AHSAA News

rss

AHSAA News


Alabama HS Sports Hall of Fame Inducts 12 for Class of 2017

     MONTGOMERY – Twelve major contributors to prep athletics in Alabama were inducted into the 27th class of the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame Monday night at the banquet held at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel and Spa.
   Inducted were football coaches Peter Braasch of Vestavia Hills High School; Wayne Grant, Pike County High School; Danny Horn, Benjamin Russell High School; Russell Jacoway, Sand Rock High School; and Dwight Sanderson, most notably Notasulga High School; basketball coaches Wayne Bowling of Danville High School; Richard Carter, Lanett High School; Bob Harpe, Austin High School; volleyball and softball coach Rebecca Lee, Hatton High School; softball coach Tony Scarbrough, Baker High School; tennis coach David Bethea, Montgomery Academy; and coach/administrator Lorenzo Jackson, who was selected in the “old-timer” division. Jackson, who spent his entire teaching, coaching and administrative career in the Decatur School System, is deceased.
    Sponsors of the Hall of Fame program are the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA) and the AHSAA.
The corporate sponsors include Alabama Power, ALFA, Cadence Bank, Coca-Cola, Encore Rehabilitation, Jack’s, Russell Athletic, TeamIP and Wilson Sporting Goods.
     Bethea will deliver resounding acceptance address for the Class of 2017 thank all who had a hand in molding the member of the class and helping them along the way. “The relationships we been fortunate to have are what has been most important,” Bethea told the crowd of more than 700 in attendance.
     The first class was inducted in 1991. These 12 new inductees will run the total enshrined into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame to 332.
       A profile of each inductee:

DAVID BETHEA:  Montgomery Academy’s boys’ tennis coach since 1985, Bethea has carved a niche’ in state annals that includes 14 state championships, nine state runners-up, 32 sectional championships and an overall 878-145 head-coaching record.  He also served as MA boys basketball coach from 1986-90 has served as head junior high/middle school football coach since 1979. His junior high football teams have won 19 city championships and compiled a 191-81-3 record.
     Bethea, 61, is a 1973 graduate of Huntsville’s Butler High School. He received his degree from the University of North Alabama in 1977 and earned a Masters from South Alabama in 1979. He serves as department chair of physical education for the Montgomery Academy, where he has taught for 39 years. He is a member of Center Point Church.

WAYNE BOWLING:
Bowling, 75, was the boys’ basketball coach at Danville High School in Morgan County from 1963-2000. He also was head baseball coach from 1963-85.
    Considered one of the coaching leaders in North Alabama, Bowling compiled a 683-388 basketball coaching record that included four Morgan County championships (1965, 1985, 1988, 1992); 12 area championships; five regional championships; two sub-state titles (1991 and 1992); five state tournament appearances (1976, 1977, 1985, 1991, 1992);  and one state runner-up in 1992.
   He graduated from Austinville High School in 1959 and St. Bernard College in 1963 and began his high school teaching and coaching career immediately. He was inducted into the Morgan County Sports Hall of Fame in 2002. Highly respected by his coaching peers in Morgan County, the MVP Award for the Morgan County basketball tournament is named in his honor.
    He is a member of Central Park Baptist Church.


PETER BRAASCH:
Braasch, 61, has been a teacher and coach at Vestavia Hills High School since 1977. He is the VHHS Physical Education Department chair.
    A longtime assistant coach, he served as defensive coordinator and assistant head coach alongside another Hall of Fame Coach, AHSAA’s all-time winningest football coach Buddy Anderson, since  1982. The Rebels won state championships in 1980 and 1998 and reached the finals in 1978 and 1979.
    Braasch also served as assistant head coach of the Rebels basketball alongside AHSAA HOF member Coach George Hatchett – winning state 6A titles in 1992 and 2009 and reaching the Final 48 State Tourney two more times (2000 and 2011). He was an assistant track coach from 1978-94 and won a 1993 state freshman championship as head coach of the VHHS ninth-grade team.
    One of the most highly-decorated “assistant” coaches in AHSAA history, Braasch was named Alabama Football Coaches Association assistant coach of the year in 2009; received the prestigious AHSAA “Making a Difference” Award for Class 6A in 2012; and was inducted into the Vestavia Hills Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.
    Braasch graduated from Homewood High School in 1973 and UAB in 1977. He earned a Masters at the University of Montevallo.

RICHARD CARTER:
Growing up in Chambers County, Carter has spent most of his teaching and coaching career “at home,” serving as head boys’ basketball coach at Valley from 1975-99, and has been athletic director and head boys’ coach at Lanett since 2012. He began his coaching career at Bullock County in Union Springs where he was head football coach for three years (15-13). He also coached track.
    His overall basketball coaching record is 652-220 – including 301-62 at Valley and 150-27 at Lanett. He guided the Panthers to a 29-6 record and the Class 2A state championship in 2016. Lanett finished 25-7 in 2017 and won its second straight 2A state crown.
     Dedicated to molding the character of the young men he coaches, Carter has also served as a pastor for the past 42 years and is very active in civic affairs in East Alabama. He has mentored 75 members of his faith to become ministers themselves and has coached six players who went on to play in the NFL or NBA during his coaching career.
       Carter graduated from Rehobeth High School of Fairfax in 1965 and Alabama State University in 1969. He earned a masters from Troy University.

WAYNE GRANT: Grant, 61, is one of just seven high school football coaches in the AHSAA to coach at least five state championship teams. He accomplished the feat at Pike County High School during two tenures as head coach.
   Grant served as head coach at the Pike County from 1980-91 compiling a 97-33 record and winning the Brundidge school’s first two state titles in 1988 and 1989. He moved to Talladega High School from 1992-97 but returned in 1997 after the Bulldogs’ fortunes had fallen on hard times. Taking over a program that had gone 6-24 over the three previous seasons, he led Pike County back to prominence quickly with a winning season in 1999 and a state championship by 2003. The 2003 team, with just 18 players, rolled to a 14-1 record.  The Bulldogs also were 15-0 and state 3A champs in 2005 and won again in 2006. He was 100-19 in his second tenure to close out his coaching career with a 231-94 record.
    His Pike County teams were region champs 22 times, made 18 playoff appearances in 21 years, reached the quarterfinals 13 times and were 5-0 in Super 6 championship appearances.  His overall playoff record was 44-14 (76 percent). He coached in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game twice and the North-South Game once with all three teams winning.
   Grant also coached two Mr. Football winners (Chris Nickson and Steven Coleman) and two that had stellar NFL careers (Fred Baxter and Cornelius Griffin).
    The 1972 Zion Chapel High School graduate earned his college degree and Masters at Troy University.
      

BOB HARPE:
A native of basketball-crazy Morgan County, Harpe began his coaching career as the seventh-grade coach at Oak Park Middle School in his hometown of Decatur. That first team went undefeated and ignited a coaching career that led him to Austin High School from 1976-1998 and later at Arab High School from 2003-06. He also served as Austin head golf coach.
    Harpe’s teams compiled a 306-143 record and averaged over 21 wins per year. His 1996 team reached the AHSAA Final 48 State Tourney and his 1993 team won the state crown. Austin also reached the state tourney in 1987.
    More than 20 of his players signed college scholarships. Active on AHSAA basketball and golf committees, Harpe helped develop the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Basketball Games and served as administrative coach from 1990-95. He also was a member of the District 8 Legislative Council for nine years (1990-98) and was selected to the Central Board of Control. He has also volunteered his time in his retirement to assist the AHSAA at its state tournament since 2010.
    Harpe graduated from Decatur High School in 1965 and Athens College in 1974. He earned a Masters from UAB.

DANNY HORN: Horn, 54, has served only two schools as head football coach in his 28 years as a head coach. Currently the head football coach and athletic director at Benjamin Russell, Horn is 55-39 in eight seasons (2009-16). His overall coaching record of 280-79 (78.1%) and 61-19 in the state playoffs includes an incredible 225-40 slate in 20 years at his alma mater, Clay County High School at Ashland.
   He served the Panthers as head coach from 1989-2008 capturing six state championships (1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2002, 2005) and posting a state-record 55-game winning streak that stretched from 1994-97.  The Panthers outscored opponents 1,974 to 194 during that streak with 34 shutouts and allowed only 3.2 points per game. 
   Horn’s 1994 team also outscored opponents 408-22 in 15 games and had 10 shutouts. His 1995 and 1996 teams allowed only 42 points in 15 games with 10 and 11 shutouts, respectively.
    He has coached in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game twice (1994 and 2001), in the North-South game once (2007) and was named ASWA Coach of the Year three times.
    He graduated from Clay County High School in 1980, from Jacksonville State in 1984 and completed his Masters at JSU in 1989.
 

LORENZO JACKSON (OLD TIMER Division): Jackson, born in 1929, was selected to represent the “Old Timer” division in the Hall of Fame Class of 2007.
  He attended Decatur Negro High School graduating in 1947. He then got his degree from Alabama A&M in 1957. He also earned his Masters and AA.
   He was head football, basketball and track coach at Lakeside High School in Decatur from 1955-69. He was named the AIAA North Alabama High School Association Coach of the Year in 1958, 1959 and 1964.
   When Lakeside and Decatur merged following the 1968 Merger Act, Jackson served as assistant football and track coach at Austin High School for nine years. In 1977 he became the principal at Leon Sheffield Elementary School in Decatur where he serve through 1989.
   Active in civic affairs, he was a member of the Civitan Club and Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, served as an elder at Macedonia Cumberland Presbyterian Church, was a member of the Decatur Planning Commission and Alabama Democratic Conference, and was instrumental registering voters in Morgan County. He also worked as a Decatur Parks/Recreation Aquatic Supervisor.
   Jackson, now deceased, has been inducted into the Morgan County Sports Hall of Fame and Athletic Booster Hall of Fame.

RUSSELL JACOWAY: The head football coach and athletic director at Sand Rock High School from 1983-2014, Jacoway began his coaching career in 1978 as an assistant coach at Early County High School in Blakely, Ga., where he remained for four years. He then moved to Smiths Station as an assistant coach for three.
    He came to Cherokee County’s Sand Rock High School in 1983 inheriting a team that went 1-9 in 1982. His first team in ’83 was 0-10. In his third season, however, the Wildcats were 15-0 and won the Class 1A state championship. That team outscored opponents 400-54. He went on to compile a 228-132 head-coaching record at Sand Rock over 32 seasons and reached the Super 6 2A finals at Legion Field in 1997.
    The football stadium at Sand Rock was named in his honor in 1999. A book chronicling Sand Rock’s 1985 championship,
Fire on the Mountain, was published in 2010, and he was inducted into the Cherokee County Sports Hall of fame in 2014. He coached in the North-South All-Star Game in 2002 and was named Coach of the Year by the Alabama Sportswriters Association in 1985 and 1997.
    He graduated from Collinsville High School in 1975 and Auburn University in 1978.

REBECCA LEE: Lee, 68, retired from coaching at Hatton High School with 1,320 varsity volleyball and softball wins to her credit. She began her teaching and coaching career at East Lawrence High School in 1978 where she compiled a 109-33 volleyball record over a five-year period. Her 1980 team was Class 2A state runner-up.
   She moved to her alma mater, Hatton High School, in 1983 where she remained until retiring from coaching in 2002. Her volleyball teams were 771-258 in 20 seasons with four Class 2A state championships in a row (1990, 1991, 1992 and 1993). She also became one of the top slow-pitch softball coaches in the AHSAA with her teams compiling a 400-177 record with state titles in 1992, 1993 and 1996. She was named NFHS National Slow-Pitch Coach of the Year in 2000.
   The
Moulton Advertiser selected her Female Coach of the Decade for Lawrence County in 1990.
   She graduated from Hatton High School in 1966 and earned her degree from Athens State College in 1978. She became one of the state’s top volleyball officials during her retirement, serving as vice-president of the Quad-Cities Volleyball Officials Association for six years.


DWIGHT SANDERSON:
Sanderson, 75, spent 29 years teaching and coaching in the AHSAA. He spent 14 years as head football coach at Notasulga High School from 1967-81. His first four years notched only eight wins but provided the foundation for what would come over the next 10 years.
   The Blue Devils were 76-24-2 during that stretch with five state appearances. His 1977 team was Class 1A state runner-up. The early years were extremely important, however, since it came just as the AHSAA and AIAA merged. His leadership and direction helped the school move into the new era of integration smoothly.
    He had stops at Valley High School and Chambers County High School before retiring from Alabama in 1993. He then spent 13 years teaching in Georgia from 1994-2006.

  
Sanderson has been active in the community serving as a Sunday school teacher at New Site Methodist Church, a youth director in Ashland and working with senior citizens in Tallassee. He is a member of the Notasulga Lions Club.
    A 1959 graduate, he is one of two Clay County High School alumni to be selected for the Class of 2017 Hall of Fame. He earned his college degree from Jacksonville State in 1964 and a Masters at Troy University. 

TONY SCARBROUGH: The AHSAA’s winningest softball coach has been at Baker High School in Mobile as a teacher/coach since 1986.  His career high school softball-coaching record is 1,525 wins and 428 losses. His fast-pitch teams have compiled a 937-267 slate and slow-pitch teams (1987-1998) a 563-171 record. Scarbrough had coaching stops early in his career at Evangel Christian, Chickasaw Academy and Shaw High School in Alabama, Gautier (MS) and McLean County (KY).
   His slow-pitch teams won state championships in 1991, 1992, 1993 and were runners-up in 1989. The fast-pitch program captured state championships in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2016. The Honey Bees have reached the fast-pitch state tournament 13 of the last 16 years. The 2007 team set a state record with 79 wins, which broke the previous record (78) set by Baker in 2005 that broke the previous mark (77) set by Baker in 2004.
    Scarbrough has been a leader among coaches serving on the AHSAA Softball Coaches Committee. He devised the basic plan to develop the very popular regional softball tournament format, a move that has improved softball throughout the state and has provided “state tournament” type experiences for a larger number of schools.
He was inducted into the Mobile Softball Hall of Fame in 1992 and was NFHS Section 3 Softball Coach of the Year in 2005 and 2015. He was named the Gulf Coast Writers Coach of the Year in 2015.
      Scarbrough is a graduate of Vigor High School (1967) and the University of South Alabama (1972).


AHSAA Hall of Fame Class of 2017 Tony Scarbrough’s Passion for Softball Has Changed the Sport in Alabama

        MONTGOMERY – Fast-pitch or slow-pitch, no one has loved the sport of softball more than Baker High School’s veteran coach Anthony “Tony” Scarbrough.
        His passion for the sport has made a tremendous difference for the student-athletes who play the game today in the AHSAA.

         Scarbrough is one of 12 individuals in the Class of 2017 being inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame banquet will be Monday, March 20, at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.
      Scarbrough graduated from Prichard’s Vigor High School in 1967 and the University of South Alabama in 1972.

          He began his teaching and coaching career at Chickasaw Academy in 1970. He then taught at Evangel Christian and McLean County High School in Kentucky. At Evangel, he coached his first slow-pitch softball team, compiling 10-5 record.

Those 10 wins are the only ones not earned at Baker High School where his overall record was an outstanding 1,525 wins and just 438 losses heading into the 2017 AHSAA season.

After teaching at several others schools – Shaw High School, Belsaw Middle School, Gautier Junior High School and Alba High School – he accepted a position at Baker in 1986. He has been there ever since. 

For 12 years he produced some of the state’s best slow-pitch softball teams, compiling a record of 563-171.  His Honeybees were second in the start in 1989, then won three consecutive state championships from 1991-93. Baker also won nine area championships during that span.

He was instrumental in persuading the AHSAA to switch from slow-pitch to fast-pitch softball in the 1990s.  He quickly showed that the speed of the ball was irrelevant to his coaching skills. Over the past 17 years, he has produced the following marks at Baker:

--A fast pitch softball record of 937-267.

--State championships in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2016. The most recent title was the first one awarded in the new Class 7A classification.    

--In one 16-year stretch, Baker has won 15 area championships and made 13 state tournament appearances.

--Baker holds the top four positions for the most wins in a season – 79 in 2007, 78 in 2005, 77 in 2004, and 69 in 2006.

          Baker athletic director Paul Agnew is amazed at Scarbrough’s foresight, enthusiasm and energy.
          “Coach Scarbrough is one of the most progressive, enthusiastic and compassionate coaches I have ever seen,” Agnew said. “He is everything that is right with high school athletics. His career record speaks for itself, but it is his impact on his athletes, his colleagues and his sport that makes him most deserving of this honor.

“Personally, I have learned the characteristic of positive coaching by watching Coach Scarbrough from the sidelines and by listening to the hidden wisdom in his numerous stories from his 40-plus-year coaching career. His passion for coaching is unmatched, his love for his girls is unwavering, and his commitment to the sport of softball is unsurpassed. The exuberance in the picture of Coach Scarbrough’s team winning the first 7A softball state championship is an indelible image for me. And, amazingly, this same exuberance is on display at each practice, each team meeting, each game and each tournament. He celebrates the fundamentally sound play by his JV shortstop with the same giddiness that he does the amazing diving catch to capture the state championship. He is nothing more than pure joy.”

Principal Clem Richardson agrees.
         “Tony has coached other sports, but his passion for female athletics, particularly softball, has won him local, state and national awards. He was well ahead of his time with incorporating increased reps into his practices and games,” said Richardson. “He always prefers to be the visitor in competition so he can be assured that his team gets to bat in the 7
th inning.
         “Being a math teacher, he is obsessed with statistics and tendencies. This is very evident in his coaching style. Softball players that leave Baker take with them his passion, desire for success and work ethic. His players truly love and respect him both on the field and off.”

Mobile sports writer Ben Thomas also noticed Scarbrough’s love of numbers.

“I believe coaching on this level – more than any other – is about building teenagers into responsible adults,” Thomas said. “I believe coaching is not only about winning but, in fact, primarily about instilling discipline and responsibility into young people, in many cases making a positive impact on them that will last a life time.

“That is what I believe Tony Scarbrough has done at Baker High School for more years than I have been a member of the working world. I have talked to many of his players who speak glowingly of him well after their Baker athletic careers were over.  This is a coach that cares so much about his players that he always has kept his own statistics – whether it was on the bench in basketball or in the third base coaching box in softball – every game. Now, that is caring!”

Scarbrough’s passion for softball includes sharing his knowledge with other coaches, even if they are competitors. Mary G. Montgomery High School softball coach Brenda Box shared her experience.
          “Not only did I play against him while in high school, but also I have had the privilege to coach against him the last 13 years,” she said. “Coach Scarborough was a wonderful mentor to me, a new coach. He helped me learn the ins and outs of the coaching world. I always knew if I had a question, I could call anytime.”

          As a member of the AHSAA Softball Coaches Committee, Scarbrough played a key role in developing the popular regional state softball playoff format used by the AHSAA.
      He was inducted into the Mobile Softball Hall of Fame in 1992. He also founded the Mobile Youth Umpires Association and served as a director for seven years. He also started Junior Girls Basketball in Mobile.

 


AHSAA Hall of Fame Class of 2017 Sanderson Played Pivotal Role in Notasulga’s ’10 Years of Glory’

        MONTGOMERY – Dwight Sanderson faced what seemed to be insurmountable odds when he became the head football coach at Notasulga High School in 1967.
       By the time his tenure at the school had concluded, however, the community would describe his time at the Macon County schools as “Ten Years of Glory.”
       Sanderson is one of 12 individuals in the Class of 2017 being inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame banquet will be Monday, March 20, at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.
      He graduated from Clay County High School in 1959 and from Jacksonville State in 1964. He also earned a master’s degree in administration and supervision from Troy University.

After receiving his bachelor’s degree, he returned to his home town of Ashland to begin his teaching and coaching career. After two years as an assistant he went to Thompson High School in the same capacity.

In 1967 he accepted the head football coach position at Notasulga High School.  Few people ever started a head-coaching career under more difficult circumstances. Integration had come hard to the community. Just before the start of school in 1964, the Notasulga school was burned to the ground and the football season was cancelled.

The 1965 team failed to score a point in going 0-9. The 1966 team did score several times but finished 0-10. This was the climate Sanderson faced in 1967 – an athletic program in shambles and a community torn by racial divide. Macon County School Board member Karey M. Thompson recalled how Sanderson helped turn that bleak situation around. His first team won just one game.
         “When he came to Notasulga we were in the middle of integration,” Thompson said. “As I watched 50 State Trooper cars (two Troopers per car) line the street in front of the school four years earlier as black students were bussed in, then only weeks later the burning of the high school, I never dreamed we would continue past the sixth grade. As the school was built back, we became segregated again.

“Coach Sanderson arrived as I became a sophomore. He played a major role, along with some other teachers moving into integration, displaying the people person in him. He would pick up these black kids for football practice and take them home. Remember the circumstances – 100 Troopers, burning of the school earlier – this was a big issue. Black parents had to learn to trust him…He had a major role in taking two races and molding them into one student body in full harmony.”
          Thompson and Sanderson became good friends and fishing buddies over the years. They had many conversations about the needs of the students.
            “I remember something he said when talking about a certain player,” Thompson said. “You have to show them you love them. This player would not have played if it wasn’t for that. This player was Gerald Williams. He played for Auburn University and went on to the pros. Thinking back over my football years, we knew a lot of different sets. Being a small school, he would have to run an offense that fit the talent –  wishbone, I-formation, veer, T-formation, etc., My older brother would always say Coach Sanderson was an offensive genius, and I would have to agree.”

Gerald Robinson, who went on to become Auburn’s all-time sack leader and nine-year NFL player, also played for Sanderson at Notasulga.
         “I have played football basically all of my life,” Robinson said. “Coach Sanderson helped me grow as a person and as an athlete. I was awarded a football scholarship to Auburn University…Coach Sanderson played a major part. I have had plenty of good coaches, bad coaches and mediocre coaches. However, I have only had one great and unforgettable coach and that was Coach Sanderson.    “Coach Sanderson coached to win and no matter how hard we try, we can’t separate coaching from wins and losses. If you don’t win, it is hard to make the argument that you were a great coach. Coach Sanderson was a great and skillful man and had profound impact on the lives of those who played for him.”
          Robinson said Sanderson taught him about much more than playing football.
         “Outside of my immediate family, Coach Sanderson has had as much of an impact on my character development as anyone,” Robinson added. “He taught me how to be a man and how to win with grace and lose with grit and determination. I often thank God for putting Coach Sanderson in my path.”

Despite the healing efforts, it was a long struggle for Sanderson. His first four teams were 8-31. Then came 1971 and a 4-5-1 finish, the beginning of what some refer to as “Ten Years of Glory.” That nearly break-even season was followed by nine consecutive winning seasons and five trips to the state playoffs. The 1977 team was Class 1A state runner-up, setting a school record with 11 victories.

Sanderson’s overall record at Notasulga was 85-56-2.

Like any good coach, his influence was felt off the field and in the classroom as much as it was on the field. Another former student, Willie A. Cameron, described Sanderson’s impact on his life.
          “As an educator, Coach Sanderson expressed the importance of education in a community that was economically disadvantaged,” Cameron said. “Also, he instilled in the students and athletes a sense of power and confidence. Because of Coach Sanderson, many students excelled on a collegiate and professional level through education and athletics. He has made a positive impact in the community, state and country. Personally, under his direct influence, I was the first member of my family to obtain a college degree, followed by my three young siblings who have also obtained college degrees.”

In 1981 Sanderson moved to Valley High School and coached the Rams to a 15-15 record over three years. He then spent nine years at Chambers County High in Milltown before retiring from the Alabama system. His remaining career was spent in across the state border in Calhoun, GA.
    Sunday: The final installment of a 12-Part Hall of Fame series: Baker High School softball coach Tony Scarbrough.



Mississippi Boys 96, Alabama Boys 91

    MONTGOMERY  – Mississippi’s All-Stars out-rebounded Alabama 62-37 Friday night to post a 96-91 win in the 27th Alabama-Mississippi All-Star boys’ basketball game played at the Dunn-Oliver Arena Friday night on the Alabama State University campus. The Mississippi girls won the early game 93-86 as the visitors swept the series for the second straight year.
      Mississippi MVP Jarkel Joiner of Oxford, A Cal State-Bakersfield signee, scored 24 points – 12 in the first half and 12 in the second – to lead the winners. He was 10-of-15 from the field for Mississippi. Alabama MVP Herb Jones of Hale County finished with 17 points, eight rebounds and three steals to lead Alabama, which now holds a slim 14-13 lead in the series which has been played annually since 1991.
     Mississippi, coached by Clay Norton of Clinton and Kim Windham of Port Gibson, led 47-45 at intermission and outscored Alabama 49-46 in the second half. Troymain Crosby of Laurel added 17 points and seven rebounds, Ledarrius Brewer of Meridian added 12 points and Dewayne Cox of Ripley had 11. Jesse Little of Starkville had nine rebounds and 6-foot-10 Galin Smith of Clinton, an Alabama signee, had eight rebounds and two blocked shots.
     Alabama, coached by Darrell Barber of Midfield and Richard Carter of Lanett, also got a big game from Midfield’s Shy’m Cunningham. He had 18 points and was 7-of-8 at the foul line. Malik Burnett of Lee-Huntsville added 12 points and Javan Johnson of Austin had 11 points and six rebounds.  Both have signed with Troy University. Cunningham is still unsigned.
    Dontavius Heath of Sacred Heart also had four assists and four steals for Alabama.


Mississippi Girls 93, Alabama Girls 86

    MONTGOMERY  – Mississippi’s All-Stars outscored Alabama 47-36 in the second half to post a 93-86 victory in the 27th Alabama-Mississippi All-Star girls’ basketball game played at the Dunn-Oliver Arena Friday night on the Alabama State University campus.
      The win overshadowed a record-setting performance  for Auburn bound Unique Thompson of Faith Academy. The 6-foot-3 center had 34 points, 17 rebounds four blocked shots to lead Alabama, coached by Wenonah’s Emanuel Bell and Locust Fork’s Barbara Roy. Thompson was 16-of-18 from the field to break the Alabama scoring record set by Sylacauga’s Shakayla Thomas in 2014. Thompson was named Alabama’s MVP.
     Mississippi, now 14-13 in the series that started in 1991, used quickness at the guard position, however, to overcome a 12-point first-half deficit to close to just four at halftime, 50-46. Myah Taylor of Olive Branch keyed the comeback with 25 points, four steals and five assists. The Mississippi State signee got plenty of help from super quick Breonica Ducksworth of West Jones.  The smallest player in the game was also one of most disruptive on defense. She finished with 17 points, seven steals and hit 7-of-9 free throws, including four key charity tosses in the final minutes to seal the win.
     Coaches Sherri Cooley of South Jones and Janna Thompson of Horn Lake served as Mississippi’s coaches. Their team forced 36 Alabama turnovers. 
     Wenonah’s Alexus Dye also had a double-double for Alabama with 21 points and 16 rebounds. Thompson’s rebounding total tied for the second-most rebounds in a single game in the 27-game history. Dye had 16, which tied for third. Alabama won the rebounding battle 63-49. Bianca Jackson of Brewbaker Tech had eight points, five assists and five rebounds for Alabama. Wenonah’s Jayla Morrow had a game-high six assists.
     Keyara Jones of Heidelberg had 14 points, Alayjah Sherer of Tupelo added 11 and Jailin Cherry of Pascagoula had 10 for Mississippi.


AHSAA Hall of Fame Class of 2017 Lee’s Players Earned the Right to be a Hatton Lady Hornet

        MONTGOMERY – Hatton High School’s long-time volleyball and softball coach Rebecca Lee was a pioneer in girls’ high school athletics in Alabama. Her biggest contribution, her former players agree, was establishing expectations of excellence and commitment for the young ladies who participated.

       Lee is one of 12 individuals in the Class of 2017 being inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame banquet will be Monday, March 20, at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.
      A native of Moulton, Rebecca Lee graduated from Hatton High School in 1966 and Athens State College in 1978.

          She began her teaching and coaching career at East Lawrence High School, where she started and coached the volleyball program for five seasons. Her 1980 team was the Class 2A runner-up and she coached two All State players and one state tournament MVP. Her overall record was 109-33 and included three county championships

           In 1983 she returned to her alma mater, Hatton, to coach both volleyball and slow pitch softball. Her record in both sports was outstanding. Her volleyball teams captured four consecutive Class 2A state championships in from 1990-1993 and were runners-up in six other seasons. She saw 36 players earn All-State recognition with three being named state-tournament MVPs.
          Her teams won 10 region, 19 area and 18 Lawrence County championships. Her career record at Hatton (1983-2002) was 771-258 and 880-291 overall. She received numerous state and local Coach-of-the-Year awards including the AHSAA Class 2A Coach of the Year in 2000 and the Moulton Advertiser Female Coach of the Decade in 1990.
         Lee’s slow-pitch softball programs was just as successful. Hatton won three Class 2A state softball championships – 1992, 1993 and 1996 and were runners-up in 1990 and 1997. Seven players earned all-state recognition and three were named state tournament MVPs. Her teams compiled an overall 400-177 record with nine region, 10 area and six Lawrence County championships. She was named the NFHS Slow Pitch Coach of the Year in 2000.

Barbie Terry, director of Development at the University of North Alabama, credits her current position to skills she learned under Coach Lee:

‘My aunt played softball and volleyball for Mrs. Lee in the ‘80s. I was a kid. I vividly remember the smell of her husband Mike’s pipe as he watched his wife change women’s sports in Alabama. She was fierce, determined and passionate. She produced winners. She didn’t care that so many opposed women’s sports or though that a woman shouldn’t be coaching. I couldn’t wait to ‘grow-up’ and play high school ball for Mrs. Lee, and I did.

“It was hard. She held us accountable and made sure we always, on and off the court, carried ourselves with grace and dignity. You didn’t have to have all of the skills, you just had to have the work ethic. You had to have the drive. If it were easy, everyone would do it. We wore our uniforms with pride. We earned the right to be a Lady Hornet…
           “People recognized us and they respected Coach Becky Lee.  Not everyone agreed with her coaching style, partly because she was a woman in a man’s world and probably because she was hard on us. Looking back, I see that Mrs. Lee wasn’t just hard on us. She loved us and she loved us as her own. Every single day that Mrs. Lee spent with us she was teaching us to respect ourselves as women, to never apologize for working hard and being successful, to always work for your goals – and achieve them.

“I can honestly say that I hold my position in large part because of Mrs. Lee. The path to my current position wasn’t easy…. I was a small-town girl lost in the mix with 16,000 others students at Mississippi State University. I stood outside my first class and wanted to quit and go home, but that wasn’t an option… If it were, none of us would have made it past the first volleyball or softball practice of the year. “
          She said her coach also taught the players to be humble in winning and defeat.
          “Mrs. Lee taught us when he got beat to get back up and prove that you are the best. Time after time in my career, I have re-lived moments on the field or court and taken steps according to Mrs. Lee’s lessons. Mrs. Lee instilled a work ethic in all her kids that I have told compares to no other. I incorporate the life lessons she taught me every day of my life. I catch myself using her phrases with my own kids. What I would give for her to coach my daughter!”
Current Hatton varsity girls’ basketball coach, Chaste H. Calmness, also attributes her success to Coach Lee.
           “Coach Lee played a huge role in the career path I have followed,” Calmness said. “She passed along to me her desire to help players and students be successful. Having her as coach, teacher and mentor through high school influenced me to become a teacher and coach. I truly believe my successes as coach and teacher can partially be attributed to the work ethic I was taught by Coach Lee. She was a great example and role model to us.”

Coach Lee was inducted into the Lawrence County Sports Hal of Fame in 2001.

She was co-coach of the North volleyball team for 2003 AHSAA All-Star Week. Upon retirement she moved into officiating and served six years as vice president of the Quad-Cities Volleyball Officials Association. 

 

    Saturday: Eleventh installment of the Hall of Fame series: Football Coach Dwight Sanderson.



AHSAA Hall of Fame Class of 2017 Football Coach Russell Jacoway Gave Students Something to Believe In

        MONTGOMERY – Football coach Russell Jacoway’s first football team at Sand Rock High School was 0-10 in 1983. That team, however, laid the groundwork for much better things to come.

       Two short years later the Wildcats rolled to a 15-0 record and the Class 1A state football championship. And for the rest of his head-coaching career, Jacoway’s teams became the model of consistency – being the best they could be year after year.
       Jacoway is one of 12 individuals in the Class of 2017 being inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame banquet will be Monday, March 20, at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.
      A native of Fort Payne, Jacoway graduated from Collinsville High School in 1975 and Auburn University in 1978.

          He began his teaching and coaching career in Blakely (GA) in 1978. His first job was as a football and basketball assistant and head coach of girls track at Early County High School. From there he went to Smiths Station as head coach of boys’ junior high basketball and varsity assistant in football and basketball. That led to his first varsity head-coaching position two years later at Sand Rock High School. He went on to serve the Cherokee County school as head football coach, athletic director and physical education teacher for 32 years (1983-2014).
         His career was dotted by many superlatives including: 24 state playoff appearances and a 228-132 career football coaching record; the 1985 state championship and a 1997 Class 2A state runner-up; six seasons with 10 or more wins and only three losing seasons in 32 years.
         More than 50 players were named to All-State teams. Sand Rock’s football stadium was named Russell Jacoway Stadium in 1999.
         Sand Rock Principal Ben East said Jacoway’s example of excellence showed in the students he coached.
         “His energy, intensity, desire to be successful and concern for his players were just as strong last season as it was when he began his coaching career in 1983,” East said. “As athletic director for Sand Rock, Coach Jacoway has been a strong supporter of all school teams and athletes. I rarely remember attending a sporting event at Sand Rock where he was not in attendance. By example, he stressed academic success in the classroom and taught young men how to become successful husbands, fathers and productive members of the community.
         “I am honored to have worked with Coach Jacoway, and I consider him a personal friend who leads by example and models the values, beliefs and work ethic that makes our world a better place.”

Jim Tom Stimpson, a member of the 1985 state championship team, recalled Sand Rock as a place in need of focus and structure when Jacoway arrived in 1983.
           “Myself and many others desperately need structure,” he said. “(Coach Jacoway) was a fixed point, someone to anchor to. Qhoting Bill Curry’s high school football coach at College Park (GA), Bill Badgett, ‘Football is life marked off in 100 yards.’ This resonates with me and perfectly describes what Coach Jacoway means to our school and our community.”
         Stimpson said Jacoway installed a solid strength and conditioning program from the ground up when he arrived.
        ”We were using weights that were handmade and welded together in the school’s Ag shop.” He said, “They were weighed after they were built. None of them turned out to be even numbers. He helped get us standardized Olympic equipment, gave us a training program and a way to track improvement. He also implanted a nutrition program for athletes to promote optimal weight and strength levels for football. He gave us goals and pushed us.”
           Stimpson said Jacoway taught much, much more, however.
           “He taught us to excel at football, but that’s not what has enhanced my life and the lives of so many more student athletes,” Stimpson said. “He gave us the tools to do life, to deal with adversity, and to overcome disappointment and setback. He gave us the confidence to face adversity, not just on the field of play but the game of life. The intangibles he gave us can never be taken from us.
          “There are a handful of men that shaped and molded me into the man I am today, and Coach Jacoway is one of those men. He gave us something to believe in.”
          Stimpson recalled those early years with pride.
          “[In 1985] we were just two years removed from the 0-10 season. To position our team for success, you wouldn’t think at 140 pounds and 5-foot-5 I would have been the most likely selection for starting running back. But Coach believed in me. I think he believed in me before I believed in myself.
          “He made us all believe in each other and in the team. That’s the greatest gift he gave me and the greatest gift you can give any adolescent is to have them see that you believe in them. It literally can change their lives! God gave me the ability to run, and Coach Jacoway gave me the chance. I have also been the statistician for Coach Jacoway for 18 years, and I’ve seen him do it with student-athletes year in and year out. He could see potential even if you couldn’t, and he could get every bit of it out of you.”

Jacoway received statewide Coach of the Year awards in 1985, 1986 and 1997.  He was inducted into the Cherokee County Sports Hall of Fame in 2014. The success of the 1985 state championship team has been chronicled in a book entitled Fire on the Mountain by Douglass Scott Wright.
    Saturday: Eleventh installment of the Hall of Fame series: Football Coach Dwight Sanderson.



Alabama-Mississippi All-Stars Set for Friday’s Games at ASU

    MONTGOMERY – Alabama and Mississippi All-Stars square off Friday night in the 27th annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Basketball Games to be played at Dunn-Oliver Acadome on the Alabama State University campus. The girls’ game will tip off at 5 p.m., and the boys’ game will follow at 7.
              The games are hosted by AHSAA with the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA) managing the contests in conjunction with the Mississippi Association of Coaches (MAC).
Both games will be live-streamed over the NFHS Network by the Booker T. Washington Magnet School NFHS School Broadcast program managed by Richard Walker. The AHSAA Radio Network and its broadcast team of Brett Pritchard, Randy Lee and Michael Forehand will handle the play-by-play duties for the live-stream as well as broadcasting the game across the state over its radio and internet network.
     The Alabama and Mississippi teams, comprised of current high school seniors, had one practice Wednesday, four practices Thursday and will have a shoot-around Friday afternoon prior to the doubleheader.
      The games were played in Mississippi last year with the hosts winning two close games. Mississippi’s girls evened the series at 13-13 with a 78-77 win over Alabama, and the Mississippi boys won 85-83. Alabama’s boys hold a slim 14-12 edge in that series.
        Emanuel Bell of Wenonah and Barbara Roy of Locust Fork are the Alabama girls’ all-star coaches. Cold Springs’ Tammy West is serving as administrative coach. Alabama’s boys’ team is being coached by Midfield’s Darrell Barber and Lanett’s Richard Carter. Administrative coaches are David Good of Mountain Brook and Jamie Lee of Grissom.
     The Mississippi boys’ team coaches are Clay Norton of Clinton and Kim Windham of Port Gibson.  Coaching the Mississippi girls are Sherri Cooley of South Jones and Janna Thompson of Horn Lake.
      The talent pool is rich with several Division I signees on each squad.  Headlining Alabama’s boys’ team are 6-foot-9 forward Alex Reese of Pelham and 6-7 guard/forward Herbert Jones of Hale County. Both are University of Alabama signees. Austin 6-7 guard/forward Javan Johnson is a Troy University signee, and Spain Park 6-4 guard Jamal Johnson is a Memphis signee. He is the son of former Alabama and NBA standout Buck Johnson. The tallest player of the Alabama team is 6-10 center Garrison Brooks of Auburn, who is heading to Mississippi State.
     Mississippi’s boys list six players who have signed with Division I schools, including 6-10 center Galin Smith of Clinton, who is headed to Alabama. Nikolas Weatherspoon, a 6-2 guard from Velma Jackson, is heading to Mississippi State, Oxford 6-1 guard Jarkel Joiner has signed with California State-Bakersfield, 6-6 Pontotoc guard Tyeus Jones is heading to Charleston Southern, 6-4 LaDavius Draine of Calhoun City has signed with Southern Miss, and 6-5 forward LeDarrius Brewer of Meridian is heading to Texas-El Paso.
    Alabama’s girls feature guard Jayla Morrow and 6-1 forward Alexus Dye of four-time Class 5A state champion Wenonah. Headlining the talented squad are South Carolina signees Bianca Jackson of Brewbaker Tech and Gadsden City guard Haley Troup. Unique Thompson, a 6-3 forward at Faith Academy, has signed with Auburn, and 6-3 center Queen Ford of Sipsey Valley is heading to Troy University.
    Mississippi’s girls include Mississippi State signees Nyah Tate of Terry and Myah Taylor of Olive Branch. Jailin Cherry of Pascagoula is heading to LSU and 6-4 center JaDona Davis has signed with Middle Tennessee State.

     The series history:

THE ALABAMA-MISSISSIPPI CLASSIC SERIES

 

(1991-2016)

 

ALABAMA-MISSISSIPPI CLASSIC YEAR-BY YEAR HISTORY

 

GIRLS

 

Year

Winner

Score

Loser

Score

Site

 

2016

Mississippi

78

Alabama

77

Miss. College, Clinton

 

2015

Alabama

93

Mississippi

87

Alabama State U.

 

2014

Mississippi

95

Alabama

89

Jackson State U.

 

2013

Alabama

64

Mississippi

54

Alabama State U.

 

2012

Mississippi

94

Alabama

91

Alabama State U.

 

2011

Mississippi

73

Alabama

60

Pelham CC

 

2010

Mississippi

78

Alabama

56

Pelham CC

 

2009

Alabama

81

Mississippi

73

Pelham CC

 

2008

Alabama

89

Mississippi

86 OT

Pelham CC

 

2007

Alabama

90

Mississippi

65

Pelham CC

 

2006

Mississippi

89

Alabama

80

Pelham CC

 

2005

Mississippi

101

Alabama

83

Pelham CC

 

2004

Alabama

114

Mississippi

78

Pelham CC

 

2003

Mississippi

95

Alabama

82

Pelham CC

 

2002

Alabama

76

Mississippi

71

Miss. College, Clinton

2001

Alabama

87

Mississippi

76

North Alabama, Florence

2000

Mississippi

87

Alabama

82

Holmes JC, Goodman, MS

1999

Alabama

95

Mississippi

85

North Alabama, Florence

1998

Alabama

105

Mississippi

84

Miss. College, Clinton

1997

Alabama

60

Mississippi

54

North Alabama, Florence

1996

Mississippi

88

Alabama

72

Miss. College, Clinton

1995

Alabama

80

Mississippi

77

North Alabama, Florence

1994

Mississippi

92

Alabama

84

Miss. College, Clinton

1993

Alabama

73

Mississippi

66

North Alabama, Florence

1992

Mississippi

74

Alabama

61

Miss. College, Clinton

1991

Mississippi

82

Alabama

66

North Alabama, Florence

Series record: Alabama 13 wins; Mississippi 13 wins

 

 

 

BOYS

 

Year

Winner

Score

Loser

Score

Site

 

2016

Mississippi

85

Alabama

83

Miss. College, Clinton

 

2015

Alabama

101

Mississippi

88

Alabama State U.

 

2014

Alabama

90

Mississippi

83

Jackson State U.

 

2013

Alabama

87

Mississippi

76

Alabama State U.

 

2012

Alabama

109

Mississippi

104

Alabama State U.

 

2011

Mississippi

85

Alabama

74

Pelham CC

 

2010

Mississippi

112

Alabama

88

Pelham CC

 

2009

Alabama

78

Mississippi

74

Pelham CC

 

2008

Alabama

101

Mississippi

99

Pelham CC

 

2007

Mississippi

118

Alabama

113

Pelham CC

 

2006

Mississippi

94

Alabama

87

Pelham CC

 

2005

Alabama

84

Mississippi

79

Pelham CC

 

2004

Alabama

87

Mississippi

86

Pelham CC

 

2003

Mississippi

82

Alabama

80

Pelham CC

 

2002

Mississippi

98

Alabama

67

Miss. College, Clinton

2001

Mississippi

87

Alabama

83

North Alabama, Florence

2000

Alabama

90

Mississippi

82

Holmes JC, Goodman MS

1999

Alabama

95

Mississippi

68

North Alabama, Florence

1998

Alabama

111

Mississippi

76

Miss. College, Clinton

1997

Alabama

110

Mississippi

91

North Alabama, Florence

1996

Mississippi

105

Alabama

97

Miss. College, Clinton

1995

Alabama

85

Mississippi

69

North Alabama, Florence

1994

Mississippi

123

Alabama

111

Miss. College, Clinton

1993

Mississippi

82

Alabama

75

North Alabama, Florence

1992

Mississippi

73

Alabama

71

Miss. College, Clinton

1991

Alabama

103

Mississippi

62

North Alabama, Florence

Series record: Alabama 14; Mississippi, 12 wins

 


Winfield’s Trey Cunningham Sets World Junior Hurdles Record at New Balance Meet

      Winfield High School senior Trey Cunningham broke his own National High School 60-meter hurdles record set earlier this year at the New Balance Nationals indoor track meet held the New Balance Track and Field Center in New York City March 12.
     Cunningham won the 60-meter hurdles in 7.40 seconds at the national meet, setting a new high school record for the third time this year to win the national title. The time also set the World Junior record – which includes competitors under the age of 20.
      His 55-meter time was 6.871 seconds, which is also a new National High School record.
      The National Federation of High School Associations (NFHS) currently only lists outdoor track & field records in its NFHS High School Record Book. The indoor records are monitored by Track & Field News, which has published since 1948.
      Woodlawn High School senior Jayla Kirkland also won the national championship race in the 60-meter dash at the New Balance Nationals. She ran the sprint in 7.27 seconds to win the finals.  The meet record for that event is 7.26 seconds. She also narrowly missed the national high school record (7.19) set by Ashley Owens of Liberty High School in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She set the record in Atlanta in 1997.
        Her time was best in the nation this season and her 55-meter time in the race was 6.758 seconds, just shy of the national record (6.68) set by Aleisha Latimer of Palmer, Coloraldo, and Angela Williams of Chino, Cal., in 1996 and 1998, respectively.
     Homewood’s Jasmine Griffin was 9th in the semifinals with a 7.50 time. Kirkland’s 200-meter qualifying time of 23.99 seconds was sixth overall and placed her in the finals head. She did not compete in the finals, however.
    Cunningham, who like Kirkland, signed a track scholarship with Florida State University, ran 7.49 in January at the Last Chance Invitational Meet at the Birmingham CrossPlex to set a new high school national record. He set the AHSAA state indoor meet record the next week with a 7.54 time in the 4A-5A finals. He also set a state indoor meet record in the 60-meter dash (6.79) and won the 4A-5A long jump and 400-meter dash.  He only competed in the 60-meter hurdles at the New Balance meet,
        He clocked 7.45 seconds in the New Balance preliminaries to break his record set in January, before sprinting away from the field in Sunday’s final. His time in the 55-meter distance in the prelims was 6.916. He improved that time to 6.871 in the finals.
       Several other AHSAA student-athletes competed in the New Balance Indoor Nationals.
       Top efforts included:
       Noah Igbinoghene, Hewitt-Trussville:  The all-state wide receiver and Auburn football signee finished third in the triple jump (49 feet, 4½ inches) and fourth in the long jump (23-03). He also clocked 7.03 seconds in the 60-meter dash  and finished 30th overall.
      JuVaughn Blake, Columbia: The 2017 AHSAA indoor state meet Class 6A state high jump champion placed second in the high jump at the New Balance Nationals clearing 7 feet, ¼ inches. He and two other competitors each cleared the same distance but Blake finished second overall based on total misses.
     Caitlyn Little, Hoover: The 2017 AHSAA Class 7A indoor state hurdles champ was second in the New Balance 60-meter hurdles, clocking 8.24 seconds. Winner Tara Davis, of Simi Valley, California, won in 8.14 seconds. The national record is 8.02 seconds. Little’s time set a new Hoover record, besting current LSU hurdler Brittley Humphrey’s state record time of 8.47. Little won the AHSAA indoor race with an 8.56 time.
      Lainey Phelps, Homewood: The Patriots freshman was second in the New Balance girls’ Emerging Elite division 800-meter race with a time 2:13.71, just two seconds shy of the AHSAA state indoor mark. She won the AHSAA indoor 800, 1,600 and 3,200 at the 2017 meet. She clocked 2:12.43 to win the 800 at the CrossPlex.
       Cagan Campbell, Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa: Advanced to the boys’ 400-meter final and finished sixth, clocking 48.2 seconds. 
         Charles Lewis, Sparkman:   Reached the boys’ 60-meter Emerging Elite finals, finishing eighth with a time of 6.94 seconds. He also was 30th overall in the 200-meter dash (22.56)..
        Jason Trent Hamner, Hoover: The Class 7A 800-meter record holder finished 24th overall in the 800 meters with a 1:57.43 time. He won the 2017 AHSAA indoor state title with a time of 1:54.69 earlier this winter.
        Tommy McDonohough, Hoover: The 2017 Class 7A indoor state champion was 18th in the mile run (4:19.82).
        Anna Grace Morgan of Mountain Brook: Clocked 5:03.49 in the mile run to finish 14th. She currently holds the AHSAA Class 7A state indoor-meet records for the 1,600 and 3,200 distances,



Lorenza Jackson Was Father Figure for Countless Decatur Youths

        MONTGOMERY – Long-time Decatur coach and administrator Lorenza Jackson’s role evolved to “father figure” for many of the students entrusted to him during his stellar career in education that lasted for half a century.
       Jackson, who died in 2004, is one of 12 individuals in the Class of 2017 being inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame. He is being enshrined in the “Old Timer” category. The Hall of Fame banquet will be Monday, March 20, at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.
      A native of Decatur, Lorenza Levi Jackson began his coaching and teacher career at his alma mater, Decatur Negro High School, in 1955. He graduated from the school in 1947 and from Alabama A&M College in 1957. He also earned a master’s degree and AA certification.
         Decatur Negro High School was later renamed Lakeside High School. Jackson served as the school’s head football, basketball and track coach as well as a classroom teacher until 1969 when integration closed the school. He then transferred to Austin High School where he was an assistant football and head track coach. His track teams won 11 district championships and his football teams won 75 percent their games at Lakeside. He had similar success at Austin.

           Jackson received several North Alabama Coach of the Year awards during his coaching career. Lakeside’s 1959 basketball team finished the regular season undefeated. Curtis Miller, one of the players on that team, said Jackson’s influence on and off the court was immeasurable.
          “Often when people think of coaches, they think of an individual whose sole purpose is to win ball games,” Miller said. “When people think of Lorenza Jackson, they think of an individual who cared deeply for the individuals whom he worked with and came in contact with. They think of him as an individual who was a teacher, not only in the classroom, but in many other aspects of this community’s development processes.

“Coach Jackson served as father figure not only for me but for many this community. We learned the art of competing in the different sports arenas, but more importantly he taught us the art of being men and community leaders.”
            Miller was a key member of that 1959 team at Lakeside. He also was a three-year starter for Jackson’s football team and also was an outstanding track runner.
            “I can honestly say that I reached my full potential as an athlete under Coach Jackson,” he said. “As a successfully retired adult, as a devout member of my church family, and as a dedicated father and husband, I can say with all sincerity that Coach Jackson left an indelible mark on my life.”

          Sports writer Deangelo McDaniel, in an interview with Jackson in The Decatur Daily in 2000, wrote: “He accomplished about everything a black coach could accomplish during segregation. He won district championships. He carried teams to state tournaments. His players got scholarships. But most importantly, he made the boys he coached better men.”

          When integration came Jackson decided to move into administration after seeing his coaching duties become more limited. In 1974 he became a full-time administrator when he was named assistant principal at Austin. Three years later he was named principal at Leon Sheffield Elementary School where he remained until his retirement in 1989.

He earned the respect of his peers, helping the community work through the difficult days of integration. In a letter supporting Jackson’s nomination to the Hall of Fame, Decatur Superintendent Ed Nichols Jr. described his perception of Jackson’s many contributions.
          “Mr. Jackson was a servant leader in the education community for many years,” Nichols said. “His leadership in the challenging and historic segregation period within the city of Decatur is without equal. Mr. Jackson served as a teacher, administrator and coach as our community and state worked through the integration process and did so with, pride, humility and a positive attitude.

“His teachers and students described him as a man of great integrity, a model of leadership and a community leader for all people. Current teachers who worked under him share stories of his understanding attitude to meet their needs and the changing needs of students across the changing social times. He is a man who brought diverse communities together.

“Mr. Jackson is a model of the leadership one would expect and desire in an educator of the students of yesterday and today. His legacy lives in the students he taught and coached, who speak fondly of him, and the teachers he supervised, who continue to practice the leadership model and communication that the fostered in them.”

          Jackson was inducted into the Athletic Boosters Club Sports Hall of Fame and was named the city’s Educator of the Year in 1989.

          Among his many civic and community activities were the Civitan Club, Decatur City Planning Commission, Decatur Parks and Recreation aquatic supervisor, Decatur General Foundation Board and  an elder at Macedonia Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

 

Friday: Ninth and tenth installments of the Hall of Fame series: Sand Rock football coach Russell Jacoway and Hatton volleyball coach Rebecca Lee.