football coach from 1985-2001 directing a defense that allowed only 12.32 points a game over a 15-year period. He served as head football coach from 2001-2006. He compiled a 51-24 record during that span and captured the school’s only state football title in in his first year in 2001.
Martin’s leadership expanded to the AHSAA where he served on the District 4 Board and Central Board from 2003-2007.
He was hired in 2007 to serve on the University of Alabama football staff as Director of Player Development, a role he kept until 2015 when he retired. In May of that year, Alexander City celebrated Willie Carl Martin Day (on May 12) as the city honored the native son who served as a trailblazer throughout his career.
MARK MINCHER: Mincher graduated from Hazel Green High School in Madison County in 1975, got his college degree from Memphis State University in 1975 and later earned a master’s in administration from Alabama A&M.
The son of former Major League baseball standout Don Mincher embarked on a career in education in 1980 that lasted more than three decades. He coached football, boys’ and girls’ basketball and baseball at Monrovia Middle School for two years before moving to Sparkman High School in 1982. He became head baseball coach in 1983. He moved to Huntsville High School as head baseball coach in 1985, a position he held for the next 28 years. He compiled a 576-353 baseball-coaching record with 12 city championships, eight area titles, 18 state playoff appearances and one Class 6A state championship (2011).
Mincher also served as HHS athletic director during that time and became an important mentor for other teachers and coaches, not only at his school but throughout Huntsville, Madison County and the state.
He was recognized as the Huntsville City baseball coach of the year numerous times, was named AlaBCA Coach of the Year (6A) and NFHS State Baseball Coach of the Year in 2011. Mincher was inducted into the Madison County Sports Hall of Fame in 2011. He was chosen HCPTA Secondary Principal of the Year in 2015.
BILLY ODOM: Odom, 68, graduated from Baker High School in Mobile in 1968 and from Mississippi College in 1972. He served as a teacher and head football coach at Baker High School for 14 seasons (1972-87), moved to Murphy as an assistant coach from 1989-91 and returned to head coaching at Alba High School from 1992-1997.
His Alba team won the region title in 1994.
Odom’s work as a coach and teacher was just part of his many contributions. He also played a key volunteer role in the development and administration of the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Football Game in Mobile from its inception in 1988. He has been a key administrative coach for that game ever since – heading into his 33rd year. He has also served as the South team manager for the Senior Bowl College All-Star Game for the last three decades.
Recognized as one of Mobile County’s most dependable volunteers, he received the prestigious Bob Pannone Service Award in 2017 and was recognized by the L’Arche Mobile Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012
JOHNNY ROBERTSON (Contest Official): This Sidney Lanier 1965 graduate has been one of the state’s top basketball officials more than 50 years. Robertson, 71, served in 17 of 18 AHSAA state basketball tournaments from 1982-1999.
Recognized by the his peers and the AHSAA for his teaching skills, he served as AHSAA state rules clinician from 1981-1999, has been a Regional Tournament coordinator ever since the regional and state final four basketball format was instituted in 1994 and has been the South Central District Director for Officials since 1999. He has been serving as State Rules Interpreter since 2008. Robertson helped institute the state officials’ camps and has been the State Camp Director since 2008. He received the AHSAA Distinguished Service Award in 2008.
Robertson also officiated high school football from 1972-1987, and he officiated baseball from 1972-1974.
Active in church and civic affairs in Montgomery, he has served in various positions of civic leadership including serving as president of the Kiwanis Club of Montgomery, was Division 9 Lt. Governor for the Kiwanis from 2007-2009 and has also served as president of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the River Region.
RONNIE SIKES: A native of Randolph County, Sikes, 59, graduated from Randolph County High School in Wedowee in 1977 and from Auburn University in 1981. He also attended Southern Union Community College and received a master’s degree from Auburn University (1987).
The veteran football coach began his career in high school education in 1981 with stints at Valley High School (1981-1984), Notasulga (1984-1988), Mortimer Jordan (1988-1990), and Beulah (1990-1992) before returning to Notasulga in 1992. He served as head football coach for the Blue Devils for 12 years compiling a 91-51 record. He then moved to Lanett from 2004-2009. He has coached and taught at Georgia public schools since 2013. While at Notasulga his teams compiled a 25-game winning streak with his 2001 team capturing Class 1A state runner-up. He rebuilt the Lanett program in a short time becoming the coach to lead the Panthers to the first 12-win season since 1976.
Sikes coached in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game twice and also coached in the North-South All-Star Game. He was named O-A News Coach of the Year in 1998.
SCHUESSLER WARE: Anniston High School’s long-time boys’ head basketball coach graduated from AHS in 1974 and Talladega College in 1978. He earned a master’s degree in elementary education from Jacksonville State University.
Ware, 60, began teaching and coaching at his high school alma mater in 1979 – spending his entire career with the Anniston City Schools. He became head basketball coach in 1997 and for the next 20 years his teams compiled a 420-168 record with two state championships, the Class 5A title in 2002 and the 4A championship in 2009. Anniston made five State Final Four appearances, five Northeast Regional titles and seven Calhoun County championships during his tenure.
He was chosen Calhoun County Coach of the Year nine times, AHSAA Class 5A (2002) and Class 4A (2009) Coach of the Year, and saw 12 of his teams win 20 or more games in a season. Only one team had a losing record but still won the area title, and two years later the program rebounded to go 27-6 and reach the Northeast Regional tourney.
He is active in his church and community serving as an Elder at First United Presbyterian Church.
CAROLYN WRIGHT: Mrs. Wright, 62, graduated from Tuskegee Institute High School in 1974 and from Alabama State University in 1978. She earned a master’s in specific learning disability.
She has spent the last 40 years teaching and coaching, primarily at Central High School in Phenix City. She became the head girls’ basketball coach at Central in 1991 and begins the 2018 season with a 498-281 record. She guided the Lady Red Devils to a 26-4 record in 2016-17 and a berth in the Class 7A State Tournament after winning the Central Regional title. Her teams have had just two losing seasons and finished 29-5 in 2005 to set a school girls’ record for basketball wins in a season.
Wright, who also coaches volleyball at Central, served as girls’ track coach from 1992-2007 with 14 individuals or relay teams winning state event titles. Her volleyball team reached the Super Regional tourney in 2014.
She serves in several other leadership roles include department chair for the health and PE department (1991-2008) at Central, and is also currently assistant athletic director. She served on the AHSAA Strategic Planning Committee in 2016.
Her husband Bobby Wright, the Central boys’ basketball coach, was inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2015. With over 600 wins, the husband-wife duo have more basketball games than any other husband-wife coaching duo state history. The couple now have the distinction of being just the second husband-wife tandem to be selected to be enshrined in the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame. The first were Tom and Lynette Calvin.
MONTGOMERY – The Alabama High School Athletic Association Central Board of Control unanimously approved Wednesday assistance for Cottonwood High School (CHS), which suffered significant damage during last week’s weather assault on the Wiregrass by Hurricane Michael. The action came during the Central Board’s quarterly meeting at the AHSAA Wednesday.
The Board also approved budgets for the upcoming 2018 Super 7 football championships at Auburn University Dec. 5-7 and the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Football Game scheduled for Cramton Bowl Dec. 17.
David Holtsford of the AHSAA gave the Central Board a preview of the re-designed AHSAA website and AHSAANOW that is planned to be unveiled Nov. 1, and Denise Ainsworth gave an analysis of the AHSAA’s various future media options.
In other Central Board action:
-Heard a report on Super 7 from Knight Eady Sports spokesman Michael McGreevey
-Approved the 2018 Summer Conference Profit-Loss Statements
-Approved clarification of Rule III, Section 15 (Coaching Outside the School Year)
-Approved pictures to be required on all AHSAA-issued cards beginning with the 2019-20 school year
-Heard an update on School Audits and School Catastrophic Insurance
-Received an update on a survey studying officials’ compensation
-Approved dates for future board meetings (Jan. 30, 2019, April 10, 2019 and July 24, 2019)
47 AHSAA Events Set for NFHS Network Live-Stream Thru Sept. 6
MONTGOMERY – The NFHS Network’s AHSAA School Broadcast Program will live-stream three varsity football games Thursday night and 21 on Friday as the high school season moves into week 1.
The headliner, Daphne (1-0) at Spanish Fort (0-0), will be the AHSAA’s Game of the Week. The Spanish Fort High School NFHS Network School Broadcast Program, headed by producer Brian Williamson, will produce the game.
Daphne opened its season last week with a 16-13 win over Theodore, and Spanish Fort played a pre-season game during Week Zero with McGill-Toolen Catholic, which won 48-13.
The Trojans are coached by Kenny King and the Toros are coached by Ben Blackmon. Spanish Fort holds a 5-1 edge in the state’s newest series.
Other games of note include, on Thursday, Sidney Lanier (0-1) at Lee-Montgomery (1-0) in the 64th playing of that legendary series at Cramton Bowl, and Geneva at Geneva County in one of the state’s top small-school rivalries set for Hartford Friday night. The series is resuming for the first time since 2003 with the Panthers holding a 39-34-2 edge. The two teams first played in 1926 and played yearly from 1950-2003.
Decatur (1-0) will also face Austin (0-1) in one of the state’s top big-school rivalries on Friday with that game making history as it becomes the first game played at the Black Bears’ new stadium. The series, which dates back to 1965, has been played every year since then at Decatur’s Ogle Stadium.
Other key rival games to be showcased Friday are Opelika at Auburn, Homewood at Vestavia Hills, Charles Henderson at Enterprise, Elba at Opp, Tuscaloosa County at Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa and Red Bay at Phil Campbell.
Red Bay holds a 46-30-0 edge in the Tigers’ longest running series with Phil Campbell, which has been played annually since 1946 except for one year (1950). It is the Bobcats’ second longest series. The first is with rival Hackleburg – Phil Campbell’s opponent for the final week of the regular season. That series began in 1926 and this year’s meeting on Nov. 1 will be the 83rd of the Northwest Alabama rivalry.
The NFHS Network has 11 varsity volleyball matches, eight JV matches and two freshmen matches set Aug. 29 through Sept. 6. Homewood and John Carroll Catholic will be one of six matches featured Thursday at 6 p.m., and Spain Park at Hoover will be one of five matches live-streamed on Tuesday, Sept. 4.
NFHS Network subscribers will have access to all the games. To subscribe to the NFHS Network, click on:
The complete AHSAA schedule of events set to be live-streamed over the NFHS Network August 29 through Sept. 6 are listed.
MONTGOMERY – Etowah High School Coach Drew Noles says his big 6-foot-6, 240-pound senior defensive end Jamin Graham is not committed – to any college yet.
But he also says, he has never seen a player more committed – to his team and to his grandfather.
Graham turned that commitment into two defensive touchdowns in the final 1:15 of the Blue Devils’ season-opening game versus Gadsden City August 23 as Etowah posted a 32-23 victory.
His granddad, longtime Etowah School System teacher, bus driver and coach James Graham, passed away on August 18. Mr. Graham’s funeral was the next day.
“It was just an amazing effort,” Noles said. “Jamin was extremely close to his grandfather, who was a legend in the town to Attalla. Jasmin dedicate that game to his grandfather. Hs is a great kid from a great family. I think it was the best game of his high school career.”
Jasmin Graham’s performance grabbed the AHSAA Prep Spotlight for the first week of the AHSAA high school football season – a week where outstanding performances were plentiful.
None, however, was more inspiring than his efforts.
Gadsden City, holding a slim 23-20 lead late in the game, had a goal-line stand stopping Etowah on four downs inside the 2-yard line. With 1:15 remaining, the Titans had an errant snap sail into the end zone where Graham was there to recover for an Etowah touchdown.
Coach Bart Sessions’ team then drove quickly into Etowah territory following the kickoff. With eight seconds remaining, however, Graham broke through to sack the runner at the Blue Devils 25-yard line, forcing a fumble that he scooped up and returned for the game’s final touchdown.
Noles said he expected the packed crowd on hand to storm the field in celebration. “Instead, I think they were standing up in awe,” he said. “And Jasmine, well, I was so happy for him that it brought tears to my own eyes. But Jasmin just acted like he’d done this kind of thing many times before.”
The win was the first over Gadsden City since the school was formed by merging Gadsden, Emma Sansom and Litchfield in 2006. The two schools met four times (2006-09) with the Titans winning all four, but discontinued the series until this season.
Graham’s heroics edged out several outstanding efforts, including a super effort by Oxford’s defense in its 28-0 shutout of Munford and Hewitt-Trussville senior quarterback Paul Tyson’s 404-yard passing effort in the Huskies’ 34-30 loss to Cedar Grove (GA) in a game played at Hoover High School and televised live by ESPN. Tyson was 31-of-47 passing with four TD passes.
Coach Ryan Herring’s Oxford defense limited Munford to minus-34 yards on 33 rush attempts and held the Lions to just 50 yards total offense as the Yellow Jackets shut out Munford 28-0 for Oxford’s 22nd straight regular season victory dating back to 2015. Quarterback Trey Higgins connected with 6-4, 220-pound receiver Roc Taylor for eight completions, 149 yards and one score for Oxford. iggins Higgins finished 13-of-18 for 180 yards and two TDs.
Three other quarterbacks, Thompson’s Taulia Tagolailovoa, Hoover’s Robby Ashford and Calera’s Cornelius Brown all passed for 350 or more yards in their season openers. Tagovailova was 26-of-39 passing for 385 yards and four touchdowns in Thompson’s 38-7 Champions Challenge win over James Clemens. He had 309 yards at the half.
Ashford, making his first start as defending Class 7A state champion Hoover’s quarterback, was 23-of-34 with 383 yards and four TDs in the Bucs’ 52-14 win over Pinson Valley – ending the defending Class 6A Indians’ winning streak at 15 games. Brown completed 27-of-48 passes for 357 yards and two TDs in a 45-24 loss to Pelham.
Other highlights for Week Zero included:
JUSTIN TEMPLETON, ASBURY: Ran for two touchdowns as Coach Jeff Powell’s Rams won the first game in program history and christened their new stadium with a 19-7 victory over Brindlee Mountain. The Class 2A school had its first varsity season in 2016 – going 0-10 that year and in 2017.
JACOB LOCKHART, THORSBY: Rushed for 100 yards on 13 carries and scored two touchdowns, one coming on an 85-yard kickoff return, as Thorsby beat Jemison 44-26 for the first win over its Chilton County rival since 1970. More than 2,300 attended the season opener. Jemison holds a 14-2 lead in the series which started in 1968 and was resumed last Friday for the first time since 1995. The Panthers won the previous six meetings (1982, 1983, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995) by a combined score of 244-0.
MAC YOUNG, WHITE PLAINS: Ran for 143 yards with touchdowns of 43 and 29 yards in a 49-18 victory over Vincent. It was the first time White Plains has opened the season with a win since 2013.
TYLER DANZEY, HEADLAND: Danzey tied a state record with two interceptions returned for touchdowns in Headland’s 43-0 win over Straughn. Danzey returned his first interception 46 yards for a score late in the second quarter to put Headland up 30-0. He added a 19 yard interception return for a touchdown in the early moments of the third quarter. Danzey also finished with nine tackles.
MICAH DORSEY, PROVIDENCE CHRISTIAN: The linebacker had eight tackles and an interception in the Eagles’ 35-10 win over New Brockton. His milestone came off the field when he recently scored a perfect 36 on his ACT college entrance exam.
JONATHAN FELL, CARROLL: The running back rushed for 220 yards and four touchdowns on 26 carries as Carroll beat Booker T. Washington of Tuskegee 33-6 for Eagles’ 24th straight regular-season win.
ZYQUEZ PERRYMAN, PLEASANT GROVE: Completed 16-of-23 passes for 268 yards and three TDs in a 34-27 victory over Mortimer Jordan.
GRANT THORNTON, ENTERPRISE: Was a near perfect 19-of-20 passing for 266 yards
and three touchdowns in the Wildcats’ 44-21 win over Dothan. He completed the last 16 passes of the game with his only miss coming on his fourth pass attempt in the game’s opening series.
WILL BAILEY, DAR: Was 19-of-28 passing for 251 yards and rushed for 87 yards as the Patriots rolled up more than 500 yards total offense in a 58-33 setback to Westminster Christian.
TRENTIN DUPPER, DECATUR: Passed for 224 yards and four touchdowns covering 17, 37, 29 and 34 yards in the Red Raider’ 38-21 win over Huntsville.
LUKE JACKSON, JACKSONVILLE: Passed for 219 yards and three touchdowns with a 10-of-15 performance as the Golden Eagles beat J.B. Pennington 34-21.
BO NIX, PINSON VALLEY: Completed 20-of-41 passes for 210 yards and one TD in a 52-14 loss to Hoover.
BRETT NEZAT, SARALAND: Making his first start at quarterback for the Spartans, he passed for 201 yards and three touchdowns en route to a 41-3 win over Andalusia.
REECE SOLAR, ALABAMA CHRISTIAN: Was 17-of-26 passing for 195 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 106 yards and a touchdown for 301 total yards in a 35-22 loss to Saks. He also had three punts, averaging 54 yards with his longest going for 60 yards.
STROTHER GIBBS, MOUNTAIN BROOK: Completed 11-of-15 for 174 yards and a TD and added another 51 yards rushing and two TDs in a 30-14 victory over Northridge.
KALVIN LEVETT, TALLASSEE: Completed 8-of-14 passes for 160 yards and three touchdowns and rushed 20 times for 146 yards and a 38-yard TD as the Tigers downed Montgomery Catholic 28-7.
COLE SAUNDERS, GENEVA COUNTY: The Bulldogs quarterback accounted for 244 yards and four scores, including two in the second half to help Geneva County rally past Samson 41-33. He completed 6-of-7 passes for 164 yards, including a 65-yard TD pass to Colby Fuller, and added 80 yards rushing on 21 carries with TD runs of 14, 7 and 3 yards, including the final two scores of the game in the comeback win.
DAMARIUS JENKINS, DALE COUNTY: Warrior quarterback accounted for 200 yards and three touchdowns in Dale County’s 41-19 win over Ariton. He completed 4-of-8 passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 26 yards on four carries with one touchdown.
BRYCE PALMER, WATERLOO: Threw for 195 yards and three touchdowns in a 47-7 win over Woodville. Palmer also intercepted two passes on defense, returning one 52 yards for a touchdown.
EASTIN HARDIN, BOAZ: Was 10-of-17 passing for 191 yards and one TD in the Pirates’ 42-17 win over Arab.
TYQUAN RAWLS, WETUMPKA: Becoming the starter after All-State quarterback J.D. Martin’s pre-season injury, Rawls completed 9-of-15 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns in a 35-17 win over Fairhope.
JACKSON COX, WESTBROOK CHRISTIAN: Completed 7-of-12 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown in the Warriors’ 35-6 victory over Coosa Christian.
TONY FRANKLIN, LEE-MONTGOMERY: Had 168 passing yards and two touchdowns in a 26-15 win over Park Crossing.
COLE WALES, CLEMENTS: Completed 10-of-22 passes for 149 yards and three touchdowns (12, 25 and 18 yards), added a 2-point conversion pass and made an interception on defense in the Colts’ 29-0 win at Elkmont.
A.J. PHILLIPS, CHICKASAW: Had 14 rush attempts for 275 yards and three touchdowns in Chickasaw’s 32-12 win over Resurrection Catholic (MS). He also returned an interception 40 yards for a fourth score.
SHAMAR SPINKS, WEAVER: Needed just 17 carries to pile up 265 yards rushing Friday night as the Bearcats ran past Cleburne County 49-35. Spinks scored three touchdowns and teammate Robert Gaines added 113 rushing yards, 136 passing and two TDs. Spinks scored on runs of 1, 54 and 53 yards. Gaines threw a 57-yard touchdown pass to Josh Lowe and an 8-yard opposite-hander to Caleb Allison.
MEL DANTSLER, GRISSOM: The workhorse running back had 38 rush attempts for 249 yards and four touchdowns (10, 3, 10 and 5 yards) in a 26-21 win over Hazel Green.
NOAH TURBYFILL, BROOKS: Rushed 11 times for 255 yards and three scores, returned an interception 64 yards for another touchdown and recovered a botched punt in the end zone for a fifth TD as the Lions beat Lauderdale Count 55-0.
CHRISTIAN COLLINS, BOAZ: The senior rushed for 243 yards on 29 carries and scored four touchdowns to lead Boaz to a 42-17 win over Arab in the season opener for both teams. Collins scored touchdowns on runs of 49, 3, 3, and 12.
NICK MARTINDALE, WEST LIMESTONE: Had 29 carries for 237 yards and four touchdowns on runs of 6, 34, 4 and 26 yards in a season-opening win over Tanner 39-20.
RISHARD DENSMORE, BESSEMER CITY: Gained 191 yards rushing, 150 in the second half, and rushed for two touchdowns in a 21-14 victory over Huffman He also passed for 94 yards and one score to account for 285 of the team's 336 yards of total offense.
CLAY CRAFTON, ROGERS: Ran 21 times for 174 yards and three touchdown as Rogers beat Loretto (TN) 35-14.
JOSH MARTIN, MARY MONTGOMERY: Rushed for 173 yards on 31 carries and scored two touchdowns as the Vikings snapped an 11-game losing streak with a 14-0 win over Robertsdale.
JALEN HENDERSON, SPAIN PARK: Ran 31 times for 172 yards and scored two TDs in a 24-14 victory over Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa.
IAN THIES, WESTMINSTER CHRISTIAN: Ran for 163 yards and two scores on 10 carries, and completed 9-of-17 passes for 162 yards and two TDs in a 58-33 win at DAR.
CAMERON FAISON, REELTOWN: Scored every touchdown for the Rebels in s 35-8 win over Bullock County. He ran for 155 yards and four touchdowns and returned a kickoff 75 yards for his fifth score.
SYMON SMITH, UMS-WRIGHT: Picked up 151 yards rushing on 38 carries and scored the game's only touchdown as UMS-Wright defeated St. Paul's 10-0 in the Battle of Old Shell Road. UMS-Wright won the Class 4A state title last season and St. Paul’s won the 5A state crown.
CARSON PETREE, THARPTOWN: Rushed 10 times for 145 yards and 2 touchdowns, threw a TD pass and caught a TD pass as Tharptown knocked off Shoals Christian 41-30.
KEON HORNSBY, SAMSON: Rushed for 147 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries and added a 5-yard TD reception in the Tigers’ 41-33 loss to Geneva County.
TERRANCE WEBSTER, CARVER-MONTGOMERY: Had 16 carries for 144 yards and two touchdowns in a 19-3 win over Jeff Davis.
TRE AUSMER, HOMEWOOD: Caught four passes for 152 yards and a touchdown in the Patriots’ 18-7 victory over Hueytown.
JA’VARRIOUS JOHNSON, HEWIT-TRUSSVILLE: Snared 11 catches for 151 yards and two TDs in the Huskies’ 34-30 loss to Cedar Grove (GA).
JAEDEN BARKSDALE, JACKSONVILLE: Caught five passes for 128 yards and two TDs (40 and 81 yards) in the Eagles’ 34-21 win over J.B. Pennington.
ROYDELL WILLIAMS, HUEYTOWN: Caught seven passes for 127 yards and a 28-yard score in the Gophers’ 18-7 loss to Homewood. He also rushed for 51 yards on 16 carries.
TAYLOR SMITH, BOAZ: Caught four passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns covering 33 and 18 yards in the Pirates’ 42-17 win over Boaz.
MICHAEL PETTWAY, THOMPSON: The junior receiver had five catches for 118 yards and two scores, both coming in the first quarter, covering 27 and 53 yards, in the Warriors’ 38-7 win over James Clemens at the Champions Challenge played at Cramton Bowl.
KEYONTEZE JOHNSON, PINSON VALLEY: Pulled down 11 receptions for 119 yards and a TD in the Indians’ 52-14 loss to Hoover.
SIDNEY WILLIAMS, VIGOR: Hauled in three touchdown passes covering 14, 36 and 62 yards as the Wolves snapped a three-year losing streak to arch-rival Blount 19-6.
JIMMY PITTS, NOTASULGA: Had two pass receptions for 87 yards and two scores, returned a punt 36 yards for a TD and also had an interception on defense to lead the Blue Devils to a 46-7 win over Barbour County.
CHRISTOPHER HOLIFIELD, LEFLORE: Caught five passes for 97 yards and one TD, had 51 yards rushing and also returned an interception 43 yards for a score in a 26-14 win over B.C. Rain. He finished with two interceptions and had another nullified on a penalty.
JEFFREY LIGHTNER, DALE COUNTY: Had 13 tackles, an interception and an 81-yard kickoff return in the Warriors’ 41-19 win over Ariton. Teammate Avery Beasley also had 13 tackles and Tanner Mathis had 11.
CONNER GERMAN & DRE NEWMAN, HEADLAND: German was in on 15 tackles and Newman earned nine tackles in the Rams’ 43-0 win over Straughn.
A.J. CHERRY, SHEFFIELD: Swiped two interceptions to help preserve Sheffield’s 22-7 win over Wilson.
BRANDON BUTTS, PRATTVILLE: Blocked a 41-yard field goal attempt and returned it 51 yards for the senior defensive back's first career touchdown in the Lions' 37-0 win over Foley.
SAMUEL ADKINSON, GENEVA COUNTY: Returned a fumble 25 yards for a touchdown and recorded 10 tackles, including four solos, in a 41-33 win over Samson.
DYLAN BONNER, ASHFORD: Recorded 10 tackles, and forced a fumble in the Yellow Jackets’ 31-7 win over Rehobeth. Teammate Noah Jackson also had 10 stops on defense and added 89 yards rushing.
J’DARIUS WASHINGTON, LEE-MONTGOMERY: Returned an interception 35 yards for a TD in the Generals’ 26-15 win over Park Crossing.
JACKSON COLLEY & WILL SOLOMON, PROVIDENCE CHRISTIAN: Both returned interceptions for touchdowns, helping the Eagles to a 35-10 win over New Brockton. Colley finished with seven tackles and Solomon five.
PHILLIP DUKE, PELHAM: Intercepted two passes and added four tackles in a 45-24 victory over Calera.
TIMOTHY KEENAN, RAMSAY: The Rams’ defensive lineman intercepted a pass and anchored a stingy defense in a 13-8 victory over Minor.
DIEGO GUAJARDO, DAPHNE: Kicked three field goals, an extra point and added a 12-yard run on a fake field-goal try as Daphne knocked off Theodore 16-13.
JASON PEREZ, COLLINSVILLE: Connected on two 38-yard field goal attempts, an extra point, and had three punts totaling 94 yards in the Panthers’ 13-0 victory over Plainview. The two DeKalb County teams were meeting for the first time since 1979. He also booted two of his three kickoffs into the end zone and the other sailed to the 5-yard line.
CHRISTIAN HERNANDEZ, DALE COUNTY: Kicked two field goals (43 and 28 yards) and converted three point-after kicks in the Warriors’ 41-19 win over Ariton.
LARRY McCAMMON, HOOVER: Returned a kickoff 91 yards for a score in the Bucs’ 52-14 victory over Pinson Valley.
ROBERT MARSH, CENTRAL-PHENIX CITY: Scored Central’s first TD on an 80-yard kickoff return as the Red Devils went on to score five different ways in a 42-18 win over Benjamin Mays of Atlanta in the Cam Newton Classic. The Red Devils also scored on a 69-yard pass, a 65-yard run, a blocked punt and a 27-yard interception return.
BIRMINGHAM, AL – The Board of Directors of the Bryant-Jordan Scholarship Program are proud to announce an increase in the amount of its scholarship awards beginning in 2019. The annual scholarship program, founded in 1986 in partnership between the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame (ASHOF) and the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA), annually recognizes the state’s best and brightest high school student-athletes.
Beginning with the 34th Annual Bryant-Jordan Scholarship Awards Banquet on Monday, April 8, 2019, each level, from regional winners to class winners, to the two overall winners, will receive an increase in the amount of scholarship dollars awarded by the Bryant-Jordan Foundation.
The increases are as follows:
104 Regional Winners will increase from $2,500 to $3,000,
14 Class Winners go from $3,000 to $3,500 and,
2 Overall Winners are increasing from $3,000 to $4,000 each!
In total, the 104 Bryant-Jordan Regional Winners will each receive a $3,000 scholarship; 14 Class Winners will receive $6,500; and the 2 Overall Winners will each be awarded a total of $10,500 -- $321,000 overall and an increase of $61,000 over the previous scholarship payout. The initial payout in the first year of the program in 1986 was $32,000 in total.
In addition, several other individuals and organizations have also joined the Bryant-Jordan Program and present additional scholarships as well. Since the Bryant-Jordan Scholarship Program’s inception, approximately 3,000 senior student-athletes have received more than $10 million in scholarships.
This increase marks the first time the Bryant-Jordan Foundation has raised the scholarship amounts since April 2009. Board Chairman, Edgar Welden said, “With the continuing rise in college tuition, we feel that this increase is very timely. From the beginning, it has been the mission of this program to grow in order to affect as many young lives as possible. We’re extremely pleased with this initiative in order to award these young men and women for the outstanding achievements." AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese said, “On behalf of our member schools and our student-athletes, we are extremely grateful for our partnership with the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and the Bryant-Jordan Program. There is no other scholarship program anywhere like it.The Bryant-Jordan Program not only provides educational opportunities for our students, but they have also been able to shine the light just how much educational athletics makes a difference in the lives of our young people. It has also been able to showcase the poignant struggles and successes of so many of our outstanding student-athletes.”
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF STATE HIGH SCHOOL ASSOCIATIONS
High School Sports Participation Increases for 29th Consecutive Year
FOR RELEASE 7:45 AM EST Contact: Bruce Howard
FRIDAY, AUGUST 24, 2018
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (August 24, 2018) — Led by an additional 15,009 participants in girls sports programs, the overall number of participants in high school sports increased for the 29th consecutive year in 2017-18, according to the annual High School Athletics Participation Survey conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).
The number of participants in high school sports in 2017-18 reached an all-time record high of 7,979,986, according to figures from the 51 NFHS member state high school associations, which includes the District of Columbia. The number of girls participating in high school sports reached an all-time high of 3,415,306, and boys participation also set a new standard at 4,564,680.
While the number of additional participants this year (16,451) was not as substantial as the previous year (94,635), a steady increase in several boys and girls sports extended the streak to a record-breaking 29th year.
Among boys sports, soccer registered the largest gain with 6,128 additional participants. Other boys sports with sizeable gains were cross country (3,824), volleyball (3,767) and golf (2,558). For the second consecutive year, competitive spirit had the largest increase among girls sports with an additional 18,426 participants, followed by swimming and diving (4,797), lacrosse (3,431) and golf (3,176).
With 1,035,942 participants, 11-player football remains the No. 1 participatory sport for boys in high school by a large margin. Outdoor track and field is No. 2 with 600,097 participants, followed by basketball (551,373), baseball (487,097), soccer (456,362), cross country (270,095), wrestling (245,564), tennis (158,151), golf (144,024) and swimming/diving (138,935).
Outdoor track and field continues to lead the way for girls with 488,592 participants, followed by volleyball (446,583), basketball (412,407), soccer (390,482), fast-pitch softball (367,861), cross country (223,518), tennis (190,768), swimming/diving (175,594), competitive spirit (162,669) and lacrosse (96,904).
Despite remaining the top participatory sport for boys, 11-player football dropped for the second consecutive year. The decline in numbers, however, was not as high as 2016, and participation in 6-player and 8-player football continued to trend upward. In 2017, participation in 11-player football was 1,035,942, a two-percent decline of 21,465 from the previous year. The decline from 2015 to 2016 was 27,865, or 2.5 percent.
While there have been some recent reports about schools dropping the sport of football for the 2018 season because of declining numbers, the overall number of schools discontinuing 11-player football before the 2017 season was minimal – a decline of 20 schools from 14,099 to 14,079.
With 14,079 schools sponsoring 11-player football nationally, the loss of 21,465 participants amounts to 1.5 per school. And, although the 11-player numbers were down, the number of schools sponsoring 6-player football increased from 259 to 317, and school sponsorship of 8-player football increased from 841 to 847. Overall, the number of high schools sponsoring football (combining 6-, 8-, 9- and 11-player) increased by 29 schools – from 15,457 to 15,486.
The overall number of participants in football (6-, 8-, 9- and 11-player) in 2017 was 1,067,970, which includes 2,401 girls playing the various levels of the sport. The 21,465 decline in 11-player participation was evenly distributed across the country with no states reporting significant drops in football numbers.
“There are many positives about the numbers in this year’s sports participation survey,” said Karissa Niehoff, who began her duties as NFHS executive director earlier this month after eight years as executive director of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference-Connecticut Association of Schools. “First, the upward trek of interest in high school sports continued for the 29th consecutive year. The model of sports within the education-based school system continues to thrive in the United States.
“Second, we are encouraged that the decline in high school football has slowed due, in part, to our efforts in reducing the risk of injury in the sport. While there may be other reasons that students elect not to play football, we have attempted to assure student-athletes and their parents that thanks to the concussion protocols and rules in place in every state in the country, the sport of football is as safe as it ever has been.”
In addition to playing rules in place that remove an athlete from a game when a concussion in suspected, states have enacted rules that limit the amount of contact before the season and during practices. With a more directed focus on risk minimization related to concussions the past 10 years, two recent studies have revealed that the rate of concussions has decreased the past couple of years due to more stringent rules related to protecting the head.
Amazingly, this year’s survey indicated participation by high school students in 65 different sports, as well as 13 adapted sports for students with disabilities. Some of the more popular non-traditional sports were badminton (17,898), archery (10,460) and fencing (4,513), along with two relative newcomers – bass fishing and ultimate frisbee.
Some of the emerging sports during the past decade continued their rise on the charts. Lacrosse now has 210,217 combined participants (113,313 boys, 96,904 girls), and bowling is up to 60,039 participants nationwide (32,159 boys, 27,880 girls).
“It is great to see new sport opportunities created to involve as many students as possible in high school sports,” Niehoff said. “While we continue to try to make football a viable option, we understand that some parents continue to have a concern about the physical nature of the sport. Certainly, the goal is to involve more and more young people in sports and activity programs because the benefits of participating in sports and activities is the same whether it is football, baseball, lacrosse, music, band or debate.”
The top 10 states by participants remained the same; however, Ohio moved ahead of Illinois into fourth place this year. Texas and California topped the list again with 824,619 and 819,625 participants, respectively, followed by New York (378,065), Ohio (347,567), Illinois (338,848), Pennsylvania (319,867), Florida (311,361), Michigan (296,625), New Jersey (281,800) and Minnesota (240,433).
The participation survey has been compiled in its current form by the NFHS since 1971 through numbers it receives from its member state associations. The top 10 sports for boys and girls and the year-by-year participation totals are listed below. The complete 2017-18 High School Athletics Participation Survey is available via the following link: http://www.nfhs.org/ParticipationStatistics/ParticipationStatistics/
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About the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS)
The NFHS, based in Indianapolis, Indiana, is the national leadership organization for high school sports and performing arts activities. Since 1920, the NFHS has led the development of education-based interscholastic sports and performing arts activities that help students succeed in their lives. The NFHS sets direction for the future by building awareness and support, improving the participation experience, establishing consistent standards and rules for competition, and helping those who oversee high school sports and activities. The NFHS writes playing rules for 16 sports for boys and girls at the high school level. Through its 50 member state associations and the District of Columbia, the NFHS reaches more than 19,500 high schools and 12 million participants in high school activity programs, including almost 8 million in high school sports. As the recognized national authority on interscholastic activity programs, the NFHS conducts national meetings; sanctions interstate events; offers online publications and services for high school coaches and officials; sponsors professional organizations for high school coaches, officials, speech and debate coaches, and music adjudicators; serves as the national source for interscholastic coach training; and serves as a national information resource of interscholastic athletics and activities. For more information, visit the NFHS website at www.nfhs.org.
MEDIA CONTACTS: Bruce Howard, 317-972-6900
Director of Publications and Communications
National Federation of State High School Associations
Chris Boone, 317-972-6900
Assistant Director of Publications and Communications
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