Wednesday, November 20, 2019






Jerome Sanders’ Loyalty to J.F. Shields HS Took Panthers Basketball To Great Heights

     Two words seem to emerge when others describe Coach Jerome Sanders -- “loyalty” and “respect.”
     Sanders’ loyalty and respect for his own alma mater, J.F. Shields High School, produced a basketball program committed to being loyal to Sanders’ coaching philosophies and respectful of the character traits he demands by his own example.
     The results have been astounding.  In 18 years at Shields, he compiled a 360-160 record with his 2004, 2005 and 2007 teams winning the Class 1A state boys’ basketball championship and the 2003 and 2010 teams capturing the runner-up spot.  Altogether, he had six teams in the semifinals and won the South region championship seven times in 15 appearances.
     Sanders will be inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2016 Monday night, March 21. The induction banquet, hosted by the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) and Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA), will be at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center at 6:30 p.m. A press conference introducing the 26th Class will be held at 5:30 at the Renaissance.
     Other members of the Class of 2016 include football coaches Richard Beverly, Tandy Gerelds and Ike Grant; basketball coach Mike Cochran; volleyball coaches  Frances Crapet and Brenda Mayes; baseball coach Earl Miller; wrestling coach and official Dwight Buzbee; volleyball official Apple Kridakorn; and coach/administrator Alfred Peavy, who was selected in the “old-timer” division. Peavy and Gerelds are deceased.
      A native of Beatrice, a small town in northern Monroe County, Sanders attended J. F. Shields High School where played on the 1971-72 basketball team that won the Class 2A state championship. He was named to the All-Tournament team along with tournament MVP and teammate John Drew, who went on play in the NBA.
     After graduation, he went to Daniel Payne College on a basketball scholarship, earning his bachelor’s degree in 1976. His first job out of college was in Butler County at Lomax-Hannon Junior College in Greenville. After serving as head basketball coach for seven years, he moved to Luverne High school to teach and coach at the secondary school level. He spent the remainder of his teaching career in public schools – the last two decades back at home at J.F. Shields.
     He also taught physical education and driver’s education and coached basketball -- and coached it well.
    Three teams won Class 1A state boys’ championships and 10 of his players were named to the all-state tournament teams: including MVPs Wesley Jones (2004), Shane Castopheny (2005) and Willie Nettles (2007).
      His coaching honors included:

--NFHS Section 3 Coach of the Year in 2007; AHSADCA Class 1A Coach of the Year in 2003, 2005 and 2007, and Monroe County Coach of the Year, 13 times. He also served as a coach in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Basketball Game coach twice. And in 2014 he was named the Class 1A “Making A Difference” Award recipient, one of the highest honors bestowed by the AHSAA.
     Former J. F. Shields Principal Larry Turner said, “I have known Coach Sanders for years through high school and sports-related activities, and he is a respected teacher and coach. Coach Sanders’ basketball record speaks greatly of him. He has over 35 years of coaching experience from junior college to high school sports. (His) winning record consists of an impressive 466 wins throughout his coaching career. In comparing Coach Sanders to other coaches in the state, there is no other that tops his dedication, character, coaching abilities and winning track record.”
       Current J. F. Shields Principal Carol Brown said the “Making A Difference” Award in 2014 reflected the character and kindness Sanders displayed daily.
     “I was told many people make suggestions, but leaders make decisions,” she said. “When Coach Sanders decided to return to his alma mater more than 20 years ago, he made a difference in the lives of so many. He has been doing that diligently every year since.”
       Another colleague, Larry Woolfolk, principal at C. P. Carmichael Alternative School, said, “I have known Coach Sanders for many years. We played college sports together, coached high school boys’ basketball as well as worked side by side in the classroom.  He is a community-oriented person who wants what is best for the children in his community and neighboring communities…Coach Sanders’ track record speaks for itself about his loyalty to his team and school, and his dedication, temperament and coaching abilities.”

SATURDAY: The AHSSHOF Class of 2016 series’ final installment (long-time coach and administrator Alfred Peavy, elected from the “Old-Timer” category).


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