MONTGOMERY – Twelve major contributors to prep athletics in Alabama will be inducted into the 25th class of the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame March 23.
The 2015 class, which includes coaches, administrators, officials, media and an “oldtimer,” will be inducted at a special Silver Anniversary banquet commemorating all 25 years of the event. The banquet will be at the Renaissance Hotel at the Convention Center in Montgomery.
The public is invited to attend the banquet. The deadline for ordering tickets by mail was March 2, but anyone still wishing to purchase tickets ($40.00 each) has until March 16 to order tickets by phone at 334-263-6994.
Selected were tennis coach Nancy Becker, basketball coaches Steve Jefferson, Jack Doss and Bobby Wright, football coaches Steve Rivers, Doug Goodwin and John Tatum, athletic director Myra Miles, track official Houston Young, and administrators Alan Mitchell and Ron Ingram. Selected in the “Old Timer” category was longtime Geneva County football coach James D. Chesteen.
Beginning today, a series featuring the inductees written by state sports historian Bill Plott will begin at www.ahsaa.com. Today’s Class of 2015 Spotlight is Nancy Becker, Vestavia Hills High School girls’ tennis coach for more than two decades. Be sure to check the website daily for each installment.
Sponsors of the Hall of Fame program are the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA) and the AHSAA. The corporate sponsors are Cadence Bank, Coca-Cola, EBSCO Media, Encore Rehabilitation, Farmers Insurance, Russell Athletic, TeamIP and Wilson Sporting Goods.
AHSAA Hall of Fame Class of 2015
Nancy Becker Shares Love For Tennis
By BILL PLOTT
First of a Series
A native of Gadsden, Nancy Backer graduated from Gadsden High School in 1957 and Auburn University in 1961. The 2015 AHSAA Hall of Fame inductee holds a master’s degree in business education from the University of Alabama-Birmingham. Her teaching career spans 40 years, most of it in her native state of Alabama.
Upon graduation from Auburn, she went to Jacksonville, FL where she taught business for three years. In 1965, she accepted a similar position at John Carroll High School in Birmingham.
In 1984, she moved to Vestavia Hills High School as a business education teacher and girls’ varsity tennis coach, a position she held for 23 years. From 1987 until she retired in 2010, Coach Becker compiled a spectacular girls’ tennis coaching record.
During her 23-year tenure, her teams finished in the top four every year. They won 10 AHSAA state championships including strings of three and four in a row (1989, 1991-93, 1998-99, 2007-10). They finished second eight times (1998, 1990, 1994, 2001-05). There were also four third-place finishes. They won 20 sectional championships.
She was twice (2008 and 2010) named the National Federation of High Schools Coach of the Year.
In 2013 she came out of retirement to assist that team which also won a state championship.
She was recognized by The Birmingham News when her team presented her with her 200th coaching win. She was named state coach of the year in 2008 and received a 2011 Outstanding High School Teacher/Coach award from the Kiwanis Club of Birmingham.
Vestavia Hills Principal Wes Gordon wrote about Becker’s distinct personality:
“If you talk to Nancy Becker today, you are likely to hear stories about her weekly tap dancing class or her latest visit to the theater. Even after many, many years of teaching and coaching, Nancy Becker forgot to grow old. She is the only coach to show up in tights at a faculty Christmas breakfast and the only coach to cajole her teaching department to perform a song from A Chorus Line at the faculty talent show. Her involvement in the school community extends much further into the fabric of the school than coaching. She is a model coach and a model teacher.
“Vestavia Hills High School is a school with many long-time successful coaches The coaching staff at my high school is impressive and exceptional because of the level of commitment the men and woman give to high school athletics….Still a teacher at the high school, her smile and positive attitude continue to pervade the school community She continues to coach young men and woman, not so much in lessons of tennis anymore, but in lessons of life.”
Fellow teacher Timarie Fisk wrote that Becker’s commitment off the court has been as important to her players as her coaching:
“Nancy is not only a coach to her players. Her guidance as a mentor, friend, and leader has had an impact on hundreds of high school tennis players. Nancy expected the best from her players. While under her coaching, it did not matter whether a player was in the top six playing players or were further down the roster. Nancy expected each player to bring her best and to be a committed member of the team.
“Nancy was diligent about finding a player’s strengths both on and off the court. She expected her students to not only make a commitment to the team but also to their academic standards. Her high expectations resulted in the girls’ tennis team consistently holding some of the highest GPAs at Vestavia Hills High School.
“As a coach, Nancy was committed to good sportsmanship. Her players knew that if they exhibited a bad attitude on or off the court, they would be removed from competition. She expected that all players support each other by encouraging support and praise both on and off the court.
“Nancy has stayed involved in the tennis program even after her retirement from coaching. She has assisted the coaches that have followed her legacy by supporting them during competition and mentoring them through leading their own teams. Her help and support contributed to VHHS winning the 2013 6A state title.
“Nancy Becker has had an impact on tennis in both the Vestavia Hills and Birmingham communities. Her commitment to tennis, education and development of young people has established a legacy that is deserving the honor of being a select member of the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame.”
She has also earned a number of personal awards in tennis. She was a member of the committee that founded the Birmingham Ladies Inter-Club Tennis League and was on the championship team in 1975. She was tennis chairman for the Mountain Brook Swim and Tennis Club in 1975. In 1976 she was the mixed doubles champion at the Country Club of Birmingham. She won district, state and the Southern Equitable Family Tennis Challenge, enabling her to play doubles in the Nationals Finals of the U.S. Open Tennis Championship at Flushing Meadows, N.Y. in 1979.
Her additional community service has included serving on the boards of both the Charity League and the Civiettes for a number of years.