By Bill Plott
Retired Notasulga High School basketball coach Obadiah Threadgill III was born into a family of educators. Both of his parents were teachers, and his father, Obadiah Threadgill II, coached and officiated in the Sumter County area.
In addition, his brother Kenneth Threadgill taught and coached basketball at Livingston High School, winning a state championship in 2003. Another brother, Reginald Threadgill, is a longtime basketball official in the Jefferson County area.
That legacy has now extended into a fourth generation. Obadiah’s wife Joyce is a career elementary school teacher. Their son, Obadiah Threadgill IV, the head boys’ basketball coach at LaFayette High School, has already coached a state championship team at LaFayette, and his wife Shernika is cheerleader coach.
It all started with Obadiah Threadgill I, said Obadiah III, who has been selected to be enshrined into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018. “He was the son of slaves,” he said, “and a God-fearing man who knew the importance of getting an education.”
Pam Langford, Dadeville High School administrator and a former Notasulga teacher, in her letter nominating Threadgill for the Hall of Fame, said there is still another legacy.
“Athletics serve an important role in the lives of many young people,” Langford said. “Coach Threadgill has used his love of basketball and his coaching ability to give many student-athletes an opportunity to be successful. However, as a school principal, parent and friend, it is his character that I admire and appreciate the most! Not only did Coach Threadgill teach kids to be winners on the court, he taught them to be winners in life.
“His examples of integrity, work ethic, perseverance and compassion were so important for our students. Now, thousands of his students and athletes are adults. It warms my heart to know that those characteristics have helped them be successful in life.”
Langford said Threadgill’s influence didn’t top there.
“I see [them] instilling those winning characteristics in their own children,” she said. “Coach Threadgill’s positive impact will go on forever.”
Threadgill attend Sumter County Training School, graduating in 1965. He attended Tuskegee University, graduating in 1970. He later earned a master’s degree from Auburn University in 1980.
A Vietnam veteran, Threadgill went into military service after his graduation from Tuskegee. He served from 1970-72. Out of the Army, he returned home to Sumter County and accepted the position of director of the Sumter County Head Start Center.
In 1973 he moved to Macon County, first as teacher and coach at Tuskegee Public Middle School from 1973-74, and then at Deborah C. Wolfe High School from 1974-77. From 1977-81 he held a similar position at Tuskegee Institute High School.
In 1981 he accepted the position of teacher and head basketball coach at Notasulga High School where he served through 2002.
Notasulga in the 1960s and 1970s was a town with difficult integration issues. Those issues were overcome by a community that came together. Macon County Board of Education member Karey Thompson recalled that situation in his letter.
“Dwight Sanderson and Buddy Knapp, along with Principal Robert Anderson, became legendary leaders at Notasulga, having navigated an uncharted journey of school desegregation in the early 1970s not only in the athletic program but also in academic achievement and positive community relations. In 1974 a television crew (BBC/England) visited the campus of NHS, recording the school’s story and later aired to a national and international audience, a documentary of Notasulga’s success.
“In Notasulga, Coach Threadgill is viewed much the same as Sanderson-Knapp-Anderson. If the Blue Devils had a Mt. Rushmore, the four mentioned would receive priority placement. In 2014, in a combined project, by act of the Macon County Commission, Macon County Board of Education and Town of Notasulga, Notasulga High School honored the legendary coaches by naming the football stadium Sanderson-Knapp Football Stadium and the gym Obadiah Threadgill Gymnasium. NHS Principal Robert Anderson (deceased) will receive special recognition at a later date.”
When he retired after a 30-year teaching and coaching career, Threadgill’s coaching legacy included:
· More than 900 wins coaching boys’ and girls’ basketball at varsity and JV levels.
· Two boys’ state championships in 1987 and 1992; one girls’ state championship in 2001; two state tournament runners-up.
· Nine Final 48 appearances, including three in a row in girls’ basketball.
· Nine consecutive Southeast Region appearances.
· State Coach of the Year for boys in 1987 and 1992 and for girls in 2001, and six Region Coach of the Year awards in boys’ basketball and six in girls’ basketball.
· Coached both boys’ and girls’ teams in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game.
· Notasulga High School Gymnasium was named in his honor.
Dr. Lenda Jo Connell, wife of principal Anderson, said Threadgill’s strong character was the key.
“Character can be formed in many ways,” she said. “Coach Threadgill’s unshakeable character came from a rock-solid family who valued faith, family and education leveled with a good dose of humor! This is a dedicated, strong family that has left their mark and continues to leave their mark on high school athletics in the state of Alabama.
“Coach Threadgill is the type of gentleman whom you want influencing young people. A humble man, I never heard him say ‘I’. It was always ‘We’ when referring to his many successful endeavors. Because of his commitment, dedication, and willingness to work together, Notasulga High School stands today as a testament to men like Coach Threadgill, who believed that (education-based) athletics could build young men and women and community.”
SATURDAY: Edward Wood’s impact still strong after four decades.
By JOE MEDLEY
The Anniston Star
(Published Thursday, March 15)
ANNISTON – Tommy Lewis has a real simple philosophy about philosophy about winning in high school basketball. Area championships matter.
“I always told people, you’ve got to learn how to win close to your house first,” Lewis said.
Lewis — who has won 602 games and 22 area titles over 31 seasons at Gaylesville, Spring Garden, Cherokee County and Piedmont — has resigned at Piedmont. The Piedmont Board of Education approved his resignation Wednesday.
The 57-year-old Lewis stopped short of calling it retirement, saying his possible return to coaching is “50-50.” He said he’s starting to repeat his stories at Piedmont, and he hopes that his stepping aside creates opportunities for long-time assistants Jonathan Odam (17 years) and Matt Glover (12 years).
“It’s been a great experience, and plus, Coach Odam’s son (Alex) is coming on,” Lewis said. “Coach Odam has been helping me for so long, and it’s time he got a chance.
“JoJo works there, and his wife works there, and he’s got two sons in the system. Matt works there, and he’s got a wife. For them to find a job, it’s going to take a whole lot of picking up and moving. For me, it’s not.”
Lewis’ resume speaks volumes.
His career record stands at 602-342. Records from the mid-1900s can be sketchy, but he’s believed to be one of only 25 coaches in the history of Alabama high school boys basketball to reach the 600-win mark. He recorded his 600th on Feb. 9, against Glencoe.
Lewis’ teams have won at least one area title at each of the four schools where he coached. He’s taken 15 teams to regionals tournament with five advancing to the state tournament — Spring Garden in 1989, Cherokee County in 2006 and Piedmont in 2010, 2011, and 2015.
Lewis coached 12 seasons at Piedmont, winning nine area titles and reaching the Northeast Regional nine times. The 2015 team finished as Class 3A runner-up.
His 226 wins at Piedmont mark the most in the school’s near-100-year history.
“When you come into our gym, we try to have banners that reflect the success of all of our athletic teams, male and female,” said Steve Smith, Piedmont’s football coach and athletics director, who lured Lewis to the school. “You look at our boys basketball banner, and it’s just littered with a ton of success over the last 12 years.”
Piedmont hired Smith in 2006, and Lewis was among his first hiring targets. At the time, Lewis was coaching Cherokee County’s Final Four team.
“There weren’t a lot of people that even wanted to talk to me about the job,” said Smith, who came to Piedmont from Cedar Bluff, also in Cherokee County. “He was somebody that I kind of zeroed in. I was just thinking maybe a shot in the dark, because he’d done so well there.”
Smith lauded Lewis as “a team player,” always understanding of the school’s frequent deep playoff runs in football and the late starts several multisport players get in basketball.
Lewis saved one of his best coaching jobs at Piedmont for last. His final Piedmont team had five new starters and six new players among the top seven yet finished 21-12, reaching the Northeast Regional final before losing to eventual state champion Plainview.
“Having some sort of either loss or altered version of your top seven players in your rotation from last year and getting to the ‘Elite Eight’ again, it speaks wonders to his ability to be able to adapt, to play with the hand that he’s dealt and get the most out of the guys,” Smith said.
Part of the reason Lewis came back for this past season was because he didn’t want to leave his potential replacement with a young team.
“When we were looking at the schedule, Coach Glover and I, and we were having a tough time finding eight or 10 wins,” Lewis said. “That was if we caught some breaks.
“As far as expectations, this may be the team that exceeded what we thought they’d do, farther than any team we’ve had.”
Tommy Lewis Collected Many Memories thru the Years
(Published in The Anniston Star, Friday, March 16)
MISSISSIPPI ALABAMA BASKETBALL CLASSIC
MISSISSIPPI BOYS TEAM
NO. NAME POS HGT SCHOOL COLLEGE
2 DeANTHONY TIPLER PG 5-11 ASHLAND undecided
3 DaQUAN SMITH G 6-2 HOLLY SPRINGS MURRAY STATE
4 DEWAYNE STEWART F 6-6 RIVERSIDE MISS. STATE
10 GABE WATSON G 6-3 ST. JOSEPH (Madison) SOUTHERN MISS
11 GARRISON WADE F 6-6 ST. ANDREW’S undecided
12 MILES MILLER G 6-3 MERIDIAN undecided
15 TYRON BREWER F 6-6 MERIDIAN undecided
22 LADARIUS MARSHALL F 6-7 FOREST HILL undecided
23 TYLER STEVENSON F 6-7 NEW HOPE undecided
25 ROBERT WOODARD F 6-6 COLUMBUS MISS. STATE
30 JAVIAN FLEMING C 6-9 CANTON ALABAMA
33 KAMARIAN WILLIAMS C 6-8 CLEVELAND CENTRAL MURRAY STATE
HEAD COACH: KIM WINDOM, PORT GIBSON
ASSISTANT COACH: DARRIN CHANCELLOR, FLORENCE
ADMINISTRATIVE COACH: ERNIE WATSON, HATTIESBURG
ATHLETIC TRAINER: FRED ROBINSON, MS SPORTS MEDICINE
ALABAMA BOYS TEAM
NO. NAME POS HGT SCHOOL COLLEGE
3 TRAVARUS CARROLL G 6-2 HUFFMAN ITAWAMBA CC
4 JAMARI BLACKMON G 6-0 HOOVER undecided
10 DIANTE WOOD G 6-5 SACRED HEART ALABAMA
11 JARED SHERFIELD G 6-5 PAUL W. BRYANT TENNESSEE TECH
12 ANQUAEVIOUS POLLARD F 6-7 LANETT INDEPENDENCE CC
15 JAYCE WILLINGHAM G 6-5 CORDOVA undecided
20 JEFFERY ARMSTRONG PG 5-11 PLAINVIEW undecided
21 DYLAN ROBERTSON C 6-9 PAUL W. BRYANT WINGATE
23 LOGAN DYE G 6-9 HALEYVILLE SAMFORD
24 ISAAC CHATMAN F 6-6 CORDOVA undecided
25 SEAN ELMORE G 6-1 MOUNTAIN BROOK NORTH ALABAMA
34 XAVIER WILLIAMS C 6-9 A. H. PARKER undecided
HEAD COACH: ROBI COKER, PLAINVIEW
ASSISTANT COACH: HEATH BURNS, CORDOVA
ADMINISTRATIVE COACH: LUTHER TIGGS, BOB JONES
ADMINISTRATIVE COACH: DAVID GOOD, MOUNTAIN BROOK
ATHLETIC TRAINER: MEG IKEDA, ENCORE
MISSISSIPPI GIRLS TEAM
NO. NAME POS HGT SCHOOL COLLEGE
00 JARIYAH COVINGTON PG 5-3 STARKVILLE undecided
2 KYANNAH GRANT G 5-7 CHOCTAW CENTRAL undecided
3 TABREEA GANDY PG 5-3 STARKVILLE ITAWAMBA CC
4 KYARRAH GRANT G 5-7 CHOCTAW CENTRAL undecided
10 CHYNA LEIGH ALLEN G 5-6 HARRISON CENTRAL JONES JC
11 MAHOGANY VAUGHT G 5-7 OLIVE BRANCH SOUTH ALABAMA
12 KEALY WILSON G 5-9 HORN LAKE undecided
20 JATYJIA JONES G 5-9 INGOMAR undecided
23 DESTINY SMITH G 6-0 McCOMB SOUTHERN MISS
25 AMBER GASTON F 6-3 WARREN CENTRAL FLORIDA ATLANTIC
33 DAPHANE WHITE C 6-5 ST. MARTIN MISS. STATE
34 KAYLA SIMMONS F 6-0 BRANDON undecided
INJ KAVACI-A JOHNSON PG 5-4 BYHALIA CENTRAL ARKANSAS
HEAD COACH: JANNA THOMPSON, HORN LAKE
ASSISTANT COACH: SHAYNE LINZY, LAFAYETTE
ADMINISTRATIVE COACH: DONNY FULLER, GULFPORT
ATHLETIC TRAINER: STEVEN BUSH, MS SPORTS MEDICINE
ALABAMA GIRLS TEAM
NO. NAME POS HGT SCHOOL COLLEGE
3 HANNAH BARBER PG 5-6 HOMEWOOD ALABAMA
4 EBONI WILLIAMS F 6-0 HOOVER UT CHATTANOOGA
10 CAITLIN HOSE G 5-10 HAZEL GREEN GEORGIA
11 CLAIRE HOLT PG 5-8 SPAIN PARK RICHMOND
12 ALLIE CRUCE G/F 6-1 LAUDERDALE CTY ALABAMA
15 AJAH WAYNE G/F 5-10 RAMSAY OLD DOMINION
20 DAISHA BRADFORD PG 5-8 LEFLORE undecided
21 KARLEIGH SLEDGE F 6-0 DESHLER JACKSONVILLE ST.
24 JERMECYA HARRIS F 6-0 MATTIE T. BLOUNT LOUISIANA TECH
25 ZIPPORAH BROUGHTON PG 5-9 R. E. LEE RUTGERS
34 BROOKE HAMPEL G/F 5-10 HAZEL GREEN MISSOURI (K.C.)
40 MAYA BUCKHANON C 6-2 TALLADEGA MEMPHIS
HEAD COACH: TIM MILLER, HAZEL GREEN
ASSISTANT COACH: RICKY AUSTIN, SPRING GARDEN
ADMINISTRATIVE COACH: TAMMY WEST, COLD SPRINGS
ATHLETIC TRAINER: DeSHENA THOMAS, ENCORE
When Jerome Tate came out of college, he was a big man with big plans. And he would take that plan to the small Lee County community of Loachapoka where he spent more than two decades instilling big dreams in the student-athletes he taught.
A native of Selma, Tate is being inducted into Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018. He graduated from Selma High School in 1977 as an All-State offensive and defensive lineman and was selected to play in the AHSAA North-South All-Star Game. He attended Alabama A&M University, where he continued his on-the-field success and graduated in 1982 with a bachelor’s degree in health, physical education and recreation.
His first job out of college was at Keith High in Orrville where he served as head football and assistant basketball coach. He taught physical education and health, subjects that he taught at each stop in his career.
For the next two years he coached at the college level, first at Alabama A&M and then at Tuskegee University. He was defensive line coach at A&M. At Tuskegee he served as an assistant football coach, and head strength and conditioning coach. However, he knew in his heart that he belonged back in high school.
In 1990 he moved to Lanett High School where he spent 10 years as defensive coordinator, linebackers coach and offensive line coach. He also was head track coach from 1990-95 at Lanett.
When Tate left Lanett to accept the athletic director and head football coach position at Loachapoka High School, sportswriter Todd Brooks wrote of his impact at Lanett.
“Perhaps the thing I noticed most about Jerome in the past four years I’ve known him is not how well he coached, but how well he got along with the students,” Brooks said. “Anyone who has seen the man in a school setting can tell that he cares. When (coach) Billy Kinnard left (Lanett) in 1993, it was Tate who led the team until a new coach was found. He, along with the other coaches, took them through spring training and kept them together until Lee Gilliland was hired.
“I have never seen players respond to a coach the way the Panthers have responded to Tate. When I interviewed Cliff Jackson about being selected to the state’s Super 12 team, I asked him about who he credits for his success. Jackson immediately spoke the name of Jerome Tate. ‘He’s my biggest fan, my biggest buddy.’ That’s pretty impressive to hear a 17-year-old kid speaking so highly of an adult these days.”
Tate went to Loachapoka in 1995. Over the next 22 years he compiled a record of 152-98 and won four region titles and become the school’s all-time wins leader. The Indians were in the state playoffs 17 times in 22 years, including a string of 14 straight appearances.
His coaching accomplishments and honors include:
· 15 winning football seasons in 22 years at Loachapoka. Seventeen of his 22 teams made the state playoffs.
· Led his 2004 team to an undefeated regular season and finished 12-1 overall. The 12 wins is a single season is a school record.
· Finished 11-2 in 2009, tied a school record for wins and advanced to the playoff semifinals.
· All-time winningest coach in Lee County.
· Coach of the Year awards in 1997, 2004, 2005 and 2009.
· Played in the North South All-Star Game and later coached in both the North-South and the Alabama-Mississippi all-star games.
Eleven of his players at Lanett and 16 at Loachapoka went on to play at the collegiate level. Three of them played professionally: Josh Evans with the Houston Oilers, Tennessee Titans and New York Jets; Kenny Sander with the New York Giants; and Tracy Brooks with the Salina Liberty of the Championship Indoor Football League.
Long-time coaching rival and friend Jackie O’Neal, a 2012 Hall of Fame inductee, admired Coach Tate’s work ethic.
“He was focused and driven to develop his teams to be tough mentally and physically on the football field,” O’Neal said. “Through his mentorship and life of integrity, Coach Tate has positively impacted student athletes for over three decades…. He is a true professional, along with being one of the most honest and upstanding people I know. I truly call him a friend.”
Former AHSAA Executive Director Dan Washburn mentored Tate at Lanett and wrote the following:
“I have been associated with Jerome for 35 years. I hired Coach Tate as an assistant coach at Lanett High School during my tenure as superintendent of Lanett City schools. I have witnessed first-hand his love and passion for the game of football. Jerome demonstrates professional integrity, outstanding character and is a true professional in everything he undertakes.
“Being a former coach, I have experienced how difficult it is to maintain a quality program over a period of many years. Jerome is the winningest coach in Lee County…. Every year we have numerous coaches who have qualifications to be part of this most prestigious hall of fame, but there are some outstanding individuals who simply stand above and beyond other nominees. Jerome Tate is definitely one of these.”
Coach Jim Hubbert, a 2006 Hall of Fame inductee, also wrote a letter endorsing Tate’s nomination. Hhe said, “I have known Coach Jerome Tate for over 30 years – as a college recruiting coach, as one of my assistant coaches, as a head coach and opponent, and mostly as a colleague and a friend. Jerome is the type of coach any father would love his son and grandson to have lead them. I was fortunate enough to have Coach Tate as one of my son’s coaches, and for that I am extremely thankful.
“His teams always have been respected as hard-nosed, disciplined and respectful of opponents. Those positive attributes are the results of Coach Tate leading his teams to exhibit good moral and ethical standards, to demonstrate leadership qualities, and to display good sportsmanship. Because of Coach Tate’s leadership, his teams have always brought a source of pride and respect to his school and community.”
Tate was inducted into the Alabama A&M Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.
Friday: Obadiah Threadgill Legacy stretches over four generations.
By Bill Plott
Ann Schilling’s journey to the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame started at the hands of a master. The Class of 2018 inductee played under the renowned Coach Becky Dickinson at McGill-Toolen Catholic High School. Coach Dickinson was in the very first class of inductees in 1991.
In a letter nominating Schilling to the Hall of Fame, Coach Dickinson wrote:
“Before her high school tenure with me even began, Ann fell during summer team camp and broke her right arm. Other athletes might have let that discourage them, but not Ann. She stayed at summer camp and continued to work out. She came to every volleyball practice and game, taking statistics and stepping in wherever she could. She even taught herself to shoot a basketball left-handed.
“She had her silly moments, too. When she was still a freshman, our basketball team played an area championship, and I watched as my starting players fouled out one by one, clearing my bench until I was left with Ann. When I put her in the game, I called a time-out and shared the game plan with my players. We were ahead and time was running out. They were to maintain possession of the ball. We didn’t need any baskets, so they weren’t to shoot.
“Ann Stepped out onto the court and received the ball out in Timbuctoo. She didn’t’ dribble. She didn’t pass. She didn’t’ fake her opponent. No, that 14-year-old kid launched the ball toward our goal, and – swoosh! – made it. After the game, I told her had her ill-advised shot missed, she would never have seen playing time on one of my teams again.
“But she hadn’t missed. And perhaps she had learned something about strategy, something that came in handy for her as she played at Auburn or as she began her own coaching career at Bayside Academy.”
A native of Mobile, Schilling went from McGill-Toolen to Auburn University where she played basketball for four years, walking on and earning a scholarship by her sophomore year. She stayed a fifth year at Auburn to play volleyball when the program was reinstated.
With college-level varsity experience in basketball and volleyball under her belt, she accepted the position of physical education teacher, basketball and volleyball coach at Bayside Academy in 1987. It was a perfect union. Schilling is now in her 31st season of teaching and coaching at Bayside.
That career, by the numbers, includes the following:
· 23 state volleyball championships, four runners-up
· 16 consecutive state champions 2002-2017, an Alabama record and second in the nation, and 19 in 20 years since 1998
· More than 1,400 wins, first among state active coaches and second in the state all-time
· 6 Mobile Press Register Super 12 Coach of the Year awards
· 5 Birmingham News Coach of the Year awards
· 7 selections as AHSAA all-star coach
· National Federation of High Schools Volleyball Coach of the Year award in 2010
Additionally, Schilling has received two John L. Finley Awards for Superb Achievement as a coach and an R. L. Lindsay Service Award for club volleyball. She is founder and director of the Eastern Shore Volleyball Club.
She was elected to the Bayside Academy Hall of Fame in 2004 and to the Mobile Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.
Nancy Shoquist, varsity volleyball coach at Mary G. Montgomery High School and a Hall of Fame inductee in 2014, wrote of her long association and friendship with Schilling:
“I truly feel Ann is the smartest high school volleyball coach in Alabama,” she said. “She studies the game, wanting always to learn new ideas and strategies which will give her an advantage. Her career record, state championships and state tournament appearances speak loads of her success.
“She will continue to be successful in volleyball because of the work ethic, love of her teams and lover of the game.”
Bayside Head of School Michael Papa spoke to the intangibles in Schilling’s career.
“Ann plays a huge role in the character development of the young ladies she coaches,” he said. “She instills good sportsmanship and the importance of teamwork in her players, regardless of the outcome of the game. Ann’s players respect her, and they want to work hard to win under her direction.”
Coach Dickinson said she saw Schilling develop and grow into a superb leader.
“Looking back at her outstanding career, it may come as a surprise that Ann was not a born leader,” Dickinson said. “During her senior year, the captain of the volleyball team missed one of our tournaments, and I watched as my team floundered, leaderless. A few timeouts later, when I asked Ann and her fellow senior to take charge, I watched her step onto the court and step into her own. After that, nothing Ann did surprised me.
“I was not surprised when she started and didn’t stop winning state championships. I was not surprised when Ann’s peers repeatedly recognized her coaching ability by voting her Coach of the Year. I was not surprised that she learned to take relatively unskilled young women and teach them game skills while building their confidence and leadership skills.”
And it is no surprise that Ann Schilling is now being inducted into the AHSAA Sports Hall of Fame in the Class of 2018.
THURSDAY: Jerome Tate taught his players to be mentally tough.
When Alvin Rauls was presented an AHSAA Making a Difference Award in 2017, he was aptly described as a “trailblazer.”
In 1992 this 2018 Alabama Sports Hall of Fame selection became the first black head coach to win a state baseball championship. Last year he became the first black coach to win a girls fast-pitch softball state championship. He is just the second coach in AHSA history to win titles in both of those sports.
A strong advocate of sportsmanship, Rauls was described as “an outstanding role model for students and is well respected by his peers.” Additionally, his service to the AHSAA has included serving on the Central Board of Control, Legislative Council and District Board of Officers.
A native of Albany (GA), he attended Monroe High School in Albany, graduating in 1972. Rauls then attended Florida A&M University on a baseball scholarship. At FAMU he played second base and was teammates with future baseball Hall of Famer Andre Dawson. He received his bachelor’s degree in Health, Physical Education and Recreation and Driver’s Education in 1977.
After graduation he moved to Huntsville where he became Director of Parks and Recreation for the town of Triana, a small town that was incorporated in Madison County in 1919 – which officially became just the second city incorporated in the county’s history. With this job he became the first black recreation director for a city or township in the state. He also was responsible for implementing the Summer Youth Program.
His coaching career had begun back in Albany with an American Legion team. He continued at Triana where he coached the city women’s softball team and the men’s After Dark slow-pitch softball team, which won a state championship. He also became certified as an AHSAA basketball official during this time, calling games regularly from 1979-98.
In 1981 he became head baseball coach at Alabama A&M University, serving in that position for three years.
In 1988 he went to New Hope High School as baseball coach. He was named Madison County Coach of the Year in 1990 and 1993. He won the state Class 2A championship in 1992 and his 1990 team was Class 3A runner-up. At New Hope he also served as assistant football coach as well as driver’s education and physical education teacher. He took on head football coaching duties in 1993 and 1994, compiling a 10-10 record.
In 1995 he went to Sparkman High School as head baseball coach, assistant football coach and driver’s education teacher. He held the same positions at S.R. Butler from 1997-2002 and at Bob Jones from 2002-06.
During his tenure as a baseball coach he has won more than 350 games and has received Coach of the Year honors at the county and state level numerous times.
In 2007 he went to Buckhorn High School as softball coach compiling a 256-141 record through the 2017 season. In addition to the 2017 state championship, the 2015 team won the Area 7 championship and made it to the semifinals in the state playoffs.
In nominating Rauls for the Hall of Fame, Buckhorn Principal Todd Markham wrote: “I have known Coach Rauls for many years. We have worked together as coaches, and I now serve as his principal. He is a man of great character, and he has devoted his life to coaching and teaching young people.”
He also has coached American Legion baseball for Post 237, winning state championships in 1990 and 1993.
Another letter of nomination came from Buckhorn Athletic Director David Carroll. “I have known him since around 1984,” Carroll said. “He was just ‘Al’ to me as an eight-year-old boy signing up to play basketball, soccer or baseball. He worked for the Madison Recreation Center and always had a big smile and that trademark deep voice. I would see him at the gym, all gyms it seemed, for he was also a basketball official. I waved at him as I rode my bicycle on the walkway up and down Hughes Road.
“As luck would have it, Coach Rauls took over the head baseball and assistant football jobs at New Hope High School as I entered the 9th grade. I would see him plenty over the next four years as the New Hope/Bob Jones rivalry in football and baseball had championship implications every year. Coach Rauls had a deep impact on the players he coached at BJHS, and they became my mentors.
“A vivid memory I have of my first day of baseball practice involves a drill run by senior Paul Fulda. We were working on ‘crow-hops’ in the outfield, and I was not familiar with it. As I struggled to catch on, I questioned, ‘Why are we doing this?’ Fulda’s reply was simply, ‘Coach Rauls taught us to do it this way.’ I had pride that I was at least indirectly coached by Al Rauls.
“As years passed and I got into coaching, our paths crossed several times. Any time I could pick his brain or ask advice he would never hesitate to talk ball with me. I had had countless conversations with those who either played for or coached with him. He is revered. I am now fortunate to be his athletic director as he has coached softball at Buckhorn. Although he is now coaching girls, the winning and the reverence is still the same.”
WEDNESDAY: Ann Schilling – Perseverance and Passion Has Been her Trademark.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: John Gillis
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (March 12, 2018) —LaFrancis Davis, the director of bands at Montgomery’s Carver High School, has been selected as the 2018 Section 3 recipient of the “National High School Heart of the Arts Award” by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). Cecelia Egan of Riverside (Rhode Island) St. Mary Academy-Bay View has been selected the 2018 national recipient of the “National High School Heart of the Arts Award” by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).
Davis will be recognized at the AHSAA Summer Conference Championship Coaches banquet on Friday night, July 20 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.
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 fifth year that the National High School Heart of the Arts Award has been offered. Eight
Ever since he was a student at Slocomb High School, Davis has had a passion for music. However, he was also a tremendous athlete who excelled in football, basketball, baseball and track. As such, he often faced schedule conflicts between athletics and performing arts.
By the time he was a junior, Davis had developed into a very talented all-around athlete who emerged as one of the state’s best football running backs. Band director Debra Lynn Long encouraged Davis to keep playing football and to keep playing the trumpet. He would often gain several yards in the first half of a football game and then march in his football uniform in the Marching Red Top Band before returning to the backfield in the second half.
When Davis prepared to graduate, several college football programs vied for his services. While Davis really wanted to play college football, he also wanted to major in music. He chose to attend Alabama A&M University, which had an outstanding music program.
After graduation, he served in the U.S. Army for 10 years. After that, he was persuaded to become band director at Coffee Springs High School. After resurrecting a struggling program there, he moved to Geneva County High School. He had two more stops along the way before landing at Carver, where he encourages his students to not just “… love all music, but to love playing the music and singing the songs even more.”
He rejuvenated Carver’s struggling band program from less than 60 members to now more than 150. He also started a band program at its feeder middle school that now nearly 100 students involved as well.
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (March 12, 2018) — Mark Russell, a high school football official and president of the Huntsville (Alabama) City Council, has been selected as the 2018 Section 3 recipient of the “National High School Spirit of Sport Award” by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). Russell will be recognized at the AHSAA Summer Conference Championship Coaches awards banquet Friday night, July 20 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.
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. Marissa Walker, a student-athlete at Waterford (Connecticut) High School, was selected the 2018 national recipient of the “National High School Spirit of Sport Award.” One recipient from each of the NFHS’s eight districts was selected for section recognition.
An Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) and youth league football official for more than 30 years, Russell has been a member of the Northeast Football Officials Association (NEFBOA) during most of that time. He has served as head of its nominating committee, as the leader of the local football association’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes group, and as chair of the NEFBOA’s benevolent committee projects. He has officiated several AHSAA state championship football games – most recently as a linesman at the 2017 Class 7A title game.
That seemingly innocuous officiating assignment was nothing less than a miracle. Just three months earlier on August 25, Russell was officiating a season-opening high school game between Alabama school Madison Academy and McCallie Academy from Tennessee. During the game, Russell collapsed on the field with heart failure. Paulette Berryman, a nurse who just happened to be working as the Madison Academy school photographer, was standing at the sidelines and quickly came to his aid performing CPR until he was revived. His heart had been stopped with no heartbeat for eight minutes while he lay unconscious on the ground in front of the packed stadium of fans.
He was then rushed by ambulance to Huntsville Hospital’s emergency ward. Within two hours, doctors stabilized him, implanted a stent, and he was sitting up with more than 40 officials who had rushed to the hospital ICU to pray for him and to support him during his time of need. Advised by the doctors to take some extended time off, Russell returned to football in less than a month for a coin toss, and then back as a linesman within six weeks.