MONTGOMERY – Coach Robert “Bob” Harpe saw a teaching opportunity in every practice or game. He made sure the lessons learned would be positive ones.
Harpe spent most of his teaching and coaching career in his home town of Decatur where he guided Austin boys’ basketball to great heights. It was his personal impact on the student-athletes, however, that his former players and peers remember most. Harpe 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.
Harpe graduated from Decatur High School in 1965 and from Athens College in 1974. He also has a master’s degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He began his teaching and coaching career in 1975 at Oak Park Middle School in Decatur where his seventh-grade team posted an undefeated season. The following year he moved over to Austin High School as assistant junior high football coach and head varsity golf coach. He held those positions for seven years, taking the golf team to the state tournament numerous times.
In 1983 he was named head basketball coach at Austin, a position he would hold for 15 years with great success. When he left Austin, his legacy was a record of never having a losing season and an average of 21 wins per year. His teams made three trips to Class 6A state tournament. The 1993 team won the state championship and the 1996 team made the semifinals. He was named The Decatur Daily Large School Coach of the Year four times and more than 20 of his players signed college scholarships.
In 1998 he left education and went into private business. He returned to education in 2003 with the Arab City School System, serving as athletic director and head basketball coach. His teams won the county championship once and were runners-up twice. He compiled an overall 306-143 won-loss record as a head coach.
Following in his footsteps at Austin is one of his former players and current head coach Jakes Miles.
“I have known Coach Harpe for many years and I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, he has given his life to Austin High School and the game of basketball,” Miles said. “As a former player of his, he pushed us to be the best we could possibly be both on and off the court and challenged us to be as good off the court as we were on the court. He wanted good basketball players on his team, but he wanted better people first.
“Coach Bob Harpe has set the standard for basketball coaches in north Alabama…. He pushed his players and made average players special people. I personally look up to Coach Harpe and thank him quite often for the life lessons he instilled in me. As the present coach for Austin High School, we still follow in the traditions and guidelines that he established in his tenure at the school. I can also feel the support he has for me and Austin High School as he comes to support me, my program and our school.”
Former Austin Principal Richard Pace said that under Harpe’s leadership many student-athletes went on to become successful college athletes and productive citizens in their communities.
“Coach Harpe set high goals for himself and those students in his program,” Pace said. “He expected to achieve those goals through hard work. Not only did he expect students to work hard, but also he was committed to outworking everyone else.
“As a coach, he was a friend, mentor and supporter of all student-athletes. Many times he went to the gym at all hours to help students with personal problems. He constantly worked to improve the facilities and conditions under which students participated. It was important to him that athletes performed well in the classroom, so he monitored student progress and provided opportunities for study and to make up class assignments.
“Coach Harpe did not limit himself to school affairs only. He has been active in church, civic and community affairs and continues to support young athletes by working in basketball camps and providing support to local and state athletic organizations.”
Former Birmingham-Southern College Coach Duane Reboul is reminded of Harpe’s example of integrity in the coaching profession.
“I have watched his teams play, have recruited his players and have had numerous discussions concerning the game of basketball with Bob,” Reboul said. “There is no question in my mind that he is one of the very best basketball coaches that I have encountered during my career in coaching, which spans 35 years and three states.
“His teams, coaches and players always conducted themselves with discipline and class while playing with intensity and confidence. He not only prepared his players for all aspects of the game, but he demanded excellence without demeaning his players. He was a teacher and a coach that any parent would like to have their son play for.
“He has also been a leader and active member of the community. He has been an outstanding role model for his players as a husband, parents and as a professional.”
Harpe’s work with the AHSAA has included serving on the Basketball Coaches Committee and the Golf Coaches Committee. He was involved in the development of the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game and served as boys’ administrative coach from 1990-95. He was on the Legislative Council from 1990-98 and also served on the Central Board of Control. From 2010-15 he was a volunteer with the regional and state basketball tournaments.
Thursday: Eighth installment of the Hall of Fame series: Decatur coach & administrator Lorenzo Jackson.
MONTGOMERY –In Coach Wayne Grant’s first tenure as head football coach Pike County High School, he taught the players how to become a champion. When he returned a second time after a six-year hiatus, he did it again.
His extraordinary ability to mold youngsters into greatness is a chief reason he is one of 12 individuals being inducted in the Class of 2017 at this year’s banquet March 20 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center at 6:30 p.m.
A native of Jack in Coffee County just outside Troy, Grant graduated from Zion Chapel High School in 1972 and Troy University in 1976. He was an outstanding football player at both institutions. He also holds a master’s degree in biology education and AA certificate in biology from Troy.
He began his teaching and coaching career at his alma mater at Zion Chapel in 1976, serving as a varsity football assistant. He spent 1977 at Louisville High School in the same position. In 1978 he went to Lowndes Academy as head coach and compiled a 7-3 record. In 1979 he returned to college, completing his master’s degree.
His career took off in earnest in 1980 when he accepted an assistant football coaching positon at Pike County High school. After two years, he was promoted to head coach. He would spend a total of 19 years in that job, first a 10-year term and then returning later for an additional nine years. The result was a record of 197-52 and five state championships.
His second year at Pike County he also served as junior high school coach, producing a record of 7-0. It was a sign of things to come
Over the next 10 years he had nine winning seasons, including five with 10 or more wins. The 1988 and 1989 teams both finished with 13-2 records and back-to-back state championships – the first in Pike County High School history.
In 1992 he moved to Talladega High School where he remained for six years, compiling three winning seasons and an overall record of 27-37.
After a year at Goshen as an assistant, he returned to Pike County. All nine of his teams had winning records, with six of them winning 11 or more games. The 2003 and 2006 state champion teams finished with 14-1 records. The 2005 team ran the table at 15-0. Coach Grant’s overall record for the second stay at Pike County was 100-19.
His AHSAA totals were 231-93, 11 seasons with 10 or more wins, 11 region championships and 19 postseason appearances. His playoff record was 44-14. He also coached in three all-star games, winning all three.
Brundidge Mayor James R. Ramage III said that when Coach Grant came to the city in 1980, it was after a difficult transition period in the 1970s. He said the community was “together but really we were still separate.” Grant helped change that.
“His leadership qualities were soon appreciated as he became the head football coach and our school took pride in the product they saw on Friday nights. Our entire school system began to raise the bar of achievement not only on the field but also in the classroom. This pride took roots in our town as we became one in support of our school.
“During Coach Grant’s tenure, our community’s discipline issue in our youth began to improve. The chief of police and I have discussed many times that we did not and still do not have the problems some communities are experiencing in this area. We have seen many of our students that were lost socially and behind in their education began to take pride in themselves and make good decisions for their future. We now have a large group of students and players that are productive citizens became they crossed Coach Grant’s path.
“The impact that Coach Wayne Grant had on Brundidge cannot be expressed in a letter, but I hope it gives the sense of what this man has done for our school and city. We see the results every day as we interact with his former students, some doctors, lawyers, teachers, members of our armed forces, and, of course, our citizens that make our city function.”
Dr. Clint T. Foster cited Grant’s influence on students in the classroom:
“I have had the opportunity to serve with Coach Grant in many capacities. First and foremost, he was an excellent science teacher. He, along with other science teachers, played a significant role in a plethora of students, including myself, to pursue science careers at every level, [including] medical research-oriented doctors, nurses and other related fields.
“Secondly, I had the opportunity to participate in football under his leadership. As an athlete I learned early to respect others and have the same respect for my school and community. Growing up in a small town with limited resources, it was easy to find trouble. More specifically, it was easier to follow in the footsteps of older individuals and give in to drugs and alcohol. Football in Brundidge was sub-par at best and had limited interest from student-athletes and the community. Simply put, we were the laughing stock of football in the entire state…. Coach Grant and his staff changed the complexity of football and other athletics in Brundidge. Since the tenure of Coach Grant as athletic director and head football coach, Pike County High School has been recognized and respected by every classification throughout the state in football and athletics.”
Wednesday: Sixth & seventh installments of the Hall of Fame series: Austin Basketball Coach Bob Harpe and Benjamin Russell Football Coach Danny Horn.
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (March 17, 2017) — Hasaan Hawthorne, a former wrestler at Pelham High School, has been selected as the 2017 Section 3 recipient of the “National High School Spirit of Sport Award” by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).
The National High School Spirit of Sport Award was created by the NFHS to recognize those individuals who exemplify the ideals of the spirit of sport that represent the core mission of education-based athletics.
A standout wrestler at Pelham High School, Hawthorne, who had both legs amputated when he was an infant, now attends North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where he is a scholarship wrestler.
Hawthorne began his wrestling career as a seventh-grader at which time he compiled a rather pedestrian win-loss record of 12-22. That motivated him to become more determined to work harder to improve both in and out of the season.
Hawthorne’s efforts paid off handsomely during his final three high school varsity seasons. As a sophomore, he was a state meet qualifier. The following year, he placed third in the 2015 Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) Class 6A state tournament 145-pound weight class.
However, Hawthorne saved his best for last during his senior year in 2016, as he rolled to an unblemished 38-0 record and the AHSAA Class 6A state championship. For his efforts, he was selected the AHSAA Class 6A Most Valuable Wrestler.
While Hawthorne’s accomplishments would be remarkable under any circumstances, they move into the realm of being truly extraordinary when one considers the fact that inspired all who watched him compete. ESPN Sports Center showcased his accomplishments in 2016 in a special interview.
In addition to wrestling, Hawthorne participated in track, baseball and football.
In 2016, Hawthorne was the Bryant-Jordan Foundation Class 6A Student-Athlete Achievement Award recipient – which is an award given annually in each of the AHSAA’s seven enrollment classifications for senior students who have overcome great obstacles to become outstanding student-athletes.
About the Award
The NFHS divides the nation into eight geographical sections. The states in Section 3 are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (March 13, 2017) — RaKavius Chambers, a senior at Opelika High School (OHS), has been selected the 2017 Section 3 recipient of the “National High School Heart of the Arts Award” by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).
The National High School Heart of the Arts Award was created by the NFHS to recognize those individuals who exemplify the ideals of the positive heart of the arts that represent the core mission of education-based activities. This is the fourth year that the National High School Heart of the Arts Award has been offered.
At an imposing 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds, Chambers, who excelled for the OHS Show Choir, Symphonic Band and Theatre Troup and also was a football standout who signed with Duke University last month, is near the top of his class with a 4.4 grade-point average on a 4.0 weighted scale.
Nominated by the AHSAA, Chambers has been in the OHS Show Choir for four years – and earned “Freshman of the Year” honors as a ninth-grader. In addition to singing and dancing in OHS Show Choir productions, Chambers has been a willing stage hand setting up equipment and props for the productions.
However, perhaps his “biggest role” was when he played the lead role of God in the school’s production of “Children of Eden” at the Walter Trumbauer Theatre Festival in Florence. The group won the state competition and is now preparing for the national competition. He also sits as first chair in the saxophone section for Opelika’s Symphonic Band.
Chambers, who also volunteers his time to tutor fellow OHS students and mentor elementary school students, was named the national recipient of the Watkins Award on March 1. That award is presented annually to the top African-American high school scholar-athlete in the nation as determined by the National Alliance of African-American Athletes. He is also a Bryant-Jordan Regional winner in Class 6A for 2017.
The son of a former Auburn University linebacker, Chambers will attend Duke University, where he plans to play football and study medicine. As a seventh-grader, Chambers was selected a “Duke University Scholar,” which goes to academically gifted students with exceptional potential on their SAT-10 test scores. He attended a Duke Medical Camp last summer, where his motivation to become a heart surgeon became even more intensified.
Chambers’ selection marks the second straight year that the AHSAA’s nominee has captured the NFHS Section 3 Heart of the Arts Award. Dale County High School’s marching band and its band director Sherri Miller received the Section 3 and overall national Heart of the Arts Award in 2016.
Nominations for this award were generated through NFHS member state associations and reviewed by the NFHS National High School Heart of the Arts Award Selection Committee composed of state association staff members. While the national winner will be recognized June 29 at the NFHS Summer Meeting in Providence, Rhode Island, the section winners will be recognized within their respective states and will receive awards before the end of the current school year.
The 2017 NFHS Heart of the Arts recipient is Josephine (Josie) Ross of St. Louis Park (Minnesota) Benilde-St. Margaret’s High School.
The National High School Heart of the Arts Award was created by the NFHS to recognize those individuals who exemplify the ideals of the positive heart of the arts that represent the core mission of education-based activities. This is the fourth year that the National High School Heart of the Arts Award has been offered.
Ross has participated in numerous performing arts activities, including debate, speech and choir. Among her many awards in this area are the Minnesota State High School League ExCEL Award and the Benilde-St. Margaret’s School Outstanding Character Award.
However, it is the realm of theatre that could accurately be described as her true passion. Among her theatre accomplishments, she’s a four-year cast member of the One-Act Play, a performer in multiple school musicals and plays, and has received several Hennepin Theatre Trust Spotlight Theatre Awards. She has also worked diligently in her Minnesota community to help those disabilities have the opportunity to enjoy the arts as well as working to combat student bullying.
The NFHS eight Heart of the Arts Section recipients include:
Section 1 – Lindsay Daugherty, student, Barrington (Rhode Island) High School
Section 2 – Christian Ellis, student, Woodbridge (Virginia) Senior High School
Section 3 – RaKavius Chambers, student, Opelika (Alabama) High School
Section 4 – Sabrina Kenoun, student, Buffalo Grove (Illinois) High School
Section 5 – Josephine Ross, student, St. Louis Park (Minnesota) Benilde-St. Margaret’s High School
Section 6 – The Premont Mighty Cowboy Band and Mariachi Estrella, Premont (Texas) High School
Section 7 – Susan Seep, instructor, Scottsdale (Arizona) Horizon High School
Section 8 – Abby Kellems, student, Corvallis (Oregon) High School
Nominations for this award were generated through NFHS member state associations and reviewed by the NFHS Heart of the Arts Award Selection Committee composed of state association staff members.
While the national winner will be recognized June 29 at the NFHS Summer Meeting in Providence, Rhode Island, the section winners will be recognized within their respective states and will receive awards before the end of the current school year.
The National High School Heart of the Arts Award was started in 2014. Including this year, four individuals and Dale County’s band have been chosen national award recipients.
MONTGOMERY – When Richard Roosevelt Carter was attending Rehobeth High School in Fairfax back in the 1960s, he realized God called him to serve two ministries.
Now, more than 50 years later, Reverend Carter is still following God’s unique plan for his life. That plan has also led Coach Carter to the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame. The Lanett High School boys’ basketball coach is one of 12 individuals being inducted in the Class of 2017 at this year’s banquet March 20 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center at 6:30 p.m.
Born across the state line in Georgia, Carter grew up in the Valley area. It was while he was attending Rehobeth High School in Chambers County that his dual path as coach and pastor was started. He served as the varsity basketball team’s manager, but his role became much more than handing out towels.
“Coach Arthur, who was the Rehobeth coach, many times would have other things to do after school, so he would allow me to run basketball practices,” Carter recalled in an interview. With the practice schedule in hand, “I would run them through the drills and the rest of practice.”
With his career path developing, Coach Carter took notes and learned all he could from the coach before heading off to college. And along the way, he found strength in his religious faith that would also lead to a career path for him.
“I probably chose two of the most difficult, yet rewarding professions,” he said.” For me, coaching is a ministry. It’s an avenue for me to lead young men to Christ. I cannot tell you how many young men that I have coached over the years who are now in the ministry as stewards, deacons or members of the choir in the churches. What a reward.”
He started his teaching and coaching career at Bullock County High School in Union Springs in 1969. He remained there five years, serving as head football and baseball varsity coach and junior varsity basketball coach.
In 1975 he moved to Chambers County to coach football, basketball and tennis at Valley High School. His basketball record from 1975-99 was 301-62. He had multiple 20-win seasons and carried three teams to the semifinals of the state tournament.
After spending several years in Georgia, Coach Carter returned to Chambers County, taking the head basketball position at Lanett High School. With more than 100 wins to his credit at Lanett, his teams have won 20 or more games each season he has been there. The 2011-12 and 2013-14 teams, both with 25-5 regular season records, made it to the semifinals of the State Finals in Birmingham. His 2016 and 2017 teams won back-to-back Class 2A state championships going 29-6 and 25-7 respectively. His career record after the 2017 season was 555-120.
Overall in his half-century coaching career, he has had 15 teams make it to the semifinals. That was the kind of success story that appealed to Lanett City Schools Superintendent Phillip Johnson when he hired Carter:
“I envisioned a basketball program for Lanett High School that only would be known for a winning spirit, but also would be known for developing a spirit of strong character and civic responsibility in our players,” said Johnson. “Since implementing a program geared to teaching and mentoring students on and off the court, Coach Carter’s impact is evident in our players. Academics and character are stressed in practice, workouts and on the court. He holds players accountable for their grades, conduct and integrity, and he provides the example for which they can grow into men of character.
“His noteworthy coaching accomplishments highlight a career of devotion to athletes in our region. He is respected throughout the community in both public and private school settings and in various churches as a man who can teach our students to be productive citizens.”
Lanett head football coach Clifford Story, Jr., said Coach Carter’s influence reached beyond the basketball court to other sports as well.
“Richard’s enthusiasm is contagious to our players, and he is a big reason why our numbers [have grown] from year to year in students signing athletic scholarships in all sports offered at Lanett High School’: Story said. “He can get players to push beyond their perceived limit. His passion for the game of basketball is easily recognizable.
“Leadership has also been a very integral part of what Richard has contributed to Lanett High. This year he helped introduce our athletes to our new character education program. Richard taught lessons about leadership and responsibilities which made a profound difference in the attitude of our program. He was the perfect instructor because of how genuine he is with the students.“
“But he has not limited himself to just excelling his professional life. He is a great family man with a loving wife, children, and grandchildren. His family is one of the most important things in his life, and he is a committed husband and father.”
Lanett Principal Jennifer Boyd said Carter’s special traits of mentorship and focus on building character are impressive. He has made character building an intricate part of his coaching style.”
He was named the Chambers County Teacher of the Year in 1995.
He is pastor of Jones Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Fairfield. He has been a volunteer in the Jones Valley Feed the Hungry Program and in Alzheimer, cancer and sickle cell anemia programs.
Tuesday: Fifth installment of the Hall of Fame series: Pike County Football Coach Wayne Grant.
MONTGOMERY – Peter Braasch stands alone in the Class of 2017 and is one of only a few selected to the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame whose career has been as an assistant coach rather than a head coach.
Braasch, however, is likely Alabama’s most decorated assistant coach. He received the Alabama Football Coaches Association’s Assistant Football Coach of the Year award in 2009 and an AHSAA “Making a Difference Award” in 2012. He was elected to the Vestavia Hills Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.
A native of Birmingham, he graduated from Homewood High School in 1973 and from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1977.
“One might question why an assistant head coach should qualify for the Hall of Fame,” wrote VHHS Head Football Coach Buddy Anderson, who was inducted into the HOF in 2003. “It is because Peter is the epitome of who and what a high school coach should be to young people. He demands the best from his players and, at the same time, inspires them to stretch beyond their abilities. Most of all, he has a love and concern for young people that goes far beyond the years they played for him.
“He has helped a vast number of former players later their lives. He has been known on many occasions to hear about a former player who is not acting or living as he should, and then to show up at his house or even college apartment and do whatever he could to help get the young person back on the right track.”
Anderson said Braasch’s selfless nature and role model makes him stand out among all individuals.
“Peter has won several accolades in his career, but the one that stands out is the AHSAA “’Making a Difference’ Award…He truly does make a difference in the lives of the young people he teaches and coaches…He is the role model for commitment, loyalty, integrity, character, and love for his athletes. He is everything an assistant coach should be.”
Braasch joined to faculty at Vestavia Hills High School in 1977. For the next 37 years he would serve the school in a variety of positions in multiple sports. They included football, basketball and track & field.
When he retired as Vestavia Hills defensive coordinator at the end of the 2014 season, he left a huge hole in Anderson’s staff. Anderson is currently the AHSAA’s all-time wins leader with 325 wins in 39 years as Rebels’ head coach. Braasch was defensive coordinator for 34 of those seasons. Together they guided Vestavia Hills to state championships in 1980 and 1998 and to the finals in 1978 and 1979.
Braasch’s tenure with the Rebels’ basketball program has also been impressive. He served as assistant head coach from 1990-2014 with another Alabama High School Hall of Famer George Hatchett. His job, of course, was to manage the Rebels’ defensive schemes. He helped the Rebels win state championships in 1992 and 2009 and reach the semifinals in 2000 and 2011.
Braasch served as assistant coach in track & field from 1978 to 1994. During that period he was also head coach of the freshman team which won the state championship in 1993.
Retired Principal Cas McWaters wrote, “Over the past 37 years I have had the privilege to be a student under his tutelage, a peer coach with him, and serve as his principal. Writing this recommendation for Coach Braasch is easy. I have watched Peter grow into a truly legendary teacher and coach. I wish we could ‘bottle’ what Coach Braasch has and inject it into every coach in our nation.
“While Coach Braasch has built a reputation as a defensive mastermind, watching him coach students is really what he masters. When he teaches practice and game strategy, his students are so engaged I think sometimes they believe they are forming the game plan themselves. He players are truly ‘students of the game’ and believe they beat anyone. While I recognize the great accomplishment of being an assistant coach for the same head coach for 37 years, I am most impressed with Coach Braasch’s ability to change with the times and impact students. Peter Braasch is about students!”
McWaters said he was with Braasch when the coach talked to a student who was threatening suicide. On another occasion Braasch went to a college town to help a former student who was in trouble. On yet another occasion, he intervened to help a former student get into a rehabilitation program.”
Vestavia’s former principal said former players have reached out to Braasch in the good and the bad times.
“He loves his players, and his players know it. Peter Braasch builds boys into men and then mentors them as adults. …his greatest achievement is he has taught young men how to be better sons, brothers and fathers. He displays for young men every day that they can be a man’s man and still have a compassionate heart.”
The Braasch family has had a major impact on athletics at Vestavia Hills over the years. Peter’s sister-in-law, Fran Braasch, coached girls’ basketball for 23 years, winning the 1987 state championship and reaching the semifinals four other times. She is also a member of the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame. Her husband and Peter’s brother, Butch Braasch, has been a long-time volunteer coach at the school.
Monday: Fourth installment of the Hall of Fame series: Lanett basketball coach Richard Carter.
MONTGOMERY – Norman Wayne Bowling grew up in basketball-crazy Morgan County, graduating from Austinville High School in 1959.
He and his Austinville teammates raised the bar even higher.
Bowling was a stand out on the school’s Class A state championship basketball team of ’59, then followed that with a successful career at St. Bernard College in nearby Cullman County, graduating in 1963.
When he graduated he transitioned from playing basketball to coaching basketball when he accepted a job back in Morgan County at Danville High School. His entire teaching and coaching career was spent at Danville where he served as head boys’ basketball coach from 1963-2000, a total of 37 years. He was also the school’s head baseball coach from 1963-85.
And much like his career as a player, his basketball coaching accomplishments raised the bar even higher in Morgan County.
Among his basketball accomplishments he became the career high school coaching wins leader in Morgan County with a career record of 683-388. His coaching tenure also included five state tournament appearances (1977, 1978, 1985, 1991 and 1992) with his ‘92 team advancing to the finals. His Hawks won two sub-state championships, Five Regional and 12 Area championships.
Equally important to Morgan County schools, his teams won the Morgan County championship in 1965, 1985, 1988 and 1992. His legacy includes having the Morgan County tournament Most Valuable Player Award being named in his honor.
Bowling’s teams were noted for their shooting skills. The 1995 team remains one of the highest-scoring in state history scoring 100 or more points 12 times with a season high of 124.
Those records resulted from Bowling’s skill as a basketball player and coach and from his ability to instill his own competitive spirit in the legion of players who wore the Danville jersey.
Coach Lynn Holladay wrote in 2015 of Bowling’s love for the game of basketball letter of recommendation to the Hall of Fame selection committee.
“Today at age 73, Wayne still plays basketball several times per week at a very high skill level,” said Holladay. “If there were an Alabama Small College Basketball Hall of Fame, Wayne would be one of the first inductees. I know Wayne’s skill level because I played against him at the collegiate level. I also played with him and against him in varying levels of competition after college for all most 50 years. Wayne was one of the most competitive players that I have played against.”
Holladay said Bowling’s better than 60% winning record is even more remarkable when considering that for approximately the first 20 years of Wayne’s coaching career Danville was a 1A school and his schedule was comprised of many larger schools such as Austin, Decatur, Hartselle, Brewer, Lawrence County and East Lawrence.
Holladay, who is writing a book on Morgan County’s outstanding basketball history, credits Bowling with introducing the fast-break style of basketball that he had played at St. Bernard, to Morgan County.
“His first team at Danville averaged over 76 points per game, which was almost six points more than any Morgan County team had ever averaged,” He said. “Within two years, Wayne’s style of play had spread to almost all other teams in Morgan County, and all of them were suddenly averaging about six to eight points more than they ever had. The style of play employed by Wayne at Danville soon crossed the county borders into the adjoining counties. The tempo of the game had spread tremendously.”
Morgan County School Superintendent Bill W. Hopkins Jr., who played and coached against Bowling, recalled going to watch Bowling’s teams play as a child.
“I then had the honor of playing against his teams in varsity basketball and baseball,” he continued. “When I became a young coach, I had the privilege of coaching against his teams. Later when I became an administrator I was able to watch his teams compete against other teams. I was always amazed how he took what seemed like less talent than others and molded them into successful winning teams. The discipline of his teams became his trademark.”
Bowling also made a difference off the court. One of his former players, Joe D. Bailey said he is a prime example of that influence.
“Coach Bowling, I know I have told you before, but I wanted to put in writing how much you mean to me,” he wrote. “I want you to know how much I appreciate all that you did for me. You drove me to be the best player and person I could be, and I still see results from that today.
“You taught me more than anyone how to compete. You are still the most competitive person I know, and you helped me learn how to compete at a high level. We won a lot of games, and I am proud of that as I know you are. But, I also know that’s not why you coached. You coached to make a difference in the lives of young men, and you did that. You did that not just in my life but in (the lives of) so many others.
“I will always be grateful for your leadership. I am glad to be a small part of your successful career. It was a joy and honor to play for you. Thank you for being disciplined and stern with us—we needed it. I want you to take comfort in knowing that you had a huge impact on one player’s life.”
David Bethea wanted to be a teacher. Little did he realize that his best classroom would turn out to be the tennis court!
Bethea is one of 12 individuals being inducted into the Class of 2017 of the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame. The induction banquet will be March 20 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.
The graduate of Huntsville’s Butler High School earned his college degree at the University of North Alabama and received his Masters from the University of South Alabama. Joining the faculty of Montgomery Academy in 1979, he has spent his entire teaching and coaching career at the private school where he has served as head coach of the boys’ tennis program and the junior high/middle school football program.
His junior high football coaching record (191-83-3) includes 19 city championships. He was also Montgomery Academy head basketball coach from 1986-90, compiling a record of 33-36.
It was tennis, however, that propelled Bethea to the forefront among AHSAA coaches. Adding tennis to his duties in 1983, his record remarkable ever since. Currently in his 35th season as the head coach, he has compiled an 878=175 dual match record through the 2016 season. That total included 14 state championships, nine runners-up and 32 Section Championships. He was also named the 2014 NFHS Sooth Section Tennis Coach of the Year.
As with so many coaches, however, it is not just impressive numbers that mark his success.
“Coach Bethea’s real impact has not been in winning in athletics, but in winning in the game of life,” wrote former Saint James head football coach Robert Johnson. “He is one of the best Christian leaders I have ever known. Always putting his faith before anything else, he has led many people to Christ through his amazing testimony and how he lives his life.”
Johnson, a long-time friend and former student of Bethea, added, “He is the most positive person I know. He is an amazing motivator and is always smiling and encouraging others. He is always concerned about others and how he can help them. He challenges people in their spiritual life, academics and athletics. Coach Bethea has personally impacted my life in tremendous ways. First, he was my junior high coach as a 7th grader. I was in awe of this man with long hair that loved Jesus.
“As an 8th grader he cut me from the football team. Looking back, it was a pivotal moment in my life. He encouraged me all year to work hard and come back out. He did not give up on me. His love and motivation changed my life, and I made the team as a 9th grader…. I went on to make All State and played on a state championship team as a senior because of his motivation. My last year in college, Coach Bethea asked me to be his assistant on the junior high team. This again was a pivotal moment in my life, changing my career. I ended up becoming a teacher and coach because of this man. I only hope that I have made a small portion of the impact on lives like David Bethea has.”
Jim Tuley, former coach at Robert E. Lee and Trinity Presbyterian, described Bethea as gentle with a calm compassion.
“His love for the students, parents, the game and the team he
“His love for the students, parents, the game and the team he is competing against is always there,” Tuley said. “He makes it fun to play his teams. As a person on the other sideline, it was always a pleasure to play the teams he coached. They were always ready to play to their best and, win or lose, they were always gentlemen. He has not only won on the field, but also is a great ambassador for high school sports
“When I served at Trinity (for 17 years), I saw David build a dynasty in boys’ tennis at MA. He gave young players a chance and gave the young men who stayed around a chance to play and contribute. He has the rare ability to make each person he coaches feel important.”
INDIANAPOLIS, IN — Gary McGriff of Holly Pond and David Briseno of Clovis, New Mexico, and have been selected as national award recipients by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Officials Association.
McGriff, who has been involved in officiating in various capacities for 30 years, is the recipient of the National Contributor Award. Briseno, who has been involved in officiating in New Mexico since 1984, is the recipient of the National Active Official Award.
“Few people have made the impact Gary McGriff has had on officiating in the state of Alabama,” said Steve Savarese, executive director of the AHSAA. “A visionary, always providing opportunities for our officials to grow technologically, Gary continues to be a state leader with regard to communication, not only between officials, but most important our Association.”
McGriff officiated four sports, including basketball for 18 years, and has continued his involvement in officiating by serving as district director for basketball (12 years) and track and field (five years). In addition to his on-the-field accomplishments, McGriff has been a photographer at all Alabama state championships for the past 15 years, and he developed the officials’ software program for the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA).
“I am honored and humbled to be nominated and receive this award for something I love doing so much,” said McGriff, who spent 25 years at NASA working as a tester for space shuttle main engine components. “I owe a special thanks to the AHSAA for allowing me to bring in new ideas and for embracing and encouraging those ideas. Supporting officiating and officials of all sports has been enjoyable and rewarding.”
He wrote the software program and has continued to develop the program to cover registration, testing, training and recordkeeping of officials in all sports. In addition to the software program for the AHSAA, McGriff developed the same program for the Mississippi High School Activities Association, the Los Angeles area baseball associations and the Dixie Youth Baseball programs in the Southeast.
McGriff established the first website of its kind in the world designed for primarily for contest officials. It included threaded multiple sport discussions that sparked worldwide participation of officials about such topics as rules, mechanics and game situations. This website was cited by Referee Magazine as one of the top 40 milestones in history of officiating.
He has written articles for Referee Magazine, including a cover article about how officials were could use the internet for training and discussions. He also wrote a very poignant article about how officials should behave while watching a game from the stands.
McGriff has also helped pioneer the use of crew communication system headsets among contest officials. Working with Vokkerro, the designer, he has helped train officials in the use of the system at the high school level (AHSAA), college level (Southeastern Conference, Big 10 Conference, Big 12, Pac 12, Mountain Wet, Sun Belt and Western Athletic conferences as well as the National Football League. He has also demonstrated the equipment for the NBA, Atlantic Coast Conference and Missouri Valley Conference.
He is currently active as an AHSAA district officials’ director for basketball and track.