By Bill Plott
Veteran Carver-Montgomery High School boys’ basketball coach Edward Wood lost his battle with cancer much too young. However, his legacy and impact still live on in his hometown of Montgomery.
The Carver gymnasium bears his name, and students who attended the school during his tenure in the 1960s and 1970s will forever carry his memory in their hearts. And so will the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame. Coach Wood is being inducted into the Hall’s Class of 2018.
Wood attended high school at Alabama State Laboratory High School in Montgomery, graduating in 1945. He played basketball for Coach Hubert “Prof” Lockhart, a 2003 Hall of Fame inductee. Wood was named to the All-Tournament team in the 1944 AIAA state tournament.
After graduation, he moved across campus to Alabama State College where he would receive his bachelor’s degree in 1954. His college career, however, had been deferred for three years while he served in the United States Navy. He later returned to ASU again to earn a master’s degree.
His first of just two high school coaching/teaching job was at Dixon’s Mills in Marengo County where he coached and taught math. He was there from 1954-59.
In 1959 he moved back home to Carver High School in Montgomery as math teacher and coach. For the first 10 years, his teams played in the Alabama Interscholastic Athletic Association. His record at Carver during that period was 209-99. The 1963 team was runner-up in the state tournament. In 1968 the AIAA was merged with Alabama High School Athletic Association and he finished his career in the unified organization.
In 11 years in the AHSAA, Wood’s record was 164-114. There were five consecutive 20-plus win seasons, including four state tournament appearances.
Coach Dan Lewis, Wood’s longtime assistant and successor at Carver, said those AIAA teams were “some of the best-coached in the state.” When the merger came, Carver played in the three consecutive AHSAA state tournaments.
Lewis further recalled: “Everything I know and have experienced with Coach Wood is positive, uplifting and inspiring. I had the rewarding opportunity to work and serve as Coach Wood’s assistant for eight years. What an honor and privilege to work under a coach who was well organized and believed in structure and organization.
“The success I had as head coach at Carver, following Coach Wood as my mentor, enabled Carver to win back-to-back state championships in 1982 and 1983. I bestow Coach Wood a lot of credit for helping me to develop my own coaching philosophy. Coach Wood believed in developing character and discipline in the lives of every young man whom he coached. All of his team members exuded extreme character and sportsmanship.
“Coach Wood affected the lives of many young people on the west side of Montgomery. Some of the young men whose lives he touched went on to become doctors, lawyers, educators, businessmen, political officials, coaches and professional basketball players. I am immensely proud to have been influenced by Coach Edward L. Wood.”
Christine E. Williams and Dorothy Wright Pleasant, writing on behalf of the Class of 1965, said:
“The class of 1965 had a special relationship with Coach Edward Wood. He came to Carver in the fall of 1959, and we started seventh grade in junior high school. Therefore, the nomination journey has been a time of many reflections on Coach Wood and his lasting influence on our young lives.
“Coach had chances for advancement but turned down colleges time and time again to remain at Carver. Why? We believe the root of all his actions was his dedication to his players. His most important concern was the welfare of his players as future men in the community. Coach instilled in his players and mathematics students the values of an education, work ethic and community involvement.
“For those of us that attended Carver in the ‘60s and ‘70s, Coach Wood’s voice is still resonant. We recall many inspirational and motivational speeches he gave to the student body at pep rallies that kept us calm during the turbulent start of integration.”
Coach Wood died in 1980 at just age 54 after a four-year battle with cancer. He had already turned his coaching duties over to Lewis, his personal choice to take over the program. Lewis would go on to lead Carver to a then school record 30- and 31-win seasons. For the last 32 years, Wood’s family has awarded the Edward L. Wood Scholarship to the most outstanding Carver basketball player. In 1982 the school gymnasium was dedicated as the Edward L. Wood Gymnasium. His son Ed went on to play college basketball at Auburn University.
Another former student, U. S. Army Maj (ret) Abraham McCall Jr., was very specific about Wood’s influence in his life:
“Coach Wood became part of my life at a most pivotal point. Had it not been for the Lord, my parents and Coach Wood, I honestly don’t know where I would be. The Lord gave me grace and mercy. My parents game me my birth rights.
“Coach Wood gave me an opportunity to attend college. He wrote, called and carried me to visit with the staff at Mississippi Valley State College for me to attend their school. For the things that he did, I am forever grateful.
“He did more than just rolling basketballs out on the court for me. He instilled those things in me that would propel me to become the person that I am today. He taught me about discipline, hard work, and sacrifice. Other things that I learned from him were leadership, commitment, service and family.
“All of the aforementioned have helped me have two long and successful careers. One was 22 years in the military, of which I retired as a field grade officer. The second career was that of public educator, of which I retired as a high school administrator. As you can see, Coach Wood gave me and others immeasurable opportunities at having a chance at success in life.”
By Bob Gardner, Executive Director of the National Federation of State High School Associations and Steve Savarese, Executive Director of the Alabama High School Athletic Association.
Many parents are trying to live the dream through their sons and daughters – the dream of landing a college athletic scholarship by specializing in a sport year-round. Unfortunately, most of these dreams are never realized.
The odds of a sports scholarship paying for even a portion of a student’s college education are miniscule.
The College Board, a not-for-profit organization comprised of 6,000 of the world’s leading educational institutions, reports that a moderate cost for college students who attend a public university in their state of residence is $25,290 per year. The annual cost at a private college averages $50,900.
Meanwhile, the most recent data from the NCAA reveals that the average Division I athletic scholarship is worth only $10,400. More significantly, the same study shows that fewer than two percent of all high school athletes (1 in 54) ever wear the uniform of an NCAA Division I school.
Even if the dream is realized, parents likely will spend more money for club sports than they ever regain through college athletic scholarships. Thanks to the costs of club fees, equipment, summer camps, playing in out-of-state tournaments and private coaching, youth sports has become a $15 billion-per-year industry.
There is an option, and it’s a financially viable one: Encourage your sons and daughters to play sports at their high school.
In education-based high school sports, student-athletes are taught, as the term implies, that grades come first. The real-life lessons that students experientially learn offer insights into leadership, overcoming adversity and mutual respect that cannot be learned anywhere else. Unlike club sports, coaches in an education-based school setting are held accountable by the guiding principles and goals of their school district. And the cost of participating in high school sports is minimal in most cases.
While there is a belief that the only way to get noticed by college coaches is to play on non-school travel teams year-round, many Division I football and basketball coaches recently have stated that they are committed to recruiting students who have played multiple sports within the high school setting.
In addition, by focusing on academics while playing sports within the school setting, students can earn scholarships for academics and other talents—skill sets oftentimes nurtured while participating in high school activities. These scholarships are more accessible and worth more money than athletic scholarships. While $3 billion per year is available for athletic scholarships, more than $11 billion is awarded for academic scholarships and other financial assistance.
Without a doubt, your sons and daughters will have more fun, make more friends and be better prepared for life beyond sport by participating in multiple sports and activities offered by the high school in your community.
By Bill Plott
Retired Notasulga High School basketball coach Obadiah Threadgill III was born into a family of educators. Both of his parents were teachers, and his father, Obadiah Threadgill II, coached and officiated in the Sumter County area.
In addition, his brother Kenneth Threadgill taught and coached basketball at Livingston High School, winning a state championship in 2003. Another brother, Reginald Threadgill, is a longtime basketball official in the Jefferson County area.
That legacy has now extended into a fourth generation. Obadiah’s wife Joyce is a career elementary school teacher. Their son, Obadiah Threadgill IV, the head boys’ basketball coach at LaFayette High School, has already coached a state championship team at LaFayette, and his wife Shernika is cheerleader coach.
It all started with Obadiah Threadgill I, said Obadiah III, who has been selected to be enshrined into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018. “He was the son of slaves,” he said, “and a God-fearing man who knew the importance of getting an education.”
Pam Langford, Dadeville High School administrator and a former Notasulga teacher, in her letter nominating Threadgill for the Hall of Fame, said there is still another legacy.
“Athletics serve an important role in the lives of many young people,” Langford said. “Coach Threadgill has used his love of basketball and his coaching ability to give many student-athletes an opportunity to be successful. However, as a school principal, parent and friend, it is his character that I admire and appreciate the most! Not only did Coach Threadgill teach kids to be winners on the court, he taught them to be winners in life.
“His examples of integrity, work ethic, perseverance and compassion were so important for our students. Now, thousands of his students and athletes are adults. It warms my heart to know that those characteristics have helped them be successful in life.”
Langford said Threadgill’s influence didn’t top there.
“I see [them] instilling those winning characteristics in their own children,” she said. “Coach Threadgill’s positive impact will go on forever.”
Threadgill attend Sumter County Training School, graduating in 1965. He attended Tuskegee University, graduating in 1970. He later earned a master’s degree from Auburn University in 1980.
A Vietnam veteran, Threadgill went into military service after his graduation from Tuskegee. He served from 1970-72. Out of the Army, he returned home to Sumter County and accepted the position of director of the Sumter County Head Start Center.
In 1973 he moved to Macon County, first as teacher and coach at Tuskegee Public Middle School from 1973-74, and then at Deborah C. Wolfe High School from 1974-77. From 1977-81 he held a similar position at Tuskegee Institute High School.
In 1981 he accepted the position of teacher and head basketball coach at Notasulga High School where he served through 2002.
Notasulga in the 1960s and 1970s was a town with difficult integration issues. Those issues were overcome by a community that came together. Macon County Board of Education member Karey Thompson recalled that situation in his letter.
“Dwight Sanderson and Buddy Knapp, along with Principal Robert Anderson, became legendary leaders at Notasulga, having navigated an uncharted journey of school desegregation in the early 1970s not only in the athletic program but also in academic achievement and positive community relations. In 1974 a television crew (BBC/England) visited the campus of NHS, recording the school’s story and later aired to a national and international audience, a documentary of Notasulga’s success.
“In Notasulga, Coach Threadgill is viewed much the same as Sanderson-Knapp-Anderson. If the Blue Devils had a Mt. Rushmore, the four mentioned would receive priority placement. In 2014, in a combined project, by act of the Macon County Commission, Macon County Board of Education and Town of Notasulga, Notasulga High School honored the legendary coaches by naming the football stadium Sanderson-Knapp Football Stadium and the gym Obadiah Threadgill Gymnasium. NHS Principal Robert Anderson (deceased) will receive special recognition at a later date.”
When he retired after a 30-year teaching and coaching career, Threadgill’s coaching legacy included:
· More than 900 wins coaching boys’ and girls’ basketball at varsity and JV levels.
· Two boys’ state championships in 1987 and 1992; one girls’ state championship in 2001; two state tournament runners-up.
· Nine Final 48 appearances, including three in a row in girls’ basketball.
· Nine consecutive Southeast Region appearances.
· State Coach of the Year for boys in 1987 and 1992 and for girls in 2001, and six Region Coach of the Year awards in boys’ basketball and six in girls’ basketball.
· Coached both boys’ and girls’ teams in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game.
· Notasulga High School Gymnasium was named in his honor.
Dr. Lenda Jo Connell, wife of principal Anderson, said Threadgill’s strong character was the key.
“Character can be formed in many ways,” she said. “Coach Threadgill’s unshakeable character came from a rock-solid family who valued faith, family and education leveled with a good dose of humor! This is a dedicated, strong family that has left their mark and continues to leave their mark on high school athletics in the state of Alabama.
“Coach Threadgill is the type of gentleman whom you want influencing young people. A humble man, I never heard him say ‘I’. It was always ‘We’ when referring to his many successful endeavors. Because of his commitment, dedication, and willingness to work together, Notasulga High School stands today as a testament to men like Coach Threadgill, who believed that (education-based) athletics could build young men and women and community.”
SATURDAY: Edward Wood’s impact still strong after four decades.
By JOE MEDLEY
The Anniston Star
(Published Thursday, March 15)
ANNISTON – Tommy Lewis has a real simple philosophy about philosophy about winning in high school basketball. Area championships matter.
“I always told people, you’ve got to learn how to win close to your house first,” Lewis said.
Lewis — who has won 602 games and 22 area titles over 31 seasons at Gaylesville, Spring Garden, Cherokee County and Piedmont — has resigned at Piedmont. The Piedmont Board of Education approved his resignation Wednesday.
The 57-year-old Lewis stopped short of calling it retirement, saying his possible return to coaching is “50-50.” He said he’s starting to repeat his stories at Piedmont, and he hopes that his stepping aside creates opportunities for long-time assistants Jonathan Odam (17 years) and Matt Glover (12 years).
“It’s been a great experience, and plus, Coach Odam’s son (Alex) is coming on,” Lewis said. “Coach Odam has been helping me for so long, and it’s time he got a chance.
“JoJo works there, and his wife works there, and he’s got two sons in the system. Matt works there, and he’s got a wife. For them to find a job, it’s going to take a whole lot of picking up and moving. For me, it’s not.”
Lewis’ resume speaks volumes.
His career record stands at 602-342. Records from the mid-1900s can be sketchy, but he’s believed to be one of only 25 coaches in the history of Alabama high school boys basketball to reach the 600-win mark. He recorded his 600th on Feb. 9, against Glencoe.
Lewis’ teams have won at least one area title at each of the four schools where he coached. He’s taken 15 teams to regionals tournament with five advancing to the state tournament — Spring Garden in 1989, Cherokee County in 2006 and Piedmont in 2010, 2011, and 2015.
Lewis coached 12 seasons at Piedmont, winning nine area titles and reaching the Northeast Regional nine times. The 2015 team finished as Class 3A runner-up.
His 226 wins at Piedmont mark the most in the school’s near-100-year history.
“When you come into our gym, we try to have banners that reflect the success of all of our athletic teams, male and female,” said Steve Smith, Piedmont’s football coach and athletics director, who lured Lewis to the school. “You look at our boys basketball banner, and it’s just littered with a ton of success over the last 12 years.”
Piedmont hired Smith in 2006, and Lewis was among his first hiring targets. At the time, Lewis was coaching Cherokee County’s Final Four team.
“There weren’t a lot of people that even wanted to talk to me about the job,” said Smith, who came to Piedmont from Cedar Bluff, also in Cherokee County. “He was somebody that I kind of zeroed in. I was just thinking maybe a shot in the dark, because he’d done so well there.”
Smith lauded Lewis as “a team player,” always understanding of the school’s frequent deep playoff runs in football and the late starts several multisport players get in basketball.
Lewis saved one of his best coaching jobs at Piedmont for last. His final Piedmont team had five new starters and six new players among the top seven yet finished 21-12, reaching the Northeast Regional final before losing to eventual state champion Plainview.
“Having some sort of either loss or altered version of your top seven players in your rotation from last year and getting to the ‘Elite Eight’ again, it speaks wonders to his ability to be able to adapt, to play with the hand that he’s dealt and get the most out of the guys,” Smith said.
Part of the reason Lewis came back for this past season was because he didn’t want to leave his potential replacement with a young team.
“When we were looking at the schedule, Coach Glover and I, and we were having a tough time finding eight or 10 wins,” Lewis said. “That was if we caught some breaks.
“As far as expectations, this may be the team that exceeded what we thought they’d do, farther than any team we’ve had.”
Tommy Lewis Collected Many Memories thru the Years
(Published in The Anniston Star, Friday, March 16)
MISSISSIPPI ALABAMA BASKETBALL CLASSIC
MISSISSIPPI BOYS TEAM
NO. NAME POS HGT SCHOOL COLLEGE
2 DeANTHONY TIPLER PG 5-11 ASHLAND undecided
3 DaQUAN SMITH G 6-2 HOLLY SPRINGS MURRAY STATE
4 DEWAYNE STEWART F 6-6 RIVERSIDE MISS. STATE
10 GABE WATSON G 6-3 ST. JOSEPH (Madison) SOUTHERN MISS
11 GARRISON WADE F 6-6 ST. ANDREW’S undecided
12 MILES MILLER G 6-3 MERIDIAN undecided
15 TYRON BREWER F 6-6 MERIDIAN undecided
22 LADARIUS MARSHALL F 6-7 FOREST HILL undecided
23 TYLER STEVENSON F 6-7 NEW HOPE undecided
25 ROBERT WOODARD F 6-6 COLUMBUS MISS. STATE
30 JAVIAN FLEMING C 6-9 CANTON ALABAMA
33 KAMARIAN WILLIAMS C 6-8 CLEVELAND CENTRAL MURRAY STATE
HEAD COACH: KIM WINDOM, PORT GIBSON
ASSISTANT COACH: DARRIN CHANCELLOR, FLORENCE
ADMINISTRATIVE COACH: ERNIE WATSON, HATTIESBURG
ATHLETIC TRAINER: FRED ROBINSON, MS SPORTS MEDICINE
ALABAMA BOYS TEAM
NO. NAME POS HGT SCHOOL COLLEGE
3 TRAVARUS CARROLL G 6-2 HUFFMAN ITAWAMBA CC
4 JAMARI BLACKMON G 6-0 HOOVER undecided
10 DIANTE WOOD G 6-5 SACRED HEART ALABAMA
11 JARED SHERFIELD G 6-5 PAUL W. BRYANT TENNESSEE TECH
12 ANQUAEVIOUS POLLARD F 6-7 LANETT INDEPENDENCE CC
15 JAYCE WILLINGHAM G 6-5 CORDOVA undecided
20 JEFFERY ARMSTRONG PG 5-11 PLAINVIEW undecided
21 DYLAN ROBERTSON C 6-9 PAUL W. BRYANT WINGATE
23 LOGAN DYE G 6-9 HALEYVILLE SAMFORD
24 ISAAC CHATMAN F 6-6 CORDOVA undecided
25 SEAN ELMORE G 6-1 MOUNTAIN BROOK NORTH ALABAMA
34 XAVIER WILLIAMS C 6-9 A. H. PARKER undecided
HEAD COACH: ROBI COKER, PLAINVIEW
ASSISTANT COACH: HEATH BURNS, CORDOVA
ADMINISTRATIVE COACH: LUTHER TIGGS, BOB JONES
ADMINISTRATIVE COACH: DAVID GOOD, MOUNTAIN BROOK
ATHLETIC TRAINER: MEG IKEDA, ENCORE
MISSISSIPPI GIRLS TEAM
NO. NAME POS HGT SCHOOL COLLEGE
00 JARIYAH COVINGTON PG 5-3 STARKVILLE undecided
2 KYANNAH GRANT G 5-7 CHOCTAW CENTRAL undecided
3 TABREEA GANDY PG 5-3 STARKVILLE ITAWAMBA CC
4 KYARRAH GRANT G 5-7 CHOCTAW CENTRAL undecided
10 CHYNA LEIGH ALLEN G 5-6 HARRISON CENTRAL JONES JC
11 MAHOGANY VAUGHT G 5-7 OLIVE BRANCH SOUTH ALABAMA
12 KEALY WILSON G 5-9 HORN LAKE undecided
20 JATYJIA JONES G 5-9 INGOMAR undecided
23 DESTINY SMITH G 6-0 McCOMB SOUTHERN MISS
25 AMBER GASTON F 6-3 WARREN CENTRAL FLORIDA ATLANTIC
33 DAPHANE WHITE C 6-5 ST. MARTIN MISS. STATE
34 KAYLA SIMMONS F 6-0 BRANDON undecided
INJ KAVACI-A JOHNSON PG 5-4 BYHALIA CENTRAL ARKANSAS
HEAD COACH: JANNA THOMPSON, HORN LAKE
ASSISTANT COACH: SHAYNE LINZY, LAFAYETTE
ADMINISTRATIVE COACH: DONNY FULLER, GULFPORT
ATHLETIC TRAINER: STEVEN BUSH, MS SPORTS MEDICINE
ALABAMA GIRLS TEAM
NO. NAME POS HGT SCHOOL COLLEGE
3 HANNAH BARBER PG 5-6 HOMEWOOD ALABAMA
4 EBONI WILLIAMS F 6-0 HOOVER UT CHATTANOOGA
10 CAITLIN HOSE G 5-10 HAZEL GREEN GEORGIA
11 CLAIRE HOLT PG 5-8 SPAIN PARK RICHMOND
12 ALLIE CRUCE G/F 6-1 LAUDERDALE CTY ALABAMA
15 AJAH WAYNE G/F 5-10 RAMSAY OLD DOMINION
20 DAISHA BRADFORD PG 5-8 LEFLORE undecided
21 KARLEIGH SLEDGE F 6-0 DESHLER JACKSONVILLE ST.
24 JERMECYA HARRIS F 6-0 MATTIE T. BLOUNT LOUISIANA TECH
25 ZIPPORAH BROUGHTON PG 5-9 R. E. LEE RUTGERS
34 BROOKE HAMPEL G/F 5-10 HAZEL GREEN MISSOURI (K.C.)
40 MAYA BUCKHANON C 6-2 TALLADEGA MEMPHIS
HEAD COACH: TIM MILLER, HAZEL GREEN
ASSISTANT COACH: RICKY AUSTIN, SPRING GARDEN
ADMINISTRATIVE COACH: TAMMY WEST, COLD SPRINGS
ATHLETIC TRAINER: DeSHENA THOMAS, ENCORE