MONTGOMERY – Eleven major contributors to prep athletics in Alabama were inducted into the 28th class of the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame Monday night at the banquet held at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel and Convention Center.
Inducted were: (football coaches) John Mothershed, Deshler; Randy Ragsdale, Trinity Presbyterian; Jerome Tate, Loachapoka; (basketball coaches) Ricky Allen, Brewer; Obadiah Threadgill III, Notasulga; and Ed Wood, now deceased, who was elected in the “Old Timer” category from Carver-Montgomery; (volleyball coach) Ann Schilling, Bayside Academy; (baseball coaches) William Booth, Hartselle; Al Rauls, Buckhorn, who also coached softball; (administrator) Greg Brewer, AHSAA; and (official) long-time soccer official Joe Manjone.
Sponsors of the Hall of Fame program are the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA) and the AHSAA. The corporate sponsors include Alabama Power, ALFA, Cadence Bank, Coca-Cola, Encore Rehabilitation, Jack’s, Russell Athletic, TeamIP and Wilson Sporting Goods.
Rauls delivered a poignant acceptance address for the Class of 2018, thanking those who helped guide them along the way.
Veteran sportscaster Jeff Shearer emceed the banquet attended by more than 700. The Goshen High School NFHS School Broadcast Program live-streamed the banquet over NFHS Network under the guidance of Stephanie Snyder. The first class was inducted in 1991. These 11 new inductees will run the total enshrined into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame to 343.
The first class was inducted in 1991. These 11 new inductees will run the total enshrined into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame to 343.
A profile of each inductee:
RICKY ALLEN: Allen, 62, graduated from Brewer High School in Somerville in 1973, earned his college degree at Auburn University and then returned to Morgan County in 1977 where he remained as a teacher and coach for 34 years. He served in various assistant coaching roles at Brewer and head-coaching roles at nearby Cotaco and Union Hill junior high schools before taking over the girls’ program at Brewer in 1985.
He became Brewer High School’s girls’ head basketball coach in 1985 where he remained through 2015. Allen compiled a 30-year record of 604-272 with one state title (Class 5A in 2012) and one state runner-up (2009). His teams reached the State Championships five times, made 15 Northwest Regional tournament appearances winning five times. His teams won 17 Morgan County championships.
Brewer also served in various other head-coaching roles including volleyball and softball. In high school he was a member of the school’s first graduating class helping Brewer reach the state boys’ basketball tournament in 1973 for the only time in school history while averaging 13 points and 12 rebounds.
A local church leader, he has taught Sunday School for 25 years and served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA).
WILLIAM BOOTH: Booth, 73, a veteran of 52 years in education, got a late start in coaching at Hartselle High School. However, he made up for lost time quickly. Over the last 30 years he has become the state’s all-time career wins leader for baseball, compiling a 1,025-431 record with eight state championships and three runner-up trophies.
He coached his first times on a field he described as a “cow pasture” and but now plays and practices at Sparkman Park, one of the finest high school facilities in the nation. He has seen 101 of his former players sign college scholarships and eight played professionally. Two, Steven Woodard and Chad Girodo, reached the major league. He was recognized by the Alabama State Senate and his hometown last May for his career achievements at a special ceremony at Sparkman Park.
He served 10 years as a little league coach, leading teams to two state titles and one state runner-up. He graduated in 1962 from Morgan County High School and got his undergraduate and masters’ degrees from Athens State and Alabama A&M. Teaching advanced math for almost 50 years, Booth served as interim Superintendent of Education in the summer of 2017 and is now serving as assistant superintendent while continuing to coach baseball.
GREG BREWER: Brewer, 61, rose from the ranks of officiating to become the AHSAA’s Director of Officials while serving as an assistant director from 1985-2016. A 1975 graduate of Bradshaw High School in Florence, he earned his college degree from the University of North Alabama in 1980 and a master from the University of Alabama in 1983.
He began officiating with the AHSAA in 1976. While at UA he became active as a contest official rising to supervisor of intramural officials in 1982. He also served as official scorer for basketball at UA for 22 years.
As Director of Officials with the AHSAA, Brewer served on various NFHS rules committees including serving as chairman of the NFHS Baseball Rules Committee from 2000-2006. He also served on the NFHS Football Rules Committee from 1998-2016 and also served on the NFHS Football Manual Committee and Football Rule Editorial Committee.
An innovator who worked diligently to improve officiating in the AHSAA, he developed the AHSAA district director program, the AHSAA Pitch Count Rule for baseball, which has been lauded as one of the best in the nation, and created a sports officiating course approved by the ASDE that is now being taught in high schools that will serve as a recruiting tool to help recruit future officials.
He also served as a Boys State staff member from 1981-92, was the NFOSA state director from 1990-2001 and was on the Jimmy Hitchcock Selection Committee for nine years.
The NFHS honored him with the Section 3 Citation Award for his contributions in 2006 and received the Alabama Baseball Coaches Association Distinguished Service Award in 2012. He co-founded the Alabama Sports Officials Foundation in 2016.
JOSEPH “JOE” MANJONE: A native of Pennsylvania, Joe, 75, has served as been a soccer official for the past 58 years. He became the AHSAA’s soccer rules interpreter in 1991, a position he still holds. His work with soccer officiating in Alabama has helped the sport flourish over the last 30 years.
He joined the NFHS Soccer Rules Committee as the AHSAA representative in 2000 and has been the AHSAA state soccer championships officials’ coordinator since its inception in 1991.
He received the AHSAA Distinguished Service Award for Officiating in 2010, was selected the NFHS Sports Official Contributor of the Year in 2012 and was inducted into the NISOA Hall of Fame in 2013.
A native of Pennsylvania, he graduated from Black Creek Township High School in 1959 and Penn State University in 1963. He earned several post-graduate degrees from Penn State and the University of Georgia. He came to Alabama in 1980 where he worked through 1996 with the University of Alabama-Huntsville as Director of Sports and Fitness. He has spent most of his professional life working in some capacity in college education and served as president of Waldorf College from 2009-11.
JOHN MOTHERSHED: Mothershed, 54, served as head football coach at Deshler High School from 1995-2013 and was athletic director from 1995-2007. His teams compiled a 201-53 record during that span. Prior to becoming head coach, he served on Coach Tandy Gereld’s staff for eight years. Gerelds was inducted into the AHSHOF last year.
The Tigers won state titles in 1998 and 1999 under Mothershed’s direction and reached the Super 6 state finals in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2010. His teams compiled a 49-17 playoff record in 19 appearances and was 102-13 in region games. Eleven of his teams won 10 or more games.
A graduate of Sheffield High School (1981) and the University of North Alabama (1985), he has been active in the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA) serving as president in 2004 and as a vice president from 2001-03. He has been inducted into the Colbert County Sports Hall of Fame.
RANDY RAGSDALE: Ragsdale, 60, served as head football coach at Trinity Presbyterian High School in Montgomery from 1989-2017. The Wildcats compiled a 242-86 record during that span with a 45-game regular-season winning streak from 2000-05. His 2003 team won the Class 4A state championship going undefeated at 15-0.
His teams reached the state playoffs in 25 of the 28 seasons and compiled a 116-23 region record. He began his coaching career as an assistant coach in Georgia and joined the Northview staff in Dothan in 1985.As defensive coordinator, he helped the Cougars win a state crown in 1985.
Ragsdale coached in the 1997 and 2004 North-South All-Star Games, was head coach in 2010 and was named ASWA Coach of the Year in 2003. He currently serves as a board member of the District 3 Fellowship of Christian Athletes and received the Herman L. Scott Distinguished Service Award in 2017 for his faith-based coaching leadership.
He coached a team of Alabama all-stars in the Down Under Bowl in Australia in 1999 and 2000. As a player he earned All-America honors as an offensive lineman at Jacksonville State and played in the NCAA Division II championship game in 1978.
The Rockdale County (GA) graduate attended Jacksonville State University on football scholarship graduating in 1979. He earned his masters from JSU in 1984. He and his family attend Ray Thorington Road Baptist Church.
ALVIN RAULS: Rauls, 62, has served in various capacities as a high school teacher and coach at Madison County and Huntsville city schools. As a baseball coach at he guided New Hope to the 1992 Class 3A state baseball crown and his 1990 and 1994 teams finished runner-up. With stops at Sparkman, Butler and Bob Jones, his teams won over 350 games. He moved to Buckhorn in 2007 where he has coached softball teams to more than 300 victories over the last 11 years. He guided the Lady Bucks to the state championship in 2017. He is only the second coach in AHSAA history to coach state titles in both sports.
He coached American Legion baseball for many years winning numerous state titles.
Rauls has also served on the AHSAA District 8 Board and Legislative Council and on the AHSAA Central Board of Control. He graduated from Monroe High School in Albany (GA) in 1972 and from Florida A&M, where he was on baseball scholarship, in 1977.
ANN SCHILLING: Schilling, 53, who was named the NFHS National Volleyball Coach of the Year in 2010, has had an incredible run as head volleyball coach at Bayside Academy. Through the 2017 season, her teams have won 16 straight state championships and 23 titles overall. She has more than 1,400 wins which places her among the leaders in the nation, and has been named State Coach of the Year by the Birmingham News five times (1992, 2000, 2007, 2011, 2012.
The founded the Eastern Shore Volleyball Club, Schilling was inducted into the Bayside Academy Sports Hall of Fame in 2004 and Mobile Sports Hall of Fame in 2017. Among her numerous honors was receiving the R.L. Lindsay Service Award for volleyball (2006), the John L. Finley Award for Superb Achievement (2004 and 2014) and the prepvolleyball.com Co-National coach of the year in 2009.
Schilling graduated from McGill-Toolen Catholic High School in 1982 where she played volleyball for legendary coach Becky Dickinson, who is already inducted into the AHSHOF. Schilling got her college degree at Auburn in 1987.”
She is a member of the American Volleyball Coaches Association and the AHSADCA. She is active in Christ the King Church.
JEROME TATE: Tate, 58, has spent almost his entire high school coaching career in East Central Alabama. After a one-year stint as head football coach at Keith High School in 1982-83, Tate moved to Lanett after two years as a college coach, and served the Panthers as head track coach and assistant football coach at Lanett through 1995.
He became head football coach and athletic director at Loachapoka in 1997and remained in that capacity until he stepped down in 2017. His teams compiled a 152-98 record with four regional titles and played in the state playoffs in 17 of his 22 seasons, including 14 appearances in a row. Tate coached in the North-South All-Star Game in 1997 and 2010 and in the Alabama-Mississippi Game in 2005.
He has been selected Opelika-Auburn News Coach of the Year, Montgomery Advertiser Coach of the Year, Alabama Football Coaches Association Coach of the Year and was inducted into the Alabama A&M Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.
He received a Certificate of Commendation from the City of Lanett in 1995 and a Certificate of Commendation from the City of Huntsville in 2006.
He coached numerous players who went to excel in college and three (Josh Evans, Kenny Sander and Tracy Brooks) that played professionally. Tate graduated from Selma High School in 1977 and Alabama A&M University in 1982, where he was an outstanding collegiate player.
OBADIAH THREADGILL III: Threadgill, 70, coached girls’ and boys’ basketball for 30 years including 22 at Notasulga High School – becoming one of the few coaches in AHSAA history to coach both teams to the state tournament. His boys won state titles in 1987 and 1992 and his girls’ team won a state title in 2001. He also coached two state runner-up teams and had nine Final Four appearances – including three in a row with his girls in 1995, 1996 and 1997. His teams combined to win more than 900 games. The gymnasium at Notasulga is named in his honor.
He was named Class 1A State Coach of the Year for boys twice and for girls once and received six Opelika-Auburn area coach of the year awards for boys and girls. He also had coaching stops at Tuskegee, D.C. Wolfe and Tuskegee Institute high schools.
His family represents three generations in education and coaching with his father and mother career teachers, his brother Kenneth a teacher and coach and now his son, Obadiah IV serving as a teacher and coach at LaFayette. Obadiah, at Notasulga, and Kenneth, at Livingston, became the first brothers to coach tams to the state championship game (1992) in the same year.
Threadgill, who served in the Army with a tour of duty in Viet Nam, graduated from Sumter County Training High School in 1965 and Tuskegee University in 1970. He completed his masters at Auburn in 1980.
EDWARD WOOD (OLD TIMER Division): Wood, now deceased, coached at two schools in his teaching/coaching career, Marengo County (Dixons Mills) and Carver-Montgomery. Born on New Year’s Day in 1927, he was in his coaching prime when succumbed to cancer in 1980 just eight days after his 53rd birthday.
He made an impact quickly on the students of the schools where he worked. He coached all sports at Marengo County from 1954-59 with much success in football and basketball.
He then moved home to Montgomery become head boys’ basketball coach at Carver, where he remained until 1979. He compiled a 209-99 record from 1959-69 and finished his 13-year span with 310 wins. His teams won district championships in the AIAA from 1961-64 and reached the state tourney in ’64. When the AIAA merged with the AHSAA in 1968, Wood continued his success with a region title and trip to the state tourney in 1969’s first with all schools competing. His Wolverines also reached the state tourney four more times in the next five years.
He recruited a young coach Dan Lewis to become his assistant coach and hand-picked Lewis to be his success when he stepped down. Lewis, credits Wood’s mentoring and example for his successes. Lewis, how retired, has already been inducted into the AHSHOF.
The gymnasium at Carver is named in Wood’s honor.
The Montgomery native graduated from Alabama State Laboratory School in 1945 and Alabama State University in 1954. He earned his masters from ASU in 1956. He attended Dexter Avenue King Memorial Church where he was a leader and community volunteer.
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.
When Jerome Tate came out of college, he was a big man with big plans. And he would take that plan to the small Lee County community of Loachapoka where he spent more than two decades instilling big dreams in the student-athletes he taught.
A native of Selma, Tate is being inducted into Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018. He graduated from Selma High School in 1977 as an All-State offensive and defensive lineman and was selected to play in the AHSAA North-South All-Star Game. He attended Alabama A&M University, where he continued his on-the-field success and graduated in 1982 with a bachelor’s degree in health, physical education and recreation.
His first job out of college was at Keith High in Orrville where he served as head football and assistant basketball coach. He taught physical education and health, subjects that he taught at each stop in his career.
For the next two years he coached at the college level, first at Alabama A&M and then at Tuskegee University. He was defensive line coach at A&M. At Tuskegee he served as an assistant football coach, and head strength and conditioning coach. However, he knew in his heart that he belonged back in high school.
In 1990 he moved to Lanett High School where he spent 10 years as defensive coordinator, linebackers coach and offensive line coach. He also was head track coach from 1990-95 at Lanett.
When Tate left Lanett to accept the athletic director and head football coach position at Loachapoka High School, sportswriter Todd Brooks wrote of his impact at Lanett.
“Perhaps the thing I noticed most about Jerome in the past four years I’ve known him is not how well he coached, but how well he got along with the students,” Brooks said. “Anyone who has seen the man in a school setting can tell that he cares. When (coach) Billy Kinnard left (Lanett) in 1993, it was Tate who led the team until a new coach was found. He, along with the other coaches, took them through spring training and kept them together until Lee Gilliland was hired.
“I have never seen players respond to a coach the way the Panthers have responded to Tate. When I interviewed Cliff Jackson about being selected to the state’s Super 12 team, I asked him about who he credits for his success. Jackson immediately spoke the name of Jerome Tate. ‘He’s my biggest fan, my biggest buddy.’ That’s pretty impressive to hear a 17-year-old kid speaking so highly of an adult these days.”
Tate went to Loachapoka in 1995. Over the next 22 years he compiled a record of 152-98 and won four region titles and become the school’s all-time wins leader. The Indians were in the state playoffs 17 times in 22 years, including a string of 14 straight appearances.
His coaching accomplishments and honors include:
· 15 winning football seasons in 22 years at Loachapoka. Seventeen of his 22 teams made the state playoffs.
· Led his 2004 team to an undefeated regular season and finished 12-1 overall. The 12 wins is a single season is a school record.
· Finished 11-2 in 2009, tied a school record for wins and advanced to the playoff semifinals.
· All-time winningest coach in Lee County.
· Coach of the Year awards in 1997, 2004, 2005 and 2009.
· Played in the North South All-Star Game and later coached in both the North-South and the Alabama-Mississippi all-star games.
Eleven of his players at Lanett and 16 at Loachapoka went on to play at the collegiate level. Three of them played professionally: Josh Evans with the Houston Oilers, Tennessee Titans and New York Jets; Kenny Sander with the New York Giants; and Tracy Brooks with the Salina Liberty of the Championship Indoor Football League.
Long-time coaching rival and friend Jackie O’Neal, a 2012 Hall of Fame inductee, admired Coach Tate’s work ethic.
“He was focused and driven to develop his teams to be tough mentally and physically on the football field,” O’Neal said. “Through his mentorship and life of integrity, Coach Tate has positively impacted student athletes for over three decades…. He is a true professional, along with being one of the most honest and upstanding people I know. I truly call him a friend.”
Former AHSAA Executive Director Dan Washburn mentored Tate at Lanett and wrote the following:
“I have been associated with Jerome for 35 years. I hired Coach Tate as an assistant coach at Lanett High School during my tenure as superintendent of Lanett City schools. I have witnessed first-hand his love and passion for the game of football. Jerome demonstrates professional integrity, outstanding character and is a true professional in everything he undertakes.
“Being a former coach, I have experienced how difficult it is to maintain a quality program over a period of many years. Jerome is the winningest coach in Lee County…. Every year we have numerous coaches who have qualifications to be part of this most prestigious hall of fame, but there are some outstanding individuals who simply stand above and beyond other nominees. Jerome Tate is definitely one of these.”
Coach Jim Hubbert, a 2006 Hall of Fame inductee, also wrote a letter endorsing Tate’s nomination. Hhe said, “I have known Coach Jerome Tate for over 30 years – as a college recruiting coach, as one of my assistant coaches, as a head coach and opponent, and mostly as a colleague and a friend. Jerome is the type of coach any father would love his son and grandson to have lead them. I was fortunate enough to have Coach Tate as one of my son’s coaches, and for that I am extremely thankful.
“His teams always have been respected as hard-nosed, disciplined and respectful of opponents. Those positive attributes are the results of Coach Tate leading his teams to exhibit good moral and ethical standards, to demonstrate leadership qualities, and to display good sportsmanship. Because of Coach Tate’s leadership, his teams have always brought a source of pride and respect to his school and community.”
Tate was inducted into the Alabama A&M Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.
Friday: Obadiah Threadgill Legacy stretches over four generations.
By Bill Plott
Ann Schilling’s journey to the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame started at the hands of a master. The Class of 2018 inductee played under the renowned Coach Becky Dickinson at McGill-Toolen Catholic High School. Coach Dickinson was in the very first class of inductees in 1991.
In a letter nominating Schilling to the Hall of Fame, Coach Dickinson wrote:
“Before her high school tenure with me even began, Ann fell during summer team camp and broke her right arm. Other athletes might have let that discourage them, but not Ann. She stayed at summer camp and continued to work out. She came to every volleyball practice and game, taking statistics and stepping in wherever she could. She even taught herself to shoot a basketball left-handed.
“She had her silly moments, too. When she was still a freshman, our basketball team played an area championship, and I watched as my starting players fouled out one by one, clearing my bench until I was left with Ann. When I put her in the game, I called a time-out and shared the game plan with my players. We were ahead and time was running out. They were to maintain possession of the ball. We didn’t need any baskets, so they weren’t to shoot.
“Ann Stepped out onto the court and received the ball out in Timbuctoo. She didn’t’ dribble. She didn’t pass. She didn’t’ fake her opponent. No, that 14-year-old kid launched the ball toward our goal, and – swoosh! – made it. After the game, I told her had her ill-advised shot missed, she would never have seen playing time on one of my teams again.
“But she hadn’t missed. And perhaps she had learned something about strategy, something that came in handy for her as she played at Auburn or as she began her own coaching career at Bayside Academy.”
A native of Mobile, Schilling went from McGill-Toolen to Auburn University where she played basketball for four years, walking on and earning a scholarship by her sophomore year. She stayed a fifth year at Auburn to play volleyball when the program was reinstated.
With college-level varsity experience in basketball and volleyball under her belt, she accepted the position of physical education teacher, basketball and volleyball coach at Bayside Academy in 1987. It was a perfect union. Schilling is now in her 31st season of teaching and coaching at Bayside.
That career, by the numbers, includes the following:
· 23 state volleyball championships, four runners-up
· 16 consecutive state champions 2002-2017, an Alabama record and second in the nation, and 19 in 20 years since 1998
· More than 1,400 wins, first among state active coaches and second in the state all-time
· 6 Mobile Press Register Super 12 Coach of the Year awards
· 5 Birmingham News Coach of the Year awards
· 7 selections as AHSAA all-star coach
· National Federation of High Schools Volleyball Coach of the Year award in 2010
Additionally, Schilling has received two John L. Finley Awards for Superb Achievement as a coach and an R. L. Lindsay Service Award for club volleyball. She is founder and director of the Eastern Shore Volleyball Club.
She was elected to the Bayside Academy Hall of Fame in 2004 and to the Mobile Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.
Nancy Shoquist, varsity volleyball coach at Mary G. Montgomery High School and a Hall of Fame inductee in 2014, wrote of her long association and friendship with Schilling:
“I truly feel Ann is the smartest high school volleyball coach in Alabama,” she said. “She studies the game, wanting always to learn new ideas and strategies which will give her an advantage. Her career record, state championships and state tournament appearances speak loads of her success.
“She will continue to be successful in volleyball because of the work ethic, love of her teams and lover of the game.”
Bayside Head of School Michael Papa spoke to the intangibles in Schilling’s career.
“Ann plays a huge role in the character development of the young ladies she coaches,” he said. “She instills good sportsmanship and the importance of teamwork in her players, regardless of the outcome of the game. Ann’s players respect her, and they want to work hard to win under her direction.”
Coach Dickinson said she saw Schilling develop and grow into a superb leader.
“Looking back at her outstanding career, it may come as a surprise that Ann was not a born leader,” Dickinson said. “During her senior year, the captain of the volleyball team missed one of our tournaments, and I watched as my team floundered, leaderless. A few timeouts later, when I asked Ann and her fellow senior to take charge, I watched her step onto the court and step into her own. After that, nothing Ann did surprised me.
“I was not surprised when she started and didn’t stop winning state championships. I was not surprised when Ann’s peers repeatedly recognized her coaching ability by voting her Coach of the Year. I was not surprised that she learned to take relatively unskilled young women and teach them game skills while building their confidence and leadership skills.”
And it is no surprise that Ann Schilling is now being inducted into the AHSAA Sports Hall of Fame in the Class of 2018.
THURSDAY: Jerome Tate taught his players to be mentally tough.
When Alvin Rauls was presented an AHSAA Making a Difference Award in 2017, he was aptly described as a “trailblazer.”
In 1992 this 2018 Alabama Sports Hall of Fame selection became the first black head coach to win a state baseball championship. Last year he became the first black coach to win a girls fast-pitch softball state championship. He is just the second coach in AHSA history to win titles in both of those sports.
A strong advocate of sportsmanship, Rauls was described as “an outstanding role model for students and is well respected by his peers.” Additionally, his service to the AHSAA has included serving on the Central Board of Control, Legislative Council and District Board of Officers.
A native of Albany (GA), he attended Monroe High School in Albany, graduating in 1972. Rauls then attended Florida A&M University on a baseball scholarship. At FAMU he played second base and was teammates with future baseball Hall of Famer Andre Dawson. He received his bachelor’s degree in Health, Physical Education and Recreation and Driver’s Education in 1977.
After graduation he moved to Huntsville where he became Director of Parks and Recreation for the town of Triana, a small town that was incorporated in Madison County in 1919 – which officially became just the second city incorporated in the county’s history. With this job he became the first black recreation director for a city or township in the state. He also was responsible for implementing the Summer Youth Program.
His coaching career had begun back in Albany with an American Legion team. He continued at Triana where he coached the city women’s softball team and the men’s After Dark slow-pitch softball team, which won a state championship. He also became certified as an AHSAA basketball official during this time, calling games regularly from 1979-98.
In 1981 he became head baseball coach at Alabama A&M University, serving in that position for three years.
In 1988 he went to New Hope High School as baseball coach. He was named Madison County Coach of the Year in 1990 and 1993. He won the state Class 2A championship in 1992 and his 1990 team was Class 3A runner-up. At New Hope he also served as assistant football coach as well as driver’s education and physical education teacher. He took on head football coaching duties in 1993 and 1994, compiling a 10-10 record.
In 1995 he went to Sparkman High School as head baseball coach, assistant football coach and driver’s education teacher. He held the same positions at S.R. Butler from 1997-2002 and at Bob Jones from 2002-06.
During his tenure as a baseball coach he has won more than 350 games and has received Coach of the Year honors at the county and state level numerous times.
In 2007 he went to Buckhorn High School as softball coach compiling a 256-141 record through the 2017 season. In addition to the 2017 state championship, the 2015 team won the Area 7 championship and made it to the semifinals in the state playoffs.
In nominating Rauls for the Hall of Fame, Buckhorn Principal Todd Markham wrote: “I have known Coach Rauls for many years. We have worked together as coaches, and I now serve as his principal. He is a man of great character, and he has devoted his life to coaching and teaching young people.”
He also has coached American Legion baseball for Post 237, winning state championships in 1990 and 1993.
Another letter of nomination came from Buckhorn Athletic Director David Carroll. “I have known him since around 1984,” Carroll said. “He was just ‘Al’ to me as an eight-year-old boy signing up to play basketball, soccer or baseball. He worked for the Madison Recreation Center and always had a big smile and that trademark deep voice. I would see him at the gym, all gyms it seemed, for he was also a basketball official. I waved at him as I rode my bicycle on the walkway up and down Hughes Road.
“As luck would have it, Coach Rauls took over the head baseball and assistant football jobs at New Hope High School as I entered the 9th grade. I would see him plenty over the next four years as the New Hope/Bob Jones rivalry in football and baseball had championship implications every year. Coach Rauls had a deep impact on the players he coached at BJHS, and they became my mentors.
“A vivid memory I have of my first day of baseball practice involves a drill run by senior Paul Fulda. We were working on ‘crow-hops’ in the outfield, and I was not familiar with it. As I struggled to catch on, I questioned, ‘Why are we doing this?’ Fulda’s reply was simply, ‘Coach Rauls taught us to do it this way.’ I had pride that I was at least indirectly coached by Al Rauls.
“As years passed and I got into coaching, our paths crossed several times. Any time I could pick his brain or ask advice he would never hesitate to talk ball with me. I had had countless conversations with those who either played for or coached with him. He is revered. I am now fortunate to be his athletic director as he has coached softball at Buckhorn. Although he is now coaching girls, the winning and the reverence is still the same.”
WEDNESDAY: Ann Schilling – Perseverance and Passion Has Been her Trademark.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: John Gillis
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (March 12, 2018) —LaFrancis Davis, the director of bands at Montgomery’s Carver High School, has been selected as the 2018 Section 3 recipient of the “National High School Heart of the Arts Award” by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). Cecelia Egan of Riverside (Rhode Island) St. Mary Academy-Bay View has been selected the 2018 national recipient of the “National High School Heart of the Arts Award” by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).
Davis will be recognized at the AHSAA Summer Conference Championship Coaches banquet on Friday night, July 20 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.
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 fifth year that the National High School Heart of the Arts Award has been offered. Eight
Ever since he was a student at Slocomb High School, Davis has had a passion for music. However, he was also a tremendous athlete who excelled in football, basketball, baseball and track. As such, he often faced schedule conflicts between athletics and performing arts.
By the time he was a junior, Davis had developed into a very talented all-around athlete who emerged as one of the state’s best football running backs. Band director Debra Lynn Long encouraged Davis to keep playing football and to keep playing the trumpet. He would often gain several yards in the first half of a football game and then march in his football uniform in the Marching Red Top Band before returning to the backfield in the second half.
When Davis prepared to graduate, several college football programs vied for his services. While Davis really wanted to play college football, he also wanted to major in music. He chose to attend Alabama A&M University, which had an outstanding music program.
After graduation, he served in the U.S. Army for 10 years. After that, he was persuaded to become band director at Coffee Springs High School. After resurrecting a struggling program there, he moved to Geneva County High School. He had two more stops along the way before landing at Carver, where he encourages his students to not just “… love all music, but to love playing the music and singing the songs even more.”
He rejuvenated Carver’s struggling band program from less than 60 members to now more than 150. He also started a band program at its feeder middle school that now nearly 100 students involved as well.
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (March 12, 2018) — Mark Russell, a high school football official and president of the Huntsville (Alabama) City Council, has been selected as the 2018 Section 3 recipient of the “National High School Spirit of Sport Award” by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). Russell will be recognized at the AHSAA Summer Conference Championship Coaches awards banquet Friday night, July 20 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.
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. Marissa Walker, a student-athlete at Waterford (Connecticut) High School, was selected the 2018 national recipient of the “National High School Spirit of Sport Award.” One recipient from each of the NFHS’s eight districts was selected for section recognition.
An Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) and youth league football official for more than 30 years, Russell has been a member of the Northeast Football Officials Association (NEFBOA) during most of that time. He has served as head of its nominating committee, as the leader of the local football association’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes group, and as chair of the NEFBOA’s benevolent committee projects. He has officiated several AHSAA state championship football games – most recently as a linesman at the 2017 Class 7A title game.
That seemingly innocuous officiating assignment was nothing less than a miracle. Just three months earlier on August 25, Russell was officiating a season-opening high school game between Alabama school Madison Academy and McCallie Academy from Tennessee. During the game, Russell collapsed on the field with heart failure. Paulette Berryman, a nurse who just happened to be working as the Madison Academy school photographer, was standing at the sidelines and quickly came to his aid performing CPR until he was revived. His heart had been stopped with no heartbeat for eight minutes while he lay unconscious on the ground in front of the packed stadium of fans.
He was then rushed by ambulance to Huntsville Hospital’s emergency ward. Within two hours, doctors stabilized him, implanted a stent, and he was sitting up with more than 40 officials who had rushed to the hospital ICU to pray for him and to support him during his time of need. Advised by the doctors to take some extended time off, Russell returned to football in less than a month for a coin toss, and then back as a linesman within six weeks.
To fully measure the impact of Alabama Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2018 inductee Randy Ragsdale, one needs to look past his 242 football coaching victories.
That’s the opinion who those who know him, including Trinity Presbyterian High School’s head of school Kerry Palmer. “There is so much more to ‘Coach Rags’ than metrics can measure,” Palmer said. “Randy Ragsdale is one of the finest human beings I have ever known. He truly loves and cares for all of the students at our school – not just ‘his boys’. He learns every name, knows every relationship and demonstrates real interest in each individual student. Randy’s positivity, enthusiasm and optimism are always present and are contagious.”
Ragsdale is being inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2018 at the Hall of Fame banquet March 19 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.
A native of Coyners, a suburban city near Atlanta, Ragsdale attended Rockdale County High School, graduating in 1975.
After an outstanding high school career, he received a football scholarship to Jacksonville State University. At JSU he earned All-American honors starting at tackle for three years and played in the NCAA Division II National Championship game in 1978 as a senior.
Upon graduation the following spring, he accepted a position at north Clayton High School in Georgia where he was an assistant coach for three years. He then moved to Fayette County (GA) where he coached from 1982-85.
In 1985 he moved to Alabama and joined the Northview High School coaching staff as defensive coordinator at the Dothan school. His impact was felt immediately as Northview won the 1985 Class 6A state championship.
After four years at Northview, Ragsdale moved to Trinity Presbyterian as head football coach, a position he held through the 2016 season. Although he announced his retirement from coaching, he continues to serve in the Middle School Dean position he has held since 2006.
With his retirement from football, Ragsdale legacy includes:
· He compiled an overall head-coaching record of 242-86.
· His teams qualified for the state playoffs 25 times in 28 seasons.
· Trinity was 15-0 in 2003 and won the Class 4A state championship.
· The Wildcats compiled a 45-game regular-season win streak from 2000-05.
· His teams won 13 Region titles with an overall 116-23 region record.
· He served as a coach in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game, was head coach in the North-South All-Star Game in 2010 and assistant coach in 1997 and 2004; and also coached a team in the Down under Bowl in Australia.
· He was named 2003 State Coach of the Year and was selected three times Metro Coach of the Year.
· Received the prestigious Herman L. “Bubba” Scott Lifetime Achievement Award from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in 2017 for his positive impact as a coach and commitment to his faith.
· The City of Montgomery proclaimed October 10, 2017, as Randy Ragsdale Day with commendations coming from the mayor’s office and the governor’s office.
“He makes our school better, and he makes the world better,” Palmer said. “Coach Ragsdale is not simply a colleague. He is a close personal friend and my brother in Christ.”
Todd Parsons, president of the Trinity Presbyterian Board of Trustees, added, “Coach Ragsdale put the Trinity football program on the map and compiled a record on the field of play that may never again be matched by a coach at a single school in Montgomery. Several members of our Trustee Board played for Coach Ragsdale and admire and respect him greatly.
“In fact, our board has voted to re-name our football field in honor of Coach Ragsdale. Our playing field will be known as Ragsdale-Boykin Field, honoring what we believe to be two of the finest men ever to serve this institution.“
In a 2014 interview with Duane Rankin of The Montgomery Advertiser, Ragsdale attributed part of his success to a simple motto his teams strived to live by: “Be accountable.”
“Our young men work to try to do what we ask them to do,” he said. “We repeat that over and over and over again. I think that comes with helping teach them to handle their own stuff. They’ve got to be personally accountable. And I say this in a positive way. We’re going to demand that out of them.”
Wilson Van Hooser, a former Trinity player who played collegiately at Tulane and Troy and received a tryout with the New England Patriots, was asked why Trinity has one of the best football programs in the state.
“I tell people this all the time,” he said, referring to what he learned as a member of a Randy Ragsdale-coached team. “We were a bunch of crazy, small guys out there. We weren’t the most athletic team out there. We had one or two (outstanding players) and my senior year we had three or four. (What we did have) was just a bunch out there who would lunge into people and knew how to play by the details.
We were relentless. We never let up. Whether we’re down or up, we (would) keep the pedal to the metal the whole game.”
Tuesday: Alvin Rauls – A trailblazer in high school athletics.