AHSAA Mourns the Passing of Coach Willie Averett

   The AHSAA was saddened to learn of the recent death of Coach Willie Averett. Mr. Averett, 90, who served 33 of his 35 years in Monroe County as a successful teacher, basketball coach and athletic director at J. F. Shields High School, was inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2005. Our prayers and condolences go out to the Mr. Averett’s family and his extended J.F. Shields High School family.
     He guided the 1972 team, led by John Drew, to its first-ever state championship. He also coached Tony Stallworth, the AHSAA’s current Associate Executive Director. The highly respected coach was selected to coach in the in the North-South all-star game and received coach-of-the-year honors three times. The school gym is named in his honor. He is a graduate of Georgiana Training High School and Alabama State University.
   “Coach Averett was a legend in many ways,” said Stallworth. “I can personally give him credit for my career decisions upon leaving high school. He inspired me by the way he approached his physical education classes. He always taught the rules and skills of each activity before the physical aspect. His words were “You can’t play a sport if you don’t know anything about it.” He taught by example, which inspired each one of us to perform to the highest.
    “I was also amazed with his coaching and game management during athletic events. Coach was tough and demanding and was a devout Christian man who always put God first. He was my mentor. I credit any successes in my life as a teacher, coach and administrator to him. The last conversation I had with him was an emotional one where he once again told me how proud he was of (former teammate) Jerome Sanders and myself for keeping his dream alive in the coaching profession. We both thanked him for being such a major influence and strong model in our lives. He will be a legend forever.”
     Funeral services will be held Wednesday, January, 24, at 11 a.m., at Friendship Baptist Church in Georgiana. 

AHSAA Job Announcement

January 12, 2018



SUBJECT:           AHSAA Job Announcement


Due to a recent vacancy, the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) is seeking applicants for the position of Administrative Secretary.  Applications will be accepted immediately through Monday, January 29, 2018. 


Summary of Administrative Secretary Position


We are currently seeking a reliable, responsible Administrative Secretary to assist the AHSAA Executive Director and the executive staff in the day-to-day operations of said organization, which include regulating and coordinating interscholastic athletic competition in an equitable manner while promoting the value of interscholastic athletics as an integral part of a student’s education-athletic experience by representing all member schools.

This position is to support the AHSAA executive staff by providing timely and quality assistance in all administrative and clerical capacities to assistant directors within our organization. The ideal candidate will be skilled and organized including ability to multi-task as well as professional in dress and actions. To be successful, candidates should be self-motivated and proactive, able to work under pressure to meet deadlines, and have exceptional communication skills. Previous experience as an Executive Assistant/Secretary is strongly preferred, but not required. All applicants must be very familiar with office management technologies, including Microsoft Office.

Qualifications of Administrative Secretary

The requirements listed below are representative of the education, experience, knowledge, skill and/or ability required.


§  Minimum education requirement: High school or GED (college preferred)

§  Proficient English background

§  Excellent communication, organizational, and presentation skills

§  Self-directed leader who demonstrates initiative

§  Computer and Microsoft Office, Adobe, and Photoshop, as well as other technological skills

§  Availability to work occasional overtime at various times throughout the year (some nights/weekends)

§  Social Media proficiency with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snap Chat, etc. (Not required, but desired)

§  Graphic design and/or digital editing skills (Not required, but desired)


Essential Functions of Administrative Secretary

To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily.


§  Communicate with administrators and coaches from across the state by phone and email blasts

§  Assist Special Programs Director in coordination of all Lunch & Learn clinics

§  Assist AHSADCA Director in coordination, planning and implementation of the Principals’ and        Athletic Directors’ Conference and the Summer Conference

§  Assist Technology Director with transcripts and questions from member schools

§  Serve as receptionist, along with other secretaries/Answer phones, etc.

§  Proficiency with the usage of C2C or other content management software 

§  Assist Assistant Director with fine/ejections

§  Send timely notifications and receipt payments into Access data base

§  Distribution of Faxes to executive staff

§  Bus Reclassification Coordinator

§  Assist Associate Executive Director with the Middle School Conference

§  Assist assistant directors with creation of Power Points

§  Assist with printing and mailing of AHSADCA membership cards

§  Assist with printing and mailing of ECO cards

§  Ability to use audit software to monitor member schools with required documents using Dragonfly

     or other document management software

§  Any other duties as assigned by the Executive Director and/or Office Manager



Salary: Commensurate with qualifications


All completed cover letters and resumes should be emailed as an attachment to:

              Sandy Logan, Office Manager at slogan@ahsaa.com.


Deadline for submission of applications: Monday, January 29, 2018



AHSAA Mourns Passing of Frank Cotten

   Former T.R. Miller principal Frank Cotten passed away Thursday, Jan. 4.
   Mr. Cotten was inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame in 1996 after serving 14 years on the AHSAA District 1 Board and six years on the AHSAA Central Board of Control. He served one term as president.
    “We are very thankful for Mr. Cotten and his life of service,” said AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese. “All of us in his AHSAA family mourn his passing and offer our condolences to his family.”
    Mr. Cotten contributed to T. R. Miller High School athletics for more than 30 years, first as a coach and later as an administrator for the last half of his career in education. He coached basketball for seven years with a 128-42 record and led seven football teams to a 65-19 record and three playoff appearances.
     A graduate of Coffeeville High School and Livingston University, Cotten spent five seasons, from 1960-64, as the head coach at Coffeeville, his alma mater in rural Clarke County. He coached one year at Macon Academy before leading T.R. Miller's football program from 1973-80. He stepped down in 2016 after serving on the Brewton City Council for more almost two decades.
    Funeral services will be Saturday at First Baptist Church in Brewton, with visitation from noon to 3 p.m., followed by the service. He was preceded in death by his wife Shirley.

NFHS, Special Olympics Sign Memorandum of Understanding in Support of Programs for Students with Disabilities

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (December 20, 2017) — The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and Special Olympics North America (SONA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to continue their collaborative efforts of advancing inclusion programs for students with disabilities.

While working through the organizational structures of both organizations, the stated goals of the partnership are to 1) increase participation of students with intellectual disabilities through interscholastic Special Olympics Unified Sports® and other inclusive school programs; 2) support official partnerships between NFHS member state associations and/or local schools and Special Olympics state Programs; and 3) increase the quality of inclusion programs in schools nationwide by serving as a resource for NFHS state associations and SONA state Programs.

Unified Sports is a fully inclusive sports program that unites Special Olympics athletes (individuals with intellectual disabilities) and partners (individuals without intellectual disabilities) as teammates for training and competition. There are more than 5,000 schools in the United States that currently offer Unified Sports, with a growing number participating in varsity-style interscholastic leagues. This resulted in more than 200,000 students experiencing Unified Sports during the 2016-17 school year. In a recent evaluation report, 97 percent of high school seniors say that the Unified Champion Schools program is changing their school for the better.

“Essentially, this MOU brings together and re-affirms all the tremendous work being done by both organizations in offering programs for students with disabilities and the desire on the part of both groups to continue moving forward to serve these students in our nation’s schools,” said Bob Gardner, NFHS executive director. “Through our online course, our online materials and working cooperatively with Special Olympics at conferences and in other projects, we look forward to continuing this important work through our member state associations.”  

To kick off the agreement between the two organizations, the NFHS and Special Olympics have released the revised online education course “Coaching Unified Sports” on the NFHS Learning Center at www.NFHSLearn.com.

The updated course, which is hosted by Kevin Negandhi of ESPN’s SportsCenter, is offered at no cost for coaches and educators wishing to implement Special Olympics Unified Sports in their schools. The “Coaching Unified Sports” course is one of 58 online offerings through the NFHS Learning Center, which has delivered more than six million courses since its launch in 2007.

Other goals for the partnership include continued education on inclusion programs at NFHS conferences, increasing awareness of Unified Sports programs by posting success stories on the NFHS website and through social media, and development of a Unified Sports Experience model program for use at the local and state levels.

The NFHS currently offers numerous resources and articles related to the inclusion of students with disabilities on its website at http://www.nfhs.org/resources/student-services-inclusion/inclusion-of-students-with-disabilities.  

In addition to providing content and resources for the newly updated online course on the NFHS Learning Center, Special Olympics will continue to provide its Unified Sports Experience at the annual NFHS National Student Leadership Summit each summer in Indianapolis, and will assist the NFHS with the collection of success stories and provide training and education at various state conferences.

“We are proud to have partnered with the NFHS, the NFL Foundation and the U.S. Office of Special Education Program at the U.S. Department of Education on the creation of the Coaching Unified Sports Course,” said Marc Edenzon, Regional President of Special Olympics North America.  “This new and improved online coach course is vital to achieving the goal of having 15,000 certified coaches by 2020 while also providing training to ensure coaches are equipped with the knowledge to offer the best possible experience to all Unified Sports teammates.”

Competition, cooperation are hallmarks for schools in Alabama High School Athletic Association

By Sue Marshall

Former Athletic Administrator and Varsity Coach at Randolph School, Huntsville

and Major Lane

Principal at Goshen High School


The Alabama High School Athletic Association is made up of more than 400 high schools, along with 300 junior highs and middle schools. These schools are as varied as the thousands of students who walk their halls and run the athletics courts and fields all across the state.


Members include public, private and parochial schools that can have a vastly different focus on their shared mission of educating their students. There is one thing that those 700-plus schools have in common: an athletics organization built on a foundation of fairness and service.


The AHSAA operates based on rules and regulations formulated by its members. Any member school can propose a new rule or a rules change. The new rule gets distributed to all members and there’s a survey vote. From there, a 32-member Legislative Council – four members from each district – votes on the proposal. A two-thirds vote is required to ratify the new rule. It’s democracy – and fairness – in action.


During my career as a coach and athletic administrator in north Alabama, I witnessed numerous significant changes that were a result of rule proposals that were designed to support the needs, interests and safety of student-athletes across the state. I am proud of the consistent effort of the AHSAA to be responsive to concerns and suggestions of the many men and women who strive to make high school athletics a meaningful experience for student-athletes.


At Randolph School, an independent school in Huntsville, we have a proud tradition of academic and athletic excellence as well as a strong commitment to community involvement. In order to help prepare our students for their future in an uncertain world, our faculty, coaches and administrators encourage our student-athletes to be their best in the classroom, on the athletic fields, in their dealings with their peers and in the broader world beyond our campus.


In athletics, as in academics, Randolph coaches work to make sure our students are prepared for tough competition because facing and overcoming challenges strengthens their resolve to do their best – no matter what. We value the opportunity to compete against strong competition throughout the state through the AHSAA. We also find in the AHSAA like-minded institutions led by executives and officials with uncompromising integrity.


Our athletics programs at Randolph School are outstanding, and an important part of our mission to instruct the entire student – mentally, physically and emotionally. We are very proud of our winning programs, but in striving to win we make sure we teach our students that sportsmanship and honest effort are as important as what shows on the scoreboard.


As a former coach and athletic administrator, I am grateful for the integrity, dedication and hard work that the AHSAA provides outstanding athletic experiences for student-athletes and coaches across the state.


Goshen a proud AHSAA small-school competitor


With the AHSAA’s guidance and adherence to policies created for everyone, small schools such as Goshen High School can be confident that the competition is fair for all. In a community of less than 300 in the town limits, Goshen’s ability to stand toe-to-toe with our rivals is a matter of pride. And pride is very important in small-town Alabama.


Our student-athletes don’t rely on finding success with a chip-on-the-shoulder mentality, though. We strive to teach them to stand tall in the face of adversity, knowing that adversity can produce great character and fortitude that can last for a lifetime. Learning to pull together as part of a team is perhaps the best way to prepare our student-athletes for life after high school.


The governing structure of the AHSAA – the Central Board of Control – is comprised of one member from each of the eight districts in the state, plus four minority members from four bi-districts, two female at-large members and one member from the Alabama Department of Education. Thus, every school has a “local” voice in the room when executive decisions are made. Goshen’s voice matters just as much as that of the voice from the largest high school in Alabama. The AHSAA staff that works on day-to-day issues is also highly responsive. The administrators in Montgomery have hands-on experience in school classrooms and always keep the students in their minds in their decision-making.


In short, private schools like Randolph School and public schools like Goshen High share a bond much like those forged on the field of play. Policies and procedures made by AHSAA members for AHSAA members keep a competitive balance in place so that our students have their best chance for success on a level playing field.

NFHS Learning Center Introduces “Officiating Wrestling” and Spanish Translation of “Concussion in Sports” Courses

Contact: Dan Schuster

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (December 19, 2017) — The most popular online education course on the NFHS Learning Center – “Concussion in Sports” – is now available in Spanish at www.NFHSLearn.com. The NFHS also has released “Officiating Wrestling,” which is the seventh sport-specific officiating course available through the NFHS Learning Center.

The NFHS partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2010 to offer “Concussion in Sports.” The free course has since been taken more than 3.5 million times, and with the help of the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, is now available in Spanish. This is the first course offered by the NFHS Learning Center in a language other than English.

“We are pleased to offer our very first course in Spanish, as well as continuing to provide additional opportunities for individuals to become involved in professional development,” said Dan Schuster, NFHS director of educational services.

The goal of “Concussion in Sports” is to educate coaches, officials, parents and students on the importance of proper concussion recognition and management in high school sports. The course includes each state’s concussion management requirements, in addition to highlighting the impact of sports-related concussion on athletes. Those who take the course will learn how to recognize a suspected concussion, as well as protocols to manage suspected concussions and the steps used to help players safely return to play.

“Officiating Wrestling” emphasizes the value of a referee’s judgment. To make the correct call, a referee must possess the proper knowledge of wrestling rules and their implementation. “Officiating Wrestling” is designed to help wrestling officials not only understand the rules, but how to properly apply them when in action.

“Professional development is critically important, and we are pleased to add another course for officials to the NFHS Learning Center,” Schuster said. “’Officiating Wrestling’ is a great course for new wrestling officials; however, it also provides great reminders of fundamentals for veteran officials.”

“Officiating Wrestling,” which is also now available through the NFHS Learning Center, costs $20. All members of the NFHS Officials Association are eligible for a $10 discount by entering an NFHS Officials Association registered email at checkout. 

After starting with two courses in 2007 through the NFHS Coach Education Program, the NFHS Learning Center now offers 58 online courses – including more than 26 of which are free – and has expanded its reach to contest officials, students, administrators and music adjudicators. Since the launch of www.NFHSLearn.com in 2007, the NFHS has delivered more than six million courses.


This press release was written by Cody Porter, a graphic arts/communications assistant in the NFHS Publications/Communications Department.

Former athletes, sports fans stay involved by mastering rules, becoming high school officials

Contact: Mike Perrin | 205-969-1331 | 205-540-7721 | mike@dcwins.com

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Mark Jones, the Alabama High School Athletic Association Director of Officials, is a former city councilman in Jacksonville, Ala. His political career began for the same reason as his time as a high school sports official.


“If you think you can do better and make a difference, jump in there and make it better instead of continuing to complain about it,” he said. “That’s one problem I see in our society. We love to complain, but we don’t want to solve the problem.”


Jones, a veteran of more than 35 years as a football, baseball, softball and basketball official, is working with associations across the state to encourage young people to pick up a whistle and get involved – or stay involved – with sports as an official. It’s a tough job with relatively small monetary rewards, but one that can lead to advancement to college or professional positions. At the high school level, a sports official is able to influence young people by teaching sportsmanship and fair play.


“The selling point to getting into officiating is that you really need to have a sense of wanting to give back to sports,” said Ron Baynes of Mountain Brook, who in his 28-year National Football League career officiated in two Super Bowls and retired as the NFL’s Supervisor of Officials. “It’s OK to view it as an opportunity to make a little extra income, but to really make it work, you need to feel a need to get back involved.


“We call officiating a fraternity,” said the longtime Alabama high school coach and administrator. “It’s a group of guys who can relate to each other. Some of the closest friends I have are guys I officiated with. It’s like staying on a team in sports.


“Honestly, it’s not for everybody. My three sons are in big-time officiating (two in the NFL, one in college) and I’ve had others in my family who have tried it. My son-in-law, who I love dearly, tried it and he didn’t like it. When I asked him why, he said, ‘I made a mistake out there.’ I told him we all make mistakes, then he said, ‘I like for people to like me too much to do this.’”


Facing criticism is a difficult part of the job, Jones said. Social media has made it even tougher as hecklers can now take criticism to larger audiences as anonymous trolls.


“The role of the contest official is essential for high school sports to teach the lessons we know it can teach,” said Steve Savarese, Executive Director of the AHSAA. “They work tirelessly to become the best contest officials they can be. We are fortunate in Alabama to have so many who sacrifice so much to become officials. They come from all walks of life. We are thankful for the leadership provided by Mr. Jones and Greg Brewer before him and for our veteran officials who are proving to be such outstanding mentors.


“However, we as a public must do our part and learn to treat them with the respect they deserve. If we don’t, then we will be facing a severe shortage of officials in the future.”


Jones said most officials want to be in the big games, but they must start at the grassroots level.


“A problem we have is that everybody has to start out on the junior high level,” Jones said, “where the play is just not that good. The coaches who are also just starting out sometimes think they are NBA-ready. Lots of them think it’s coaching to yell at the officials. Everybody thinks they should be perfect, so mom and dad start yelling and grandpa starts yelling at the officials. These officials don’t want to be berated all the time, so before they can become a good official, they get out.”


Brewer, who in 2016 retired as the AHSAA’s Director of Officials after three decades, developed a sports officiating class for high schools that was approved as part of the curriculum by the Alabama Department of Education. Those classes are now offered at more than 35 high schools across the state, Jones said.


“The AHSAA is committed to addressing the issue of the declining number of officials,” he said. “It is a nationwide problem and Alabama hasn’t experienced the problem as severely as some other states. Retention of officials becomes an issue as young officials drop out after two to three years and the major factor in retention is verbal abuse. With the expanding use of technology and social media, the expectations of officials have become unrealistic. Officiating is the one profession that individuals are expected to start as perfect and then get better.”


Patsy Burke has been a volleyball official for 20 years, starting only after falling in love with the sport while acting as statistician for her daughter’s teams. “I had some people who thought that maybe I should give it a try,” she said. “I had also done softball scorekeeping and started calling softball, so I thought I’d give it a try. When I decided to do it, I found the first officiating camp that the AHSAA offered and I went. It helped me know what an official is supposed to do. I listened to officials who I had watched officiate and I said that’s what I want to be. I wanted to be the best.”


Burke went all-in, attending camps, talking to officials and reading everything about the game from an official’s point of view. “I listened to those people who had been in it a long time,” she said. “I picked their brain. I have been very fortunate to call volleyball in the Southeastern Conference, in the Ohio Valley Conference and things like that, but my true love has always been high school ball.”


Criticism – often totally unfounded – is what drives young people away from wearing the officials’ stripes, Burke agreed. “The fans have become just irate,” Burke said. “Some parents think they know the game because their kids play, but they don’t know the rules. Volleyball is a mental game for officials. In a three-of-five match, we probably have to make a judgment call on over 500 touches of the ball. I don’t know of any other sport that has to make that quantity of judgment calls.”


Allen Gilbert is a professor of sports management at Jacksonville State University who called college basketball for 17 years as well as high school basketball and football. He teaches football and basketball officiating classes and said he encourages his students to get involved. “The good part of being an official is the relationships you build,” he said. “You actually have a good relationship with the coaches, too, but sometimes it’s hard to see that.


“It seems the only time kids see officials is when something bad happens – breaking up a fight or coaches or spectators yelling at them. Otherwise, officials are invisible. When they see the bad things, they think, ‘I don’t want to put up with that.’”


Burke said she would like to see parents get more connected to the sportsmanship component of high school sports in the same way their children are. “We can do something about sportsmanship for coaches and players,” the longtime official said, “but we can’t say that to parents. Some club associations require the parents to sign a form that says they will show good sportsmanship. They are required to sign. I know that doesn’t stifle every parent from showing poor sportsmanship, but it might make them think about how they are acting.”


Baynes, an Alabama Sports Hall of Fame inductee who played football, basketball and baseball at Auburn University, also touted the health benefits of being an official. “I left Auburn weighing 225 pounds,” he said. “I got into coaching and I worked out some with the kids, but I got up to 245 pounds. The night I worked my first game as an official, I was probably not as fit as I should have been. I was not headed down a healthy path. As an official, you’re motivated to work out because you know you put yourself in the public eye. When you get to higher levels, you better be fit or you’ll get run over and get killed! I’m 74 years old now and I weigh less than I did when I played at Auburn.”


Those interested in pursuing officiating can start by visiting ahsaa.com/Officials/Officials-Home or highschoolofficials.com.




The Alabama High School Athletic Association, founded in 1921, is a private agency organized by its member schools to control and promote their athletic programs. The purpose of the AHSAA is to regulate, coordinate and promote the interscholastic athletic programs among its member schools, which include public, private and parochial institutions. 

AHSAA Central Board Approves Classification System For 2018-19 and 2019-20 School Years

      MONTGOMERY – The Alabama High School Athletic Association Central Board of Control unanimously approved Thursday a seven-classification system for championship play for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years. The seven-class system, which began in 2014-15, was approved once again for all sports. For the first time, however, for classification, non-traditional students were included in the average daily membership figures reported for member public schools by the Alabama State Department Education and a competitive balance factor was approved for AHSAA member private schools based on the recommendation of the AHSAA Classification Task Force.
      The action came during the Central Board’s quarterly meeting at the AHSAA Office.

       Non-traditional students, which gained eligibility for the first time in the 2016-17 school year, include home-school and virtual school students that enroll in at member public school.

       In accordance with the AHSAA constitution and by-laws, the AHSAA Central Board of Control manages championship play and classification. Member schools are reclassified every two years. The high schools are currently divided into seven classifications (1A, 2A, 3A, 4A, 5A, 6A and 7A) for competition in championship programs.
       Classification is based on Average Daily Membership (ADM) figures furnished by the State Department of Education for public schools for the upper three grades plus ninth-grade students that are retained in the ninth grade. Member private schools report that same data directly to the AHSAA. An index of 1.35 is used to determine the enrollment figure for classifying each private school member. Each private school student counts 1.35 for classification purposes.
     Alignments are made for each sport in a classification based on the number of schools participating in a sport. Some programs may include two or more classes in a division. The alignments for each sport in a class are published in the AHSAA Sports Book each year.
      The AHSAA Classification Task Force, made up of superintendents, principals, athletic directors, administrators and coaches from across the state and chaired by Madison County Schools Superintendent Mark Massey and Montgomery Academy Athletic Director Anthony McCall, addressed many issues concerning the membership including competitive balance between schools in the respective classes. The committee unanimously recommended adding a competitive balance factor to private schools by sport. While private schools are classified based on the membership data and 1.35 multiplier, those affected by the competitive balance factor will move up one class or division from where they are this school year for the respective sport but will remain in their respective classification for all other sports. 
    Reclassification, according to the AHSAA Constitution and By-Laws, is conducted every two years by the AHSAA Central Board of Control.

      “This reclassification system will allow more student-athletes to participate in championship events,” Central Board President John Hardin said.

      The 2018-19 and 2019-20 football alignment places the 32 largest high schools in the new Class 7A and 55 in Class 6A. The remaining six classes were divided equally with 60 schools in each remaining class.

      “I want to thank the Classification Task Force, Central Board and AHSAA staff for the hard work they put in and the recommendations they made,” AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese said. “It was a difficult job, but everyone worked together to find the best solution as we move forward.”
      Hardin said he also wanted to thank the Classification Task Force and member schools for their input and patience throughout the reclassification process. “Their recommendations came after many hours of study and discussion. They gave of their valuable time to evaluate our classification system thoroughly and provided valuable input in ways to improve that system,” he said. “On behalf of the Central Board of Control and our member schools, I want to thank Mr. Savarese and his staff for their hard work. I also want to thank our Central Board for their commitment and dedication to providing a first-class athletic program to all our student-athletes, and for making decisions that are best for all of our member schools.”
      The reclassification alignment data for each sport and the private school competitive balance chart can be found at the following link located at www.ahsaa.com. Reclassification by enrollment data is located on the home page of www.ahsaa.com.



In other Central Board action:



  • Heard a report on Super 7 from Knight Eady Sports and approved the Super 7 budget
  • Approved the Summer Conference Profit-Loss Statements
  • Heard a School Audit Update from Associate Executive Director Tony Stallworth
  • Approved the AHSAA Return to Learn Policy
  • Heard and denied an appeal from Eufaula High School.
  • Approved dates for future board meetings (Jan. 31, 2018, April 12, 2018 and July 25, 2018)

Classification Process Important to Balancing AHSAA’s Changing Membership

                   By STEVE SAVARESE
                   Executive Director, AHSAA


MONTGOMERY – In an effort to provide fair play among member schools, the Alabama High School Athletic Association reclassifies its member schools every two years based on enrollment data in accordance with the AHSAA Constitution and by-laws. Thanks to the State Department of Education and modern technology, the AHSAA now has a program designed specifically for its member schools that provides enormous assistance in aligning the schools geographically more accurately and more timely.
    The Central Board of Control is expected to address classification for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years at its board meeting Thursday at the AHSAA Office in Montgomery. For the first time in the AHSAA’s long history, classification will include non-traditional students such as home-school and virtual school students in its average daily membership totals.
     The AHSAA mission has not changed over its long history which started with its formation in the 1920-21 school year. The mission statement states: The AHSAA serves member schools through interscholastic competition by enhancing student learning, sportsmanship, safety and lifelong values. With integrity as its foundation, the AHSAA consistently governs the rules created by its member schools.
    The member schools have written the organization’s constitution and continue to establish the by-laws. The AHSAA Constitution states in Article 7, Item 4 (l): The Central Board shall have the power to classify member schools into two or more divisions for the purpose of athletic competition. No school’s classification shall be changed during the classification period after the schools have been classified.
    In accordance with the AHSAA constitution, high schools are currently divided into seven classifications (1A, 2A, 3A, 4A, 5A, 6A and 7A) for competition in championship programs. Classification is based on Average Daily Membership (ADM) figures furnished by the State Department of Education for public schools for the upper three grades plus ninth grade students that are retained in the ninth grade. Member private schools report that same data directly to the AHSAA. An index of 1.35 is used to determine the enrollment figure for classifying each private school member. Each private school student counts 1.35 for classification purposes.
     Alignments are made for each sport in a classification based on the number of schools participating in a sport. Some programs may include two or more classes in a division. The alignments for each sport in a class are published in the AHSAA Sports Book each year.
      The AHSAA Classification Committee, made up of superintendents, principals, athletic directors, administrators and coaches from across the state, has spent countless hours studying ways to improve the current classification process. The task force, chaired by Madison County Schools Superintendent Mark Massey and Montgomery Academy Athletic Director Anthony McCall, addressed many issues concerning the membership including ways to improve competitive balance between schools in the respective classes.
     The AHSAA staff has worked closely with the committee to provide any historical data that might be helpful. The committee, in turn, will make recommendations to the Central Board they think might help to improve the current system for our member schools. We appreciate the efforts of this committee, the leadership of its co-chairmen, and the Central Board of Control. Their input is vital as the AHSAA continues to evolve into the 21st Century.
     Classification is important to the membership for many reasons. Seven classes, which was approved by the Central Board of Control for the 2014-15 school year, has been a very positive move for our member schools. A record number of schools participate in post-season championship play and a number of schools have participated in state championship events for the first time as a result.
    Classification has changed as the AHSAA membership has changed. The AHSAA was formed in 1920-21 with the first “official” state champion crowned in basketball that winter. A total of 248 public and private schools made up that first charter with all competing in one class for the championship. That one-class system remained until 1947 with championships in basketball, golf, outdoor track and baseball as 320 member schools were divided into two classes. By 1963, the AHSAA had expanded to include 352 public and private schools with additional champions crowned in wrestling and boys’ and girls’ tennis and a four-class system was introduced. Three years later, the football playoffs were added, and in 1968-69, the AHSAA merged with the Alabama Interscholastic Athletic Association (AIAA) with 524 member public and private schools making up the AHSAA as a result.
   Many school systems merged schools in the early 1970s, and by 1974, the total number of schools were reduced to 416. That number remained constant for the next 10 years, and in 1984-85, the AHSAA expanded its classifications to six – with a full array of girls’ sports, including golf, volleyball, indoor and outdoor track and cross country among the AHSAA’s championship sports offered. Softball was added in 1986, boys’ and girls’ soccer in 1991.
   A total of 410 member schools competed in six classes until the seven-class system was approved in the 2014-15 school year. Bowling, which was offered for a short time for girls only in the 1970s, was added as a championship sport for boys and girls in 2016.
    Classification provides new experiences and opportunities for our changing membership. As the AHSAA continues to serve its membership best, it is important that we all remember the original mission that created this organization. We should always treasure the opportunity to experience the life lessons that can be learned from participating in educational-based sports and other activities.

Alabama High School Hall of Fame Selects 11 for Class of 2018 Induction

     MONTGOMERY – Eleven major contributors to prep athletics in Alabama have been selected from a field 51 nominations for induction into the 28th class of the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame next March.

     The 2018 class, which includes coaches, administrators, officials and an “oldtimer,” will be inducted at a banquet at the Renaissance Hotel and  Convention Center in Montgomery, March 19, 2017, at 6:30 p.m.
   Selected for induction are football coaches John Mothershed, Randy Ragsdale and Jerome Tate; basketball coaches Ricky Allen and Obadiah Threadgill III; baseball coach William Booth; softball coach Alvin Rauls; volleyball coach Ann Schilling; soccer official and rules interpreter Joe Manjone; former AHSAA assistant director Greg Brewer, selected in the contributor category; and basketball coach Edward Wood, now deceased, who was chosen in the ‘old-timer’ category.
    Sponsors of the Hall of Fame program are the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA) and the AHSAA. The corporate sponsors include Alabama Power, ALFA, Cadence Bank, Coca-Cola, Encore Rehabilitation, Jack’s, Russell Athletic, TeamIP and Wilson Sporting Goods.
     Veteran sportscaster Jeff Shearer will emcee the banquet. The NFHS Network is scheduled to live-stream the event.
      Since the inaugural class induction in 1991, these 11 new inductees will run the total enshrined into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame to 343.
       A profile of each selectee:
RICKY ALLEN: Allen, 62, graduated from Brewer High School in Somerville in 1973, earned his college degree at Auburn University and then returned to Morgan County in 1977 where he remained a teacher and coach for 34 years. He served in various assistant coaching roles at Brewer and head-coaching roles at nearby Cotaco and Union Hill junior high schools before taking over the girls’ program at Brewer in 1985.
    He became Brewer High School’s girls’ head basketball coach in 1985 where he remained through 2015. Allen compiled a 30-year record of 604-272 with one state title (Class 5A in 2012) and one state runner-up (2009) finish. His teams reached the State Championships five times, made 15 Northwest Regional tournament appearances winning five times. His teams won 17 Morgan County championships.
    Brewer also served in other head-coaching roles including volleyball and softball. In high school he was a member of the school’s first graduating class helping Brewer reach the state boys’ basketball tournament in 1973 for the only time in school history while averaging 13 points and 12 rebounds.
    A local church leader, he has taught Sunday School for 25 years and served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA).
Booth, 73, a veteran of 52 years in education, got a late start in coaching at Hartselle High School. However, he made up for lost time quickly. Over the last 30 years he has become the state’s all-time career wins leader for baseball, compiling a 1,025-431 record with eight state championships and three runner-up trophies. 
    He coached his first time on a field he described as a “cow pasture” and but now plays and practices at Sparkman Park, one of the finest high school facilities in the nation. He has seen 101 of his former players sign college scholarships and eight played professionally. Two, Steven Woodard and Chad Girodo, reached the major league. He was recognized by the Alabama State Senate and his hometown last May for his career achievements at a special ceremony at Sparkman Park.
     He served 10 years as a little league coach, leading teams to two state titles and one state runner-up. He graduated in 1962 from Morgan County High School and got his undergraduate and masters’ degrees from Athens State and Alabama A&M. Teaching advanced math for almost 50 years, Booth served as interim Superintendent of Education in the summer of 2017 and is now serving as assistant superintendent while continuing to coach baseball.

Brewer, 61, rose from the ranks of officiating to become the AHSAA’s Director of Officials while serving as an assistant director from 1985-2016. A 1975 graduate of Bradshaw High School in Florence, he earned his college degree from the University of North Alabama in 1980 and a master’s from the University of Alabama in 1983.
   He began officiating with the AHSAA in 1976. While at UA he became active as a contest official rising to supervisor of intramural officials in 1982. He also served as official scorer for basketball at UA for 22 years.
   As Director of Officials with the AHSAA, Brewer served on various NFHS rules committees including serving as chairman of the NFHS Baseball Rules Committee from 2000-2006. He also served on the NFHS Football Rules Committee from 1998-2016 and also on the NFHS Football Manual Committee and Football Rule Editorial Committee.
   An innovator who worked diligently to improve officiating in the AHSAA, he developed the AHSAA district director program, the AHSAA Pitch Count Rule for baseball -- lauded as one of the best in the nation, and created a sports officiating course approved by the ASDE that is now being taught in high schools that will serve as a recruiting tool for future officials.
   He also served as a Boys State staff member from 1981-92, was the NFOSA state director from 1990-2001 and was on the Jimmy Hitchcock Selection Committee for nine years.
   The NFHS honored him with the Section 3 Citation Award for his contributions in 2006 and received the Alabama Baseball Coaches Association Distinguished Service Award in 2012. He co-founded the Alabama Sports Officials Foundation in 2016.
A native of Pennsylvania, Joe, 75, has served as been a soccer official for the past 58 years.  He became the AHSAA’s soccer rules interpreter in 1991, a position he still holds. His work with soccer officiating in Alabama has helped the sport flourish over the last 30 years.
   He joined the NFHS Soccer Rules Committee as the AHSAA representative in 2000 and has been the AHSAA state soccer championships officials’ coordinator since its inception in 1991.
    He received the AHSAA Distinguished Service Award for Officiating in 2010, was selected the NFHS Sports Official Contributor of the Year in 2012 and was inducted into the NISOA Hall of Fame in 2013.
   A native of Pennsylvania, he graduated from Black Creek Township High School in 1959 and Penn State University in 1963. He earned several post-graduate degrees from Penn State and the University of Georgia. He came to Alabama in 1980 where he worked through 1996 with the University of Alabama-Huntsville as Director of Sports and Fitness. He has spent most of his professional life working in some capacity in college education and served as president of Waldorf College from 2009-11.

JOHN MOTHERSHED: Mothershed, 54, served as head football coach at Deshler High School from 1995-2013 and was athletic director from 1995-2007. His teams compiled a 201-53 record during that span. Prior to becoming head coach, he served on Coach Tandy Gereld’s staff for eight years. Gerelds was inducted into the AHSHOF last year.
   The Tigers won state titles in 1998 and 1999 under Mothershed’s direction and reached the Super 6 state finals in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2010. His teams compiled a 49-17 playoff record in 19 appearances and was 102-13 in region games. Eleven of his teams won 10 or more games.
   A graduate of Sheffield High School (1981) and the University of North Alabama (1985), he has been active in the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA) serving as president in 2004 and as a vice president from 2001-03. He has been inducted into the Colbert County Sports Hall of Fame.

RANDY RAGSDALE: Ragsdale, 60, served as head football coach at Trinity Presbyterian High School in Montgomery from 1989-2017. The Wildcats compiled a 242-86 record during that span with a 45-game regular-season winning streak from 2000-05. His 2003 team won the Class 4A state championship going undefeated at 15-0.
    His teams reached the state playoffs in 25 of the 28 seasons and compiled a 116-23 region record. He began his coaching career as an assistant coach in Georgia and joined the Northview staff in Dothan in 1985. As defensive coordinator, he helped the Cougars win a state crown in 1985.
    Ragsdale coached in the 1997 and 2004 North-South All-Star Games, was head coach in 2010 and was named ASWA Coach of the Year in 2003.  He currently serves as a board member of the District 3 Fellowship of Christian Athletes and received the Herman L. Scott Distinguished Service Award in 2017 for his faith-based coaching leadership.
   He coached a team of Alabama all-stars in the Down Under Bowl in Australia in 1999 and 2000. As a player he earned All-America honors as an offensive lineman at Jacksonville State played in the NCAA Division II championship game in 1978.
   The Rockdale County (GA) graduate attended Jacksonville State University on football scholarship graduating in 1979. He earned his masters from JSU in 1984. He and his family attend Ray Thorington Road Baptist Church.

ALVIN RAULS: Rauls, 62, has served in various capacities as a high school teacher and coach at Madison County and Huntsville city schools. As a baseball coach he guided New Hope to the 1992 Class 3A state baseball crown and his 1990 and 1994 teams finished runner-up. With stops at Sparkman, Butler and Bob Jones, his teams won over 350 games. He moved to Buckhorn in 2007 where he has coached softball teams to more than 300 victories over the last 11 years. He guided the Lady Bucks to the state championship in 2017. He is only the second coach in AHSAA history to coach state titles in both sports.
  He coached American Legion baseball for many years winning numerous state titles.
  Rauls has also served on the AHSAA District 8 Board and Legislative Council and on the AHSAA Central Board of Control. He graduated from Monroe High School in Albany (GA) in 1972 and from Florida A&M, where he was on baseball scholarship, in 1977.  

ANN SCHILLING: Schilling, 53, who was named the NFHS National Volleyball Coach of the Year in 2010, has had an incredible run as head volleyball coach at Bayside Academy. Through the 2017 season, her teams have won 16 straight state championships and 23 titles overall. She has more than 1,400 wins, which places her among the leaders in the nation, and has been named State Coach of the Year by the Birmingham News five times (1992, 2000, 2007, 2011, 2012).
   The founder of the Eastern Shore Volleyball Club, Schilling was inducted into the Bayside Academy Sports Hall of Fame in 2004 and Mobile Sports Hall of Fame in 2017. Among her numerous honors are the R.L. Lindsay Service Award for volleyball (2006), the John L. Finley Award for Superb Achievement (2004 and 2014) and the prepvolleyball.com Co-National coach of the year in 2009.
  Schilling graduated from McGill-Toolen Catholic High School in 1982 where she played volleyball for legendary coach Becky Dickinson, who is already a member of the AHSHOF. Schilling got her college degree at Auburn in 1987.
   She is a member of the American Volleyball Coaches Association and the AHSADCA. She is active in Christ the King Church.

JEROME TATE: Tate, 58, has spent almost his entire high school coaching career in East Central Alabama. After a one-year stint as head football coach at Keith High School in 1982-83, Tate moved to Lanett after two years as a college coach, and served the Panthers as head track coach and assistant football coach at Lanett through 1995.
   He became head football coach and athletic director at Loachapoka in 1997and remained in that capacity until he stepped down in 2017. His teams compiled a 152-98 record with four regional titles and played in the state playoffs in 17 of his 22 seasons, including 14 appearances in a row. Tate coached in the North-South All-Star Game in 1997 and 2010 and in the Alabama-Mississippi Game in 2005.
   He has been selected Opelika-Auburn News Coach of the Year, Montgomery Advertiser Coach of the Year, Alabama Football Coaches Association Coach of the Year and was inducted into the Alabama A&M Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.
   He received a Certificate of Commendation from the City of Lanett in 1995 and a Certificate of Commendation from the City of Huntsville in 2006.
   He coached numerous players who went on to excel in college and three (Josh Evans, Kenny Sanders and Tracy Brooks) that played professionally. Tate graduated from Selma High School in 1977 and Alabama A&M University in 1982, where he was an outstanding collegiate player.

Threadgill, 70, coached girls’ and boys’ basketball for 30 years including 22 at Notasulga High School while becoming one of the few coaches in AHSAA history to coach both teams to the state tournament. His boys won state titles in 1987 and 1992 and his girls’ team won a state title in 2001. He also coached two state runner-up teams and had nine Final Four appearances – including three in a row with his girls in 1995, 1996 and 1997. His teams combined to win more than 900 games. The gymnasium at Notasulga High School is named in his honor.
   He was named Class 1A State Coach of the Year for boys twice and for girls once and received six Opelika-Auburn area coach of the year awards for boys and girls.  He also had coaching stops at Tuskegee, D.C. Wolfe and Tuskegee Institute high schools.
   His family represents three generations in education and coaching with his father and mother career teachers, his brother Kenneth a teacher and coach and now his son, Obadiah IV, serving as a teacher and coach at LaFayette. Obadiah, at Notasulga, and Kenneth, at Livingston, became the first brothers to coach teams to the state championship game (1992) in the same year.
   Threadgill, who served in the Army with a tour of duty in Viet Nam, graduated from Sumter County Training High School in 1965 and Tuskegee University in 1970. He completed his masters at Auburn in 1980.

Wood, now deceased, coached at two schools in his teaching/coaching career, Marengo County (Dixons Mills) and Carver-Montgomery. Born on New Year’s Day in 1927, he was in his coaching prime when he succumbed to cancer in 1980 just eight days after his 53rd birthday.
    He made an impact quickly on the students of the schools where he worked. He coached all sports at Marengo County from 1954-59 with much success in football and basketball.
   He then moved home to Montgomery and became head boys’ basketball coach at Carver, where he remained until 1979. He compiled a 209-99 record from 1959-69 and finished his 13-year span with 310 wins. His teams won district championships in the AIAA from 1961-64 and reached the state tourney in ’64. When the AIAA merged with the AHSAA in 1968, Wood continued his success with a region title and trip to the state tourney in 1969’s first with all schools competing. His Wolverines also reached the state tourney four more times in the next five years.
    He recruited a young coach Dan Lewis to become his assistant coach and hand-picked Lewis to be his successor when he stepped down. Lewis credits Wood’s mentoring and example for his successes. Lewis, now retired, has already been inducted into the AHSHOF.
   The gymnasium at Carver is named in Wood’s honor.
   The Montgomery native graduated from Alabama State Laboratory School in 1945 and Alabama State University in 1954. He earned his masters from ASU in 1956. He attended Dexter Avenue King Memorial Church where he was a leader and community volunteer.