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.

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.

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.

AHSAA Hall of Fame Class of 2017 Danny Horn’s Clay County Teams Are Best Remembered by the ‘Streak’

        MONTGOMERY –

 Horn 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 Ashland, Daniel Lowell Horn graduated from Clay County High School in 1980 and Jacksonville State University in 1984. He also holds a master’s degree from Jacksonville State.

          He started his teaching and coaching career at Randolph County High School, serving as head basketball coach and defensive coordinator in football. His basketball record was 65-29 and his honors included County Coach of the Year. He also coached baseball and guided his team to the state playoffs in 1988.

          In 1989 he returned to his alma mater, Clay County High School, as head coach in football, girls’ basketball and baseball. While he was a credit to every sport he coached, it was in football that he earned a status as one of the state’s all-time top coaches.
          Over 20 years at Clay County he produced an overall record of 225-40 – an amazing 85% winning rate. His teams reached the state football finals eight times resulting in six state championships and two runners-up; four other teams reached the state playoff semifinals; 14 won area/region championships; 19 of his 20 teams reached the state playoffs; and from 1994-97, his teams won an AHSAA state-record 55 games win a row.
         That streak results in three consecutive state championships. His 1994 team lost its season opener 3-0 to Cleburne County and then reeled off 14 straight wins and allowed only two touchdowns to win the school’s first state title. The Panthers  outscored opponents 408-22 and began a streak that resulted in 10 shutouts in ’94, nine in 1995, 11 in 1996 and four in 1997. It took a 21-14 overtime loss in the playoffs to finally end the streak.
         His 1996 squad opened the season with seven consecutive shutouts on the way to a 15-0 season and state-record 11 shutouts. That team outscored opponents 613-42 and allowing only three touchdowns in the regular season. From 1994-97 Clay County outscored opponents 1,974 to 194 – allowing an average of 3.4 points per game while shutting out 34 opponents while going 55-2.
         In 2009 he moved to Benjamin Russell High School. His eight-year record in Alexander City is 55-30 with four seasons with 10 or more wins. Five teams have been in the playoffs. The 2015 squad advanced to the semifinals, losing to eventual champion Spanish Fort by just four points.          

Horn’s overall record in 28 seasons is 280-79. He is eighth on the AHSAA all-time football wins list second in playoff wins owns a 61-19 playoff record over 25 appearances with six state championships. He and Hoover’s Josh Niblett are the only head coaches in AHSAA history to win six state titles.

Former coach Jerry Weems, a 2011 Hall of Fame inductee, served as Horn’s defensive coordinator at Clay County.
           “As a longtime member of the Alabama High School Athletic Association, Mr. Horn has distinguished himself in many way ways,” Weems said. “Not only has he received many personal honors and awards, but also he has brought distinction and integrity to the schools and communities in which he has coached, particularly while at Clay County High School.  More importantly than [his] records, his teams always performed with the class and sportsmanship that is desired and coveted by the AHSAA.

“Even though Coach Horn now coaches at Benjamin Russell High School, his influence and impact on Clay County High School and the City of Ashland will be felt for many years to come. Not only did he achieve significant recognition in football, he also started the girls’ high school basketball program at Clay County and led the baseball team to several playoff appearances.

“Coach Horn’s impact is also seen in the number of former players he coached that have entered into the coaching ranks. These (individuals) are scattered throughout all parts of Alabama and each would tell you that he had a definite impact on the direction of their careers.”
          Weems, who coached Clay County to back-to-back state basketball championship in 1991 and 1992, said Horn also had a major impact on his coaching career.
         “I had the honor to work and coach with him throughout all of his years at Clay County,” he said. “The integrity he demonstrated with his work ethic has been one of the strongest influences during the years I have served in the education field.”

Another Hall of Fame inductee, Ron Watters (2010), gave Horn his first coaching job at Randolph County. He saw something special in Horn from the get-go.
       “The most important thing I can say about Danny is his impeccable character,” Watters said. “He is a devoted husband and father. His Christian influence at home and school speaks for itself. He began his coaching career with me at Randolph County High School in 1984, quickly distinguishing himself as an outstanding teacher, coach and leader.”   

Steve Giddens was Horn’s high school classmate. He later became his coaching adversary at arch-rival Lineville before becoming principal at Clay County Central when the two neighboring schools merged into one. The Lineville-Clay County rivalry was judged by USA Today in the 1990s as one of the nation’s Top 10 high school football rivalries. The two schools met in the Class 2A state finals in 1996 – the first year of the then Super 6 State Championships at Birmingham’s Legion Field.
       “I have known Dan for 48 years,” Giddens said. “We grew up together in Ashland and his passion for sports was evident even then. His leadership abilities made everyone around him better. He was and still is an extremely hard worker. This rubs off on those around him. He expects excellence out of himself and those around him. No shortcuts to success.

“One trait that I admire about Dan the most is his loyalty to the people he loves and represents. For all the years I coached against him, we never allowed that to compromise our relationship. He was always willing to help me be successful. I saw that with all the people in his life. He is a dedicated family man and with Debbie, they have raised three outstanding children who make this world a better place.

“Dan realizes that coaching is more than winning ball games. He teaches his players how to win at life. This is a true Hall of Famer. Dan is a winner on the field but more importantly, he is a winner in life.”

He was selected to coach in the AHSAA North-South All-Star game in 2007 and has also coached in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game.

Thursday: Eighth installment of the Hall of Fame series: Decatur coach & administrator Lorenzo Jackson.

AHSAA Hall of Fame Class of 2017 Bob Harpe Taught Student-Athletes Integrity on and off the Court

        MONTGOMERY – Coach Robert “Bob” Harpe saw a teaching opportunity in every practice or game. He made sure the lessons learned would be positive ones.
       Harpe spent most of his teaching and coaching career in his home town of Decatur where he guided Austin boys’ basketball to great heights. It was his personal impact on the student-athletes, however, that his former players and peers remember most. Harpe 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.
       Harpe graduated from Decatur High School in 1965 and from Athens College in 1974. He also has a master’s degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He began his teaching and coaching career in 1975 at Oak Park Middle School in Decatur where his seventh-grade team posted an undefeated season. The following year he moved over to Austin High School as assistant junior high football coach and head varsity golf coach.  He held those positions for seven years, taking the golf team to the state tournament numerous times.

In 1983 he was named head basketball coach at Austin, a position he would hold for 15 years with great success. When he left Austin, his legacy was a record of never having a losing season and an average of 21 wins per year. His teams made three trips to Class 6A state tournament. The 1993 team won the state championship and the 1996 team made the semifinals. He was named The Decatur Daily Large School Coach of the Year four times and more than 20 of his players signed college scholarships.

In 1998 he left education and went into private business. He returned to education in 2003 with the Arab City School System, serving as athletic director and head basketball coach. His teams won the county championship once and were runners-up twice. He compiled an overall 306-143 won-loss record as a head coach.

Following in his footsteps at Austin is one of his former players and current head coach Jakes Miles.

“I have known Coach Harpe for many years and I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, he has given his life to Austin High School and the game of basketball,” Miles said. “As a former player of his, he pushed us to be the best we could possibly be both on and off the court and challenged us to be as good off the court as we were on the court. He wanted good basketball players on his team, but he wanted better people first.

“Coach Bob Harpe has set the standard for basketball coaches in north Alabama…. He pushed his players and made average players special people. I personally look up to Coach Harpe and thank him quite often for the life lessons he instilled in me.  As the present coach for Austin High School, we still follow in the traditions and guidelines that he established in his tenure at the school. I can also feel the support he has for me and Austin High School as he comes to support me, my program and our school.”

Former Austin Principal Richard Pace said that under Harpe’s leadership many student-athletes went on to become successful college athletes and productive citizens in their communities.
           “Coach Harpe set high goals for himself and those students in his program,” Pace said. “He expected to achieve those goals through hard work. Not only did he expect students to work hard, but also he was committed to outworking everyone else.

“As a coach, he was a friend, mentor and supporter of all student-athletes. Many times he went to the gym at all hours to help students with personal problems. He constantly worked to improve the facilities and conditions under which students participated. It was important to him that athletes performed well in the classroom, so he monitored student progress and provided opportunities for study and to make up class assignments.

“Coach Harpe did not limit himself to school affairs only. He has been active in church, civic and community affairs and continues to support young athletes by working in basketball camps and providing support to local and state athletic organizations.”

 Former Birmingham-Southern College Coach Duane Reboul is reminded of Harpe’s example of integrity in the coaching profession.
           “I have watched his teams play, have recruited his players and have had numerous discussions concerning the game of basketball with Bob,” Reboul said. “There is no question in my mind that he is one of the very best basketball coaches that I have encountered during my career in coaching, which spans 35 years and three states.

“His teams, coaches and players always conducted themselves with discipline and class while playing with intensity and confidence. He not only prepared his players for all aspects of the game, but he demanded excellence without demeaning his players. He was a teacher and a coach that any parent would like to have their son play for.

“He has also been a leader and active member of the community. He has been an outstanding role model for his players as a husband, parents and as a professional.” 

Harpe’s work with the AHSAA has included serving on the Basketball Coaches Committee and the Golf Coaches Committee. He was involved in the development of the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game and served as boys’ administrative coach from 1990-95. He was on the Legislative Council from 1990-98 and also served on the Central Board of Control. From 2010-15 he was a volunteer with the regional and state basketball tournaments.

Thursday: Eighth installment of the Hall of Fame series: Decatur coach & administrator Lorenzo Jackson.

AHSAA Hall of Fame Class of 2017 Grant Created a Championship Atmosphere at Pike County - Twice

        MONTGOMERY –In Coach Wayne Grant’s first tenure as head football coach Pike County High School, he taught the players how to become a champion. When he returned a second time after a six-year hiatus, he did it again.
         His extraordinary ability to mold youngsters into greatness is a chief reason he is one of 12 individuals being inducted in the Class of 2017 at this year’s banquet March 20 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center at 6:30 p.m.
     A native of Jack in Coffee County just outside Troy, Grant graduated from Zion Chapel High School in 1972 and Troy University in 1976. He was an outstanding football player at both institutions. He also holds a master’s degree in biology education and AA certificate in biology from Troy.

          He began his teaching and coaching career at his alma mater at Zion Chapel in 1976, serving as a varsity football assistant. He spent 1977 at Louisville High School in the same position. In 1978 he went to Lowndes Academy as head coach and compiled a 7-3 record. In 1979 he returned to college, completing his master’s degree.

His career took off in earnest in 1980 when he accepted an assistant football coaching positon at Pike County High school. After two years, he was promoted to head coach. He would spend a total of 19 years in that job, first a 10-year term and then returning later for an additional nine years. The result was a record of 197-52 and five state championships.

His second year at Pike County he also served as junior high school coach, producing a record of 7-0. It was a sign of things to come

Over the next 10 years he had nine winning seasons, including five with 10 or more wins. The 1988 and 1989 teams both finished with 13-2 records and back-to-back state championships – the first in Pike County High School history.
          In 1992 he moved to Talladega High School where he remained for six years, compiling three winning seasons and an overall record of 27-37.
          After a year at Goshen as an assistant, he returned to Pike County. All nine of his teams had winning records, with six of them winning 11 or more games. The 2003 and 2006 state champion teams finished with 14-1 records. The 2005 team ran the table at 15-0. Coach Grant’s overall record for the second stay at Pike County was 100-19.

His AHSAA totals were 231-93, 11 seasons with 10 or more wins, 11 region championships and 19 postseason appearances. His playoff record was 44-14. He also coached in three all-star games, winning all three.

Brundidge Mayor James R. Ramage III said that when Coach Grant came to the city in 1980, it was after a difficult transition period in the 1970s. He said the community was “together but really we were still separate.”  Grant helped change that.

“His leadership qualities were soon appreciated as he became the head football coach and our school took pride in the product they saw on Friday nights. Our entire school system began to raise the bar of achievement not only on the field but also in the classroom. This pride took roots in our town as we became one in support of our school.

“During Coach Grant’s tenure, our community’s discipline issue in our youth began to improve. The chief of police and I have discussed many times that we did not and still do not have the problems some communities are experiencing in this area. We have seen many of our students that were lost socially and behind in their education began to take pride in themselves and make good decisions for their future. We now have a large group of students and players that are productive citizens became they crossed Coach Grant’s path.

“The impact that Coach Wayne Grant had on Brundidge cannot be expressed in a letter, but I hope it gives the sense of what this man has done for our school and city. We see the results every day as we interact with his former students, some doctors, lawyers, teachers, members of our armed forces, and, of course, our citizens that make our city function.”

Dr. Clint T. Foster cited Grant’s influence on students in the classroom:

“I have had the opportunity to serve with Coach Grant in many capacities. First and foremost, he was an excellent science teacher. He, along with other science teachers, played a significant role in a plethora of students, including myself, to pursue science careers at every level, [including] medical research-oriented doctors, nurses and other related fields.
           “Secondly, I had the opportunity to participate in football under his leadership. As an athlete I learned early to respect others and have the same respect for my school and community. Growing up in a small town with limited resources, it was easy to find trouble.  More specifically, it was easier to follow in the footsteps of older individuals and give in to drugs and alcohol. Football in Brundidge was sub-par at best and had limited interest from student-athletes and the community. Simply put, we were the laughing stock of football in the entire state…. Coach Grant and his staff changed the complexity of football and other athletics in Brundidge. Since the tenure of Coach Grant as athletic director and head football coach, Pike County High School has been recognized and respected by every classification throughout the state in football and athletics.”
Wednesday: Sixth & seventh installments of the Hall of Fame series: Austin Basketball Coach Bob Harpe and Benjamin Russell Football Coach Danny Horn.

Former Alabama Wrestler Selected as Section 3 Recipient of NFHS National High School Spirit of Sport Award

     INDIANAPOLIS, IN (March 17, 2017) — Hasaan Hawthorne, a former wrestler at Pelham High School, has been selected as the 2017 Section 3 recipient of the “National High School Spirit of Sport Award” by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).

     The National High School Spirit of Sport Award was created by the NFHS to recognize those individuals who exemplify the ideals of the spirit of sport that represent the core mission of education-based athletics.

      A standout wrestler at Pelham High School, Hawthorne, who had both legs amputated when he was an infant, now attends North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where he is a scholarship wrestler.

Hawthorne began his wrestling career as a seventh-grader at which time he compiled a rather pedestrian win-loss record of 12-22. That motivated him to become more determined to work harder to improve both in and out of the season.

      Hawthorne’s efforts paid off handsomely during his final three high school varsity seasons. As a sophomore, he was a state meet qualifier. The following year, he placed third in the 2015 Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) Class 6A state tournament 145-pound weight class.

However, Hawthorne saved his best for last during his senior year in 2016, as he rolled to an unblemished 38-0 record and the AHSAA Class 6A state championship. For his efforts, he was selected the AHSAA Class 6A Most Valuable Wrestler.

      While Hawthorne’s accomplishments would be remarkable under any circumstances, they move into the realm of being truly extraordinary when one considers the fact that inspired all who watched him compete. ESPN Sports Center showcased his accomplishments in 2016 in a special interview.
      In addition to wrestling, Hawthorne participated in track, baseball and football.

       In 2016, Hawthorne was the Bryant-Jordan Foundation Class 6A Student-Athlete Achievement Award recipient – which is an award given annually in each of the AHSAA’s seven enrollment classifications for senior students who have overcome great obstacles to become outstanding student-athletes.


About the Award

     The NFHS divides the nation into eight geographical sections. The states in Section 3 are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Opelika’s RaKavius Chambers Selected Section 3 Recipient of NFHS National High School Heart of the Arts Award

       INDIANAPOLIS, IN (March 13, 2017) — RaKavius Chambers, a senior at Opelika High School (OHS), has been selected the 2017 Section 3 recipient of the “National High School Heart of the Arts Award” by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).

       The National High School Heart of the Arts Award was created by the NFHS to recognize those individuals who exemplify the ideals of the positive heart of the arts that represent the core mission of education-based activities. This is the fourth year that the National High School Heart of the Arts Award has been offered.

       At an imposing 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds, Chambers, who excelled for the OHS Show Choir, Symphonic Band and Theatre Troup and also was a football standout who signed with Duke University last month, is near the top of his class with a 4.4 grade-point average on a 4.0 weighted scale.

       Nominated by the AHSAA, Chambers has been in the OHS Show Choir for four years – and earned “Freshman of the Year” honors as a ninth-grader. In addition to singing and dancing in OHS Show Choir productions, Chambers has been a willing stage hand setting up equipment and props for the productions.

However, perhaps his “biggest role” was when he played the lead role of God in the school’s production of “Children of Eden” at the Walter Trumbauer Theatre Festival in Florence. The group won the state competition and is now preparing for the national competition. He also sits as first chair in the saxophone section for Opelika’s Symphonic Band.

      Chambers, who also volunteers his time to tutor fellow OHS students and mentor elementary school students, was named the national recipient of the Watkins Award on March 1. That award is presented annually to the top African-American high school scholar-athlete in the nation as determined by the National Alliance of African-American Athletes. He is also a Bryant-Jordan Regional winner in Class 6A for 2017.

      The son of a former Auburn University linebacker, Chambers will attend Duke University, where he plans to play football and study medicine. As a seventh-grader, Chambers was selected a “Duke University Scholar,” which goes to academically gifted students with exceptional potential on their SAT-10 test scores. He attended a Duke Medical Camp last summer, where his motivation to become a heart surgeon became even more intensified.
       Chambers’ selection marks the second straight year that the AHSAA’s nominee has captured the NFHS Section 3 Heart of the Arts Award. Dale County High School’s marching band and its band director Sherri Miller received the Section 3 and overall national Heart of the Arts Award in 2016.
       Nominations for this award were generated through NFHS member state associations and reviewed by the NFHS National High School Heart of the Arts Award Selection Committee composed of state association staff members. While the national winner will be recognized June 29 at the NFHS Summer Meeting in Providence, Rhode Island, the section winners will be recognized within their respective states and will receive awards before the end of the current school year.

       The 2017 NFHS Heart of the Arts recipient is Josephine (Josie) Ross of St. Louis Park (Minnesota) Benilde-St. Margaret’s High School.
        The National High School Heart of the Arts Award was created by the NFHS to recognize those individuals who exemplify the ideals of the positive heart of the arts that represent the core mission of education-based activities. This is the fourth year that the National High School Heart of the Arts Award has been offered.

        Ross has participated in numerous performing arts activities, including debate, speech and choir. Among her many awards in this area are the Minnesota State High School League ExCEL Award and the Benilde-St. Margaret’s School Outstanding Character Award.

        However, it is the realm of theatre that could accurately be described as her true passion. Among her theatre accomplishments, she’s a four-year cast member of the One-Act Play, a performer in multiple school musicals and plays, and has received several Hennepin Theatre Trust Spotlight Theatre Awards. She has also worked diligently in her Minnesota community to help those disabilities have the opportunity to enjoy the arts as well as working to combat student bullying.
          The NFHS eight Heart of the Arts Section recipients include:

Section 1 – Lindsay Daugherty, student, Barrington (Rhode Island) High School

Section 2 – Christian Ellis, student, Woodbridge (Virginia) Senior High School

Section 3 – RaKavius Chambers, student, Opelika (Alabama) High School

Section 4 – Sabrina Kenoun, student, Buffalo Grove (Illinois) High School

Section 5 – Josephine Ross, student, St. Louis Park (Minnesota) Benilde-St. Margaret’s High School

Section 6 – The Premont Mighty Cowboy Band and Mariachi Estrella, Premont (Texas) High School

Section 7 – Susan Seep, instructor, Scottsdale (Arizona) Horizon High School

Section 8 – Abby Kellems, student, Corvallis (Oregon) High School


About the Award

     The NFHS divides the nation into eight geographical sections. The states in Section 3 are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

       Nominations for this award were generated through NFHS member state associations and reviewed by the NFHS Heart of the Arts Award Selection Committee composed of state association staff members.

        While the national winner will be recognized June 29 at the NFHS Summer Meeting in Providence, Rhode Island, the section winners will be recognized within their respective states and will receive awards before the end of the current school year.
        The National High School Heart of the Arts Award was started in 2014. Including this year, four individuals and Dale County’s band have been chosen national award recipients. 

AHSAA Hall of Fame Class of 2017 Richard Carter Was Called for Two Ministries -- as a Pastor and Coach

         MONTGOMERY – When Richard Roosevelt Carter was attending Rehobeth High School in Fairfax back in the 1960s, he realized God called him to serve two ministries.
         Now, more than 50 years later, Reverend Carter is still following God’s unique plan for his life. That plan has also led Coach Carter to the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame. The Lanett High School boys’ basketball coach is one of 12 individuals being inducted in the Class of 2017 at this year’s banquet March 20 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center at 6:30 p.m.
        Born across the state line in Georgia, Carter grew up in the Valley area. It was while he was attending Rehobeth High School in Chambers County that his dual path as coach and pastor was started. He served as the varsity basketball team’s manager, but his role became much more than handing out towels.

“Coach Arthur, who was the Rehobeth coach, many times would have other things to do after school, so he would allow me to run basketball practices,” Carter recalled in an interview. With the practice schedule in hand, “I would run them through the drills and the rest of practice.”
          With his career path developing, Coach Carter took notes and learned all he could from the coach before heading off to college. And along the way, he found strength in his religious faith that would also lead to a career path for him.

“I probably chose two of the most difficult, yet rewarding professions,” he said.” For me, coaching is a ministry. It’s an avenue for me to lead young men to Christ. I cannot tell you how many young men that I have coached over the years who are now in the ministry as stewards, deacons or members of the choir in the churches. What a reward.”

          He started his teaching and coaching career at Bullock County High School in Union Springs in 1969. He remained there five years, serving as head football and baseball varsity coach and junior varsity basketball coach.

In 1975 he moved to Chambers County to coach football, basketball and tennis at Valley High School.  His basketball record from 1975-99 was 301-62. He had multiple 20-win seasons and carried three teams to the semifinals of the state tournament.

After spending several years in Georgia, Coach Carter returned to Chambers County, taking the head basketball position at Lanett High School. With more than 100 wins to his credit at Lanett, his teams have won 20 or more games each season he has been there. The 2011-12 and 2013-14 teams, both with 25-5 regular season records, made it to the semifinals of the State Finals in Birmingham.  His 2016 and 2017 teams won back-to-back Class 2A state championships going 29-6 and 25-7 respectively. His career record after the 2017 season was 555-120.

Overall in his half-century coaching career, he has had 15 teams make it to the semifinals. That was the kind of success story that appealed to Lanett City Schools Superintendent Phillip Johnson when he hired Carter:

“I envisioned a basketball program for Lanett High School that only would be known for a winning spirit, but also would be known for developing a spirit of strong character and civic responsibility in our players,” said Johnson. “Since implementing a program geared to teaching and mentoring students on and off the court, Coach Carter’s impact is evident in our players. Academics and character are stressed in practice, workouts and on the court. He holds players accountable for their grades, conduct and integrity, and he provides the example for which they can grow into men of character.

“His noteworthy coaching accomplishments highlight a career of devotion to athletes in our region. He is respected throughout the community in both public and private school settings and in various churches as a man who can teach our students to be productive citizens.”    

Lanett head football coach Clifford Story, Jr., said Coach Carter’s influence reached beyond the basketball court to other sports as well.
          “Richard’s enthusiasm is contagious to our players, and he is a big reason why our numbers [have grown] from year to year in students signing athletic scholarships in all sports offered at Lanett High School’: Story said. “He can get players to push beyond their perceived limit. His passion for the game of basketball is easily recognizable.

“Leadership has also been a very integral part of what Richard has contributed to Lanett High. This year he helped introduce our athletes to our new character education program. Richard taught lessons about leadership and responsibilities which made a profound difference in the attitude of our program. He was the perfect instructor because of how genuine he is with the students.“

“But he has not limited himself to just excelling his professional life. He is a great family man with a loving wife, children, and grandchildren. His family is one of the most important things in his life, and he is a committed husband and father.”       

Lanett Principal Jennifer Boyd said Carter’s special traits of mentorship and focus on building character are impressive. He has made character building an intricate part of his coaching style.”

He was named the Chambers County Teacher of the Year in 1995.

He is pastor of Jones Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Fairfield. He has been a volunteer in the Jones Valley Feed the Hungry Program and in Alzheimer, cancer and sickle cell anemia programs.    

       Tuesday: Fifth installment of the Hall of Fame series: Pike County Football Coach Wayne Grant.