Ron Ingram to be recognized as Mel Allen Media Award Recipient

BIRMINGHAM - The Board of Directors for the State of Alabama Sports Hall of Fame is pleased to announce that Ron Ingram will be recognized as the Mel Allen Media Award recipient at the 49th Annual State of Alabama Sports Hall of Fame Induction Banquet on Saturday May 13th, 2017.

The Mel Allen Award was created to honor media members in the state who have made a lifetime contribution to sports through their work as a media member. The award is named after 1974 Hall of Fame Inductee Mel Allen from Birmingham who was known as the “Voice of the New York Yankees” for two decades; as well as narrated a weekly thirty minute television show in the 1960’s and 1970’s called “This Week in Major League Baseball.”

Ron Ingram graduated from the University of Alabama in 1974 with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Radio and Television. He served as a sports editor of the Dothan Progress from 1975-1981, then as sports editor of the Dothan Eagle from 1981-1984.  He went on to become the prep sports editor of the Birmingham News in 1984 and remained there for 24 years. He then joined the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) as an assistant director in 2007. He has been named the Alabama Sports Writers Association Sports Writer of the Year and has captured the ASWA’s sweepstakes writing award in both 1987 and 1994.

In 2009, Ingram was inducted into the Wiregrass Sports Hall of Fame. He was also inducted into the Alabama Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame in 2013 and the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2015. Auburn University recognized him as the Alabama Community Journalist of the Year in 2012.

Former recipients of the Mel Allen award include John Pruitt (2014), George Smith (2014), and Tom Roberts (2015).

For ticket information to the Induction Banquet on Saturday, May 13th, at the Sheraton Birmingham Hotel, call the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame at 205-323-6665.

RaKavius Chambers, Leah Seibert Named Top 2017 Bryant-Jordan Winners

        BIRMINGHAM – Opelika High School’s RaKavius Chambers and Elkmont High School’s Leah Seibert were named the overall winners at the 32st annual Bryant-Jordan Student Athlete Awards Banquet Monday night at the Birmingham Sheraton Hotel as 104 high school regional senior honorees were recognized and awarded more than $300,000 in scholarships.
        Chambers, a senior football standout, was the recipient of the Larry D. Striplin, Jr., Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award. Seibert, who participated in softball and was a cheerleader, at Southeastern, received the Ken and Betty Joy Blankenship Student Achievement Athlete of the Year Award.
        The program, named in honor of the late coaches Paul "Bear" Bryant of Alabama and Ralph "Shug" Jordan of Auburn, recognized 52 regional scholar-athlete winners selected for their excellence in athletics and academics and 52 achievement winners chosen for their ability to overcome major obstacles during their high school athletic careers.
     “I am truly humbled,” Chambers said.  The 6-foot-4, 300-pound lineman helped his Opelika football team reach the Super 7 Class 6A state finals last season as a standout lineman. The Duke University football signee has a 4.33 grade-point average, a 32 on his ACT test and ranks second in his graduating class of 248.
     “I want to thank the Bryant-Jordan Foundation, my family, my coaches and my teachers for what they have all done for me at this important junction of my life,” Chambers said. “I am also thankful to have the opportunity to attend a school and play for a football staff that allowed me to pursue my interest in band, choir and acting.
     “My work ethic comes from my grandfather. Although he only has a seventh-grade education, he is the hardest-working many that I have ever known.”
      Already named the National Federation of High School Associations (NFHS) “Heart of the Arts” Award Section 3 recipient for the Southeastern states for his balance between his love for sports and the arts, Chambers was also the recipient of the Watkins Award, which is awarded annually to the top Afro-American high school student-athlete in the U.S. as selected by the national committee.
    A leader in all aspects of his life, he plans to study medicine at Duke University with his goal of becoming a cardiac surgeon. He helped Opelika High School capture first place in the state high school theatrical competition at Florence – playing the role of “God” in the play “Children of Eden.”.
     He is also a member of the OHS Show Choir and Symphonic Band.
      His athletic exploits earned him Team Captain, All-State and All-America honors as a senior.
     Seibert has been a cheerleader and softball player at Elkmont High School in Limestone County. She has a 4.14 GPA on a 4.0 scale.  Leah was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of childhood cancer, which has required her to face many obstacles during her high school years.  Even when she couldn’t participate, she was there cheering her teammates on and giving them her full support.  Her positive attitude has brought her community together in support for her as she has battled through her illness.
     “I thank my teachers and coaches at Elkmont for helping make me the best person that I can be,” Seibert said. Described as a natural leader, Seibert added, “It is an honor for me to receive this award. I thank the Elkmont community for always being there for me.”
    Chambers and Seibert were each awarded scholarships totaling $8,500. Each regional winner received $2,500 and each class winner an additional $3,000. The state winners also received an additional $3,000. More than $10 million has been distributed to student-athletes through the Bryant-Jordan Program since its inception in 1986.
        2017 Class winners in the Student Athlete division were: Alex Wilcox, Brantley (1A); Hallee Lightsey, Fayetteville (2A); Leah Seibert, Elkmont (3A); Carson Hall, Randolph (4A); Joseph Holbrook, Boaz (5A); Weldrin Ford, Opelika (6A); and Josh Stevens, Vestavia Hills, (7A).
        Class winners in the Scholar Athlete division included: C.J. Lecroy, Isabella (1A); Shelby Wales, Fayetteville (2A); Taylor Hayes, Piedmont (3A); Samuel Plash, UMS-Wright (4A); Samantha Slaughter, Shelby County (5A); RaKavius Chambers, Opelika (6A); and Taelor Allen Huffman (7A).

        Several special scholarships were also presented to some of the regional winners, including:

        Herman L. “Bubba” Scott Coaching Scholarship: Jordan Pendley, Brookwood; Alabama “A” Club Educational & Charitable Foundation Scholarships: A.J. Robbins, Marion County and Monica McNeil, Central-Phenix City; Auburn Football Lettermen Club Scholarships: Andrew Moore, Covenant Christian School and Samantha Slaughter, Shelby County; Dr. Gaylon McCollough Medical Scholarship: Braden Garrison, Sparkman;  United Methodist Children’s Home Scholarship: D.J. Pope, Gaston High  School and Hallee Lightsey, Fayetteville High School.   
   The complete list of regional winners honored Monday night were:


Bryant-Jordan Student-Athlete Achievement Award
Class 1A
Region 1:
Phillip “P.J.” Collins, Kinston HS
Region 2:
Alexis “Alex” Wilcox, Brantley HS
Region 3:
Chance Boggs, Wadley HS
Region 4: 
Marcus McMeans, Winterboro HS
Region 5:
Joe Rogers, Spring Garden HS
Region 6:
Anthony “A.J.” Robbins, Marion County HS
Region 7:
Cherilyn Todd, Phillips HS
Region 8:
Andrew Lawrence Moore, Covenant Christian HS

Class 2A
Region 1:
Curtis Michael Anderson, Washington County HS
Region 2:
Mary Lacy Lusk, Elba HS
Region 3:
Terrence L. Hollins, Jr., Abbeville HS
Region 4:
Brandon Lee Heard, Horseshoe Bend HS
Region 5:
Hallee Lightsey, Fayetteville HS
Region 6:
Davarius “D.J.” Pope, Gaston HS
Region 7:
Hayden Tate Ozbirn, Red Vay HS
Region 8:
Kyle Kirkland Parker, Hatton HS

Class 3A
Region 1:
Steven Boatwright, Excel HS
Region 2:
Blaise A. Van Hoose, Slocomb HS
Region 3:
Shania Sharneise Tuck, Central Coosa HS
Region 4:
Mikayla McElroy, Fultondale HS
Region 5:
Connor Blake Usery, Weaver HS
Region 6:
Garrett Scott Martin, Oakman HS
Region 7:
Austin Cyle Smith, Pisgah HS
Region 8:
Leah Joy Seibert, Elkmont HS

Class 4A
Region 1:
Clara Locke, Monroe County HS
Region 2:
Dylan Deloney, Dale County HS
Region 3:
Easterling Carpenter, Elmore County HS
Region 4:
Andrew Kilgore, Saks HS
Region 5:
Haleigh Jayne-Taylor Warren, Ashville HS
Region 6:
Will Evans, Haleyville HS
Region 7:
Carson Hall, Randolph HS
Region 8: Demareous Smith, Rogers HS

Class 5A
Region 1:
Tucker Batley, Jackson HS
Region 2:
Dalton Green, Brewbaker Tech HS
Region 3:
Lindsey McIlwain, Dallas County HS
Region 4: Ronnie “R.J. Cox, Jr., Demopolis HS
Region 5:
Macie Abigail Freeman, Central-Clay County HS
Region 6:
Lucas Jeffrey McCaleb, Corner HS
Region 7:
Joseph Hobrook, Boaz HS
Region 8:
Erin Wales, Ardmore HS

Class 6A
Region 1:
Andrew Mitchell, Gulf Shores HS
Region 2:
Alexis Nicole Danzey, Northview HS
Region 3:
Weldrin Ford, Opelika HS
Region 4:
Jordan Pendley, Brookwood HS
Region 5:
Melissa Pontius, McAdory HS
Region 6:
Steven David-Henry Soles, Jr., Center Point HS
Region 7:
Noah Fondren, Cullman HS
Region 8:
Myron Dwight McDaniel, Jr., Florence HS

Class 7A
Region 1:
Claire Kengeye, Davidson HS
Region 2:
Monica McNeil, Central-Phenix City HS
Region 3:
Josh Stevens, Vestavia Hills HS
Region 4:
Charissa Roth, Bob Jones HS

Bryant-Jordan Scholar-Athlete Award
Class 1A
Region 1:
Michael Hunter Ward, Pleasant Home HS
Region 2:
Tomysha Danielle Boykin, Linden HS
Region 3:
Clifford “C.J.” Lecroy, Isabella HS
Region 4:
Benjamin Weir, Victory Christian HS
Region 5:
Shea James Buckner, Donoho HS
Region 6:
Garrett Alan Cooper, Marion County HS
Region 7:
Katie Nicole Holcomb, Hackleburg HS
Region 8:
Anna Melinda Persell, Athens Bible HS

Class 2A
Region 1:
Kristen Noel Gulsby, J.U. Blacksher HS
Region 2:
Molly McDaniel, New Brockton HS
Region 3:
Nikki T. Hughes, Goshen HS
Region 4:
Kaitlin Baker, Reeltown HS
Region 5:
Shelby Wales, Fayetteville HS
Region 6:
Race Clausen, Sand Rock HS
Region 7: Morgan Faith Pearce, Red Bay HS
Region 8:
Colby Cochran, Fyffe HS

Class 3A
Region 1:
Allison Nelson, T.R. Miller HS
Region 2:
Ben Beachamp, Houston Academy
Region 3:
Peri LeeAnn Greene, Prattville Christian HS
Region 4:
Kelvin Valladares, Fultondale HS
Region 5:
Taylor Hayes, Piedmont HS
Region 6:
Lauren Anne McHan, J.B. Pennington HS
Region 7:
Tanner Chase Atchley, North Sand Mountain HS
Region 8:
Wesley James Smith, Lauderdale County HS

Class 4A
Region 1:
Samuel Plash, UMS-Wright HS
Region 2:
Mary Conley Teel, Trinity Presbyterian HS
Region 3:
Hannah Traylor Elmore County HS
Region 4:
Destinee Faithe Sellers, Handley HS
Region 5:
Dawson Anderson, Leeds HS
Region 6:
Thomas Jacob Graves, Oakman HS
Region 7:
Christopher Johnson, Westminster Christian HS
Region 8:
Maria Mask, Wilson HS

Class 5A
Region 1:
Williams David Raybon, Jackson HS
Region 2:
Taylor Frances Adams, Carroll HS
Region 3:
Taylor Moore, Dallas County HS
Region 4:
Samantha Kay Slaughter, Shelby County HS
Region 5:
Lauren Brown, Cleburne County HS
Region 6:
Brooke Henson, Mortimer Jordan HS
Region 7:
Peyton Nance, Etowah HS
Region 8:
Nathaniel Ford, Lawrence County HS

Class 6A
Region 1:
Madelyn Wells, Robertsdale HS
Region 2:
Serin Baek, Dothan HS
Region 3:
Rakavius Chambers, Opelika HS
Region 4:
Marjorie Ann Blanton, Helena HS
Region 5:
Antonio Stanton, Jr., Bessemer City HS
Region 6:
Holley Beth Spivey, Walker HS
Region 7:
Ann Carol Braswell, Cullman HS
Region 8:
George Brown, Decatur HS

Class 7A
Region 1:
Emma Bearden, Murphy HS
Region 2:
Kayleigh Green, Smiths Station HS
Region 3:
Taelor Allen, Huffman HS
Region 4:
Braden Garrison, Sparkman HS

Jamie Lee Joining AHSAA as Assistant Director

            MONTGOMERY – Grissom High School teacher/coach Jamie Lee will join the executive staff of the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) as Assistant Director.
            Lee will join the AHSAA officially on June 1. The announcement was made Friday by AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese.
            Lee will be AHSAA Assistant Director and Director of Special Programs, filling the spot vacated by Denise Ainsworth’s move into the assistant director position of Wanda Gilliland, who is retiring effective June 1 after more than two decades of service with the AHSAA. Among Lee’s AHSAA duties will be working with the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA) in planning and coordinating the Summer Conference and All-Star Sports Week, the various sports mini-clinics, the Principals & Athletic Directors Conference, the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame, the Student Leadership Program, Unified Sports and various AHSAA committees and championship sports programs.
            He has been serving Grissom High School as a mathematics teacher and boys’ basketball coach since 2016. He taught and coached at Decatur High School from 1995 to 2016. Lee is currently first vice-president of the AHSADCA and has served as an administrative assistant for the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Basketball Game for the last decade.
            “We are fortunate and delighted to have Jamie Lee join our staff,” Savarese said. “He is a talented individual, an excellent teacher, coach and administrator and has already been an important member of our AHSAA family while working in athletics at Grissom and Decatur. He has also served as an officer, volunteer and respected advisor for the AHSADCA for many years. He will be a tremendous addition to the AHSAA staff and will enable us to better serve our member schools.”
            Lee, a graduate of Decatur High School, received a B.S. in Accounting from Auburn University in 1991, a B.S. in Physical Education from Athens State University in 1995, a Master’s Degree in Physical Education from the University of North Alabama in 2004 and his Educational Leadership Certification in 2015.
            “I am very excited about the opportunity to work with the AHSAA,” Lee said, “I have the utmost respect for the AHSAA’s staff and executive director. I know I will have a chance, thanks to the Central Board and Mr. Savarese’s leadership, to grow professionally. I have thoroughly enjoyed teaching and coaching, especially the interaction with the students. However, I am now looking forward to the new challenges ahead.”
            Grissom’s basketball team was 20-12 this past season. Lee, 244-218 overall, served as boys’ head basketball coach at Decatur from 2001-2016 compiling a 224-206 record. His 2007 team was the Northwest Regional champion and reached the state tournament semifinals. Lee also served as head golf coach from 1997-2016 with his teams making four state-tournament appearances with a Class 6A state championship in 2002 and a runner-up finish in 2001. His 2000 team finished fifth. Lee has taught IB math studies, pre-calculus, Algebra I & II, trigonometry, physical education and developing leadership.  He played basketball at Decatur High School for Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame coach Wally Sanders.
         “I feel truly blessed to be able to continue being involved with athletics through this opportunity with the AHSAA,” Lee said.
       Lee was named the Decatur High School Teacher of the Year for 2001-02 and was selected the Decatur Daily Class 5A Coach of the Year in 2007-08. He has been an officer in the AHSADCA since 2014.
         He and his wife Jennifer have one daughter Anna, who is a student at Auburn University.

Alabama HS Sports Hall of Fame Inducts 12 for Class of 2017

     MONTGOMERY – Twelve major contributors to prep athletics in Alabama were inducted into the 27th class of the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame Monday night at the banquet held at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel and Spa.
   Inducted were football coaches Peter Braasch of Vestavia Hills High School; Wayne Grant, Pike County High School; Danny Horn, Benjamin Russell High School; Russell Jacoway, Sand Rock High School; and Dwight Sanderson, most notably Notasulga High School; basketball coaches Wayne Bowling of Danville High School; Richard Carter, Lanett High School; Bob Harpe, Austin High School; volleyball and softball coach Rebecca Lee, Hatton High School; softball coach Tony Scarbrough, Baker High School; tennis coach David Bethea, Montgomery Academy; and coach/administrator Lorenzo Jackson, who was selected in the “old-timer” division. Jackson, who spent his entire teaching, coaching and administrative career in the Decatur School System, is deceased.
    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.
     Bethea will deliver resounding acceptance address for the Class of 2017 thank all who had a hand in molding the member of the class and helping them along the way. “The relationships we been fortunate to have are what has been most important,” Bethea told the crowd of more than 700 in attendance.
     The first class was inducted in 1991. These 12 new inductees will run the total enshrined into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame to 332.
       A profile of each inductee:

DAVID BETHEA:  Montgomery Academy’s boys’ tennis coach since 1985, Bethea has carved a niche’ in state annals that includes 14 state championships, nine state runners-up, 32 sectional championships and an overall 878-145 head-coaching record.  He also served as MA boys basketball coach from 1986-90 has served as head junior high/middle school football coach since 1979. His junior high football teams have won 19 city championships and compiled a 191-81-3 record.
     Bethea, 61, is a 1973 graduate of Huntsville’s Butler High School. He received his degree from the University of North Alabama in 1977 and earned a Masters from South Alabama in 1979. He serves as department chair of physical education for the Montgomery Academy, where he has taught for 39 years. He is a member of Center Point Church.

Bowling, 75, was the boys’ basketball coach at Danville High School in Morgan County from 1963-2000. He also was head baseball coach from 1963-85.
    Considered one of the coaching leaders in North Alabama, Bowling compiled a 683-388 basketball coaching record that included four Morgan County championships (1965, 1985, 1988, 1992); 12 area championships; five regional championships; two sub-state titles (1991 and 1992); five state tournament appearances (1976, 1977, 1985, 1991, 1992);  and one state runner-up in 1992.
   He graduated from Austinville High School in 1959 and St. Bernard College in 1963 and began his high school teaching and coaching career immediately. He was inducted into the Morgan County Sports Hall of Fame in 2002. Highly respected by his coaching peers in Morgan County, the MVP Award for the Morgan County basketball tournament is named in his honor.
    He is a member of Central Park Baptist Church.

Braasch, 61, has been a teacher and coach at Vestavia Hills High School since 1977. He is the VHHS Physical Education Department chair.
    A longtime assistant coach, he served as defensive coordinator and assistant head coach alongside another Hall of Fame Coach, AHSAA’s all-time winningest football coach Buddy Anderson, since  1982. The Rebels won state championships in 1980 and 1998 and reached the finals in 1978 and 1979.
    Braasch also served as assistant head coach of the Rebels basketball alongside AHSAA HOF member Coach George Hatchett – winning state 6A titles in 1992 and 2009 and reaching the Final 48 State Tourney two more times (2000 and 2011). He was an assistant track coach from 1978-94 and won a 1993 state freshman championship as head coach of the VHHS ninth-grade team.
    One of the most highly-decorated “assistant” coaches in AHSAA history, Braasch was named Alabama Football Coaches Association assistant coach of the year in 2009; received the prestigious AHSAA “Making a Difference” Award for Class 6A in 2012; and was inducted into the Vestavia Hills Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.
    Braasch graduated from Homewood High School in 1973 and UAB in 1977. He earned a Masters at the University of Montevallo.

Growing up in Chambers County, Carter has spent most of his teaching and coaching career “at home,” serving as head boys’ basketball coach at Valley from 1975-99, and has been athletic director and head boys’ coach at Lanett since 2012. He began his coaching career at Bullock County in Union Springs where he was head football coach for three years (15-13). He also coached track.
    His overall basketball coaching record is 652-220 – including 301-62 at Valley and 150-27 at Lanett. He guided the Panthers to a 29-6 record and the Class 2A state championship in 2016. Lanett finished 25-7 in 2017 and won its second straight 2A state crown.
     Dedicated to molding the character of the young men he coaches, Carter has also served as a pastor for the past 42 years and is very active in civic affairs in East Alabama. He has mentored 75 members of his faith to become ministers themselves and has coached six players who went on to play in the NFL or NBA during his coaching career.
       Carter graduated from Rehobeth High School of Fairfax in 1965 and Alabama State University in 1969. He earned a masters from Troy University.

WAYNE GRANT: Grant, 61, is one of just seven high school football coaches in the AHSAA to coach at least five state championship teams. He accomplished the feat at Pike County High School during two tenures as head coach.
   Grant served as head coach at the Pike County from 1980-91 compiling a 97-33 record and winning the Brundidge school’s first two state titles in 1988 and 1989. He moved to Talladega High School from 1992-97 but returned in 1997 after the Bulldogs’ fortunes had fallen on hard times. Taking over a program that had gone 6-24 over the three previous seasons, he led Pike County back to prominence quickly with a winning season in 1999 and a state championship by 2003. The 2003 team, with just 18 players, rolled to a 14-1 record.  The Bulldogs also were 15-0 and state 3A champs in 2005 and won again in 2006. He was 100-19 in his second tenure to close out his coaching career with a 231-94 record.
    His Pike County teams were region champs 22 times, made 18 playoff appearances in 21 years, reached the quarterfinals 13 times and were 5-0 in Super 6 championship appearances.  His overall playoff record was 44-14 (76 percent). He coached in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game twice and the North-South Game once with all three teams winning.
   Grant also coached two Mr. Football winners (Chris Nickson and Steven Coleman) and two that had stellar NFL careers (Fred Baxter and Cornelius Griffin).
    The 1972 Zion Chapel High School graduate earned his college degree and Masters at Troy University.

A native of basketball-crazy Morgan County, Harpe began his coaching career as the seventh-grade coach at Oak Park Middle School in his hometown of Decatur. That first team went undefeated and ignited a coaching career that led him to Austin High School from 1976-1998 and later at Arab High School from 2003-06. He also served as Austin head golf coach.
    Harpe’s teams compiled a 306-143 record and averaged over 21 wins per year. His 1996 team reached the AHSAA Final 48 State Tourney and his 1993 team won the state crown. Austin also reached the state tourney in 1987.
    More than 20 of his players signed college scholarships. Active on AHSAA basketball and golf committees, Harpe helped develop the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Basketball Games and served as administrative coach from 1990-95. He also was a member of the District 8 Legislative Council for nine years (1990-98) and was selected to the Central Board of Control. He has also volunteered his time in his retirement to assist the AHSAA at its state tournament since 2010.
    Harpe graduated from Decatur High School in 1965 and Athens College in 1974. He earned a Masters from UAB.

DANNY HORN: Horn, 54, has served only two schools as head football coach in his 28 years as a head coach. Currently the head football coach and athletic director at Benjamin Russell, Horn is 55-39 in eight seasons (2009-16). His overall coaching record of 280-79 (78.1%) and 61-19 in the state playoffs includes an incredible 225-40 slate in 20 years at his alma mater, Clay County High School at Ashland.
   He served the Panthers as head coach from 1989-2008 capturing six state championships (1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2002, 2005) and posting a state-record 55-game winning streak that stretched from 1994-97.  The Panthers outscored opponents 1,974 to 194 during that streak with 34 shutouts and allowed only 3.2 points per game. 
   Horn’s 1994 team also outscored opponents 408-22 in 15 games and had 10 shutouts. His 1995 and 1996 teams allowed only 42 points in 15 games with 10 and 11 shutouts, respectively.
    He has coached in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game twice (1994 and 2001), in the North-South game once (2007) and was named ASWA Coach of the Year three times.
    He graduated from Clay County High School in 1980, from Jacksonville State in 1984 and completed his Masters at JSU in 1989.

LORENZO JACKSON (OLD TIMER Division): Jackson, born in 1929, was selected to represent the “Old Timer” division in the Hall of Fame Class of 2007.
  He attended Decatur Negro High School graduating in 1947. He then got his degree from Alabama A&M in 1957. He also earned his Masters and AA.
   He was head football, basketball and track coach at Lakeside High School in Decatur from 1955-69. He was named the AIAA North Alabama High School Association Coach of the Year in 1958, 1959 and 1964.
   When Lakeside and Decatur merged following the 1968 Merger Act, Jackson served as assistant football and track coach at Austin High School for nine years. In 1977 he became the principal at Leon Sheffield Elementary School in Decatur where he serve through 1989.
   Active in civic affairs, he was a member of the Civitan Club and Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, served as an elder at Macedonia Cumberland Presbyterian Church, was a member of the Decatur Planning Commission and Alabama Democratic Conference, and was instrumental registering voters in Morgan County. He also worked as a Decatur Parks/Recreation Aquatic Supervisor.
   Jackson, now deceased, has been inducted into the Morgan County Sports Hall of Fame and Athletic Booster Hall of Fame.

RUSSELL JACOWAY: The head football coach and athletic director at Sand Rock High School from 1983-2014, Jacoway began his coaching career in 1978 as an assistant coach at Early County High School in Blakely, Ga., where he remained for four years. He then moved to Smiths Station as an assistant coach for three.
    He came to Cherokee County’s Sand Rock High School in 1983 inheriting a team that went 1-9 in 1982. His first team in ’83 was 0-10. In his third season, however, the Wildcats were 15-0 and won the Class 1A state championship. That team outscored opponents 400-54. He went on to compile a 228-132 head-coaching record at Sand Rock over 32 seasons and reached the Super 6 2A finals at Legion Field in 1997.
    The football stadium at Sand Rock was named in his honor in 1999. A book chronicling Sand Rock’s 1985 championship,
Fire on the Mountain, was published in 2010, and he was inducted into the Cherokee County Sports Hall of fame in 2014. He coached in the North-South All-Star Game in 2002 and was named Coach of the Year by the Alabama Sportswriters Association in 1985 and 1997.
    He graduated from Collinsville High School in 1975 and Auburn University in 1978.

REBECCA LEE: Lee, 68, retired from coaching at Hatton High School with 1,320 varsity volleyball and softball wins to her credit. She began her teaching and coaching career at East Lawrence High School in 1978 where she compiled a 109-33 volleyball record over a five-year period. Her 1980 team was Class 2A state runner-up.
   She moved to her alma mater, Hatton High School, in 1983 where she remained until retiring from coaching in 2002. Her volleyball teams were 771-258 in 20 seasons with four Class 2A state championships in a row (1990, 1991, 1992 and 1993). She also became one of the top slow-pitch softball coaches in the AHSAA with her teams compiling a 400-177 record with state titles in 1992, 1993 and 1996. She was named NFHS National Slow-Pitch Coach of the Year in 2000.
Moulton Advertiser selected her Female Coach of the Decade for Lawrence County in 1990.
   She graduated from Hatton High School in 1966 and earned her degree from Athens State College in 1978. She became one of the state’s top volleyball officials during her retirement, serving as vice-president of the Quad-Cities Volleyball Officials Association for six years.

Sanderson, 75, spent 29 years teaching and coaching in the AHSAA. He spent 14 years as head football coach at Notasulga High School from 1967-81. His first four years notched only eight wins but provided the foundation for what would come over the next 10 years.
   The Blue Devils were 76-24-2 during that stretch with five state appearances. His 1977 team was Class 1A state runner-up. The early years were extremely important, however, since it came just as the AHSAA and AIAA merged. His leadership and direction helped the school move into the new era of integration smoothly.
    He had stops at Valley High School and Chambers County High School before retiring from Alabama in 1993. He then spent 13 years teaching in Georgia from 1994-2006.

Sanderson has been active in the community serving as a Sunday school teacher at New Site Methodist Church, a youth director in Ashland and working with senior citizens in Tallassee. He is a member of the Notasulga Lions Club.
    A 1959 graduate, he is one of two Clay County High School alumni to be selected for the Class of 2017 Hall of Fame. He earned his college degree from Jacksonville State in 1964 and a Masters at Troy University. 

TONY SCARBROUGH: The AHSAA’s winningest softball coach has been at Baker High School in Mobile as a teacher/coach since 1986.  His career high school softball-coaching record is 1,525 wins and 428 losses. His fast-pitch teams have compiled a 937-267 slate and slow-pitch teams (1987-1998) a 563-171 record. Scarbrough had coaching stops early in his career at Evangel Christian, Chickasaw Academy and Shaw High School in Alabama, Gautier (MS) and McLean County (KY).
   His slow-pitch teams won state championships in 1991, 1992, 1993 and were runners-up in 1989. The fast-pitch program captured state championships in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2016. The Honey Bees have reached the fast-pitch state tournament 13 of the last 16 years. The 2007 team set a state record with 79 wins, which broke the previous record (78) set by Baker in 2005 that broke the previous mark (77) set by Baker in 2004.
    Scarbrough has been a leader among coaches serving on the AHSAA Softball Coaches Committee. He devised the basic plan to develop the very popular regional softball tournament format, a move that has improved softball throughout the state and has provided “state tournament” type experiences for a larger number of schools.
He was inducted into the Mobile Softball Hall of Fame in 1992 and was NFHS Section 3 Softball Coach of the Year in 2005 and 2015. He was named the Gulf Coast Writers Coach of the Year in 2015.
      Scarbrough is a graduate of Vigor High School (1967) and the University of South Alabama (1972).

AHSAA Hall of Fame Class of 2017 Tony Scarbrough’s Passion for Softball Has Changed the Sport in Alabama

        MONTGOMERY – Fast-pitch or slow-pitch, no one has loved the sport of softball more than Baker High School’s veteran coach Anthony “Tony” Scarbrough.
        His passion for the sport has made a tremendous difference for the student-athletes who play the game today in the AHSAA.

         Scarbrough is one of 12 individuals in the Class of 2017 being inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame banquet will be Monday, March 20, at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.
      Scarbrough graduated from Prichard’s Vigor High School in 1967 and the University of South Alabama in 1972.

          He began his teaching and coaching career at Chickasaw Academy in 1970. He then taught at Evangel Christian and McLean County High School in Kentucky. At Evangel, he coached his first slow-pitch softball team, compiling 10-5 record.

Those 10 wins are the only ones not earned at Baker High School where his overall record was an outstanding 1,525 wins and just 438 losses heading into the 2017 AHSAA season.

After teaching at several others schools – Shaw High School, Belsaw Middle School, Gautier Junior High School and Alba High School – he accepted a position at Baker in 1986. He has been there ever since. 

For 12 years he produced some of the state’s best slow-pitch softball teams, compiling a record of 563-171.  His Honeybees were second in the start in 1989, then won three consecutive state championships from 1991-93. Baker also won nine area championships during that span.

He was instrumental in persuading the AHSAA to switch from slow-pitch to fast-pitch softball in the 1990s.  He quickly showed that the speed of the ball was irrelevant to his coaching skills. Over the past 17 years, he has produced the following marks at Baker:

--A fast pitch softball record of 937-267.

--State championships in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2016. The most recent title was the first one awarded in the new Class 7A classification.    

--In one 16-year stretch, Baker has won 15 area championships and made 13 state tournament appearances.

--Baker holds the top four positions for the most wins in a season – 79 in 2007, 78 in 2005, 77 in 2004, and 69 in 2006.

          Baker athletic director Paul Agnew is amazed at Scarbrough’s foresight, enthusiasm and energy.
          “Coach Scarbrough is one of the most progressive, enthusiastic and compassionate coaches I have ever seen,” Agnew said. “He is everything that is right with high school athletics. His career record speaks for itself, but it is his impact on his athletes, his colleagues and his sport that makes him most deserving of this honor.

“Personally, I have learned the characteristic of positive coaching by watching Coach Scarbrough from the sidelines and by listening to the hidden wisdom in his numerous stories from his 40-plus-year coaching career. His passion for coaching is unmatched, his love for his girls is unwavering, and his commitment to the sport of softball is unsurpassed. The exuberance in the picture of Coach Scarbrough’s team winning the first 7A softball state championship is an indelible image for me. And, amazingly, this same exuberance is on display at each practice, each team meeting, each game and each tournament. He celebrates the fundamentally sound play by his JV shortstop with the same giddiness that he does the amazing diving catch to capture the state championship. He is nothing more than pure joy.”

Principal Clem Richardson agrees.
         “Tony has coached other sports, but his passion for female athletics, particularly softball, has won him local, state and national awards. He was well ahead of his time with incorporating increased reps into his practices and games,” said Richardson. “He always prefers to be the visitor in competition so he can be assured that his team gets to bat in the 7
th inning.
         “Being a math teacher, he is obsessed with statistics and tendencies. This is very evident in his coaching style. Softball players that leave Baker take with them his passion, desire for success and work ethic. His players truly love and respect him both on the field and off.”

Mobile sports writer Ben Thomas also noticed Scarbrough’s love of numbers.

“I believe coaching on this level – more than any other – is about building teenagers into responsible adults,” Thomas said. “I believe coaching is not only about winning but, in fact, primarily about instilling discipline and responsibility into young people, in many cases making a positive impact on them that will last a life time.

“That is what I believe Tony Scarbrough has done at Baker High School for more years than I have been a member of the working world. I have talked to many of his players who speak glowingly of him well after their Baker athletic careers were over.  This is a coach that cares so much about his players that he always has kept his own statistics – whether it was on the bench in basketball or in the third base coaching box in softball – every game. Now, that is caring!”

Scarbrough’s passion for softball includes sharing his knowledge with other coaches, even if they are competitors. Mary G. Montgomery High School softball coach Brenda Box shared her experience.
          “Not only did I play against him while in high school, but also I have had the privilege to coach against him the last 13 years,” she said. “Coach Scarborough was a wonderful mentor to me, a new coach. He helped me learn the ins and outs of the coaching world. I always knew if I had a question, I could call anytime.”

          As a member of the AHSAA Softball Coaches Committee, Scarbrough played a key role in developing the popular regional state softball playoff format used by the AHSAA.
      He was inducted into the Mobile Softball Hall of Fame in 1992. He also founded the Mobile Youth Umpires Association and served as a director for seven years. He also started Junior Girls Basketball in Mobile.


AHSAA Hall of Fame Class of 2017 Sanderson Played Pivotal Role in Notasulga’s ’10 Years of Glory’

        MONTGOMERY – Dwight Sanderson faced what seemed to be insurmountable odds when he became the head football coach at Notasulga High School in 1967.
       By the time his tenure at the school had concluded, however, the community would describe his time at the Macon County schools as “Ten Years of Glory.”
       Sanderson is one of 12 individuals in the Class of 2017 being inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame banquet will be Monday, March 20, at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.
      He graduated from Clay County High School in 1959 and from Jacksonville State in 1964. He also earned a master’s degree in administration and supervision from Troy University.

After receiving his bachelor’s degree, he returned to his home town of Ashland to begin his teaching and coaching career. After two years as an assistant he went to Thompson High School in the same capacity.

In 1967 he accepted the head football coach position at Notasulga High School.  Few people ever started a head-coaching career under more difficult circumstances. Integration had come hard to the community. Just before the start of school in 1964, the Notasulga school was burned to the ground and the football season was cancelled.

The 1965 team failed to score a point in going 0-9. The 1966 team did score several times but finished 0-10. This was the climate Sanderson faced in 1967 – an athletic program in shambles and a community torn by racial divide. Macon County School Board member Karey M. Thompson recalled how Sanderson helped turn that bleak situation around. His first team won just one game.
         “When he came to Notasulga we were in the middle of integration,” Thompson said. “As I watched 50 State Trooper cars (two Troopers per car) line the street in front of the school four years earlier as black students were bussed in, then only weeks later the burning of the high school, I never dreamed we would continue past the sixth grade. As the school was built back, we became segregated again.

“Coach Sanderson arrived as I became a sophomore. He played a major role, along with some other teachers moving into integration, displaying the people person in him. He would pick up these black kids for football practice and take them home. Remember the circumstances – 100 Troopers, burning of the school earlier – this was a big issue. Black parents had to learn to trust him…He had a major role in taking two races and molding them into one student body in full harmony.”
          Thompson and Sanderson became good friends and fishing buddies over the years. They had many conversations about the needs of the students.
            “I remember something he said when talking about a certain player,” Thompson said. “You have to show them you love them. This player would not have played if it wasn’t for that. This player was Gerald Williams. He played for Auburn University and went on to the pros. Thinking back over my football years, we knew a lot of different sets. Being a small school, he would have to run an offense that fit the talent –  wishbone, I-formation, veer, T-formation, etc., My older brother would always say Coach Sanderson was an offensive genius, and I would have to agree.”

Gerald Robinson, who went on to become Auburn’s all-time sack leader and nine-year NFL player, also played for Sanderson at Notasulga.
         “I have played football basically all of my life,” Robinson said. “Coach Sanderson helped me grow as a person and as an athlete. I was awarded a football scholarship to Auburn University…Coach Sanderson played a major part. I have had plenty of good coaches, bad coaches and mediocre coaches. However, I have only had one great and unforgettable coach and that was Coach Sanderson.    “Coach Sanderson coached to win and no matter how hard we try, we can’t separate coaching from wins and losses. If you don’t win, it is hard to make the argument that you were a great coach. Coach Sanderson was a great and skillful man and had profound impact on the lives of those who played for him.”
          Robinson said Sanderson taught him about much more than playing football.
         “Outside of my immediate family, Coach Sanderson has had as much of an impact on my character development as anyone,” Robinson added. “He taught me how to be a man and how to win with grace and lose with grit and determination. I often thank God for putting Coach Sanderson in my path.”

Despite the healing efforts, it was a long struggle for Sanderson. His first four teams were 8-31. Then came 1971 and a 4-5-1 finish, the beginning of what some refer to as “Ten Years of Glory.” That nearly break-even season was followed by nine consecutive winning seasons and five trips to the state playoffs. The 1977 team was Class 1A state runner-up, setting a school record with 11 victories.

Sanderson’s overall record at Notasulga was 85-56-2.

Like any good coach, his influence was felt off the field and in the classroom as much as it was on the field. Another former student, Willie A. Cameron, described Sanderson’s impact on his life.
          “As an educator, Coach Sanderson expressed the importance of education in a community that was economically disadvantaged,” Cameron said. “Also, he instilled in the students and athletes a sense of power and confidence. Because of Coach Sanderson, many students excelled on a collegiate and professional level through education and athletics. He has made a positive impact in the community, state and country. Personally, under his direct influence, I was the first member of my family to obtain a college degree, followed by my three young siblings who have also obtained college degrees.”

In 1981 Sanderson moved to Valley High School and coached the Rams to a 15-15 record over three years. He then spent nine years at Chambers County High in Milltown before retiring from the Alabama system. His remaining career was spent in across the state border in Calhoun, GA.
    Sunday: The final installment of a 12-Part Hall of Fame series: Baker High School softball coach Tony Scarbrough.

AHSAA Hall of Fame Class of 2017 Lee’s Players Earned the Right to be a Hatton Lady Hornet

        MONTGOMERY – Hatton High School’s long-time volleyball and softball coach Rebecca Lee was a pioneer in girls’ high school athletics in Alabama. Her biggest contribution, her former players agree, was establishing expectations of excellence and commitment for the young ladies who participated.

       Lee is one of 12 individuals in the Class of 2017 being inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame banquet will be Monday, March 20, at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.
      A native of Moulton, Rebecca Lee graduated from Hatton High School in 1966 and Athens State College in 1978.

          She began her teaching and coaching career at East Lawrence High School, where she started and coached the volleyball program for five seasons. Her 1980 team was the Class 2A runner-up and she coached two All State players and one state tournament MVP. Her overall record was 109-33 and included three county championships

           In 1983 she returned to her alma mater, Hatton, to coach both volleyball and slow pitch softball. Her record in both sports was outstanding. Her volleyball teams captured four consecutive Class 2A state championships in from 1990-1993 and were runners-up in six other seasons. She saw 36 players earn All-State recognition with three being named state-tournament MVPs.
          Her teams won 10 region, 19 area and 18 Lawrence County championships. Her career record at Hatton (1983-2002) was 771-258 and 880-291 overall. She received numerous state and local Coach-of-the-Year awards including the AHSAA Class 2A Coach of the Year in 2000 and the Moulton Advertiser Female Coach of the Decade in 1990.
         Lee’s slow-pitch softball programs was just as successful. Hatton won three Class 2A state softball championships – 1992, 1993 and 1996 and were runners-up in 1990 and 1997. Seven players earned all-state recognition and three were named state tournament MVPs. Her teams compiled an overall 400-177 record with nine region, 10 area and six Lawrence County championships. She was named the NFHS Slow Pitch Coach of the Year in 2000.

Barbie Terry, director of Development at the University of North Alabama, credits her current position to skills she learned under Coach Lee:

‘My aunt played softball and volleyball for Mrs. Lee in the ‘80s. I was a kid. I vividly remember the smell of her husband Mike’s pipe as he watched his wife change women’s sports in Alabama. She was fierce, determined and passionate. She produced winners. She didn’t care that so many opposed women’s sports or though that a woman shouldn’t be coaching. I couldn’t wait to ‘grow-up’ and play high school ball for Mrs. Lee, and I did.

“It was hard. She held us accountable and made sure we always, on and off the court, carried ourselves with grace and dignity. You didn’t have to have all of the skills, you just had to have the work ethic. You had to have the drive. If it were easy, everyone would do it. We wore our uniforms with pride. We earned the right to be a Lady Hornet…
           “People recognized us and they respected Coach Becky Lee.  Not everyone agreed with her coaching style, partly because she was a woman in a man’s world and probably because she was hard on us. Looking back, I see that Mrs. Lee wasn’t just hard on us. She loved us and she loved us as her own. Every single day that Mrs. Lee spent with us she was teaching us to respect ourselves as women, to never apologize for working hard and being successful, to always work for your goals – and achieve them.

“I can honestly say that I hold my position in large part because of Mrs. Lee. The path to my current position wasn’t easy…. I was a small-town girl lost in the mix with 16,000 others students at Mississippi State University. I stood outside my first class and wanted to quit and go home, but that wasn’t an option… If it were, none of us would have made it past the first volleyball or softball practice of the year. “
          She said her coach also taught the players to be humble in winning and defeat.
          “Mrs. Lee taught us when he got beat to get back up and prove that you are the best. Time after time in my career, I have re-lived moments on the field or court and taken steps according to Mrs. Lee’s lessons. Mrs. Lee instilled a work ethic in all her kids that I have told compares to no other. I incorporate the life lessons she taught me every day of my life. I catch myself using her phrases with my own kids. What I would give for her to coach my daughter!”
Current Hatton varsity girls’ basketball coach, Chaste H. Calmness, also attributes her success to Coach Lee.
           “Coach Lee played a huge role in the career path I have followed,” Calmness said. “She passed along to me her desire to help players and students be successful. Having her as coach, teacher and mentor through high school influenced me to become a teacher and coach. I truly believe my successes as coach and teacher can partially be attributed to the work ethic I was taught by Coach Lee. She was a great example and role model to us.”

Coach Lee was inducted into the Lawrence County Sports Hal of Fame in 2001.

She was co-coach of the North volleyball team for 2003 AHSAA All-Star Week. Upon retirement she moved into officiating and served six years as vice president of the Quad-Cities Volleyball Officials Association. 


    Saturday: Eleventh installment of the Hall of Fame series: Football Coach Dwight Sanderson.

AHSAA Hall of Fame Class of 2017 Football Coach Russell Jacoway Gave Students Something to Believe In

        MONTGOMERY – Football coach Russell Jacoway’s first football team at Sand Rock High School was 0-10 in 1983. That team, however, laid the groundwork for much better things to come.

       Two short years later the Wildcats rolled to a 15-0 record and the Class 1A state football championship. And for the rest of his head-coaching career, Jacoway’s teams became the model of consistency – being the best they could be year after year.
       Jacoway is one of 12 individuals in the Class of 2017 being inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame banquet will be Monday, March 20, at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.
      A native of Fort Payne, Jacoway graduated from Collinsville High School in 1975 and Auburn University in 1978.

          He began his teaching and coaching career in Blakely (GA) in 1978. His first job was as a football and basketball assistant and head coach of girls track at Early County High School. From there he went to Smiths Station as head coach of boys’ junior high basketball and varsity assistant in football and basketball. That led to his first varsity head-coaching position two years later at Sand Rock High School. He went on to serve the Cherokee County school as head football coach, athletic director and physical education teacher for 32 years (1983-2014).
         His career was dotted by many superlatives including: 24 state playoff appearances and a 228-132 career football coaching record; the 1985 state championship and a 1997 Class 2A state runner-up; six seasons with 10 or more wins and only three losing seasons in 32 years.
         More than 50 players were named to All-State teams. Sand Rock’s football stadium was named Russell Jacoway Stadium in 1999.
         Sand Rock Principal Ben East said Jacoway’s example of excellence showed in the students he coached.
         “His energy, intensity, desire to be successful and concern for his players were just as strong last season as it was when he began his coaching career in 1983,” East said. “As athletic director for Sand Rock, Coach Jacoway has been a strong supporter of all school teams and athletes. I rarely remember attending a sporting event at Sand Rock where he was not in attendance. By example, he stressed academic success in the classroom and taught young men how to become successful husbands, fathers and productive members of the community.
         “I am honored to have worked with Coach Jacoway, and I consider him a personal friend who leads by example and models the values, beliefs and work ethic that makes our world a better place.”

Jim Tom Stimpson, a member of the 1985 state championship team, recalled Sand Rock as a place in need of focus and structure when Jacoway arrived in 1983.
           “Myself and many others desperately need structure,” he said. “(Coach Jacoway) was a fixed point, someone to anchor to. Qhoting Bill Curry’s high school football coach at College Park (GA), Bill Badgett, ‘Football is life marked off in 100 yards.’ This resonates with me and perfectly describes what Coach Jacoway means to our school and our community.”
         Stimpson said Jacoway installed a solid strength and conditioning program from the ground up when he arrived.
        ”We were using weights that were handmade and welded together in the school’s Ag shop.” He said, “They were weighed after they were built. None of them turned out to be even numbers. He helped get us standardized Olympic equipment, gave us a training program and a way to track improvement. He also implanted a nutrition program for athletes to promote optimal weight and strength levels for football. He gave us goals and pushed us.”
           Stimpson said Jacoway taught much, much more, however.
           “He taught us to excel at football, but that’s not what has enhanced my life and the lives of so many more student athletes,” Stimpson said. “He gave us the tools to do life, to deal with adversity, and to overcome disappointment and setback. He gave us the confidence to face adversity, not just on the field of play but the game of life. The intangibles he gave us can never be taken from us.
          “There are a handful of men that shaped and molded me into the man I am today, and Coach Jacoway is one of those men. He gave us something to believe in.”
          Stimpson recalled those early years with pride.
          “[In 1985] we were just two years removed from the 0-10 season. To position our team for success, you wouldn’t think at 140 pounds and 5-foot-5 I would have been the most likely selection for starting running back. But Coach believed in me. I think he believed in me before I believed in myself.
          “He made us all believe in each other and in the team. That’s the greatest gift he gave me and the greatest gift you can give any adolescent is to have them see that you believe in them. It literally can change their lives! God gave me the ability to run, and Coach Jacoway gave me the chance. I have also been the statistician for Coach Jacoway for 18 years, and I’ve seen him do it with student-athletes year in and year out. He could see potential even if you couldn’t, and he could get every bit of it out of you.”

Jacoway received statewide Coach of the Year awards in 1985, 1986 and 1997.  He was inducted into the Cherokee County Sports Hall of Fame in 2014. The success of the 1985 state championship team has been chronicled in a book entitled Fire on the Mountain by Douglass Scott Wright.
    Saturday: Eleventh installment of the Hall of Fame series: Football Coach Dwight Sanderson.

Lorenza Jackson Was Father Figure for Countless Decatur Youths

        MONTGOMERY – Long-time Decatur coach and administrator Lorenza Jackson’s role evolved to “father figure” for many of the students entrusted to him during his stellar career in education that lasted for half a century.
       Jackson, who died in 2004, is one of 12 individuals in the Class of 2017 being inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame. He is being enshrined in the “Old Timer” category. The Hall of Fame banquet will be Monday, March 20, at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.
      A native of Decatur, Lorenza Levi Jackson began his coaching and teacher career at his alma mater, Decatur Negro High School, in 1955. He graduated from the school in 1947 and from Alabama A&M College in 1957. He also earned a master’s degree and AA certification.
         Decatur Negro High School was later renamed Lakeside High School. Jackson served as the school’s head football, basketball and track coach as well as a classroom teacher until 1969 when integration closed the school. He then transferred to Austin High School where he was an assistant football and head track coach. His track teams won 11 district championships and his football teams won 75 percent their games at Lakeside. He had similar success at Austin.

           Jackson received several North Alabama Coach of the Year awards during his coaching career. Lakeside’s 1959 basketball team finished the regular season undefeated. Curtis Miller, one of the players on that team, said Jackson’s influence on and off the court was immeasurable.
          “Often when people think of coaches, they think of an individual whose sole purpose is to win ball games,” Miller said. “When people think of Lorenza Jackson, they think of an individual who cared deeply for the individuals whom he worked with and came in contact with. They think of him as an individual who was a teacher, not only in the classroom, but in many other aspects of this community’s development processes.

“Coach Jackson served as father figure not only for me but for many this community. We learned the art of competing in the different sports arenas, but more importantly he taught us the art of being men and community leaders.”
            Miller was a key member of that 1959 team at Lakeside. He also was a three-year starter for Jackson’s football team and also was an outstanding track runner.
            “I can honestly say that I reached my full potential as an athlete under Coach Jackson,” he said. “As a successfully retired adult, as a devout member of my church family, and as a dedicated father and husband, I can say with all sincerity that Coach Jackson left an indelible mark on my life.”

          Sports writer Deangelo McDaniel, in an interview with Jackson in The Decatur Daily in 2000, wrote: “He accomplished about everything a black coach could accomplish during segregation. He won district championships. He carried teams to state tournaments. His players got scholarships. But most importantly, he made the boys he coached better men.”

          When integration came Jackson decided to move into administration after seeing his coaching duties become more limited. In 1974 he became a full-time administrator when he was named assistant principal at Austin. Three years later he was named principal at Leon Sheffield Elementary School where he remained until his retirement in 1989.

He earned the respect of his peers, helping the community work through the difficult days of integration. In a letter supporting Jackson’s nomination to the Hall of Fame, Decatur Superintendent Ed Nichols Jr. described his perception of Jackson’s many contributions.
          “Mr. Jackson was a servant leader in the education community for many years,” Nichols said. “His leadership in the challenging and historic segregation period within the city of Decatur is without equal. Mr. Jackson served as a teacher, administrator and coach as our community and state worked through the integration process and did so with, pride, humility and a positive attitude.

“His teachers and students described him as a man of great integrity, a model of leadership and a community leader for all people. Current teachers who worked under him share stories of his understanding attitude to meet their needs and the changing needs of students across the changing social times. He is a man who brought diverse communities together.

“Mr. Jackson is a model of the leadership one would expect and desire in an educator of the students of yesterday and today. His legacy lives in the students he taught and coached, who speak fondly of him, and the teachers he supervised, who continue to practice the leadership model and communication that the fostered in them.”

          Jackson was inducted into the Athletic Boosters Club Sports Hall of Fame and was named the city’s Educator of the Year in 1989.

          Among his many civic and community activities were the Civitan Club, Decatur City Planning Commission, Decatur Parks and Recreation aquatic supervisor, Decatur General Foundation Board and  an elder at Macedonia Cumberland Presbyterian Church.


Friday: Ninth and tenth installments of the Hall of Fame series: Sand Rock football coach Russell Jacoway and Hatton volleyball coach Rebecca Lee.

AHSAA Hall of Fame Class of 2017 Danny Horn’s Clay County Teams Are Best Remembered by the ‘Streak’

        MONTGOMERY –

 Horn is one of 12 individuals in the Class of 2017 being inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame banquet will be Monday, March 20, at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.
       A native of Ashland, Daniel Lowell Horn graduated from Clay County High School in 1980 and Jacksonville State University in 1984. He also holds a master’s degree from Jacksonville State.

          He started his teaching and coaching career at Randolph County High School, serving as head basketball coach and defensive coordinator in football. His basketball record was 65-29 and his honors included County Coach of the Year. He also coached baseball and guided his team to the state playoffs in 1988.

          In 1989 he returned to his alma mater, Clay County High School, as head coach in football, girls’ basketball and baseball. While he was a credit to every sport he coached, it was in football that he earned a status as one of the state’s all-time top coaches.
          Over 20 years at Clay County he produced an overall record of 225-40 – an amazing 85% winning rate. His teams reached the state football finals eight times resulting in six state championships and two runners-up; four other teams reached the state playoff semifinals; 14 won area/region championships; 19 of his 20 teams reached the state playoffs; and from 1994-97, his teams won an AHSAA state-record 55 games win a row.
         That streak results in three consecutive state championships. His 1994 team lost its season opener 3-0 to Cleburne County and then reeled off 14 straight wins and allowed only two touchdowns to win the school’s first state title. The Panthers  outscored opponents 408-22 and began a streak that resulted in 10 shutouts in ’94, nine in 1995, 11 in 1996 and four in 1997. It took a 21-14 overtime loss in the playoffs to finally end the streak.
         His 1996 squad opened the season with seven consecutive shutouts on the way to a 15-0 season and state-record 11 shutouts. That team outscored opponents 613-42 and allowing only three touchdowns in the regular season. From 1994-97 Clay County outscored opponents 1,974 to 194 – allowing an average of 3.4 points per game while shutting out 34 opponents while going 55-2.
         In 2009 he moved to Benjamin Russell High School. His eight-year record in Alexander City is 55-30 with four seasons with 10 or more wins. Five teams have been in the playoffs. The 2015 squad advanced to the semifinals, losing to eventual champion Spanish Fort by just four points.          

Horn’s overall record in 28 seasons is 280-79. He is eighth on the AHSAA all-time football wins list second in playoff wins owns a 61-19 playoff record over 25 appearances with six state championships. He and Hoover’s Josh Niblett are the only head coaches in AHSAA history to win six state titles.

Former coach Jerry Weems, a 2011 Hall of Fame inductee, served as Horn’s defensive coordinator at Clay County.
           “As a longtime member of the Alabama High School Athletic Association, Mr. Horn has distinguished himself in many way ways,” Weems said. “Not only has he received many personal honors and awards, but also he has brought distinction and integrity to the schools and communities in which he has coached, particularly while at Clay County High School.  More importantly than [his] records, his teams always performed with the class and sportsmanship that is desired and coveted by the AHSAA.

“Even though Coach Horn now coaches at Benjamin Russell High School, his influence and impact on Clay County High School and the City of Ashland will be felt for many years to come. Not only did he achieve significant recognition in football, he also started the girls’ high school basketball program at Clay County and led the baseball team to several playoff appearances.

“Coach Horn’s impact is also seen in the number of former players he coached that have entered into the coaching ranks. These (individuals) are scattered throughout all parts of Alabama and each would tell you that he had a definite impact on the direction of their careers.”
          Weems, who coached Clay County to back-to-back state basketball championship in 1991 and 1992, said Horn also had a major impact on his coaching career.
         “I had the honor to work and coach with him throughout all of his years at Clay County,” he said. “The integrity he demonstrated with his work ethic has been one of the strongest influences during the years I have served in the education field.”

Another Hall of Fame inductee, Ron Watters (2010), gave Horn his first coaching job at Randolph County. He saw something special in Horn from the get-go.
       “The most important thing I can say about Danny is his impeccable character,” Watters said. “He is a devoted husband and father. His Christian influence at home and school speaks for itself. He began his coaching career with me at Randolph County High School in 1984, quickly distinguishing himself as an outstanding teacher, coach and leader.”   

Steve Giddens was Horn’s high school classmate. He later became his coaching adversary at arch-rival Lineville before becoming principal at Clay County Central when the two neighboring schools merged into one. The Lineville-Clay County rivalry was judged by USA Today in the 1990s as one of the nation’s Top 10 high school football rivalries. The two schools met in the Class 2A state finals in 1996 – the first year of the then Super 6 State Championships at Birmingham’s Legion Field.
       “I have known Dan for 48 years,” Giddens said. “We grew up together in Ashland and his passion for sports was evident even then. His leadership abilities made everyone around him better. He was and still is an extremely hard worker. This rubs off on those around him. He expects excellence out of himself and those around him. No shortcuts to success.

“One trait that I admire about Dan the most is his loyalty to the people he loves and represents. For all the years I coached against him, we never allowed that to compromise our relationship. He was always willing to help me be successful. I saw that with all the people in his life. He is a dedicated family man and with Debbie, they have raised three outstanding children who make this world a better place.

“Dan realizes that coaching is more than winning ball games. He teaches his players how to win at life. This is a true Hall of Famer. Dan is a winner on the field but more importantly, he is a winner in life.”

He was selected to coach in the AHSAA North-South All-Star game in 2007 and has also coached in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game.

Thursday: Eighth installment of the Hall of Fame series: Decatur coach & administrator Lorenzo Jackson.