Friday, February 28, 2020






Class 7A Girls’ Semifinals Spain Park 48, McGill-Toolen Catholic 35

   Spain Park senior Sarah Ashlee Barker scored 26 points and pulled down 10 rebounds Thursday afternoon to lead the Jaguars past McGill-Toolen Catholic 48-35 in the Class 7A girls’ semifinals of the 98th AHSAA 7A State Basketball Championships being held at the BJCC Legacy Arena.
    The victory sets up an all-Hoover state championship game Saturday at Legacy Arena for the second time in four years. Tip off is set for 4 p.m. Both high schools are in the Hoover City School System.
    Barker made two 3-pointers and was 10-of-12 at the foul line, had two assists, three steals and three blocked shots for Spain Park (31-4), coached by Mike Chase. Avery Madison had 14 points with two treys and a 4-of-5 performance on free throws. The Jaguars of Coach Mike Chase out-rebounded McGill-Toolen 32-19.
   Coach Carla Berry’s Yellow Jackets (26-7) were led by Nya Valentine’s nine points. She made two 3-pointers. Sanola Mixon had the other two treys to finish with six points. She also had three steals and three blocked shots. Lindsay Cox had eight points and Anna Reed McNeece had five points and five steals.
    Hoover and Spain Park met in the 7A state finals at the Legacy Arena in 2017 with the Lady Bucs winning 51-47 in overtime. The Jaguars won the 7A title in 2018 and Hoover won in 2019.
    All semifinal and championship games in the 2020 AHSAA State Tourney are being live-streamed over the NFHS Network’s subscriber-based platform and are also being shown over the AHSAA TV Network’s group of cable affiliates in Alabama. WOTM TV is producing all games and the AHSAA Radio Network is handling announcing duties for radio and TV during the semifinals.
    All cable systems in Alabama have a chance to take the broadcast feed for all the games free of charge. If your local cable company is not televising the games, please contact them and ask them to join the AHSAA TV Network.

Wednesday’s Results

Class 7A Girls Semifinals

Hoover (31-2) 58, Central-Phenix City (21-8) 42
Spain Park (31-4) 48, McGill-Toolen Catholic (26-7) 36
Class 7A Girls Championship
Hoover (31-2) vs. Spain Park (31-4), Saturday, 4 p.m.

Class 7A Boys Semifinals

Lee-Montgomery  (32-1) 65, Oak Mountain (22-9) 57
Mountain Brook (31-2) vs. Fairhope (24-4), Thursday, 1:30 p.m.
Class 7A Boys Championship

Lee-Montgomery (32-1) vs. Mountain Brook (31-4) or Fairhope (24-4), Saturday, 5:45 p.m.

Class 1A Girls’ Championship
Spring Garden (34-2) vs. St. Luke’s Episcopal (22-4), Thursday, 4 p.m.
Class 1A Boys Championship

Lanett (21-11) vs. Pickens County (25-3), Thursday, 5:45 p.m.


AHSAA Mourns the Death of High School Officiating Legend Hugh Dan Gunter

   The AHSAA was saddened to learn of the death of longtime Alabama High School football official Hugh Dan Gunter, 87, who died after an extended illness.
     “Our hearts go out to his wife of 63 years Lynn and the entire family of Mr. Gunter,” said Steve Savarese, AHSAA Executive Director. “His life of long-time service to the AHSAA is noted by leadership and mentoring of on and off the field. He has been instrumental in helping our football officials statewide become the best they can be.”

     Born in DeKalb County in 1932, he moved to Gadsden as a young boy. He was a founding member of Edgewood Baptist Church, where he was baptized as a teenager. He graduated from Emma Samson High School in 1952. He was voted MVP of the 1951 football team and made second team All-County. After graduation, Hugh would serve in the U.S Army before returning home to work at Goodyear for 32 years advancing to Engineering Manager over the Radial Tire Plant until he retired.
     In 1959, he joined the Gadsden Football Officials Association and would referee high school football for 40 years. He was the Association president for 10 years. In 1999, he was appointed as the East Central District Director by the Alabama High School Athletic Association. He resigned as Director in 2007 but continued to do volunteer work for the AHSAA as long as his health allowed.

Football Leadership Groups Meet to Maintain Sport’s Popularity

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 Dr. Karissa L. Niehoff, NFHS Executive Director


            The enduring popularity of football in the United States was celebrated in the past year at all levels of the sport.

            The NFHS celebrated its 100th year of service in all areas of high school sports, including the writing of football playing rules, although the first-known games date to the 1870s.

            This past year, the NCAA recognized the 150th anniversary of college football which started in 1869 when Princeton and Rutgers met for the first time. And the National Football League just closed its 100th season, which started with a 1919 game between Dayton and Columbus.

            From those beginnings to today, the impact of football on life in America is incalculable. From the youth leagues, through high school and college, and on to the NFL, football is the runaway leader as this country’s most popular sport – both from a participant standpoint with about three million players annually at all levels, to the millions of fans who attend or watch games.

            Every fall, millions of families spend a portion of their weekends supporting their grade-school kids in youth football programs. Through these programs, kids are exposed to the basics of the sport and, more importantly, they begin to learn teamwork, sportsmanship and how to win and lose in a proper manner.

            On Friday nights, beyond the one million high school students – boys and girls – actually playing football, there are more than 150 million fans who attend games each year. Parents are involved in booster club activities, and homecoming activities occur during one football game every year. In many communities – particularly smaller cities and towns – Friday night football is often the most anticipated event of the week. 

            Another 50,000-plus players are involved in college football on Saturdays. As is the case at the high school level, homecoming events are tied to one football game every fall. Postseason bowl games have been a part of American culture for decades, and the new College Football Playoff has brought even more excitement to the end of the season. 

            NFL games on Sunday complete the three-day weekend focus on the country’s favorite sport. Thanks, in part, to the singular weekly focus as opposed to multiple games each week in the other three major professional sports, football dwarfs its competitors.


           The interest level in playing football – and following the sport at all levels – has never been higher. With that continued interest in the sport comes the expectation that everything possible is being done – at all levels – to ensure that the safety of each and every participant is of the upmost concern.


           With that backdrop, last week we met with leaders from USA Football, several state high school association executive directors and high school coaches and athletic directors representing the National High School Football Coaches Alliance and the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association, respectively.


           Collectively, these groups are committed to consistent messaging and support to ensure the ongoing popularity of the sport for the next 100 years. We believe the Football Development Model (FDM) enacted by USA Football will re-invigorate interest in the sport at the youth levels. The FDM reduces contact in youth football and advances the game through comprehensive education, game progressions and safety standards.


           There was also agreement about the importance of high school football coaches. By connecting with coaches of youth football programs in their communities, high school football coaches can spur excitement on the part of youth players and their parents and improve chances of kids continuing to play the sport. Without a doubt, high school football coaches can be the focal point to success of programs in communities across the nation.


           Working together, we can count on a continuation of the sport’s popularity at the high school level.



Dr. Karissa L. Niehoff is in her second year as executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) in Indianapolis, Indiana. She is the first female to head the national leadership organization for high school athletics and performing arts activities and the sixth full-time executive director of the NFHS, which celebrated its 100th year of service during the 2018-19 school year. She previously was executive director of the Connecticut Association of Schools-Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference for seven years.



DistrictWON® Announced as New NFHS Corporate Partner






DistrictWON® Announced as New NFHS Corporate Partner


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                Contact: Mark Koski


INDIANAPOLIS, IN (February 11, 2020) — The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and the NFHS Network have entered into a new corporate partnership with DistrictWON®, a company devoted to bringing high schools purpose-driven messages and assets.


DistrictWON delivers brand messaging primarily through high school athletic events, activities and other school assets, and offers its partners fully integrated campaigns that include on-site exposure, social media integration, digital extensions and more. In the process, it provides funding and other assets that assists schools, parents and students with the financial burden of participation.   


“We are excited to partner with DistrictWON – a company that employs a mindset similar to that of the NFHS,” said NFHS Executive Director Karissa Niehoff. “Not only does DistrictWON understand the value of high schools within communities, but they set out to provide direct benefits to schools through their business model.” 


“We align strongly with the NFHS and its mission to support schools across the nation,” said DistrictWON CEO Peter Fitzpatrick. “Education-based activities are vital, and we are passionate about the role we can play to nurture them at schools across the United States.”


One of DistrictWON’s operational staples is its Purpose-Driven Marketing® approach, which underscores the positive impact and tangible benefits a brand provides to the community it serves. Reaching a “hyper-local” target of youth and families allows brands to meet their goals within their own communities while offering supportive assets to schools.


“We’re very happy to have reached a partnership agreement with DistrictWON,” said Mark

Koski, CEO of the NFHS Network and NFHS director of marketing. “DistrictWON’s focus on the continued growth and assistance of our nation’s high schools fits well with the goals and ideals of the NFHS.”


            Online link to article:



About the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS)

The NFHS, based in Indianapolis, Indiana, is the national leadership organization for high school sports and performing arts activities. Since 1920, the NFHS has led the development of education-based interscholastic sports and performing arts activities that help students succeed in their lives. The NFHS sets direction for the future by building awareness and support, improving the participation experience, establishing consistent standards and rules for competition, and helping those who oversee high school sports and activities. The NFHS writes playing rules for 17 sports for boys and girls at the high school level. Through its 50 member state associations and the District of Columbia, the NFHS reaches more than 19,500 high schools and 12 million participants in high school activity programs, including more than 7.9 million in high school sports. As the recognized national authority on interscholastic activity programs, the NFHS conducts national meetings; sanctions interstate events; offers online publications and services for high school coaches and officials; sponsors professional organizations for high school coaches, officials, speech and debate coaches, and music adjudicators; serves as the national source for interscholastic coach training; and serves as a national information resource of interscholastic athletics and activities. For more information, visit the NFHS website at


About DistrictWON

DistrictWON®, based in Rocky River, Ohio, is a brand engagement company focused on the high school market. DistrictWON delivers nationwide scale and hyper-local reach to engage local communities. DistrictWON creates powerful local marketing programs for brand partners through campaigns utilizing integration into schools’ social media, “All Device Delivery” with precise targeting of students, parents and administrators, prime branding via signs, public address messages, promotional items and more, school and partner branded apparel and goods, and other benefits. DistrictWON has developed an approach based on Purpose-Driven Marketing® and defines this as the positive impact and benefits brands’ provide through their investments. DistrictWON also offers “All Access”, a first-of-its-kind subscription team uniform and training apparel program for high schools that allows them the ability to turn team gear and apparel – a significant budget item for all schools – into a revenue generator through a unique profit-sharing model. From a national media prospective, DistrictWON is an official sales arm of the NFHS Network and offers inventory into every state championship broadcast across 46 of 50 states. For more information, visit

MEDIA CONTACTS:                        Bruce Howard, 317-972-6900

                                                      Director of Publications and Communications

                                                      National Federation of State High School Associations



                                                      Chris Boone, 317-972-6900

                                                      Assistant Director of Publications and Communications

                                                      National Federation of State High School Associations




AHSAA Mourns Death of Howard “Mouse” Waldrep

   The AHSAA was saddened to learn of the death Howard “Mouse” Waldrep, 89. Mr. Waldrep passed away Feb. 2 at home after an extended illness with his wife of 69 years Mary Green Waldrep and other family members with him.
    “Howard Waldrep was one of those people who knew how to lead,” said AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese. “His life of service is one we should all try to emulate. Our prayers go out to his wife and family and all who knew and loved him.”
     Mr. Waldrep was an outstanding student-athlete in Calhoun County graduating from Anniston High School in 1949. He earned a basketball scholarship to Snead State Community College and Jacksonville State University where he helped both schools enjoy some of their finest seasons.
   He had a life of service in the AHSAA, first as a teacher and coach at Piedmont High School where he taught and coached for 14 years. He moved to Walter Wellborn High School in 1969 as principal, remaining there until his retirement in 1993.
    He served on the District 6 Legislative Council of the AHSAA and was a member of the Central Board of Control – serving one term as president. He also served on the Calhoun County Board of Education after his retirement.
    Mr. Waldrep was a proud veteran who served in Korea. He was a combat-wounded Purple Heart recipient. The veteran administrator was inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame in 1995 and was also elected to the Calhoun County Hall of Fame.
    A memorial service is planned Thursday at 5 p.m. at Walter Wellborn High School’s Howard Waldrep Gymnasium. The family will receive friends tonight, February 5, at Eulaton United Methodist Church from 5-8 p.m.
Donations may be made to the Howard “Mouse” Waldrep, Jr. scholarship fund at Piedmont High School, through the Piedmont Education Trust, P.O. Box 819, Piedmont, AL 36272, Wellborn High School, 135 Pinson Road, Anniston, Al 36201 or Alexandria High School 353 Stadium Drive Alexandria, AL 36250. 

The NFHS Voice: Playing Multiple Sports in High School Paves Way for Mahomes’ Success

By Dr. Karissa Niehoff on February 05, 2020

On football’s grandest stage this past weekend, its latest star attraction not only delivered another virtuoso performance but demonstrated the best career path to success.


In leading the Kansas City Chiefs to victory in Super Bowl LIV, quarterback Patrick Mahomes brought to an end another tremendous year of football at all levels and became the latest – and perhaps best – example of the benefits of playing multiple sports during high school. 


In the week prior to the Super Bowl, Mahomes talked about his ascension to the top of the football world. Despite the opportunity to focus solely on baseball as his father had done, Mahomes rejected sport specialization. Instead, he spoke about how playing multiple sports in high school paved the way for his success.  


The top performer on the grandest stage of the sport, Mahomes made it to the top of the football mountain by NOT playing football year-round. Had he chosen to specialize in one sport during his high school days in east Texas, Mahomes might never had made it to NFL since as he noted in the week prior to the Super Bowl he was “a baseball player that was playing football.”


Mahomes believes the skills he learned as a shortstop in baseball and as a point guard in basketball helped him more as a quarterback on the football field than if he had chosen to devote his entire energies to football.


His uncanny ability to throw passes from various angles unlike any of today’s perfect-form pocket quarterbacks? He gained those skills on the baseball field. His ability to throw lasers to his intended receivers without looking? He learned those skills on the basketball court at Whitehouse High School in Texas.


His trek to the top of the football world supports our belief that playing multiple sports within the education-based structure – as opposed to a single-sport focus in a non-school program – is the best route to future success.


Mahomes experienced the benefits of playing multiple sports – better leadership and teamwork skills from cross-training, reduced risk of burnout in one sport, a variety of experiences from involvement with different sports and teams, reduced risk of overuse injuries in one sport and exposure to a variety of coaching styles.


Many parents believe that in order for their son or daughter to earn a college scholarship and eventually play at the professional level, they have to specialize in one sport year-round. This pattern has led to the proliferation of non-school programs and coaches, many of which stray from the education-based focus of high school sports.


While there are a few who achieve elite status in a sport, the majority of people who participate do not. We believe the multiple-sport path demonstrated by Mahomes is the best route to attaining athletic success and lifelong enjoyment of sports.

Bob Jones Fusion Claims ESports Rocket League Crown, Thompson Wins League of Legions Title

   BIRMINGHAM – Bob Jones High School’s Fusion team beat Grissom 3-2 Friday afternoon at the Eplex to claim the 2020 PlayVS ESports Rocket League state championship, and Thompson High School won the League of Legions championship in the second final of the night 2-1 over the Bob Jones Red team.
   The Bob Jones Fusion team, coached by Aubree White, is comprised of Joshua Vannoy, Caleb Cooper, Ian Barrier, Jordan Hazuga and Jacob Fruehwald. Grissom’s squad, coached by John Wright and Chris Brown, includes Ian Mackenzie, Kevin dong, Kyle O’Hear, Walker McGilary and Grayson Parker.
Bob Jones won the first game 2-1 and the second game 4-2. Grissom stormed back to win the third game 5-1 and fourth game 5-2, but Bob Jones captured the team title with a 3-2 in in Game 5.
   Thompson’s team members are Alan Rivas, An Ly, Nolen Young, Kobi Thomas, Cameron Young, Savannah Force and Carter Mandy. The Warriors coach is Spencer Stone. Members of Bob Jones Red Team squad are Riley McGraw, Tyler Theakston, Amber Guo, Scott Reid, Cuong Guo, Sunah Brewer and Cong Vo. White also coaches the Red squad.
      The championship in the League of Legends finals was the first for Thompson High School. Bob Jones High school’s state title in the Rocket League was its  third since ESports became a sports activity in the AHSAA in the 2018-19 school year.


Charlotte Davies Retires after 33 Years of Service

   MONTGOMERY – Charlotte Davies, who has served as the administrative secretary at the Alabama High School Athletic Association for the past 33 years, has announced her retirement, which will be effective March 1.
   Mrs. Davies was hired by Herman L. “Bubba” Scott, continued her role with Dan Washburn and has been serving in the same role for current Executive Director Steve Savarese since 2007.
    Savarese said Mrs. Davies has been an integral part of the AHSAA staff for a long time.
    “We wish Charlotte the best as she moves into this next phase of her life,” he said. “We thank her for her faithful service to the AHSAA for the past 33 years, and we want her to know we all love her and will miss her.”
     Mrs. Davies said working at the AHSAA has been an important part of her life.
     “It has been a journey, a great journey,” Mrs. Davies said. “God has blessed me with employment at the AHSAA for 33 years. I have totally and joyfully enjoyed my job to the fullest. I have learned so many things from the Executive Directors Mr. Herman L. “Bubba” Scott, Mr. Dan Washburn and Mr.
Steve Savarese. They taught me so much more than just how to do my job. They taught me about life and how to handle the trials that come with that life.”
    She said she really loved working at the AHSAA – and especially developing so many friendships with those she was able to serve. “I really enjoyed working with the Hall of Fame, meeting the inductees, hearing their stories and sharing their memories.”
    She is looking anxiously at what God has in store for her now.
   “I will miss my family at the AHSAA. They will always have a big piece of my heart,” she said.  “I must now travel onto the next season of my life that God has prepared for me. I will truly be indebted to my AHSAA family for their friendships for as long as I live.”

Everybody needs a Tom Calvin in their life

Story by David Elwell; The Decatur Daily

I firmly believe that if everyone had a person like Tom Calvin in their life that the world would be a better place.

Calvin, who died Wednesday at age 93,  had a way of making you feel special. Part of it was his smile and that twinkle in his eye. There was also that firm handshake that pulled you into his world.

His wife Lenette is the same way, minus the firm handshake. They were a dynamic pair for 70 years and changed the lives of so many people they touched. It wasn’t just football players or the girls she coached in gymnastics. They were indeed an impact couple.

I met Calvin when I was a rookie sports writer at The Daily. It was in the summer, and he was preparing to start his fourth season at Austin High. I lived close enough to the old Austin campus that you could hear the whistles from the football field in the morning and the band practicing in the afternoon.

One late morning as I headed home from the office, I decided to swing by the practice field. I had yet to meet Calvin. I knew about his playing career at Alabama and in the NFL with the Steelers. I knew about his coaching success at Sylacauga. The plan was to watch some practice and, if I was still there when practice ended, I would introduce myself.

In those days you could park on the street right next to the practice field. I did and before I could step from the street to the grass I heard this raspy voice repeatedly yelling across the field for the managers to "find out who that man is."

It took me a couple of minutes to realize the raspy voice was Calvin and I was the subject his managers were running to question. I explained who I was and they relayed the message. He later came over and apologized. The next time I saw him he apologized again and he did several more times. He made sure I knew that I was always welcomed at Austin, in his office and at practice.

I thought I had hit it lucky. I expected this veteran coach to be someone who didn’t care much for distractions for his football program. I thought dealing with the local newspaper would probably be a low priority. I was wrong. Instead we became great friends.

Over the years I have put coaches in two groups. One group is coaches that use fear to get the best out of their teams. The players play their best because of a fear for what happens if they don’t.

Then there are the coaches who care for their players so much that the players want to be successful so as not to disappoint. It didn’t take me long to see that Calvin belonged in the second group. His players loved him.

That season was Steve Rivers’ first year as head coach at Decatur. The Daily’s high school football spotlight was probably shining a little more in the Decatur direction. Calvin had been at Austin three years with just one winning season. As the fourth man on sports staff, most of my assignments were at Austin.

During school, Calvin was in his office the last period of the day. There was no football practice in those days until after school. My visits would be during that last period. I would ask questions about the Black Bears and just let him talk. Often he would divert to stories about growing up in Limestone County, playing football at Alabama, marrying the head cheerleader at Alabama, playing for the Steelers and the glory days at Sylacauga. The stories were so interesting that I would show up some days when I wasn’t working on an Austin story just to hear another one.

Austin went 1-9 in 1981. After that season the next three years were amazing. The Black Bears won 31 games and in 1983 advanced all the way to the Class 4A championship game at Legion Field. If there had not been a monsoon that night at Legion Field, I’m convinced Austin would have won that game. The wet field slowed down a fast Austin team. Murphy won 7-0.

Calvin’s career was all about relationships. One of the most special relationships was with Rivers, who played for Calvin at Sylacauga. Rivers’ father was not around much. Calvin became like a father figure to him. Sylacauga even won a tennis state championship with Calvin coaching and Rivers playing.

After high school, Calvin helped Rivers get a scholarship to play football at Mississippi State. When Rivers was ready to start a coaching career, it was Calvin who told Decatur head coach Earl Webb about him. Rivers joined Webb’s staff and that changed his life. He met his wife Joan here and eventually became head coach at Decatur and later Athens. Their son Philip has created a legacy as a star NFL quarterback. None of that would have happened if not for Calvin.

Calvin touched a lot of other lives and will continue long after he’s gone just because of the people he touched. We should all be thankful that he passed through our lives.

Five things you may not know about Tom Calvin


• One of his Calvin’s best friends growing up in Limestone County was Alabama teammate Herb Hannah, the father of the famous Hannah brothers who played at Alabama in the 1970s. Herb’s son John is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

• Calvin played at Alabama in 1949 and 1950. In the 1949 Iron Bowl, he scored a late touchdown to cut the Auburn lead to 14-13. The point after touchdown kick was missed giving Auburn the win. 

• When Tom and Lentte married in 1950, it was the wedding of the cheerleader and the football star. The Birmingham News covered it with big photo at the top of Sunday’s front page. The guest included players from both Alabama and Auburn.

• The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Calvin in the 25th round in the 1951 draft. He was not impressed with the money and elected to start his coaching career at Baldwin County. A year later the Steelers called and increased the offer to $8,000 and Calvin accepted. He played for the Steelers from 1952-1955.

• Calvin left the NFL to become head coach at Sylacauga. He built a powerhouse that was declared state champions in 1957, 1960 and 1961 and won another championship on the field in 1969. Many of those players from Sylacauga stayed in touch with their coach. Over the years several traveled to Decatur for reunions.

Carroll High School Self-Reports Eligibility Violations

    MONTGOMERY –Carroll High School of Ozark have been fined for violating the AHSAA eligibility rules. The school self-reported the violation.
   CHS played two ineligible students on its boys’ varsity basketball team in violation of the AHSAA’s Transfer Rule.
As a result, CHS has forfeited all varsity boys’ basketball victories the students participated in, including Class 5A, Area 3 wins over Greenville and Charles Henderson.
     Accordingly, as restitution the students must sit out the same number of basketball contests in which each participated ineligibly once each student becomes an eligible athlete.