Andalusia Coach Richard Robertson Among 12 High School Leaders Honored at 97th NFHS Summer Meeting at Friday

     RENO, NEVADA —  Highly respected retired Andalusia High School boys’ basketball coach Richard Robertson was among 12 high school leaders across the United State honored Friday with the prestigious National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Citation Award at the 97th annual NFHS Summer Meeting being held in Reno.

      Robertson, selected as recipient of the NFHS Coaches’ Citation, was chosen from a pool over more than 150,000 coaches at more than 19,000 high schools that make up the NFHS membership.
     The Citation Award is designed to honor individuals who have made contributions to the NFHS, state high school associations, athletic director and coaching professions, the officiating avocation and fine arts/performing arts programs and is one of the most highly regarded achievements in high school athletics and performing arts.
     “Richard Robertson’s leadership has been very important for the AHSAA and our state,” Alabama High School Athletic Association Executive Director Steve Savarese said. “Inducted into the AHSAA Sports Hall of Fame in 1996, Coach Robertson played a key role in helping Alabama move through the difficult time of integration as the Alabama High School Athletic Association and its black counterpart – the Alabama Interscholastic Athletic Association merged in 1968-69.
     “Through the years he became a mentor to hundreds of coaches, remained in his home town of Andalusia where he served as the school’s athletics leader and made a difference in the world around him. We are very proud of Coach Robertson and thank him for his many contributions.”
     Robertson, a humble “old-school” coach and teacher who reached kids in his 2014-15 just as effectively as he did 50 years ago, said the Citation Award “is not about me as a coach but about the many students who participated in our program at Andalusia throughout my career and all the coaches in our state who understand what a high school coach’s mission really is.  I have loved teaching and coaching. We had a lot of successes on the basketball but the really successes are the young people who grew up to be outstanding adults.”
Others recognized Friday included: NFHS Section Citation Award recipients   Nina Van Erk, retired executive director of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association; Butch Cope, associate commissioner of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association; Gene Menees, assistant executive director of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association; Gina Mazzolini, assistant director of the Michigan High School Athletic Association; Kevin Merkle, associate director of the Minnesota State High School League; Peter Contreras, retired assistant athletic director at the Texas University Interscholastic League; Marc Ratner, Southern Nevada commissioner of officials for the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association; and Brad Garrett, assistant executive director of the Oregon School Activities Association.
     Mississippi basketball, football and baseball contest official Harold Cooper received the NFHS Officials Citation. Jay Dunnahoo, executive secretary of the Texas Music Adjudicators Association, received the Music Citation, and Pam McComas, retired director of forensics, Topeka (Kansas) High School, received the Speech/Debate/Theatre Citation.
     Robertson retired as the boys basketball coach at Andalusia following the 2014-15 season after 40 years at the school and 50 years in interscholastic athletics. Robertson’s association with his hometown spanned 57 years dating back to his own years as a high-school athlete at Ralph Bunche High School in Andalusia. During his remarkable career, Robertson compiled a 749-357 win-loss record.  Among his coaching achievements, Robertson’s 2010-11 team registered a 31-3 record, and his 1996 squad won the AHSAA Class 5A state championship.

      Despite these outstanding accomplishments, his “victories” off the court were even more impressive. “Coach Rob,” as he was affectionately known, was a tremendous leader who was a second father to many of his players and an only father to other boys during his coaching days. Among the many individuals who played for Robertson was Robert Horry, who was a part of six NBA championship teams during his professional career. Horry said of his high school coach: “Coach took a skinny kid in 1984 and turned me into the player and man I am today.”

      Robertson played a key role in helping Alabama move through the difficult time of integration as the AHSAA merged with the Alabama Interscholastic Athletic Association in 1968-69. Through the years, Robertson became a mentor to hundreds of coaches as he remained in his hometown of Andalusia throughout his career.

     Robertson was a member of the AHSAA Central Board of Control for many years, including a term as president. He was granted Central Board Emeritus status in October 2015. In 1996, Robertson was inducted into the AHSAA Sports Hall of Fame, and, in 2012, he received the AHSAA’s highest honor, the “Making a Difference Award.”

Dale County March Band, Director Sherri Miller Receive NFHS National High School Heart of the Arts Award

RENO, NEVADA (June 29, 2016) —Dale County High School Marching Band and Band Director Sherri Miller have been selected the 2016 national recipients of the “National High School Heart of the Arts Award” by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).
     Mrs. Miller was present at the opening session of the 97th annual NFHS Summer Meeting at Reno Wednesday to accept the award on behalf of the school and its 60-member marching band. Principal Todd Humphrey, assistant principal Perry Dillard and interim Superintendent of Dale County Schools Lamar Brooks were was also present for the presentation.  Among others from Alabama in attendance were AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese, Associate Executive Director Tony Stallworth, Central Board president Mike Welsh, members of the Central Board and AHSAA executive staff.

     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 third year that the National High School Heart of the Arts Award has been offered.

     Mrs. Miller and her band were selected from the more than 4.5 million NFHS high school participants in the arts and other activities as the third recipient of the “Heart of the Arts” Award. It was first presented in 2014.
      Dale County High School’s 60-member school band selflessly took it upon itself to support a county rival neighboring school – Skipperville’s G.W. Long High School – during the 2015 AHSAA football playoffs. Long High School does not have a band.

    The Dale County Marching Warriors Band raised its own funds and traveled more than 250 miles to its rival’s quarterfinal football game at Flomaton, which Long won, 35-21. The band, under the direction of Miller, inspired the Rebels’ fans with their music and also played at halftime. The following week, the band traveled to Elba for Long High School’s semifinal game.

     While Dale County’s selfless acts of kindness were in and of themselves impressive, the story goes beyond that.

     During the past eight years, Dale County High School and G.W. Long High School have endured an enormous number of tragic losses.

     Among them, Dale County head football coach Todd Horne was killed in a car accident on U.S. Highway 231 a month before the 2008 football season was to begin. Todd Horne was the older brother of current G.W. Long head football Coach Scott Horne.

      In January 2015, the school’s then-new band director, Sean Miller, was killed in a car accident less than a mile from the school on the same U.S. Highway 231 where Todd Horne was killed. Miller, 30, replaced her husband as band director just one month after the accident.
       Sherri and Sean had one child at the time and were expecting their second child in July. Her band students immediately showered her with love and continue to do so today.

       In each of the above instances, this small county made up of small towns and many even smaller communities rallied to provide support for the many families who were suffering with candlelight vigils and prayer rallies, among other expressions of love. Miller says her family and she were indeed one of those families.

       “I don’t know what I would have done without the support of my Dale County High School family and the surrounding community,” Miller said. “They really embraced me and helped me find a way to keep going.”

       She also remembered her husband’s challenge to each student. “My husband loved music, knew the healing power of music, and the importance of ‘family’ when it came to his band members. He would often tell his students, ‘Every time you play a piece of music, play it like it might be your last time.’ He looked at music as a gift that could lift the spirits of those who listened.”

      “Our band kids are very special,” Mrs. Miller said. “They wanted to share their love for music – wanted to give back. They are such a great group of kids.”
      Savarese said Dale County High School is an example for all.
      “We congratulate and are very proud of Mrs. Miller, principal Matt Humphrey, the Dale County High School marching band and entire Dale County schools system,” said Steve Savarese. “They have shown us all the “heart” behind the music, and the power of love and healing that exists when we use God’s talents for Godly things. Their service to others is an example we all should try to emulate.”

     In addition to the selection of the Dale County High School Marching Band and Band Director Sherri Miller as the national award recipients, the NFHS National High School Spirit of Sport Award Selection Committee chose volleyball player Ashley Carson of Ord, Nebraska, as the 2016 recipient of that award.

      Nominations for both awards were generated through NFHS member state associations and reviewed by the NFHS National High School Heart of the Arts and Spirit of Sport Awards Selection Committee composed of state association staff members.
     The NFHS Summer Meeting will continue through Saturday. Retired Andalusia High School basketball coach and athletic director Richard Robertson will receive the NFHS National Coach Citation Award at Friday’s luncheon. The Summer Meeting concludes Saturday night culminating with the National High School Sports Hall of Fame Induction banquet.