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AHSAA Saddened of Elton Reece's Death

   The AHSAA is saddened to learn of the death of Elton Reece of Selma. He passed away Monday, March 30, in Birmingham after suffering a stroke.
   Mr. Reece, 67, was a coach most early adulthood and served many years as the Director of the Selma Parks and Recreation Department. He served the AHSAA by hosting the state outdoor track and field championships for more than two decades. When the Class 1A-3A state meet returned to Selma in 2012-2014, he served as coordinator of the meet.
   “We express our sincere condolences to Mr. Reece’s family and are very thankful for his service to the youth of this state,” AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese said.
    He served as head baseball and basketball coach at Selma High School for 18 years until 1991, winning more than 400 games during that span with more than 100 players going on to play collegiately. He served the city of Selma for more than 42 years, touching thousands of youth in Dallas County through his role with the recreation department from 1991 to 2015. He served as director from 1999 until his death. He was inducted into the Alabama Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2007.
   “You name it, he did it in recreation in Selma,” said Selma Mayor George Evans told the Selma Times-Journal. “It’s that simple. He was everything and you can never replace him and what he’s meant to this city in terms of recreation.”
       Reece was instrumental in bringing numerous sports events to Selma including baseball and softball tournaments, track meets, fishing tournaments, etc. He was considered one of the major ambassadors for the City of Selma.
      His funeral will be at 3 p.m. Thursday at Elkdale Baptist Church in Selma, where he served as deacon. Visitation will be at the church from 11:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Thursday.

12 Major Contributors to Prep Athletes in Alabama Inducted into 25th Class of AHSAA Sports Hall of Fame

     MONTGOMERY – Twelve major contributors to prep athletics in Alabama were inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame Monday night at the 25th annual induction banquet .
       Inducted were tennis coach Nancy Becker, basketball coaches Steve Jefferson, Jack Doss and Bobby Wright, football coaches Steve Rivers, Doug Goodwin and John Tatum, athletic director Myra Miles, track official Houston Young, and administrators Alan Mitchell and Ron Ingram. Selected in the “Old Timer” category was longtime Geneva County football coach James D. Chesteen.
      The 2015 class, which included coaches, administrators, officials, media and an “oldtimer,” were inducted at the special Silver Anniversary banquet commemorating all 25 years of the event. The Renaissance Hotel at the Convention Center hosted the event sponsored by the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA) and the AHSAA. The corporate sponsors are Cadence Bank, Coca-Cola, EBSCO Media, Encore Rehabilitation, Farmers Insurance, Russell Athletic, TeamIP and Wilson Sporting Goods.
    Miles, who retired in 2014 as athletic director at Hoover High School, made the acceptance address for the class. Approximately 1,000 guests attended the banquet including several past inductees as part of the Silver Anniversary celebration.
     A total of 309 members are now enshrined in the Hall of Fame, which is housed at the AHSAA Office at Halcyon Summit Drive in Montgomery.
     
     A thumbnail sketch of each 2015 inductee:

     NANCY BECKER: One of the most successful girls’ tennis coaches in AHSAA state history, Becker began teaching as a business education teacher at Jacksonville (FL) in 1962, moved to John Carroll High School in 1965 and then to Vestavia Hills High School in 1984. Her tennis teams won 10 Class 6A state championships, had eight runner-up finishes, finished third four times and won 20 sectional championships.  Her teams won over 200 matches in her 23-year career at Vestavia Hills and several prestigious tournaments, including the Chattanooga Rotary Tournament three times.
    She was named NFHS State Tennis Coach of the Year in 2008 and 2010 and was honored by the Birmingham Kiwanis Club as Outstanding Teacher/Coach in 2011. She came out of retirement in 2013 to serve as an assistant coach and helped Vestavia Hills win the state championship. A 1957 graduate of Gadsden High School and 1961 graduate of Auburn University, Becker has been involved in many civic organizations, including Charity League, Civettes and the Birmingham Inter-Club and Tennis League.

     JAMES “J.D.” CHESTEEN: A long-time head football coach in the Wiregrass, Chesteen, is being inducted in the “Old-Timer” category.  He compiled an 86-64-6 overall record over a 16-year head-coaching career with stops at Coffee Springs, Samson and Geneva County.  He coached three teams to the Peanut Bowl, one to the Lions Bowl and had teams win the South Alabama Conference 2A Championship twice. He served as president of the South Alabama Conference in 1964, was elected vice president of the AHSADCA in 1962 and president in 1963. He was head coach of the South All-Stars in the 1963 North-South Game and inducted into the Wiregrass Sports Hall of Fame in 1994.
   He totaled 38 years and nine months as a teacher and coach in the Geneva County School System, retiring in 1989. Active in civic and church activities, he has been Chairman of Deacons at Hartford Baptist Church for 12 years. 
     He graduated from Brantley High School in 1946 and Troy University in 1951. He also spent three years in the Air Force (1946-48). His son Donnie Chesteen is currently the head football coach at Geneva High School.

     JACK DOSS: One of the state’s most successful high school boys’ basketball coaches in history, Doss became the first prep coach in AHSAA history to capture eight state boys’ titles when J.O. Johnson won the Class 5A state title in February.
    His head-coaching career produced two state champions at Birmingham-Hayes in 1981 and 1982 in his first two seasons as a head coach. His teams won five at Butler in Huntsville (2004, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2011). He has been at J.O. Johnson three seasons reaching the state finals each year.
    Doss (749-320) is one of only two coaches to win state basketball titles at three schools.
     He has had two games televised nationally over ESPN, his basketball character development strategies have been showcased on CBS Sports, and he has coached three players that were named Mr. Basketball in Alabama. His teams have produced more than 30 Division I players, including former NBA standout Buck Johnson. He also coached future NBA stars Charles Barkley and Ennis Whatley in the North-South All-Star Game and Eric Bledsoe in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game.
     He has been inducted into the Madison County Sports Hall of Fame, named Birmingham News Coach of the Year seven times and selected to coach in the AHSAA’s two all-star games four times.
    He graduated Oxford High School (1965) and after a stint in the Air Force, earned his college degree at Jacksonville State University.


     DOUG GOODWIN:
A member of the AHSAA’s 200-win club as a prep football coach, Goodwin began his head-coaching career at Marion County from 1987-92, then at Lineville (1993-98), Demopolis (1999-2006), Russellville (2007-10) and Homewood (2011-13).  He led Lineville to the state finals in 1996 and 1998, won a state title at Demopolis in 2004 while setting a state single-season scoring record (761 points) in the process. His Russellville teams reached the state finals in 2008 and 2009 and his Homewood teams won region titles in 2012 and 2013.
   His career record is 234-91 with five state championship appearances and was the first coach in AHSAA history to guide three different schools to the state finals.
    He was selected ASWA Class 4A Coach of the year in 2004 and the Alabama Football Coaches Association 5A Coach of the year in 2008. He coached in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game in 2005 and the North-South All-Star Game in 1998. A graduate of Sylacauga High School (1980) and Auburn University (1984), he currently serves as Director of High School Relations and NFL Liaison for Auburn University.

     RON INGRAM: The AHSAA Director of Communications since 2007, Ingram has served on the National Federation Hall of Fame Screening Committee and the National Records Committee, currently serving as chairman.  A sports journalist before joining the AHSAA, he  served as sports editor of the Dothan Progress from 1975-1981 and the Dothan Eagle from 1981-1984. In 1984 he became prep sports editor of the Birmingham News where he remained for 24 years before joining the AHSAA staff.  The award-winning writer has been named the Alabama Sports Writers Association Sports Writer of the Year and captured the ASWA’s sweepstakes writing award twice (1987 and 1994). He started and chaired the ASWA state football and basketball rankings and also the All-State teams from 1978 until 2008. He also managed the Birmingham News All-State Teams for football, basketball, softball, baseball, wrestling and volleyball.
    Ingram graduated from Pike County High School (1970) and the University of Alabama (1974). He was inducted into the ASWA Sportswriters Hall of Fame in 2013, the Wiregrass Sports Hall of Fame in 2009 and was named Alabama Community Journalist of the Year in 2012 by Auburn University. He has authored two books, Tales of Alabama High School Football and Sammy Dunn--Dynasty on the Diamond.

    STEVE JEFFERSON: The highly-respected boys’ basketball coach recorded over 650 career wins in his 31-year career at Carver in Birmingham. He led the Rams to back-to-back Class 4A state championships in 1978 and 1979 – playing before the largest high school crowd in AHSAA state tournament history at Coleman Coliseum against Parker in the 1978 finals. His Carver teams also reached the state finals three more times (1983, 1997 & 1998).  He served as an assistant coach on Carver’s 1981 Class 4A state runner-up team. Jefferson also coached Conecuh County Training School from 1965-68 with one trip to the AIAA state tournament. He was head football coach at Birmingham’s Ullman High School for one year.
     He was named Birmingham City Schools Coach of the Year 10 times, the Birmingham Tip-Off Club Coach of the Year twice (1979 and 1998) and received the 1998 Frank Nix Distinguished Service Award presented by the Tip-Off Club. He was named Birmingham Times Coach of the Year four times.  Jefferson is a graduate of Escambia County Training School (1958) and Alabama State University (1962).

 

    MYRA MILES: Considered one of the top high school administrators in the nation, Miles served as athletic director at Hoover from 2008-2014 after serving one year as interim AD. She also taught and coached at Hoover from 2002-2007. During her tenure the school won more than 20 state championships in 10 different sports.
    Her first teaching/coaching assignment was at Haleyville (1984-88), followed by stops at Brooks (1989-99), St. James (1999-2000) and Coffee (2000-02). She coached volleyball, softball and girls’ basketball and taught physical education during her teaching/coaching career. Her volleyball team at Haleyville won the Class 4A state championship in 1987 and finished runner-up in 1985 and 1986, then her softball team won the Class 4A state title at Brooks in 1994. Her career records were 546-201 in softball, 355-152 in volleyball, and 192-124 in basketball – a total of 1,062 prep wins in the three sports.
     Miles served on the AHSAA Central Board of Control from 2012-14, was president of the AHSADCA (2013-14) and an officer for five years.  She has been active in working with special needs students and Special Olympics and helps sponsor a fishing trip for special needs children in Eutaw annually.
   Miles is a graduate of Bradshaw (1979) in Florence and the University of North Alabama (1984).  She also attended Freed-Hardeman College.


    ALAN MITCHELL:
The veteran Assistant Director of the AHSAA served as the association’s first Director of Publicity and Publications during five different decades while working with three different executive directors.  A dedicated individual who has championed the AHSAA’s education-based athletics mission his entire career, Mitchell was recognized by the NFHS with the National Citation Award for Section 3 at the 2011 NFHS Summer Conference in Philadelphia. The AHSAA Central Board of Control also issued a resolution honoring Mitchell’s 32-year career with the AHSAA.
    Mitchell joined the AHSAA after spending 14 years as a newspaper journalist and five years in college public relations. The 1960 Robert E. Lee High School graduate completed his college degree at Huntingdon College in 1964. He was a sports writer for the Montgomery Advertiser from 1958-66 while also holding down the Huntingdon College sports information director position from 1960-66. He served as Publicity Director at Tennessee Wesleyan College from 1966-71 before returning to Montgomery as sports editor of the Alabama Journal in 1971 where he remained until joining the AHSAA. He has served in various leadership roles at Aldersgate United Methodist Church and currently directs the Praise Singers ensemble.

    STEVE RIVERS: The veteran football coach had head-coaching stops at Pelham (1979-80), Decatur (1981-95), Athens (1996-99) and Wakefield, N.C. (2000-05). A graduate of Sylacauga High School (1967) and Mississippi State University (1971), his overall head-coaching record is 188-95.
    Rivers had unbeaten regular seasons at three different schools: 1993 (Decatur), 1997 (Athens) and 2005 (Wakefield) during his 27-year head-coaching career. He is the father and high school coach of current NFL quarterback standout Philip Rivers and quarterback Stephen Rivers, who played three years at LSU, graduated and played at Vanderbilt while in graduate school in 2014.
    Coach Rivers led 16 teams to the state playoffs. He played in the North-South All-Star Game in 1967 and later served as head coach of the North team in the 1997 game. He was an assistant in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game in 1999.
    Rivers, who won the state prep doubles tennis championship in 1967, also coached tennis and basketball at Decatur and was inducted into the Morgan County Sports Hall of Fame in 2008 and named the Decatur Daily Football Coach of the Year five times. He played at Sylacauga for AHSAA Hall of Fame coach Tom Calvin and served as an assistant in his first coaching job under Hall of Fame coach Earl Webb.

     JOHN TATUM: A graduate of Montgomery’s Robert L. Lee High School (1964) and Troy University (1969), Tatum spent 16 years as athletic director, head football and track coach at Montgomery Academy (1984-2000). He also had coaching stops at DeKalb County (GA), Norcross (GA) and Everitt Junior High in Panama City, Fl. He also worked with AHSAA STAR Sportsmanship developer Learning Through Sports in 2007-08 and served as principal at St. James School for three years before officially retiring. His Montgomery Academy teams compiled a 170-95 record, including 24-17 in playoff games. His 1987 team finished 14-0 and won the Class 1A state title. His 2006 team was 10-0 in the regular season and closed out 12-1. Three of his teams reached the state semifinals.
    His overall head-coaching record was 196-112-1 with 21 trips to the state playoffs in 27 years. In 1987 Tatum was named Class 1A Coach of the Year, Montgomery Quarterback Club and Birmingham Monday Morning QB Club Coach of the Year. The 2005 AHSADCA Athletic .Director of the Year was also named Montgomery Advertiser Coach of the Year eight times. He was an assistant coach in the first Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game in 1988, coached in the North-South Game in 1999 as an assistant and as head coach of the South in 2007. A member of the prestigious Jimmy Hitchcock Award selection committee, he was inducted into the Robert E. Lee High School Hall of Fame in 1999.

       BOBBY WRIGHT: The Central-Phenix City boys’ head basketball coach since 1989, Wright also served 26 years as defensive coordinator for the football team.
       His first basketball team went 19-9 in 1989-90 advancing to the sub-state. In 26 years as boys’ basketball coach, Coach Wright has had 24 winning seasons and 15 squads with 20 or more wins. His teams have averaged more than 20 wins per season in compiling a 546-185 record, including 22-4 in 2015 and a Central Regional tournament runner-up finish. He collected his 500th win in the Shaw Christmas Tournament last year. During his career his Central teams have won17 area championships and appeared in 20 sub-state tournaments, advancing to the quarterfinals 10 times and the semifinals five times. The 1998-99 team was Class 6A state runner-up.
     Central football teams compiled a 215-82 record during his coordinator tenure that included the Class 6A state championship in 1993. The Red Devils posted 59 shutouts during that span and allowed only 10.8 points per game.
     Wright has won numerous Coach-of-the-Year honors from the Columbus Ledger Enquirer and Opelika-Auburn Daily News. He graduated from Buena Vista (GA) High School in 1960 and Fort Valley State College (GA) in 1974.

      HOUSTON YOUNG: One of the top track officials in the nation, Young was awarded the NFHS National Citation Award as Track Official of the Year in 2010. A track and field official since 1968, he has worked the state track meet for the last 48 years and currently serves as a State Track Meet Director. He was named AHSAA State and Southwest District Official of the Year in 2008. An Olympic Torch Bearer in 1996, he has also officiated at several regional and national college track meets.
    The 1963 Uniontown High School graduate became a college track standout at Livingston University where he set the 100-yard dash record that still stands. He became a teacher at Beatrice in 1968, moved to Lowndes County Training for one year and then joined Selma High School as teacher and track coach where he served from 1971-79. He moved into administration at Wallace Community College in Selma for 22 years. He is active in his community and church, serving as a deacon at Elkdale Baptist Church and as president of the Selma Jaycees in 1971. He is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Selma-Dallas County Red Cross and received the Education Award from the Prattville Fire Department.


AHSAA Hall of Fame Induction Set for Monday Night

MONTGOMERY – Twelve major contributors to prep athletics in Alabama will be inducted into the 25th class of the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame Monday night.

The 2015 class, which includes coaches, administrators, officials, media and an “oldtimer,” will be inducted at a special Silver Anniversary banquet commemorating all 25 years of the event. The banquet will be at the Renaissance Hotel at the Convention Center in Montgomery at 6:30 p.m. A “meet-the-inductees” press conference will be held at the Renaissance at 5:30. A reception will be held at the Alabama High School Athletic Association from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Monday prior to the banquet, and a Hall of Fame luncheon will be at 11:30 a.m. at the Renaissance. http://www.nfhsnetwork.com/events/ahsaa/fd7b28db98
          Selected for induction are tennis coach Nancy Becker, basketball coaches Steve Jefferson, Jack Doss and Bobby Wright, football coaches Steve Rivers, Doug Goodwin and John Tatum, athletic director Myra Miles, track official Houston Young, and administrators Alan Mitchell and Ron Ingram. Selected in the “Old Timer” category is longtime Geneva County football coach James D. Chesteen, now deceased.
          Sponsors of the Hall of Fame program are the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA) and the AHSAA. The corporate sponsors are Cadence Bank, Coca-Cola, EBSCO Media, Encore Rehabilitation, Farmers Insurance, Russell Athletic, TeamIP and Wilson Sporting Goods.
          WSFA TV sports director Jeff Shearer will emcee the banquet. The NFHS Network will live-stream the banquet. The link is: http://www.nfhsnetwork.com/events/ahsaa/fd7b28db98
          The first class was inducted in 1991.

Alabama Boys 101, Mississippi Boys 88

    Alabama’s All-Stars won its fourth straight Alabama-Mississippi  Classic boys’ basketball game Friday night with a 101-88 win over Mississsippi to improve to 14-11 in the 25-year series of the annual border-states rivalry.
    The boys’ win gave Alabama a sweep in the all-star games hosted by the AHSAA and the AHSADCA and played at Alabama State University’s Dunn-Oliver Acadome.
    Theodore senior Dazon Ingram scored 12 points on a 5-of-8 shooting performance, had six key rebounds and four assists to earn MVP honors for Alabama. Donta Hall, a 6-foot-10 Alabama-bound center from Luverne, and Carver-Montgomery’s Brandon Austin paced Alabama’s balanced attack with 16 and 15 points, respectively. Hall had a game-high 12 rebounds and two blocked shots. He was 7-of-8 from the field with one 3-point goal. Rounding out the double-digit scorers was Hoover’s Dylan Smith with 12.
    Cullman guard Lawson Schaffer had just five points but finished with four steals and four assists and played well in setting up his teammates all night.
    Mississippi guard Leroy Buchanan of Madison-Central led all scorers with 20 points to earn MVP honors for his team.  He had a 9-of-14 shooting effort from the field.  Quinndary Weatherspoon of Velma Jackson added 12 points, Bruce Stevens of Bay Springs, Jerekius Davis of Provine and Moses Greenwood of Velma Jackson scored 10 points each. Terence Davis of Southaven led Mississippi’s rebounding effort with nine boards.
   Hoover’s Charles Burkett and LaFayette’s Obadiah Threadgill IV coached the Alabama squad. Mississippi’s coaches were East Marion’s Calvin Brown and McComb’s Hilton Harrell.
   Alabama, which lost in 2011, has now won all three games at Alabama State and last year’s game at Jackson State. 

Alabama Girls 93, Mississippi Girls 87

    The Alabama All-Stars used balanced scoring and excellent free-throw shooting to beat Mississippi 93-87 in the 25th annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic at Dunn-Oliver Acadome on the Alabama State University campus Friday night.
    The Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Games is an event of the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association, the coaches wing of the the Alabama High School Athletic Association.
     Clay-Chalkville point guard Kristian Hudson had 24 points, five assist and three steals to lead Alabama, now 13-12 in the series.  The Alabama MVP was also 7-of-8 from the foul line as Alabama finished 22-of-28 to stave off a late Mississippi comeback.  Alabama was coached by Red Bay’s Donnie Roberts, the AHSAA’s all-time career wins leader, and Jeff Davis’  Lakenya Knight.
    Jada Smith of  Hoover added 15 points and four assists, Huntsville’s Shaquera Wade  had 15 points and a game-high 1 rebounds, and Salina Virola of Lee-Huntsville scored 14 points and cleared nine rebounds. Rayven Pearson of Hazel Green contributed nine points and eight rebounds.
   Smith sank 4-of-4 free throws and Wade, 5-of-7.  Virola was perfect on three 3-point tries.   Alabama held a decided rebounding advantage with 54 boards to Mississippi’s 43.   
    Mississippi, coached by Patricia Wilson of Meridian and Jason Thompson of H.W. Byers, placed three players in double figures with team MVP Jazzmun Holmes  of Harrison Central scoring 17 points brefore fouling out late. She also had four steals and four assists.  Octavia Barnes of Raymond had 14 points and nine rebounds and Abria Gulledge of H.W. Byers had 13 points. Alondrea Rush of Horn Lake also had five steals, five assists and four points.

Ingram’s Passion For High School Sports Launched A Career That Spanned 4 Decades

NOTE: This is the final installment in a series introducing the AHSAA Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2015.  Congratulations to the 12 selected for this year’s induction. The 25th AHSAA HOF Banquet is set for March 23 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.

 

                                                              By BILL PLOTT
            “Ron Ingram is Mr. High School Sports!” Steve Savarese, Executive Director of the Alabama High School Athletic Association, said it unequivocally.

            In his letter supporting Ingram’s nomination to the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame, Savarese described Ron as “a great ambassador for this Association and the entire Alabama high school sports community.”

            Ingram has been a shining example of what high school athletics is all about from his playing days to his careers in journalism and with the Alabama High School Athletic Association.

            A native of Brundidge, Ingram graduated from Pike County High School in 1970. He attended Troy University for two years, and then transferred to the University of Alabama where he graduated in 1974 with a degree in journalism/public relations and a minor in radio/TV.

            His love of high school sports was born in Brundidge at a young age.

            “I learned at any early age, while watching my brothers play, just how fascinating the passion of high school sports is,” he recalled. “I personally participated in four sports in high school and loved them all. I guess I have loved it ever since. When I became a sports writer, I began to understand more fully why the passion exists, where it comes from and how it drives student-athletes to accomplish more than they ever imagined possible. 

            “The men and women who coach high school sports are missionaries of sorts, teaching life lessons, building character and sense of family commitment while molding kids from a wide array of backgrounds into focusing on a common goal. The communities sense it and respond accordingly.

            “I was fortunate to be able to tell that story through my role as a journalist for the past 40 years. And now that I am working even more closely with the men and women who give so much to this mission, I love and understand it even more.”

            His first job out of college was as an account executive with the Earl Hutto Advertising Agency. He soon found a position with The Dothan Progress, a weekly newspaper, as sports editor. It was a dramatic turning point for both his career and for the promotion of high school sports in Alabama.

            While cover local sports for the Progress, Ron started and managed the Alabama Sports Writers Association All-State Football Team in 1978. The process brought together numerous media representatives to compile a team based on merit more than regional preferences. This was quickly expanded to include an ASWA All-State Basketball Team each year.

            During the regular season of first football and then basketball and baseball, the ASWA began publishing weekly rankings of teams in each classification. The eagerly-awaited rankings added another element of excitement and anticipation to the various sports.

            In 1981 Ingram moved over to The Dothan Eagle where he served as sports editor for three years, earning several writing awards from the ASWA, the Alabama Press Association and The Alabama Associated Press Association.

            He joined The Birmingham News in 1985 and the resources of the state’s biggest newspaper allowed him to expand even further his passion for high school athletics. He continued chairing the Alabama Sports Writers Association teams for football and basketball but soon expanded to include baseball, volleyball, soccer and softball, sports that were often overlooked on a statewide level.

            While in Birmingham he helped the Alabama Sports Writers Association initiate the Mr. Football, Mr. & Miss Basketball, Mr. Baseball & Miss Softball Awards, which have recognized the most outstanding athletes in those sports each year. During his 22 years at The Birmingham News, Ingram won the ASWA Sweepstakes Award twice (19887, 1994), the Bill Shelton Award (2005) signifying the ASWA Sports Writer of the Year. In 2006 he also received the John W. Russell Ambassador of the Game Award from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He was inducted into the Wiregrass Sports Hall of Fame in 2009 and was named the Auburn University Journalism Advisory Council’s Distinguished Community Journalist of the Year in 2012. The Alabama Sports Writers Association inducted him into its Hall of Fame in 2013.

            In 2007 Ingram joined the Alabama High School Athletic Association as Communications Director.

            “Throughout my career in high school athletics, I have been privileged to work with some of the finest men and women in the field. This group includes coaches, officials, administrators, and AHSAA contributors who all have had one common trait – a desire to excel and to make a difference in the lives of those they serve. One of those individuals is Ron Ingram,” wrote Savarese. “He is an outstanding administrator, a dedicated professional, and a human thesaurus relating to high school sports information in the state of Alabama.

            “He [has been] inducted into the Alabama Sports Writers Hall of Fame. Without a doubt he is the most respected sports writer in the state of Alabama. Additionally, Ron served or is serving on many National Federation of State High School Association (NFHS) committees including but not limited to the NFHS Hall of Fame selection committee and the Records Committee. His lifetime of experiences and expertise has provided countless people lasting enjoyment and lifelong memories.”



Alabama, Mississippi All-Stars Set For Friday’s State Clash

     Alabama and Mississippi High School All-Star Teams completed two more practices Thursday in preparation for Friday’s 25th annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Basketball Games at Alabama State University’s Dunn-Oliver Acadome.
     The Alabama-Mississippi girls’ all-star game will tip off at 5 p.m., Friday, followed by the boys at 7.  The games will be broadcast live over the AHSAA Radio Network and will be video live-streamed by the NFHS Network.  Links are available at www.ahsaa.com. Tickets will be available at the Acadome.
   All four teams will conclude drills Friday afternoon with a 30-minute shoot-around prior to the doubleheader.   Alabama won the boys’ game last year 90-83 with Mississippi winning the girls’ game 95-89. The Alabama boys now hold a 13-11 edge in the series while the girls’ series is even at 12-12.
   Alabama’s boys feature seven players that competed in the 2015 State Basketball Tourney. Class 6A MVP Brandon Austin, a 6-5 Carver-Montgomery guard/forward, led the Wolverines to the state title. Hoover’s Dylan Smith was an all-tournament selection for the Class 7A state champion Bucs. Lee-Montgomery’s 6-9 twin towers Tommy Burton and Trenton Clayton led the Generals to the 7A semifinals and 6-5 Dazon Ingram carried Theodore to the 7A semis. Gerron Scissum, Lee-Huntsville’s 6-6 forward, and 6-foot guard Malik Cook-Stroupe of Homewood both played in the 6A state tourney. Alabama signee Donta’ Hall, a 6-10 center from Luverne, led the Tigers to the Class 2A state finals in 2014.
     Three players on Coach Red Bay Donnie Roberts’ Alabama girls’ all-star roster played in the 2015 state tournament, Huntsville’s Ta’Naisha Hill and Shaquera Wade in Class 7A and Amahni Upshaw of Brantley in Class 1A.
         Some of Mississippi’s standout players had little time to rest after playing in state championship games Saturday and Sunday in Jackson after inclement weather pushed the state tournament back a week. East Marion Coach Calvin Brown, the Mississippi boys’ head coach, has four players who played in finals including 6-foot-4 Quinndary Weatherspoon and 6-5 Moses Greenwood. Weatherspooon, a Mississippi State commitment, scored 28 points and Greenwood had 19 in Velma Jackson High School’s 76-38 win over Aberdeen in the Class 3A finals. Velma Jackson finished 33-2.
    Emanuel Thompson,a 6-4 forward, scored 13 points as McComb (31-1) beat Quitman in the 4A finals and Leroy Buchanan scored 21 points in the Class 6A finals for Madison Central (20-10), which was beaten 43-40 in overtime by Starkville.
    Horn Lake (20-4) won the the Mississippi Class 6A title beating Olive Branch 52-42 as 6-3 center Alexyse Thomas scored 17 points and cleared nine rebounds. Teammate Alondrea Bush, a guard on the Mississippi all-star squad coached by Patricia Wilson, added five points.  Octavia Barnes, a 5-11 forward headed to Michigan State, had 15 points and 13 rebounds in a 50-35 win by Raymond (30-4) over Bay in the 4A girls’ finals.

Official Houston Young Keeps AHSAA On Track When it Comes to Track & Field

NOTE: This is the 11th installment in a series introducing the AHSAA Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2015. Look for the final inductee Ron Ingram’s profile Friday. The 25th AHSAA HOF Banquet is set for March 23 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.

 

                                                              By BILL PLOTT
            Veteran AHSAA track and field official James Houston Young graduated from Uniontown High School in 1963 and Livingston University in 1968. He also holds a master’s degree from the University of Montevallo.

            It was at Livingston, now the University of West Alabama, where he was introduced to track and field. In his junior year he went from manager on the football team to a sprinter and jumper on the college’s inaugural track team. He was captain of the team his senior.

            He started his teaching career at  Beatrice High school in 1968 but only remained there a year. He then took a job as a department store salesman for a year, returning to education in 1970.

            His new position was at Lowndes County Training School where he taught for a year. In 1971 he moved to Selma High School as a driver education teacher, football assistant and head track coach. He started a cross country team at the school, compiling a dual meet record of 47-6.

            In 1979 he moved over to Selma’s Wallace State Community College where he remained as an administrator until he retired in 2001. He has received service awards from the Alabama Veterans Association and the National Association of Veterans Program Administration.

            When he started teaching at Beatrice in 1968, he also started officiating track events. He has continued ever since. He has worked at every state track meet since that first year and currently serves as state meet director for all AHSAA track and field events.
            He was named AHSAA Southwest District Official of the Year and AHSAA State Track Official of the Year in 2008. He received the National High School Federation Citation Award for Officiating in 2010.

            Young, who will be inducted into the AHSAA Hall of Fame’s Class of 2015 March 23,  has also worked as a starter and official at numerous Southeastern Conference, NCAAA and Junior Olympic events. He ran in the Vulcan Marathon in Birmingham in 1979.

            His work in track and field has been so respected that he was selected as one of the torch bearers for the 1996 Olympic Games. Young joined  nine other bearers in carrying the torch to Atlanta. His leg of the journey was through downtown Selma. The torch he carried is displayed in his home.

            “The biggest excitement was when my torch was originally lit,” he recalled in an interview several years ago. “It was exciting to know that everyone who was in the Olympics had their eyes on me. You have so much adrenaline built up that you go faster than you realize. When I got ready to pass off the torch, I wished I had run a little slower to enjoy one more minute of the run.”

            Michelle Russ, director of sales with the Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Sports Commission, wrote of his work with that organization: “I have known Houston for seven years and I can tell you, without hesitation, that he is one of the finest people I have ever met. Houston has worked closely with the AHSAA, the City of Gulf Shores and the Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Sports Commission since 2007 on the AHSAA Outdoor Track Championships.  Houston not only worked to attract the event to the area but also works year round to plan for this incredible event. He shares his time, knowledge and enthusiasm with all parties involved in the track championships to make sure the event is a huge success. In 2012, under that guidance of Houston Young, the City of Gulf Shores designed and built a new track facility for the citizens and athletes of the state of Alabama to enjoy.

            “Houston routinely takes the time to help the community and young athletes from across the state. In fact, Houston’s presence in our community has impacted many around him. Houston volunteers his time on a regular basis. He shows leadership skills during difficult times, excellent problem-solving skills and has a real team-first attitude.  Houston Young is an asset to Alabama high school athletics, regional track programs and the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach community.”

            Grant Brown, director of Gulf Shores Recreation and Cultural Affairs, also commented on Young’s work: “On the professional side, Houston has been instrumental in the growth of track and field in south Alabama and most specifically, Gulf Shores. His knowledge and ability to expertly coordinate officials, coaches, athletes, volunteers and the facility staff is a testament to his expertise. In addition, when faced with the need to renovate our aging track facilities, Houston’s knowledge and passion led the way, helping us improve and expand our facility. Our city spent nearly $1 million and now has a state-of-the-art track capable of hosting the highest level events. We currently host the AHSAA Track and Field State Championships, NAIA National Outdoor Track and Field Championships, and the Sun Belt Conference Championships. Houston is Meet Manager at each of those prestigious events and handles them with excellence.

            “Personally I have not met a more gracious, dedicated man who truly does what he does for the love of the sport and the people involved. I cannot think of a more worthy person to be recognized [in] the distinguished list of hall of fame inductees. He will represent that elite fraternity well.”



Hoover’s Dylan Smith Added To Alabama All-Star Roster

     Alabama and Mississippi High School All-Star Teams reported for the 25th annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Basketball Games Wednesday afternoon as preparations began for Friday night’s 25th annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Basketball Classic at Alabama State University’s Dunn-Oliver Acadome.
     All players reported but Alabama had one late change with 6-foot-6 guard Dylan Smith replacing Clay-Chalkville’s Hasan Abdullah. Abdullah, who also reported Wednesday, will miss the game due to a leg injury.
      Smith averaged 15.1 points for 2015 Class 7A state champion Hoover. He has committed to Texas Pan American. His prep coach Charles Burkett is coaching the Alabama boys’ team along with Obadiah Threadgill IV, who directed LaFayette to the 2A state championship.
         The Alabama-Mississippi girls’ all-star game will tip off at 5 p.m., Friday, followed by the boys at 7.  The games will be broadcast live over the AHSAA Radio Network and will be video live-streamed by the NFHS Network.  Tickets will be available at the Acadome.
   Mississippi’s boys’ and girls’ squads practiced at Huntingdon College Wednesday afternoon and Alabama’s teams practiced at the Cramton Bowl Multiplex.
     All four squads will conduct two drills each Thursday with Alabama’s boys and girls back at the Multiplex for their morning session at 9 a.m., and Mississippi will report back to Huntingdon at 9. The Mississippi squads will return to Huntingdon’s campus for their 2 p.m., practice while Alabama’s girls will practice at Faulkner University at 2 p.m., and the Alabama Boys will practice at the Multiplex.
    Mississippi girls will conduct a shoot-around at Dunn-Oliver Acadome Friday afternoon from 1:30-2 p.m.. The Mississippi boys will follow at from 2 to 2:30.  Alabama’s girls and Alabama’s boys will have shoot-around drills from 2:30 to 3:30 Friday.
        Alabama won the boys’ game last year 90-83 with Mississippi winning the girls’ game 95-89. The Alabama boys now hold a 13-11 edge in the series while the girls’ series is even at 12-12. Two of  last year’s stars, Mississippi boys’ standout Devin Booker of Moss Point and Alabama girls’ standout Shakayla Thomas of Sylacauga, will be playing this weekend in the NCAA Basketball Tournament.  Booker is a freshman guard for top-seed and SEC champion Kentucky while Thomas is a freshman forward for women’s 2 seed and ACC champion Florida State.
     Among Alabama’s standouts this year are Theodore guard Dazon Ingram and Luverne 6-10 center Donta’ Hall. Hall is heading to Alabama and Ingram, who signed last November with the Crimson Tide, said Wednesday he is now undecided. Among the top girls reporting are Shaquera Wade of Huntsville and Amahni Upshaw of Brantley. Wade is heading to Auburn and Upshaw to Troy University.
   Coaches for the Alabama girls’ squad are Donnie Roberts of Red Bay and LaKenya Knight of Jeff Davis.
       Mississippi boys’ head coach is Calvin Brown of East Marion and girls’ head coach is Patricia Wilson. Headlining the Mississippi girls’ team are Michigan State commit Octavia Barnes of Raymond and Mississippi State commit Jazzmun Holmes of Harrison Central. Quinndary Weatherspoon of Velma Jackson and Terence Davis of Southaven are two of the top boys’ players reporting. Weatherspoon is heading to Mississippi State and Davis to Ole Miss.
     Alabama’s rosters and Mississippi’s rosters can be found at www.ahsaa.com.

Central-Phenix City High School’s Wright Has Devoted His Career to Education and Athletics

NOTE: This is the tenth installment in a series introducing the AHSAA Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2015. Look for veteran track & field official Houston Young’s profile Thursday. The 25th AHSAA HOF Banquet is set for March 23 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.

 

                                                              By BILL PLOTT
            Bobby Wright was graduated from Buena Vista (GA) High School in 1970 and Fort Valley State College in 1974.

            He began  his teaching and coaching career in 1975 at Carver High School in Columbus, GA. He was head track coach and an assistant in football and basketball.

            In 1977 he moved across the Chattahoochee River to Central High School in Phenix City. At Central he taught, coached and chaired the Health and Physical Education Department over the years. He added athletic director to his duties in 1998.

            His first basketball team went 19-9 in 1989-90 advancing to the sub-state. In 26 years as boys’ basketball coach, Coach Wright has had 24 winning seasons and 15 squads with 20 or more wins. His teams have averaged more than 20 wins per season in compiling a 546-185 record, including 22-4 in 2015 and a Central Regional tournament runner-up finish. He collected his 500th win in the Shaw Christmas Tournament last year. During his career his Central teams have won17 area championships and appeared in 20 sub-state tournaments, advancing to the quarterfinals 10 times and the semifinals five times. The 1998-99 team was Class 6A state runner-up.

            Basketball has been a dominant factor in Wright’s home life, also. His wife Carolyn has been the girls’ basketball coach at Central since 1991. She won her 400th game in 2013.
            Wright was named coach of the year by local newspapers numerous times.

            In football, he served as  defensive coordinator for 25 years. Central had only two  losing seasons during that time. Opponents were held to single digits in scoring against Central 16 times. Fifty-nine shutouts were recorded by his defensive squads. Central won the Class 6A state championship in 1993 with him as defensive coordinator.

            Former football Coach Wayne Trawick wrote of Wright’s value to his team: “Coach Wright became our defensive coordinator in 1984 after serving several years as position coach on defense. Selecting Bobby as our defensive coordinator was certainly one of the best decisions I made during my tenure at Central High School.  He was a great motivator and was so good in getting the best effort from each young man he coached. His tough love approach to his coaching style was well accepted by our players. They respected him and loved him. Bobby’s preparation for each game was excellent.

            “We hired Coach Wright as our head basketball coach for the 1989-90 school year. He had served under Coach James Redd for several years as our B-team coach and varsity assistant. He not only continued the tradition Coach Redd had built at Central, he improved it. [He has] the most wins by a Central basketball coach in school history. I’m sure that number will go up considerably before he retires. 

            “Bobby works tirelessly in helping athletes in football and basketball get to the next level, and Central certainly has had quite a number to achieve that.”

            Retired principal William G. Hayes wrote: “It was my privilege to work with Coach Bobby Wright from 1984 until 1986…Coach Wright is very cognizant of the importance of both education and athletics. He has devoted his life to the development of both and in particular to education and athletics at Central High School. I have observed Coach Wright as a teacher, football coach, and head varsity basketball coach. In fact, it was my privilege to name Coach Wright head  varsity basketball coach at Central. His knowledge and leadership skills have established and maintained a very competitive program that is recognized throughout the state of Alabama.

          “Coach Wright possesses a profound ability to motivate student athletes. I have often observed students with all odds stacked against them become successful because of Coach Wright’s drive and determination n working with them. He would accept nothing but their best, no excuses.  While I could recount for you statistics, accomplishments and honors, nothing is as important as the positive impact he has made and continues to make on so many young lives.

            Hayes said being selected to the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame is an honor that Coach Wright is very deserving of.  “But, if you were to ask him, he would probably say seeing a young student-athlete grow, mature and succeed in the classroom and on the field of play is reward enough.”