MONTGOMERY – Peter Braasch stands alone in the Class of 2017 and is one of only a few selected to the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame whose career has been as an assistant coach rather than a head coach.
Braasch, however, is likely Alabama’s most decorated assistant coach. He received the Alabama Football Coaches Association’s Assistant Football Coach of the Year award in 2009 and an AHSAA “Making a Difference Award” in 2012. He was elected to the Vestavia Hills Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.
A native of Birmingham, he graduated from Homewood High School in 1973 and from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1977.
“One might question why an assistant head coach should qualify for the Hall of Fame,” wrote VHHS Head Football Coach Buddy Anderson, who was inducted into the HOF in 2003. “It is because Peter is the epitome of who and what a high school coach should be to young people. He demands the best from his players and, at the same time, inspires them to stretch beyond their abilities. Most of all, he has a love and concern for young people that goes far beyond the years they played for him.
“He has helped a vast number of former players later their lives. He has been known on many occasions to hear about a former player who is not acting or living as he should, and then to show up at his house or even college apartment and do whatever he could to help get the young person back on the right track.”
Anderson said Braasch’s selfless nature and role model makes him stand out among all individuals.
“Peter has won several accolades in his career, but the one that stands out is the AHSAA “’Making a Difference’ Award…He truly does make a difference in the lives of the young people he teaches and coaches…He is the role model for commitment, loyalty, integrity, character, and love for his athletes. He is everything an assistant coach should be.”
Braasch joined to faculty at Vestavia Hills High School in 1977. For the next 37 years he would serve the school in a variety of positions in multiple sports. They included football, basketball and track & field.
When he retired as Vestavia Hills defensive coordinator at the end of the 2014 season, he left a huge hole in Anderson’s staff. Anderson is currently the AHSAA’s all-time wins leader with 325 wins in 39 years as Rebels’ head coach. Braasch was defensive coordinator for 34 of those seasons. Together they guided Vestavia Hills to state championships in 1980 and 1998 and to the finals in 1978 and 1979.
Braasch’s tenure with the Rebels’ basketball program has also been impressive. He served as assistant head coach from 1990-2014 with another Alabama High School Hall of Famer George Hatchett. His job, of course, was to manage the Rebels’ defensive schemes. He helped the Rebels win state championships in 1992 and 2009 and reach the semifinals in 2000 and 2011.
Braasch served as assistant coach in track & field from 1978 to 1994. During that period he was also head coach of the freshman team which won the state championship in 1993.
Retired Principal Cas McWaters wrote, “Over the past 37 years I have had the privilege to be a student under his tutelage, a peer coach with him, and serve as his principal. Writing this recommendation for Coach Braasch is easy. I have watched Peter grow into a truly legendary teacher and coach. I wish we could ‘bottle’ what Coach Braasch has and inject it into every coach in our nation.
“While Coach Braasch has built a reputation as a defensive mastermind, watching him coach students is really what he masters. When he teaches practice and game strategy, his students are so engaged I think sometimes they believe they are forming the game plan themselves. He players are truly ‘students of the game’ and believe they beat anyone. While I recognize the great accomplishment of being an assistant coach for the same head coach for 37 years, I am most impressed with Coach Braasch’s ability to change with the times and impact students. Peter Braasch is about students!”
McWaters said he was with Braasch when the coach talked to a student who was threatening suicide. On another occasion Braasch went to a college town to help a former student who was in trouble. On yet another occasion, he intervened to help a former student get into a rehabilitation program.”
Vestavia’s former principal said former players have reached out to Braasch in the good and the bad times.
“He loves his players, and his players know it. Peter Braasch builds boys into men and then mentors them as adults. …his greatest achievement is he has taught young men how to be better sons, brothers and fathers. He displays for young men every day that they can be a man’s man and still have a compassionate heart.”
The Braasch family has had a major impact on athletics at Vestavia Hills over the years. Peter’s sister-in-law, Fran Braasch, coached girls’ basketball for 23 years, winning the 1987 state championship and reaching the semifinals four other times. She is also a member of the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame. Her husband and Peter’s brother, Butch Braasch, has been a long-time volunteer coach at the school.
Monday: Fourth installment of the Hall of Fame series: Lanett basketball coach Richard Carter.
MONTGOMERY – Norman Wayne Bowling grew up in basketball-crazy Morgan County, graduating from Austinville High School in 1959.
He and his Austinville teammates raised the bar even higher.
Bowling was a stand out on the school’s Class A state championship basketball team of ’59, then followed that with a successful career at St. Bernard College in nearby Cullman County, graduating in 1963.
When he graduated he transitioned from playing basketball to coaching basketball when he accepted a job back in Morgan County at Danville High School. His entire teaching and coaching career was spent at Danville where he served as head boys’ basketball coach from 1963-2000, a total of 37 years. He was also the school’s head baseball coach from 1963-85.
And much like his career as a player, his basketball coaching accomplishments raised the bar even higher in Morgan County.
Among his basketball accomplishments he became the career high school coaching wins leader in Morgan County with a career record of 683-388. His coaching tenure also included five state tournament appearances (1977, 1978, 1985, 1991 and 1992) with his ‘92 team advancing to the finals. His Hawks won two sub-state championships, Five Regional and 12 Area championships.
Equally important to Morgan County schools, his teams won the Morgan County championship in 1965, 1985, 1988 and 1992. His legacy includes having the Morgan County tournament Most Valuable Player Award being named in his honor.
Bowling’s teams were noted for their shooting skills. The 1995 team remains one of the highest-scoring in state history scoring 100 or more points 12 times with a season high of 124.
Those records resulted from Bowling’s skill as a basketball player and coach and from his ability to instill his own competitive spirit in the legion of players who wore the Danville jersey.
Coach Lynn Holladay wrote in 2015 of Bowling’s love for the game of basketball letter of recommendation to the Hall of Fame selection committee.
“Today at age 73, Wayne still plays basketball several times per week at a very high skill level,” said Holladay. “If there were an Alabama Small College Basketball Hall of Fame, Wayne would be one of the first inductees. I know Wayne’s skill level because I played against him at the collegiate level. I also played with him and against him in varying levels of competition after college for all most 50 years. Wayne was one of the most competitive players that I have played against.”
Holladay said Bowling’s better than 60% winning record is even more remarkable when considering that for approximately the first 20 years of Wayne’s coaching career Danville was a 1A school and his schedule was comprised of many larger schools such as Austin, Decatur, Hartselle, Brewer, Lawrence County and East Lawrence.
Holladay, who is writing a book on Morgan County’s outstanding basketball history, credits Bowling with introducing the fast-break style of basketball that he had played at St. Bernard, to Morgan County.
“His first team at Danville averaged over 76 points per game, which was almost six points more than any Morgan County team had ever averaged,” He said. “Within two years, Wayne’s style of play had spread to almost all other teams in Morgan County, and all of them were suddenly averaging about six to eight points more than they ever had. The style of play employed by Wayne at Danville soon crossed the county borders into the adjoining counties. The tempo of the game had spread tremendously.”
Morgan County School Superintendent Bill W. Hopkins Jr., who played and coached against Bowling, recalled going to watch Bowling’s teams play as a child.
“I then had the honor of playing against his teams in varsity basketball and baseball,” he continued. “When I became a young coach, I had the privilege of coaching against his teams. Later when I became an administrator I was able to watch his teams compete against other teams. I was always amazed how he took what seemed like less talent than others and molded them into successful winning teams. The discipline of his teams became his trademark.”
Bowling also made a difference off the court. One of his former players, Joe D. Bailey said he is a prime example of that influence.
“Coach Bowling, I know I have told you before, but I wanted to put in writing how much you mean to me,” he wrote. “I want you to know how much I appreciate all that you did for me. You drove me to be the best player and person I could be, and I still see results from that today.
“You taught me more than anyone how to compete. You are still the most competitive person I know, and you helped me learn how to compete at a high level. We won a lot of games, and I am proud of that as I know you are. But, I also know that’s not why you coached. You coached to make a difference in the lives of young men, and you did that. You did that not just in my life but in (the lives of) so many others.
“I will always be grateful for your leadership. I am glad to be a small part of your successful career. It was a joy and honor to play for you. Thank you for being disciplined and stern with us—we needed it. I want you to take comfort in knowing that you had a huge impact on one player’s life.”
David Bethea wanted to be a teacher. Little did he realize that his best classroom would turn out to be the tennis court!
Bethea is one of 12 individuals being inducted into the Class of 2017 of the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame. The induction banquet will be March 20 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.
The graduate of Huntsville’s Butler High School earned his college degree at the University of North Alabama and received his Masters from the University of South Alabama. Joining the faculty of Montgomery Academy in 1979, he has spent his entire teaching and coaching career at the private school where he has served as head coach of the boys’ tennis program and the junior high/middle school football program.
His junior high football coaching record (191-83-3) includes 19 city championships. He was also Montgomery Academy head basketball coach from 1986-90, compiling a record of 33-36.
It was tennis, however, that propelled Bethea to the forefront among AHSAA coaches. Adding tennis to his duties in 1983, his record remarkable ever since. Currently in his 35th season as the head coach, he has compiled an 878=175 dual match record through the 2016 season. That total included 14 state championships, nine runners-up and 32 Section Championships. He was also named the 2014 NFHS Sooth Section Tennis Coach of the Year.
As with so many coaches, however, it is not just impressive numbers that mark his success.
“Coach Bethea’s real impact has not been in winning in athletics, but in winning in the game of life,” wrote former Saint James head football coach Robert Johnson. “He is one of the best Christian leaders I have ever known. Always putting his faith before anything else, he has led many people to Christ through his amazing testimony and how he lives his life.”
Johnson, a long-time friend and former student of Bethea, added, “He is the most positive person I know. He is an amazing motivator and is always smiling and encouraging others. He is always concerned about others and how he can help them. He challenges people in their spiritual life, academics and athletics. Coach Bethea has personally impacted my life in tremendous ways. First, he was my junior high coach as a 7th grader. I was in awe of this man with long hair that loved Jesus.
“As an 8th grader he cut me from the football team. Looking back, it was a pivotal moment in my life. He encouraged me all year to work hard and come back out. He did not give up on me. His love and motivation changed my life, and I made the team as a 9th grader…. I went on to make All State and played on a state championship team as a senior because of his motivation. My last year in college, Coach Bethea asked me to be his assistant on the junior high team. This again was a pivotal moment in my life, changing my career. I ended up becoming a teacher and coach because of this man. I only hope that I have made a small portion of the impact on lives like David Bethea has.”
Jim Tuley, former coach at Robert E. Lee and Trinity Presbyterian, described Bethea as gentle with a calm compassion.
“His love for the students, parents, the game and the team he
“His love for the students, parents, the game and the team he is competing against is always there,” Tuley said. “He makes it fun to play his teams. As a person on the other sideline, it was always a pleasure to play the teams he coached. They were always ready to play to their best and, win or lose, they were always gentlemen. He has not only won on the field, but also is a great ambassador for high school sports
“When I served at Trinity (for 17 years), I saw David build a dynasty in boys’ tennis at MA. He gave young players a chance and gave the young men who stayed around a chance to play and contribute. He has the rare ability to make each person he coaches feel important.”
INDIANAPOLIS, IN — Gary McGriff of Holly Pond and David Briseno of Clovis, New Mexico, and have been selected as national award recipients by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Officials Association.
McGriff, who has been involved in officiating in various capacities for 30 years, is the recipient of the National Contributor Award. Briseno, who has been involved in officiating in New Mexico since 1984, is the recipient of the National Active Official Award.
“Few people have made the impact Gary McGriff has had on officiating in the state of Alabama,” said Steve Savarese, executive director of the AHSAA. “A visionary, always providing opportunities for our officials to grow technologically, Gary continues to be a state leader with regard to communication, not only between officials, but most important our Association.”
McGriff officiated four sports, including basketball for 18 years, and has continued his involvement in officiating by serving as district director for basketball (12 years) and track and field (five years). In addition to his on-the-field accomplishments, McGriff has been a photographer at all Alabama state championships for the past 15 years, and he developed the officials’ software program for the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA).
“I am honored and humbled to be nominated and receive this award for something I love doing so much,” said McGriff, who spent 25 years at NASA working as a tester for space shuttle main engine components. “I owe a special thanks to the AHSAA for allowing me to bring in new ideas and for embracing and encouraging those ideas. Supporting officiating and officials of all sports has been enjoyable and rewarding.”
He wrote the software program and has continued to develop the program to cover registration, testing, training and recordkeeping of officials in all sports. In addition to the software program for the AHSAA, McGriff developed the same program for the Mississippi High School Activities Association, the Los Angeles area baseball associations and the Dixie Youth Baseball programs in the Southeast.
McGriff established the first website of its kind in the world designed for primarily for contest officials. It included threaded multiple sport discussions that sparked worldwide participation of officials about such topics as rules, mechanics and game situations. This website was cited by Referee Magazine as one of the top 40 milestones in history of officiating.
He has written articles for Referee Magazine, including a cover article about how officials were could use the internet for training and discussions. He also wrote a very poignant article about how officials should behave while watching a game from the stands.
McGriff has also helped pioneer the use of crew communication system headsets among contest officials. Working with Vokkerro, the designer, he has helped train officials in the use of the system at the high school level (AHSAA), college level (Southeastern Conference, Big 10 Conference, Big 12, Pac 12, Mountain Wet, Sun Belt and Western Athletic conferences as well as the National Football League. He has also demonstrated the equipment for the NBA, Atlantic Coast Conference and Missouri Valley Conference.
He is currently active as an AHSAA district officials’ director for basketball and track.
MONTGOMERY -- The Alabama High School Athletic Association is partnering with the National Association of Sports Officials to bring the 2020 NASO Officials Summit to Montgomery and the Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center. The announcement was made jointly by AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese and NASO president Barry Mano.
The AHSAA will be the summit’s education sponsor.
“The AHSAA is committed to providing the best training and professional development possible for our more than 7,000 contest officials,” Savarese said. “The NASO Officials Summit will bring more than 500 sports officials from across the U.S. to Alabama and will have a major economic impact on Montgomery and the state. “We are very excited to be able to host this summit. Some of the greatest minds in sports officiating will be here as clinicians. It affords the AHSAA and our state’s sports officials an incredible opportunity.”
Mano, the founder and publisher of Referee Magazine and the NASO Summit, said he is excited about bringing the event to Montgomery. The Summit has been held annually across the nation since 1981 with year’s event set for Louisville (KY) and last year’s event held at San Antonio (TX).
“The enthusiasm and vision of Steve Savarese, (AHSAA Director of Officials) Mark Jones and the AHSAA Board has been extraordinary,” Mano said. “In July, 2020, the NASO Sports Officiating Summit will be held at the Renaissance Montgomery. In conjunction, the AHSAA will stage “Officiate Alabama Day”. It will be historic in size and scope. It will educate and pay honor to the men, women and young people who make high school sports in Alabama safe, fair and life-building for all who play.
“The energy and belief of the AHSAA and the Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center makes me and our NASO staff already itching to come to Montgomery. It will be extraordinary.”
The mission of the NASO is to not only provide the best and most up-to-date information for sports officials but serve as the leading source of sports officiating information, programs and services. Members of the NASO include officials from the professional, collegiate and high school levels for a vast variety of sports including baseball, basketball, football, wrestling, volleyball, soccer, track and field, cross country, swimming and diving and competitive cheer.
“We are honored to have the opportunity to host this most prestigious event for sports officiating,” said Jones. “The speakers at the NASO Summit are some of the most successful officials in their sports in the country at any level. A benefit of hosting the National Summit is that it provides for an “Officiate Alabama Day” on the Saturday prior to the Sunday opening of the Summit. Officials from all sports across the state of Alabama will have the opportunity to attend Alabama Day and learn from the top officials in the country.”
The AHSAA’s Jones will be a speaker at this summer’s NASO Summit at Louisville. Among this year’s speakers are legendary sports officials and industry leaders Jerry Markbriet, Billy Kennedy, Steve Shaw, Joe Crawford, Dean Blandino, Bill Carollo, Scott Green, Marcy Weston, Sandra Serafini, Steve Javie, Tom Lopes, Terry Gregson, Joan Powell and Mike Pereira. , who will be a speaker at the 2017 NASO Summit at Louisville in July.
The Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) has announced ALFA Mutual Insurance Company has realigned with the AHSAA as a corporate partner of the association. The three-year agreement begins a new partnership that will last through the 2018-2019 school year.
“Alfa Insurance® is honored to partner with the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) in promoting hard work, health, sportsmanship and scholarship through sports,” remarked Jimmy Parnell, Director of ALFA. “With offices in all 67 Alabama counties, Alfa® is committed to strengthening the communities we serve.”
Through the partnership, ALFA will become the presenting sponsor of the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s annual Mr. and Miss Basketball Awards Banquets and has designated one AHSAA football playoff game each week as the ALFA Game of the Week. Local agents across the state have been present at each ALFA Game of the Week showing the company’s support of Alabama high school athletics.
“The AHSAA’s relationship with ALFA goes back many years,” AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese said. “We are delighted to welcome them. They have been supportive of our high schools for many years. We also are committed to our relationship with the ASWA and are pleased that ALFA’s renewed commitment will include support for the ASWA’s annual Mr. and Miss Basketball awards program.”
The AHSAA’s coaching arm, the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA), has worked closely with the ASWA to support its awards banquets. The Mr. and Miss Basketball awards have been selected and presented by the ASWA’s panel of high school sportswriters annually since 1984.
ALFA representatives will attend the ASWA banquet and assist in presenting the awards, including the Mr. Baseball and Miss Softball awards presented at the ASWA’s annual summer convention.
ASWA president John Zenor, ASWA Prep Committee co-chairman Paul Beaudry and AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese said both organizations are pleased to have ALFA as a presenting sponsor.
"We're extremely honored and grateful for ALFA's generosity and the tireless work of the AHSAA and the coaches and ADs,” Zenor and Beaudry said. “This helps ensure ASWA can continue to honor some of the best and brightest of Alabama's high school student-athletes in our most important events."
Parnell said the ALFA and AHSAA share many common goals.
“AHSAA’s mission mirrors our own, which is to Serve, Grow and Be Healthy. High school athletics help students achieve those goals by encouraging teamwork as well as physical and emotional development,” said Parnell. “We appreciate the opportunity to work with AHSAA in supporting Alabama’s next generation of leaders.”
The AHSAA serves 411 senior high and an additional 335 junior high and middle school members with more than 150,000 students participating in 24 championship programs for boys and girls. Since 1921, the AHSAA has provided not only opportunities for interscholastic athletic competition, but also a platform for student-athletes to gain life-long memories and experience important life lessons through mentorship, teachers, coaches and administration.
Birmingham-based sports marketing and event management company Knight Eady works with the AHSAA to manage the Super 7 Football State Championships and Basketball State Finals as well as corporate partner program.
With its partnership with the AHSAA, ALFA is directly supporting the student-athletes, schools and communities of Alabama through the AHSAA Revenue Sharing Program. Over the past six years, the program has given back over $9.8 million to the member schools. The AHSAA is thankful to the commitment of ALFA and all of the corporate partners for their generosity and support of high school athletics in the state of Alabama.
MONTGOMERY – The Alabama High School Athletic Association Central Board of Control approved adjusting criteria that determine home sites in the final four rounds of the state football playoffs and a new sportsmanship program component for new student-athletes and coaches at Wednesday’s annual Winter Central Board meeting at the AHSAA Office.
In addition, the board approved financial reports for all fall sports championship programs (volleyball, cross country, swimming) and the 2016 Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Football Game played at Cramton Bowl reviewed all proposals that were submitted by member schools in January.
The top two seeds in each region are home teams in the first round of the AHSAA state football playoff brackets. The board approved a plan beginning in 2017 for the remaining rounds that will allow the higher seed to become the host if times traveled by each team are equal. If travel is not equal, the team that has traveled more times will be the home team. If times traveled and seeds are equal, the home team will be determined by placement on the bracket.
Beginning with the 2017-18 school year, the AHSAA will require all first-time student-athletes and first-time coaches to complete the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Sportsmanship Program as an eligibility requirement. The NFHS sportsmanship component will replace the current STAR Sportsmanship program after this school year. The NFHS sportsmanship component can be found at www.NFHSlearn.com.
The Central reviewed 16 legislative proposals that were submitted in January by member schools. The AHSAA Legislative Council will vote on the proposals at April’s Legislative Council meeting. Schools are being surveyed this month for their input.
In other Central Board action:
-- Reviewed a football playoff comparison (for the first four rounds).
-- Approved the Super 7 football championships audit.
-- Approved expenses for the upcoming 2017 State Basketball Tournament.
-- Approved expenses for the 2020 National Sports Officiating Summit to be held in Montgomery.
-- Updated on the new mileage rate established by the state and the AHSAA Strategic Plan.
-- Updated about Home School student participation in the AHSAA.
-- Heard a report concerning the AHSAA investigative team.
MONTGOMERY – The AHSAA is proud to announce a new digital ticketing platform for member schools has resulted from the newly formed partnership between Preptix and Huddle. GoFan, Huddle’s current digital ticket program, becomes the official AHSAA digital ticketing platform beginning Jan. 3, 2017.
Huddle, an AHSAA partner for the last three years, has provided hard tickets for member schools since 2014. Preptix, also an AHSAA partner since 2014, has providing online digital ticketing services for member schools. The GoFan platform will provide the services that Preptix has been providing for member schools. The AHSAA announces the GoFan platform will also be the exclusive digital ticketing provider for its playoff and championship events.
Patrick Noles of Preptix is also joining Huddle to insure the transition runs smoothly. He will be the contact person for GoFan in Alabama.
All of the web links on preptix.com will remain active through the remainder of the 2017 school year and will be forwarded to the appropriate link on the GoFan platform.
For more details, contact:
Patrick Noles - (205) 249-3695
gofan.co | huddletickets.com