Kittilax “Apple” Kridakorn will enjoy the distinction of being the first foreign-born member of the Alabama High School Athletic Association Sports Hall of Fame. She is also recognized as one of the top volleyball officials in the nation.
A native of Bangkok, Thailand, who moved to Birmingham at a young age, Kridakorn is being inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame next Monday, March 21, as a member of the Class of 2016.
The induction banquet, hosted by the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) and Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA), will be at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center at 6:30 p.m. A press conference introducing the 26th Class will be held at 5:30 at the Renaissance.
Other members of the Class of 2016 include football coaches Richard Beverly, Tandy Gerelds and Ike Grant; basketball coaches Mike Cochran and Jerome Sanders; volleyball coaches Frances Crapet and Brenda Mayes; baseball coach Earl Miller; wrestling coach and official Dwight Buzbee; and coach/administrator Alfred Peavy, who was selected in the “old-timer” division. Peavy and Gerelds are deceased.
Kridakorn’s family came to the United States when her father was a graduate student in dentistry at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. She grew up in Birmingham, graduating from Ramsay High School in 1966. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Montevallo in 1970 and began her teaching and coaching career at Carver High School in Montgomery in 1972.
In 1978 she moved to Huntingdon College, serving as volleyball coach for two years. She then returned to Carver for another six-year stint as teacher and coach. In 1984 while still teaching and coaching, she became an Education Specialist with the Montgomery Public School System and served in that capacity until 1994.
In 1995 she became interim director for the Carver Creative and Performing Arts Center, then spent a year as principal of the Montgomery Alternative School. From 1996-98 she was Logistics Specialist with Montgomery Public Schools. She retired in 1998 from teaching but not from officiating.
Indeed, it is as a volleyball official that she is nationally recognized as one of the best in the profession. She has devoted more than 45 years to volleyball officiating. In addition, she has served as State Camp Instructor/Coordinator (9 years), State Tournament Referee Coordinator (15 years), State Rules Interpreter (15 years), and Central Alabama Volleyball Officials Association assigner, past president, vice-president and treasurer (28 years).
She has similar credentials at the collegiate level and with USA Volleyball, an amateur organization. Conferences in which she has officiated include the SEC, A-Sun, SunBelt, Big South, Conference USA, Gulf South, Ohio Valley, Southern, Southwestern Athletic, Southern States and Peach Belt. She has officiated the conference tournament for five different leagues as well as tournament or championship rounds in the NCAA Division II and NAIA.
Her 20-plus years of USA Volleyball activities include officiating in the U.S. Adult Open National AAU, Girls’ Junior Olympics Qualifiers, National Junior Olympics (boys and girls), Special Olympics, U.S. Adult Open Women’s AA Final, Women’s BB Final, AAU 18 Open Gold Final, and National Junior Olympics 16 Open Gold Final. She has been a national referee and scorekeeper and Southern Region board member since 2003.
Mary Day, AHSAA volleyball rules interpreter, credits Kirdakorn as a major influence in her own officiating career. “I first met Apple at the captain’s meeting and coin toss in 1975 when I played volleyball at Goodwyn Junior High and was fortunate to have her officiate many more of my matches through graduation from Jeff Davis High School,” Day said. “I moved on to playing volleyball for her at Huntingdon College, and in the fall of 1980 I began a love affair with sports officiating that continues today.
“Apple has been the single most influential person in my officiating career. The unselfish investment of her time, endless pursuit of self-improvement, genuine concern and respect for her officiating partners as well as players and coaches have had immeasurable impact on volleyball in Alabama. She has been a trainer, coach, mentor, innovator and visionary not only for me but also countless others for over 45 years.
“It is without a doubt that she has influenced the history and evolution of volleyball officiating in this state, which I believe has ultimately and positively affected the sport itself for all participants. I thank the committee for its time and consideration of Apple’s illustrious career that is still ongoing. I truly believe she has no idea how well-known and respected she is in our state from Mobile to Huntsville, to Demopolis to Lanett...”
Leslie Claybrook, Southeastern Conference assistant commissioner, enthusiastically echoes Day’s assessment.
“Kittilax, simply knowns as ‘Apple,’ and I crossed paths when she officiated my junior high volleyball matches in the Montgomery area,” Claybrook said. “Since junior high, our paths have continued to cross in various personal and professional settings for the past 35 years plus. Each time I see Apple, the meeting is the memorable because of Apple’s smile, personality and conversation.
“Apple takes great pride in working in an educational environment. Her greatest gift to society is her work with young people. She takes a vested interest in their lives and plays a role in helping them achieve all they want to achieve – academically, athletically and personally. She certainly played a role in where I am today. Remarkable, honorable, genuine, supportive and passionate are all words that best describe Apple.”
Kridakorn received the AHSAA Distinguished Service Award in 2004, the National Federation of High Schools Section Three Distinguished Service Award in 2007, the Professional Association of Volleyball Officials’ Excellence in Service Award in 2001 and the South Central District Volleyball Official of the Year award in 2013.
FRIDAY: The AHSHOF Class of 2016 series continues with installments 9 and 10 (baseball coach Earl Miller and basketball coach Jerome Sanders).
Ike Grant has worn many different hats during his long teaching and coaching career.
He has excelled as a teacher, coach, administrator and contest official. His impact has been far reaching --a chief reason he was selected to be inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame.
Grant will be inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2016 at a banquet Monday night, March 21. The induction banquet, hosted by the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) and Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA), will be at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center at 6:30 p.m. A press conference introducing the 26th Class will be held at 5:30 at the Renaissance.
Other members of the Class of 2016 include fellow football coaches Richard Beverly and Tandy Gerelds; basketball coaches Mike Cochran and Jerome Sanders; volleyball coaches Frances Crapet and Brenda Mayes; baseball coach Earl Miller; wrestling coach and official Dwight Buzbee; volleyball official Apple Kridakorn and coach/administrator Alfred Peavy, who was selected in the “old-timer” division. Peavy and Gerelds are deceased.
One of two inductees in this class from Alexander City, Ike Grant was graduated from Benjamin Russell High School in 1972. Fellow inductee Dwight Buzbee was a teammate of his and graduated from Benjamin Russell a year earlier in 1971.
Grant went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Alabama State University in 1976. He began his teaching and coaching career at LaFayette High School in 1978 when he was named head football coach and athletic director. He served from 1979-86, compiling a record of 35-45 with one trip to the state playoffs. It was the first time LaFayette had been in the football playoffs.
He returned to the head football coach position in 2001 after the LaFayette football program had gone through some lean years. On his return he compiled a record of 50-44 and carried three teams to the playoffs. His 2003 and 2005 teams finished with 9-1 regular season records, setting school standards for most wins in a season. Both teams extended that record to 10 wins with victories in the first round of the state playoffs. The 2005 team won LaFayette’s first region championship.
The 85 wins he counted in his two different terms as head coach make him the winningest football coach in LaFayette High School history. Grant was selected as a South assistant coach in the 2003 North-South All-Star Football Game hosted by the AHSADCA and also was an assistant in the 2005 Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game. His teams won both games.
Chambers County School Superintendent Dr. Kelli M. Hodge said Grant continues to remain an influence in their school system. “Coach Grant (as he will always affectionately be called) is a role model and mentor for students, teachers and coaches alike,” Hodge said. “He has been a dedicated employee of Chambers County School System for 38 years. He has always been a team player and has been a motivator and encourager to his fellow coworkers.
“Coach Grant continues to influence the students and adults in the Chambers County School System and the community even though he no longer coaches. He will always be someone we can all reach out to.”
Former Assistant Superintendent Dr. George C. McCulloch described Grant as “a man of integrity…respected by his peers, his students and former and present athletes. I’ve known Mr. Grant for more than 25 years. I worked with him as a fellow teacher in the Chambers County School System and finally as his supervisor prior to my retiring. We’ve had numerous conversations over the years about his students and the athletic program at LaFayette High School.
“His desire is and has always been that we work with the children that we serve to help them to achieve their academic and athletic goals. He is a champion for all students. The football program at LaFayette High School is one that has achieved success in its class and is recognized by its competitors as a team that you do not take for granted. Mr. Grant moved them into this direction when they made the playoffs in 1986.
“Mr. Grant has garnered a list of achievements throughout his career as a coach, athletic director and football official. Yet, with all of his achievements he still remains humble, always looking for the best for those who cross his path. He a mentor for those who are currently in school and for those who have graduated.”
Coach John Tatum, a 2015 Hall of Fame inductee, admired Grant’s leadership as a coach.
“I have known and competed against Ike for a number of years,” said Tatum. “I have a found him to be an “old school” coach, one that cares a tremendous amount about his players. We had some fiercely competitive games over the years, and I have always found him to be the utmost in sportsmanship, along with his players. There is no amount of words I could use to describe the qualities of Ike Grant.”
Grant was named Opelika-Auburn News and Valley Times News Coach of the Year in 1980. Other Coach of the Year honors have come from The Birmingham News and the AHSADCA.
He has been an Alabama High School Athletic Association certified official since 1987 with membership in the Alabama-Georgia Association and the Big East Officiating Association. Entering the 2015 season he had officiated in nine state playoff games including one Super Six Championship game.
In the AHSAA he has served on the football committee, the Fourth District Athletic Board and the Central Board of Control. A crowning moment in his career came when his son Corey, a standout running back at Auburn University, reached the NFL as a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2015.
THURSDAY: The AHSHOF Class of 2016 series continues with installments 7 and 8 (volleyball official Apple Kridakorn and volleyball coach Brenda Mayes).