NOTE: This is the 11th installment in a series introducing the AHSAA Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2015. Look for the final inductee Ron Ingram’s profile Friday. The 25th AHSAA HOF Banquet is set for March 23 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.
By BILL PLOTT
Veteran AHSAA track and field official James Houston Young graduated from Uniontown High School in 1963 and Livingston University in 1968. He also holds a master’s degree from the University of Montevallo.
It was at Livingston, now the University of West Alabama, where he was introduced to track and field. In his junior year he went from manager on the football team to a sprinter and jumper on the college’s inaugural track team. He was captain of the team his senior.
He started his teaching career at Beatrice High school in 1968 but only remained there a year. He then took a job as a department store salesman for a year, returning to education in 1970.
His new position was at Lowndes County Training School where he taught for a year. In 1971 he moved to Selma High School as a driver education teacher, football assistant and head track coach. He started a cross country team at the school, compiling a dual meet record of 47-6.
In 1979 he moved over to Selma’s Wallace State Community College where he remained as an administrator until he retired in 2001. He has received service awards from the Alabama Veterans Association and the National Association of Veterans Program Administration.
When he started teaching at Beatrice in 1968, he also started officiating track events. He has continued ever since. He has worked at every state track meet since that first year and currently serves as state meet director for all AHSAA track and field events.
He was named AHSAA Southwest District Official of the Year and AHSAA State Track Official of the Year in 2008. He received the National High School Federation Citation Award for Officiating in 2010.
Young, who will be inducted into the AHSAA Hall of Fame’s Class of 2015 March 23, has also worked as a starter and official at numerous Southeastern Conference, NCAAA and Junior Olympic events. He ran in the Vulcan Marathon in Birmingham in 1979.
His work in track and field has been so respected that he was selected as one of the torch bearers for the 1996 Olympic Games. Young joined nine other bearers in carrying the torch to Atlanta. His leg of the journey was through downtown Selma. The torch he carried is displayed in his home.
“The biggest excitement was when my torch was originally lit,” he recalled in an interview several years ago. “It was exciting to know that everyone who was in the Olympics had their eyes on me. You have so much adrenaline built up that you go faster than you realize. When I got ready to pass off the torch, I wished I had run a little slower to enjoy one more minute of the run.”
Michelle Russ, director of sales with the Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Sports Commission, wrote of his work with that organization: “I have known Houston for seven years and I can tell you, without hesitation, that he is one of the finest people I have ever met. Houston has worked closely with the AHSAA, the City of Gulf Shores and the Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Sports Commission since 2007 on the AHSAA Outdoor Track Championships. Houston not only worked to attract the event to the area but also works year round to plan for this incredible event. He shares his time, knowledge and enthusiasm with all parties involved in the track championships to make sure the event is a huge success. In 2012, under that guidance of Houston Young, the City of Gulf Shores designed and built a new track facility for the citizens and athletes of the state of Alabama to enjoy.
“Houston routinely takes the time to help the community and young athletes from across the state. In fact, Houston’s presence in our community has impacted many around him. Houston volunteers his time on a regular basis. He shows leadership skills during difficult times, excellent problem-solving skills and has a real team-first attitude. Houston Young is an asset to Alabama high school athletics, regional track programs and the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach community.”
Grant Brown, director of Gulf Shores Recreation and Cultural Affairs, also commented on Young’s work: “On the professional side, Houston has been instrumental in the growth of track and field in south Alabama and most specifically, Gulf Shores. His knowledge and ability to expertly coordinate officials, coaches, athletes, volunteers and the facility staff is a testament to his expertise. In addition, when faced with the need to renovate our aging track facilities, Houston’s knowledge and passion led the way, helping us improve and expand our facility. Our city spent nearly $1 million and now has a state-of-the-art track capable of hosting the highest level events. We currently host the AHSAA Track and Field State Championships, NAIA National Outdoor Track and Field Championships, and the Sun Belt Conference Championships. Houston is Meet Manager at each of those prestigious events and handles them with excellence.
“Personally I have not met a more gracious, dedicated man who truly does what he does for the love of the sport and the people involved. I cannot think of a more worthy person to be recognized [in] the distinguished list of hall of fame inductees. He will represent that elite fraternity well.”
NOTE: This is the tenth installment in a series introducing the AHSAA Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2015. Look for veteran track & field official Houston Young’s profile Thursday. The 25th AHSAA HOF Banquet is set for March 23 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.
By BILL PLOTT
Bobby Wright was graduated from Buena Vista (GA) High School in 1970 and Fort Valley State College in 1974.
He began his teaching and coaching career in 1975 at Carver High School in Columbus, GA. He was head track coach and an assistant in football and basketball.
In 1977 he moved across the Chattahoochee River to Central High School in Phenix City. At Central he taught, coached and chaired the Health and Physical Education Department over the years. He added athletic director to his duties in 1998.
His first basketball team went 19-9 in 1989-90 advancing to the sub-state. In 26 years as boys’ basketball coach, Coach Wright has had 24 winning seasons and 15 squads with 20 or more wins. His teams have averaged more than 20 wins per season in compiling a 546-185 record, including 22-4 in 2015 and a Central Regional tournament runner-up finish. He collected his 500th win in the Shaw Christmas Tournament last year. During his career his Central teams have won17 area championships and appeared in 20 sub-state tournaments, advancing to the quarterfinals 10 times and the semifinals five times. The 1998-99 team was Class 6A state runner-up.
Basketball has been a dominant factor in Wright’s home life, also. His wife Carolyn has been the girls’ basketball coach at Central since 1991. She won her 400th game in 2013.
Wright was named coach of the year by local newspapers numerous times.
In football, he served as defensive coordinator for 25 years. Central had only two losing seasons during that time. Opponents were held to single digits in scoring against Central 16 times. Fifty-nine shutouts were recorded by his defensive squads. Central won the Class 6A state championship in 1993 with him as defensive coordinator.
Former football Coach Wayne Trawick wrote of Wright’s value to his team: “Coach Wright became our defensive coordinator in 1984 after serving several years as position coach on defense. Selecting Bobby as our defensive coordinator was certainly one of the best decisions I made during my tenure at Central High School. He was a great motivator and was so good in getting the best effort from each young man he coached. His tough love approach to his coaching style was well accepted by our players. They respected him and loved him. Bobby’s preparation for each game was excellent.
“We hired Coach Wright as our head basketball coach for the 1989-90 school year. He had served under Coach James Redd for several years as our B-team coach and varsity assistant. He not only continued the tradition Coach Redd had built at Central, he improved it. [He has] the most wins by a Central basketball coach in school history. I’m sure that number will go up considerably before he retires.
“Bobby works tirelessly in helping athletes in football and basketball get to the next level, and Central certainly has had quite a number to achieve that.”
Retired principal William G. Hayes wrote: “It was my privilege to work with Coach Bobby Wright from 1984 until 1986…Coach Wright is very cognizant of the importance of both education and athletics. He has devoted his life to the development of both and in particular to education and athletics at Central High School. I have observed Coach Wright as a teacher, football coach, and head varsity basketball coach. In fact, it was my privilege to name Coach Wright head varsity basketball coach at Central. His knowledge and leadership skills have established and maintained a very competitive program that is recognized throughout the state of Alabama.
“Coach Wright possesses a profound ability to motivate student athletes. I have often observed students with all odds stacked against them become successful because of Coach Wright’s drive and determination n working with them. He would accept nothing but their best, no excuses. While I could recount for you statistics, accomplishments and honors, nothing is as important as the positive impact he has made and continues to make on so many young lives.
Hayes said being selected to the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame is an honor that Coach Wright is very deserving of. “But, if you were to ask him, he would probably say seeing a young student-athlete grow, mature and succeed in the classroom and on the field of play is reward enough.”
NOTE: This is the ninth installment in a series introducing the AHSAA Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2015. Look for Central-Phenix City Coach Bobby Wright’s profile Wednesday. Tickets for the 25th AHSAA HOF Banquet set for March 23 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center are still available to the public by calling 334-263-6994 by March 16. Tickets will not be sold at the door and mail order ticket deadline has passed.
By BILL PLOTT
Montgomery native John Tatum, Jr., graduated from Robert E. Lee High School in 1964 and Troy State University in 1969. He also holds a masters degree from Georgia State University.
The AHSAA Hall of Fame Class of 2015 inductee began his teaching and coaching career at Everitt Junior High School in Pensacola, FL, where he was an assistant coach in football and track for six years. He then moved to Walker High School in DeKalb County, GA, serving as head football and track coach for four years. His football record was 24-17-1 with three playoff appearances. In 1983 he moved to Norcross, GA, for a year.
In 1984 he became athletic director, head football and track coach at Montgomery Academy, a position he would hold for the next 23 years. He started out winning with his first team compiling a 7-3 record and a trip to the state playoffs.
Winning seasons and playoff appearances became a regular feature of Montgomery Academy football during his tenure. His record of 146-78 included 18 trips to the playoffs where his record was 40-17.
He had two undefeated regular seasons at MA, 1987 and 2006. The 1987 team finished 14-0, a school record for wins, and won the Class 1A state championship. The 2006 squad advanced to the quarterfinals of the playoffs, finishing with a 12-1 record. Two other teams made it to the quarterfinals and three to the semifinals. Tatum had nine area/region champions.
Current Montgomery Academy athletic director and head football coach Anthony McCall said Tatum has strongly impacted the way he does his job today. “I have had the pleasure of knowing John Tatum for the past 19 years. In addition to serving as my athletic director for 13 of those years, I was also a member of his varsity football coaching staff for five seasons. I am currently serving in the same positions John held at the Montgomery Academy prior to his resignation in 2007. Much of what I do each day in service to the Montgomery Academy community is a result of the great example he set for me to follow. His life of integrity and strong work ethic have made a significant impact on my life and career, and I attribute much of my transition into my present leadership role to him.
“Although John has made a profound impression on my development, I would be remiss if I didn’t’ mention his love and commitment to the players he coached and the men and women that served under his leadership. He consistently demonstrated how much he cared for his players with a stern, paternal love that impacted countless student-athletes, including my son. He taught his players to compete and win without doing it at all cost. He helped them to understand the importance of athletics as a means to enhance their maturation and development into productive citizens. He is loved and admired by many of his former players and employees because of his consistency, loyalty, and genuine friendship. There are not many men that I would recommend accolades for their life’s work, but I enthusiastically recommend John Tatum for the Hall of Fame.”
Archie Douglas, principal at Pacific Collegiate School in Santa Cruz, CA, and a former colleague, wrote; “I worked with John from 2001-2007, and I can say with confidence that he represents the finest virtues that attend the alignment of athletics and education. John can coach anything. He has the innate ability to motivate young people to reach beyond their comfort zones, to build a team around its particular strengths, and to bring out the best in his assistant coaches. For years, despite his humility, he was MA football. Generations of young men who played for him remember him with tremendous fondness and fierce loyalty, not so much for the lessons he taught them about football but for the preparation he gave them for life.
“As athletic director, John always had time for students, parents and anyone else. Though he continued to coach football, he was a strong advocate for all sports – for boys and girls – and he oversaw the emergence and growth of strong soccer, track, cross country and golf teams at MA during our years together without detriment to already prominent programs in tennis, football, basketball, volleyball and baseball.
“He advanced strength training and conditioning for all students with great foresight, resulting in a significant decrease in serious injuries in interscholastic sports as well as a significantly more effective physical education program.
“John was legendary at the academy for his humble kindness and generosity, for his commitment to every student, and for his fierce devotion to fairness and sportsmanship. Most of all, however, he was known for his integrity. In the years that I knew him, nothing mattered more to John than doing the right thing. He taught that to me, he taught it to my sons – both of them athletes – and he taught it to everyone his work touched. That single, unwavering aspect of his character has, I venture to say, contributed significantly to every successful athlete and team with which he has been associated.”
Former assistant coach Tim Bethea recalled Tatum’s relationship with his players. “When John got on a player at practice, he always followed up with an encouraging conversation after practice. He made sure the player did not lose confidence.”
After retiring from coaching, Tatum served as a consultant for Learning Through Sports Star Sportsmanship Program and as principal of St. James High School for a year.
NOTE: This is the eighth installment in a series introducing the AHSAA Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2015. Look for football coach John Tatum’s profile Tuesday. Tickets for the 25th AHSAA HOF Banquet set for March 23 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center are still available to the public by calling 334-263-6994 by March 16. Tickets will not be sold at the door and mail order ticket deadline has passed.
By BILL PLOTT
A native of Sylacauga, Philip Stephen Rivers graduated from Sylacauga High School in 1967 and Mississippi State in 1971. An all-round athlete at Sylacauga, he played football under AHSAA Hall of Fame Coach Tom Calvin and also participated in basketball and tennis, captaining all three teams his senior years. He won the state tennis doubles championship in 1967 and was all-county in both football and basketball. He played in the North-South All-Star game in 1967, an event he would later coach.
He received a scholarship to Mississippi State University where he played football and was later a graduate assistant.
He started his teaching and coaching career as an assistant football coach at Decatur High School in 1972. He got his early training as a football coach under another AHSAA Hall of Famer, Earl Webb. He also served as tennis coach for four years and as assistant basketball coach for a year.
Coach Rivers got his first head football coach job at Pelham High School in 1979. In two years at Pelham he compiled a 9-11 record.
In 1981 he returned to Decatur, this time as head football coach. After two struggling years, he turned the program around, producing a 6-4 mark in 1983 and a 10-3 record in 1985. He had had additional 10 and 11-win seasons as Decatur went to the state playoffs eight times. Two of his teams advanced to the quarterfinals. His overall record at Decatur was 103-59.
While at Decatur he was instrumental in establishing the first weight room, building a new field house and installing new full-length practice field.
After 15 years at Decatur, he moved to Athens where he had four straight winning seasons and state playoff appearances. Three of those teams had double digit wins and two of them advanced to the quarterfinals of the playoffs. While at Athens he was instrumental in the installation of a new dressing room, weight room and practice fields.
In 2000 he retired from coaching in Alabama, moving to a brand new high school in Wakefield, NC. In four years he carried Wakefield from a JV-only beginning to the semifinals of the of the largest school state playoffs. His record there was 36-16 with three playoff appearances.
Also, in Wakefield, he and his wife Joan watched their son Philip, who quarterbacked his dad’s Athens team, play football at North Carolina State. Philip has spent the past several years as the starting quarterback of the San Diego Chargers in the National Football League.
An athletic family, their son Stephen has been a quarterback in the SEC, playing at LSU for three years. He earned his degree in three years and played the 2014 season at Vanderbilt while attending graduate school. Their daughter Anna is an avid tennis player.
“Current Decatur head football coach, Jere Adcock, wrote about his experience as an assistant under Rivers. “Coach Rivers’ greatest contributions as a coach were not in the win and loss column, but rather in the lives of his players and assistant coaches. His teams were known for hard hitting defenses, sound kicking game, and the ability to run the football. He took less than average players and made them play average. He took average players and made them play good and took good players and made them play great. He demanded academic success out of them and emphasized it continuously. He focused young men to play for the name of their school and not seek individual notoriety. H had a unique ability to mesh the talented and untalented into a team that played together. A plaque in the field house in his honor has the following inscription written by his former players:
“ ‘Leader, gentleman, father figure – Coach Rivers was a master at getting the most out of his players, teaching us to play as one, to love and respect the man next to you like a brother, and that life was more than football. Many of the attributes we carry today are a credit to him and his leadership. His passion and love for the game are the reasons we were successful on the field as players and in the game of life.’”
Adcock added, “He taught his coaches also. When his assistant coaches took a head coaching position they were prepared for the task….When discussing Coach Rivers we all refer to his soundness of fundamental football, his handling of players, and his competitive spirit. As he coached players he also coached us. We marveled at how he handled players. He knew when to press and when to back off. He taught us the responsibility of a teacher and to respect the authorities that had given us our jobs. Just as he taught the players that there was more to life than football, he taught coaches the same thing.
“One of my favorite stories occurred when one of our coaches did not stop to greet his wife after a frustrating loss. Coach Rivers told him to go back and see her. He impressed upon him the importance of family over football. Another time we suffered a frustrating loss that occurred because a player decided to go against a play designed to stop the clock. In the Sunday film session and team meeting, Coach Rivers talked about seeing one of our players as an altar boy at church and the importance of things like that over football. That young man later became a priest.”
NOTE: This is the seventh installment in a series introducing the AHSAA Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2015. Look for football coach Steve Rivers’ profile Monday. Tickets for the 25th AHSAA HOF Banquet set for March 23 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center are still available to the public by calling 334-263-6994 by March 16. Tickets will not be sold at the door and mail order ticket deadline has passed.
By BILL PLOTT
A native of Montgomery, James Alan Mitchell was graduated from Robert E. Lee High School in 1960 and Huntingdon College in 1964 with a degree in business administration.
Mitchell had starting cover sports part-time for The Montgomery Advertiser while a senior in high school. When he became a student at Huntingdon, he became the school’s sports information director, a position he held until 1966. In 1963, while nearing graduation, the Advertiser offered him a full-time sports-writing position. He continued the dual roles of sportswriter and sports information director until 1966.
That year he left Montgomery for Athens, TN. He became director of publicity for Tennessee Wesleyan College, serving in that capacity for five years.
In 1971, he returned to Montgomery to become sports editor of the Alabama Journal, the afternoon newspaper.
In 1979 he joined the Alabama High School Athletic Association as the organization’s first full-time director of publicity and publications. It was a position sorely needed by the AHSAA, which would soon see high school athletics expand from four to six classifications. It was also the time when the first girls’ sports programs were being put together at many schools.
The job quickly grew into much more. Eventually, Mitchell found himself responsible for the championship awards, springs sports sites, sports committee meetings, building maintenance and website development among other duties. He also saw expanded duties in coordinating the production and layouts of most AHSAA publications and handling many aspects of the Hall of Fame production each year.
By the time Mitchell reached what would prove to be semi-retirement in December 2011, he had logged more than 30 years with the association. He worked with three AHSAA executive directors – Herman L. “Bubba” Scott, Dan Washburn and Steve Saverese. His retirement was only temporary as Savarese related:
“Throughout my career in high school athletics, I have been privileged to work with some of the finest men and women in the field. This group includes coaches, officials, administrators, and AHSAA contributors who all have had one common trait – a desire to excel and to make a difference in the lives of those they serve.
“One of those individuals is Alan Mitchell. For over 35 years, Alan has served the AHSAA in numerous roles from publications to technology. [After retiring] he continued to serve in a part-time status until Jim Tolbert his replacement, left abruptly due to medical issues. Alan immediately stepped back into his previous position for a very minimal salary due to social security and retirement issues. Alan has always been an outstanding administrator, a dedicated professional and a true credit to this association….Alan’s most important contribution to this association is the fact that he nurtured three Executive Directors.”
AHSAA Director of Communications Ron Ingram, who first worked with Mitchell as a sports writer and then as a colleague at the AHSAA, wrote: “I had the pleasure to work closely with Alan in many events in the Alabama High School Athletic Association long before I came to work with the AHSAA. He has always been the ultimate professional – always courteous, patient and a very thorough in his planning and implementation. His leadership with the AHSAA has a been a key reason our state championship programs are so successful.
“His knowledge of AHSAA matters and his tireless work ethic helped me tremendously in covering high school sports for more than 30 years. He treated me no differently when I worked at The Dothan Progress and The Dothan Eagle than when I worked at The Birmingham News.
“Since becoming his co-worker at the AHSAA, I have come to fully appreciate Alan as a caring, dependable associate. He is someone we all turn to when we have questions about AHSAA policy, purpose and history. He is a friend, a mentor and an icon.
“His energy and enthusiasm are contagious. His love for the same principles and ideals that our organization stands for is also a major reason we have had a successful working relationship that has now budded into a close friendship.
“It is most appropriate that Alan Mitchell be selected for the AHSAA Hall of Fame. He is the one who has stood in the background since the Hall’s inception and watched with pride as the banquet he developed and managed helped put the crowning touch on so many special honorees’ life-long labors. Alan is an MVP, but is not one who seeks MVP honors. It is time that others reward him for his unselfish and tireless contributions.”
The National Federation of High Schools, at its 92nd annual summer meeting in Philadelphia, presented Mitchell the National Citation Award for Section 3. The award recognizes outstanding contributions to the mission of the NFHS and state associations. Section 3 encompasses seven southern states. He became only the fourth Alabamian to receive the award. The others were Ken Blankenship (2000), Greg Brewer (2006), and Houston Young (2010), all of whom worked closely with Mitchell over the years.
Mitchell has been inducted into the Huntingdon College Athletic Hall of Fame. He has held membership in the National Sportscasters and Sports Writers Association, the National Association of Baseball Writers and Sigma Delta Chi professional journalism society.
NOTE: This is the sixth installment in a series introducing the AHSAA Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2015. Look for long-time AHSAA Assistant Director Alan Mitchell’s profile Sunday. Tickets for the 25th AHSAA HOF Banquet set for March 23 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center are still available to the public by calling 334-263-6994 by March 16. Tickets will not be sold at the door and mail order ticket deadline has passed.
A native of Tuscumbia, Myra Elizabeth Miles graduated from Bradshaw High School in 1979. She attended Freed-Hardeman College and the University of North Alabama where she had a double major in health and physical education. She also earned a master’s degree in K-12 physical education.
After serving an internship at the University of North Alabama in 1984, she began her teaching and coaching career in Haleyville. She spent four years there, teaching six grades of PE and coaching volleyball, softball and girls’ basketball. Her volleyball teams were Class 4A state champions two years in a row and runner-up once. She had a state softball champion in 1987 and all four of her basketball teams made the state playoffs with the 1986-87 squad finishing third.
In 1989 she took a similar position at Brooks High School where she remained for nine years, winning numerous Lauderdale County, sectional and area championships in volleyball, basketball and softball. Eight of her nine softball teams played in the state tournament. The 1994 team was the Class 4A champion, the 1995 squad was runner-up and two other teams finished third.
In 1990 she moved to St. James School in Montgomery. She was named Capitol City Conference Coach of the Year and her team won the conference championship. She was also selected to coach the North All-Stars during All-Star Week. After two years at St. James, she moved to Coffee High school in Florence, rebuilding that school’s softball program.
In 2002 Coach Miles moved to Hoover as a coach and physical education teacher. While at Hoover she was asked to serve as interim athletic director when a controversy erupted involving the football program. She was then asked to assume the athletic director position permanently, which she did, serving until her retirement last year.
During her tenure at Hoover, the school won 18 state championships in a variety of sports, including boys’ indoor and outdoor track, football, wrestling, baseball, boys’ cross country, girls’ indoor and outdoor track, girls’ basketball and girls’ swimming.
Hoover High School Principal Don H. Hulin wrote: “Throughout her career, Myra’s success as an outstanding educator, coach and administrator is a direct reflection on her character, leadership and dedication to success in providing each student the greatest possible educational and athletic opportunity. She is a great representative of our school, our state and her profession.
“Myra is dedicated to accomplishing the greatest possible benchmarks of academic and athletic excellence at Hoover High School. She is always willing to go the extra mile in promoting leadership, discipline, communications skill and team building in our school. She is an athletic administrator who blends traditional and innovative cutting-edge methods in promotion all athletes and programs. In spite of numerous inherited issues associated with Hoover High athletic programs, she has transformed all of our programs into nationally recognized models of success. Her unwavering dedication to serving all students promotes athletic success for the full spectrum of teams under her direction.
“Her passion for Hoover High School athletics is evident by the results we have achieved through her guidance. She has been invaluable to me personally in guiding Hoover high athletics under my tenure as principal…Myra has changed the lives of numerous students throughout her career as a teacher and coach in schools across Alabama. Quite simply, she is just a winner.”
Bob Jones High School volleyball coach April Marsh wrote of Coach Miles’ importance during a painful time in her life: “As a seventh grade student-athlete, I went through a very difficult time in my life. In February of 1995, my parents went through a divorce. Two months later, in April of 1995, my older brother was killed in a car accident. Needless to, this was a vey a difficult time for my family and me. Coach Miles is the one person I remember being there for me every day afterwards. She could call me into her office when she could tell I was struggling and was sensitive to my needs. She never stopped coaching me but I gained a respect for her that I never imagined. She pushed me on a daily basis to be a better player/person but would check up on me during the school day.
“She always demanded we give our best and taught us to carry that into every aspect of our life. She loved every athlete she coached and always made decisions based on our needs. She was selfless and it was evident by her actions. She made a tremendous impact on my life. She molded me to become the person I am today.”
Kelli S. Harvey, a former athlete at Brooks, related a similar story of personal attention: “Coach Miles was a leader on and off the court. Countless times I went to Coach Miles for advice. I remember sitting in her office once crying about a personal issued at17 years old. I thought the world was coming to an end, and Coach Miles took the time to listen to my problem. Even though it was not school or sports related, she took time out of her busy day and made me see things in a different light. My world was not coming an end, it was just beginning.”
NOTE: This is the fifth installment in a series introducing the AHSAA Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2015. Look for Myra Miles’ profile Saturday. Tickets for the 25th AHSAA HOF Banquet set for March 23 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center are still available to the public by calling 334-263-6994 by March 16. Tickets will not be sold at the door and mail order ticket deadline has passed.
By BILL PLOTT
A native of Atmore, Steve Jefferson graduated from Escambia County Training School in 1958. He received his bachelor’s degree with a major in history and minor in physical education from Alabama State University in 1962.
He began his teaching and coaching career at Conecuh County Training School in Evergreen where he carried his very first team to the Alabama Interscholastic Athletic Association state tournament.
He moved to Birmingham in 1967, joining the faculty at Ullman High School. In 1969 he was named head coach of the school’s last football team. Integration closed the high school the following year.
In 1970 he moved over to Carver-Birmingham as head basketball coach and assistant football coach, producing a 15-12 record his first year on the job. His 1972-73 team went to the state tournament with a 27-3 record, foreshadowing great teams to come. Two of the best were the 1977-78 and 1978-79 squads. They won 32 and 30 games, respectively, and back-to-back Class 4A state championships. He was the first Birmingham coach to win back-to-back titles since Simpson’s Dick Webb in 1924 and 1925.
His winning percentage in the 1990s dropped when dwindling enrollment moved Carver from the large-school category down to Class 3A. “Our fans have expected us to continue to compete with the 6A schools. We’re expected to compete with Birmingham’s top teams. I had to adjust my goals from being the best in the city to being competitive. (But) we know now that if we’re competitive we have a chance to win the state championship,” he said in 1997 as Carver set its sites on a Final Four appearance. Of Carver’s 12 losses going into regional play, nine had come against the Birmingham’s top city programs.
During his 28 years at Carver, Coach Jefferson had nine teams in the state tournament. In addition to his two championships, he had runner-up clubs in 1983, 1997 and 1998. His state tournament teams produced 14 all-tournament players. He had seven 20-or-more win seasons including his final two which finished 21-13 and 24-11 in their state runner-up roles.
He was Birmingham City Schools Coach of the Year 10 times and Birmingham Tip-Off Club Coach of the Year twice. He was given the Frank Nix Distinguished Basketball award in 1998. His Carver teams won more than 430 games.
He retired from high school coaching in 1998 but returned to the court in 2003 as head coach at Lawson State Community College where he compiled a 102-26 record.
Former player Eddie Cauthen wrote, “Coach Jefferson was my high school coach. Coach Jefferson was successful in developing his players to be productive citizens in Birmingham and abroad. He was a positive role model who taught life lessons off the court as well as on the court. He required each of us to do our best and exemplify high moral standards. Coach Jefferson has maintained an outstanding reputation among his players and peers and has always been praised for his outstanding character. I’m sure that anyone who‘s ever come in contact with him will agree that he an exceptional man.”
Montgomery CPA Eugene Pitts seconded Jefferson’s exceptionality with this story. “As a former player, I remember my first season playing for him on the freshman team because that year was great. We went undefeated. I had to stop playing basketball to help my mother take of her five kids, me being the oldest of the family. Growing up listening to a song called ‘Patches’ by Clarence Carter, I always knew that was going to be the right thing for me to do because that is what Patches did when his father passed. My father had not passed. He was just not around to help my mom raise us. Coach Jeff would always remind me that when I was ready he had a place for me on the team again.
“Finally, the family was doing better and all of my mom’s kids were big and were helping out. I told Coach I was ready to try out as a senior. He kept his promise and gave me a fair chance.
“I did not want to disappoint Coach. I made the team. Coach stated to the team that I was the best conditioned athlete on the team since I had lapped everyone in our conditioning preparation and played hard on both ends of the court. The lesson taught here to me and my teammates was that there is no substitute for hard work. The lesson taught to me was that Coach Steve Jefferson was a man of his word and that he loved highly motivated individuals. We went on to have a successful 23-7 season in 1977 with only two seniors on that team. In the following two seasons, Carver won back-to-back state championships.
“I know from personal experience that Coach Jeff is a man of high integrity and puts the well-being of his players first.”
NOTE: This is the fourth installment in a series introducing the AHSAA Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2015. Look for long-time Carver-Birmingham basketball coach Steve Jefferson’s profile Friday. Tickets for the 25th AHSAA HOF Banquet set for March 23 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center are still available to the public by calling 334-263-6994 by March 16. Tickets will not be sold at the door and mail order ticket deadline has passed.
By BILL PLOTT
A native of Talladega, Dewey Douglas “Doug” Goodwin graduated from Sylacauga High School in 1980. At Sylacauga he played football for four years at defensive back, running back and linebacker. He also pitched and caught on the baseball team and played in the state East-West All-Star Game.
The AHSAA Hall of Fame inductee in the Class of 2015 attended Auburn University, graduating in 1984. At Auburn he was an invited walk-on at defensive back under head coaches Doug Barfield and Pat Dye.
Goodwin, 234-91 over his 27-year head football coaching career, got his early coaching experience at his high school alma mater, serving as a volunteer assistant coach for the junior varsity and then was a volunteer at Beulah High School.
His professional teaching and coaching career began in1985 at Lanett High School as assistant varsity football coach. He was also in charge of the weight program and coached the 9th grade basketball team.
In 1987 he moved to Marion County High School in Guin as athletic director, head football and baseball coach. He taught physical education and health and was in charge of the weight program. His first few football teams at Guin were not outstanding but they were highly competitive, In 1991 he carried the Red Raiders to the state playoffs, the first of many trips over the course of his career.
In 1993 he moved to Lineville with multiple responsibilities as athletic director, football coach, girls’ basketball and baseball coach as well as teaching physical education classes for six grades. Over the next seven years he compiled a record of 59-17, a 78 per cent winning record. Seven straight Lineville teams made the state playoffs, two of them advancing to the championship game. The 13-2 record of the 1996 team set a school record for wins. Two years later that record was broken by the 1998 squad’s 14-1 mark and a tough loss to Southern Choctaw in the Class 2A championship game.
Coach Goodwin moved to Demopolis in 1999 as athletic director and head football coach. The building blocks of success he had established at Lineville followed him. In eight years at Demopolis his record was 92-18, an impressive .836 winning percentage. He had four consecutive undefeated regular seasons from 2002-05. Two of those teams played into the quarterfinals of the state playoffs. The 2004 squad won the state championship with a perfect 15-0 record. It was the school’s first football championship. The Tigers scored a state record 761 points that season. All eight of Goodwin’s Demopolis teams made the playoffs.
In 2007 he moved to Russellville where he spent four years as athletic director and head football coach. His percentage of wins continued to rise. His four straight playoff teams compiled a record of 46-9. Two of those teams made it to the championship game. When he left for Homewood after the 2010 season, he had a string of 18 consecutive state playoff appearances and 11 double-digit winning seasons at Lineville, Demopolis and Russellville.
As head football coach at Homewood he compiled a 23-10 record, taking his last two teams to the playoffs. That gave him 21 playoff teams in 27 years of coaching. He retired from coaching after the 2013 season at Homewood and joined the athletic staff at Auburn University as Director of High School Relations and NFL Liaison.
Ronald J. Roberts, principal at Pascagoula, MS High School, worked with Goodwin as principal at Demopolis from 2000-05. In a letter of support he recalled those years:
“In my 38 years in the field of education, I have served with hundreds of great educators at all levels in the states of Alabama and Mississippi. Coach Doug Goodwin, in my opinion, is the very best. I marveled at the results consistently achieved by Coach Goodwin in building a championship football program for Demopolis High School.
“Coach Goodwin possesses a great work ethic, great initiative, and a personality that makes everyone around him want to do their very best. His accomplishments elevated him to legendary status in the Demopolis community. Our football program was a source of great pride for the Marengo County area.
“On a personal, my son Colby was a senior wide receiver on the 2004 championship team. He had a great experience playing for Coach Goodwin and holds him in very high regard. Colby told me that he learned more than football from Coach Goodwin. He learned to work as part of a high energy team for a common cause. This still serves my son well. I could never repay Coach Goodwin for what he meant to my son.
“Coach Goodwin was a great leader and had a wonderful rapport with our students, faculty and staff. His wife Donna, a great math teacher, was the unofficial mother to our football team and helped ‘raise’ our players. Dr. Wesley Hill, longtime superintendent of the Demopolis City School System, once told me that Coach Goodwin had the rare ability to connect with all of his players. He told me that Doug was probably his top hire of all time. I fully agree with Dr. Hill.”
Goodwin has received numerous football coach-of-the-year awards at the county, regional and state level. He has coached in the AHSAA All-Star game as well as the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game.
He was selected Northwest Alabama baseball coach of the year twice.
NOTE: This is the third installment in a series introducing the AHSAA Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2015. Look for football coach Doug Goodwin’s profile Thursday. Tickets for the 25th AHSAA HOF Banquet set for March 23 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center are still available to the public by calling 334-263-6994 by March 16. Tickets will not be sold at the door and mail order ticket deadline has passed.
By BILL PLOTT
A native of Anniston, Harold Jackson “Jack” Doss Jr., graduated from Oxford High School in 1965. After serving in the U.S. Air Force he played basketball at Gadsden State Community College, then earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Jacksonville State University.
His teaching and coaching career began at Hayes High School. It was at Hayes that he launched a career that would be nothing short of spectacular – a state-record eight AHSAA state basketball championships with this year’s Class 5A state title won by his current team J.O. Johnson. Doss, a member of the AHSAA Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2015 to be inducted March 23, also is one of only two coaches to win boys’ state titles at three different schools. He also won state championships at Hayes of Birmingham and Butler of Huntsville and had back-to-back titles three different times. His teams at Hayes, S. R. Butler and J. O. Johnson combined to compile a 749-320 record under his tutelage.
In his only two years at Hayes, he won his first two championships. They were consecutive Class 4A titles in 1980-81 and 1981-82. Those two teams had a combined record of 58-9. Doss became the only coach in state history to win championships in his first two years of coaching.
From Hayes he went to Florida for two years, and then returned to his home state to accept the head basketball coach position at S.R. Butler in Huntsville. Although his tenure at Butler did not enjoy as spectacular a start as it did at Hayes, he was quickly a basketball presence in North Alabama. Within a few years he had a team in the state tournament, then one in the semifinals finishing the 1990-91 season with a 31-4 record.
The 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons saw back-to-back Class 5A state championships. There was a repeat performance in 2007-08 and 2008-09. His fifth championship at Butler and seventh overall came in 2010-11. In 2013-14 he moved to J. O. Johnson High School. The Jaguars finished 32-4 in 2015 with a 59-52 win over Ramsay in the state finals at the BJCC.
His seven championship teams included 16 all-tournament selections, six of them the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
Other superlatives in his career include:
-- Madison County Athletic Hall of Fame, 2007.
-- The Birmingham News Coach of the Year seven times.
-- North Alabama team coach in the state all-star game, winning both years.
-- Alabama All-Stars coach against the Mississippi All Stars, winning both games.
--Produced more than 30 Division I scholarship players. Included the all-star games, he has coached four NBA players – Charles Barkley, Buck Johnson, Eric Bledsoe and Ennis Whatley.
Huntsville City School Board member Topper Birney shared an unusual anecdote about Coach Doss’s coaching ability, unusual in that it came from a practice session, not a game: I interrupted a Butler basketball practice to ask Coach Doss’s permission to invite two of his players to attend the Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Breakfast that is celebrated every year in Huntsville. He immediately gave his approval and then we settled into a fairly lengthy talk. His back was to the court but I was to witness the players going through their practice routine flawlessly. I remarked to Jack that I think they would have done the routine the same way had he not been there. He assured me that was true.”
Butler’s basketball character development strategies were showcased on CBS sports. Speaking to that character Butler Principal Chad LaQua wrote: “Jack displays extraordinary leadership…as a teacher, coach and mentor to our student-athletes. Jack displays positive leadership on the court, but his character can be easily defined by how students respect his teaching in the classroom of life. Jack teaches students lifelong lessons. He leads by example, and often refers to himself as the ‘sweeper’ or someone who is there to support everyone else. Jack’s players are highly recruited and continue to play college basketball at the Division I level.
“Most importantly, Jack gives the students in our Butler community hope. He was instrumental in the team effort to reopen Butler High School. During his tenure with us at Butler High School, Jack has worked with students in a diverse range of responsibilities that include tutoring, teaching, and mentoring. He also brought new ideas that helped raise the culture achievement at Butler High School. Jack is truly is a statesman for AHSAA basketball…He is always looking to improve his own coaching style and the technique of the students.
“Mr. Doss displays an incredible work ethic and models professionalism for our students. Jack also displays a knack for communicating and working with at-risk student-athletes in a humble manner. He shows understanding and provides constructive ideas that encourage achievement at Butler. Jack continues to assure that academics come first.”
J. O. Johnson principal Eric T. Jones wrote that Doss’s commitment to education far surpasses basic duty. “I have watched Coach Doss should be mold young men into gentlemen of character and integrity. He is an excellent teacher of not only the game of basketball but the game of life as well. He and his staff work tirelessly with our young men to ensure that they are spiritually, emotionally and physically ready for any challenges they may face on or off the court. His wealth of experience and success in coaching allow for many schools to take time to visit our campus on a regular basis. This exposure provides all of our athletes the opportunity to be seen by numerous colleges and universities, an aspect that was otherwise unavailable or lacking in previous years at J.O. Johnson High School. Although Coach Doss has retired from teaching, he remains highly visible in the school and stands, more than willing to give of his time for the benefit of JOJ.”
NOTE: This is the second in a series introducing the AHSAA Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2015. Look for basketball legend Jack Doss’ profile Wednesday. Tickets for the 25th AHSAA HOF Banquet set for March 23 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center are still available to the public by calling 334-263-6994 by March 16. No tickets will be sold at the door and mail order ticket deadline has passed.
By BILL PLOTT
A native of Coffee County, James Donald Chesteen graduated from Brantley High School in 1946 and from Troy University in 1951. He died on Dec. 19, 2014, just a few weeks after learning that he had been inducted into the Hall of Fame.
His son Donnie said J.D. knew early in high school that he wanted to be a football coach. The only way that could happen was to lay the groundwork in the military. He served two years in the U.S. Air Force, rising to the rank of staff sergeant, and then was able to enroll at Troy where he played football and earned his bachelor’s degree.
His teaching and coaching career began in 1951 as an assistant coach at Samson High School. He stayed three two years and then took his first head coach job at Coffee Springs High School. When they beat Cottonwood 7-6 in the fourth game of the seasons it was the revived Coffee Springs football program’s first win since before World War II.
In 1954 he returned to Samson, this time as head coach. After a 4-5-1 start he led Samson to four consecutive winning seasons. It was the days before the state playoff system and a number of towns held high school bowl games. Coach Chesteen’s teams appeared in the Lions Bowl and the Peanut Bowl. His five-year record was 19-18-4.
In 1960 he moved to Geneva County High School at Hartford. Again there was a slow start with his first team going 3-7. Then it was 26 wins and two more bowl appearances over the next three years. The 1962 squad finished with a school record 10 wins after beating Rehobeth 3-0 in Dothan’s Peanut Bowl game. It was the school’s first undefeated season since 1926.
The following year Geneva County finished 9-0-1 with another Peanut Bowl victory. They were named Class 2A state champs by The Birmingham News.
Coach Chesteen retired from coaching in 1969 but remained a teacher until 1989.
Among the coaching honors he received were:
--South Alabama Conference Coach of the Year, 1961 and 1962
--Head coach of South All Stars, 1963
--Represented state High School Coaches Association on the National Football Rules Committee
--President of Alabama High School Coaches Association
--President and vice president of South Alabama Conference
--Elected into Wiregrass Sports Hall of Fame in 1994.
Like so many coaches, Chesteen’s influence went far beyond sports. Hartford businessman Danny Fulford wrote: “Coach J.D. Chesteen is without a doubt one of the most influential people in my life…Although I didn’t attain greatness in the football sport world, I achieved far more than I ever expected because of this man. As my high school coach, he made me believe in myself enough to walk on at Auburn University and eventually attained a four-year grant-in-aid scholarship. Without his faith in me and encouragement I would have never thought this was possible. He personally carried me to Auburn in 1962 and left me in a world I was completely unfamiliar with, and, to be truthful, I probably would have never stuck it out had I not known this man was back in my hometown with complete confidence in me...Also, I know that I’m not the only person who he has influenced so much in past years. I know of numerous other people that he influenced to be better people in life as well as sports.”
Another former player, Tom Bryan, said Chesteen changed not only individual lives but also community pride: “When Coach Chesteen came to Hartford, he inherited a program that had won only three games in two years and had only 17 players on the team. In two years his 1962 team went to 10-0 and won the 2A state championship, and he followed that up with a
9-0-1 season in 1963. By then we had over 60 players on the team. Following the 1962 season he coached the 1963 AHSAA All-Star Game in Tuscaloosa and I was fortunate to be on that team.
“Turning around the football program at Hartford doesn’t come close to telling the story of J.D. Chesteen as a man of character, commitment, and community service. He completely changed the attitude of the whole town. His enthusiasm got everyone involved and the school became a source of town pride.
“My father died when I was 10-years old and Coach Chesteen became the father figure I needed at a critical time in my life. He did that for everyone who played for him. Without his encouragement and fatherly guidance I would not have been able to earn a scholarship to Auburn and a college degree that has enabled me to be in a position to help others like he helped me.”
Dale County associate superintendent Lamar Brooks grew up in Hartford when Chesteen was coaching. He recalled: “I was not old enough to play for Coach Chesteen. However, the influence that he had directly on me came from other places. Coach Chesteen was my Sunday School teacher. Many of the lessons he taught did not come from a book or any text. He taught us lessons about life and what was really important . To do this, he used real life situations in which we could relate.”