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R.G. Cook was a Father Figure to Hundreds of High School Student-Athletes

           A high school coach is an educator who wears many hats. A Hall of Fame coach is one that wears them all well. Meet Reynolds Gwaltney Cook -- Coach R.G. Cook to the hundreds of student-athletes whose lives were changed for the better because of his ability to teach the real lessons that can be learned from educational-based athletics.
          Cook, now deceased, is being inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2019. He is going in from the “old timer” category. The banquet will be Monday night, March 18 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center. His son Stan Cook is representing his father, accepting on behalf of the Cook family.
         A native of Greenville, Alabama, R. G. Cook graduated from Montgomery’s Sidney Lanier High School in 1933 and from Troy State Teachers College (now Troy University) in 1950. He later earned a master’s degree in education from Auburn University.

Cook began his teaching and coaching career at Williams School, a private prep school in Montgomery. He started the athletic program and was head basketball coach from 1950-52.
           He moved to Union Springs in 1952 – where he remained at Bullock County High School in some capacity through 1974. During that span he coached football, basketball, baseball and track. His 1956 football team was 10-0, and he was named the Birmingham Post-Herald Class 1A Coach of the Year. In 1957, he extended the winning streak to 19 games before losing a close game to Abbeville in the Peanut Bowl at Dothan. He was selected to coach in the AHSAA North-South All-star football game in Tuscaloosa in 1957.

Cook resigned as football coach in 1962, focusing on the basketball and baseball teams. His teams won more than 250 games in basketball with his 1963-64 and 1964-65 teams both going 23-0 in the regular season.

In baseball, his teams had signature wins over much larger schools such as Sidney Lanier and Central-Phenix City. He helped arrange for Union Springs to be an annual host of the Lions Club East-West all-star baseball game for Southeast Alabama.

Cook received numerous Coach of the Year Awards in various sports and helped organize the Central Alabama Conference for small schools Central Alabama.

After leaving the classroom and coaching field, he served as Bullock County Schools’ superintendent from 1968-74.

Hall of Fame member Ken Blankenship recalled his relationship with Coach Cook.  “In the early 1950s, I had the opportunity to compete against Coach Cook’s teams, and later he served as a mentor to me as I began my high school coaching career,” Blankenship said. “It was through his positive, caring influence that I learned it was an honor to have the opportunity to work with young people and an obligation to guide them as their lives were developing.”

J. Carlton Smith, who became a school superintendent himself, said Cook taught him the importance of priorities.
          “He taught me how to relate to high school kids,” said Smith, who served as an assistant to Cook at Bullock County High School. “R.G. was demanding of his players but gained their respect and admiration. He was an outstanding, winning coach, but winning was never his first priority. In his calm, low-key manner in dealing with teenage athletes, his first priority was always to teach his kids to be good citizens, to follow the rules, and to become strong, confident men.”

Smith recalled an incident in which Cook’s character came to the forefront dramatically. “A former athlete, a senior named Benny Johnson, dropped out of school because he was still struggling with ninth-grade English,” Smith said. “He found that the local supermarket where he worked would not keep him on because he was not a high school graduate. Cook persuaded him to return to school, attending Bullock County during the day and going to Montgomery to study English at the Williams School at night. He eventually graduated.”

But the story did not end there, Smith said. “Johnson developed a rare form of arthritis that would eventually cost him his eyesight.” He went to Cook and said, “What am I going to do? I have a wife and baby. How can I support them when I am blind?” Coach Cook was active in the Lions Club and its sight conservation mission. He took Johnson to Talladega and helped him enroll in the School for the Blind.  There, he acquired the skills to operate a small business without sight and was able to provide for his family.

“This is (just one) example of how R.G. Cook loved his students and the extra help he provided. This was far above what could be expected. That is the kind of coach, educator and person he was.
           “A Hall of Fame coach should be many things. He should be a person who develops young men. He teaches them to be solid, confident adults. He teaches them how to become leaders. He teaches them to always follow the rules. He teaches them to be contributing team members. He teaches them that they can achieve their goals through teamwork. He teaches them to be loyal and dedicated to their team and their teammates. He teaches them right from wrong, and he teaches them how to win and how to lose.”
         Smith said that Coach R. G. Cook meets all requirements as a Hall of Fame coach.
         “The best indicator is the love and pride he had for all his players and the love and devotion they still have for him to this day. Yes, he was a winning coach, but he was so much more than that. He was a father figure for hundreds of young men who became better adults because of his love and quiet leadership by example.” 


Alabama Boys 107, Mississippi Boys 90

    MONTGOMERY  – Strong inside play in the second half by Mountain Brook’s Trendon Watford and Lee-Montgomery’s Demond Robinson and a superb performance by Wenonah High School guard  Cameron Tucker helped Alabama’s Boys All-Stars  storm from behind in the second half to beat Mississippi 107-90  in the 29th annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star basketball series Friday night at Alabama State University’s Dunn-Oliver Acadome.
      Both teams came in with 14 wins in the series which began in 1991. Mississippi won last year’s game at Mississippi College in Clinton (MS) and was riding a three-game winning streak coming into this year’s game.
      That streak looked like it might extend to four games with Mississippi’s strong first-half finish to take a 47-39 lead in at halftime – chiefly on Jaylen Forbes’ three long-distance 3-pointers. The Florence guard had 11 points at the half.  He finished the game with 20 points, including four treys and a 6-of-6 free-throw shooting effort for Mississippi.
     Alabama outscored Mississippi 68-43 after intermission. Tucker scored 16 his 18 points in the first half to keep Alabama, coached by Carver-Montgomery’s James “J.J.” Jackson and Mountain Brook’s Bucky McMillan, close.  He earned Alabama MVP honors sinking 6-of-8 field goals, 2-of-2 3-pointers and 4-of-4 at the foul line. He also had two assists and three steals.
     Robinson scored 12 points, had nine rebounds and four blocked shots, and Watford had 13 points and 12 rebounds. He had all 12 rebounds in the second half.  LeFlore’s DeAntoni Gordon chipped in 14 points, JaLon Johnson of Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa had 10 points while Jaykwon Walton of Carver-Montgomery, Desmond Williams of Brewbaker Tech and Brandon Nicholas of Mae Jemison each had eight points. Lee-Huntsville’s Kobe Brown added seven. Williams also had seven rebounds and three steals.  Alabama out-rebounded Mississippi 60-54.
    Mississippi, coached by Darren Chancellor od Florence and Bruce Robinson of Warren Central, got 20 points from Canton’s Brandon Weatherspoon, who also sank four 3-pointers. D. J. Washington of Greenville added 11 points and John Rawls of East Marion had eight points and a team-high nine rebounds. Guard Earl Smith of Lanier also had eight points and four assists.

Alabama Girls 101, Mississippi Girls 82

    MONTGOMERY  – Alabama All-Star 6-foot-5 center River Baldwin of Pleasant Home had a double-double by the half as Alabama’s girls rolled past Mississippi 101-82 to take a 15-14 lead in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star basketball series Friday night at Alabama State University’s Dunn-Oliver Acadome.
      Both teams came in with 14 wins in the series which began in 1991. Alabama has now won two in a row going over 100 points in both games. Alabama won 109-96 last year at Mississippi College in Clinton (MS).
      Baldwin, a McDonald’s All-America selection and Florida State signee, finished with 19 points, 13 rebounds, two blocked shots and altered several others as Alabama kept the lead from start to finish. Wenonah forward Thaniya Marks, a Grambling State commitment added 17 points, nine rebounds and two blocks. She was 7-of-10 at the foul line.
     Jaylyn Sherrod of Ramsay, a Colorado signee, was 10-of-15 at the foul line and had 15 total points. Hoover’s Skyla Knight and Pisgah’s Annie Hughes added 10 points each, and Ramsay’s Aniyah Smith had nine.  Knight will play collegiately at Arkansas-Little Rock, Hughes is heading to Auburn and Smith to Alabama State. Hughes had an all-around strong game with eight re bounds and two blocked shots. Knight handed out three assists and had two steals and Smith grabbed eight rebounds.
    Alabama, coached by Tim Miller of Hazel Green High School and Tammy West of Cold Springs, out-rebounded Mississippi 73-59 and made 32-of-54 free throws.
    Mississippi, coached by Shayne Linzy of Lafayette and Vicki Rutland of Lawrence County, got 16 points each from Hannah White of Columbus and Jayla Alexander of Pearl. White earned Mississippi MVP honors with a 7-of-8 free-throw performance, four rebounds and just one turnover while handling the ball at the point much of the game.  Alexander had two steals and was 4-of-5 at the foul line. Starkville’s Jalisa Outlaw also had 10 points and seven rebounds. Mississippi was 25-of-92 from the floor (27.2%) against Alabama’s swarming defense and was 27-of-36 shooting free throws.
    Alabama is now 3-2 in all-star games played at Dunn-Oliver Acadome.

Contest Official Johnny Robertson’s Work On-and-Off the Court has been Priceless

10th of an 11-Part Series introducing the HOF Class of 2019

By BILL PLOTT

            For nearly an amazing half century, John Irvin Robertson has served as an Alabama high school sports contest official.
           His important contributions have not gone unnoticed. Robertson was selected to be inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2019. The induction banquet will be held at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center on March 18 at 6:30 p.m.  A press conference to meet all the inductees will be at 5:30 p.m., at the Renaissance. Both events will be live-streamed over the NFHS Network by the Goshen High School NFHS Network School Broadcast Program with Stephanie Snyder as executive producer.
           A native of Montgomery, Robertson graduated from Sidney Lanier High School in 1965. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Auburn University in 1969.

           He began his career as an official in 1971, starting with basketball, which he continued until 1999.  Robertson officiated 17 of 18 state tournaments from 1982-99. A year later, he added football and baseball. He also worked both indoor and outdoor state track meets for many years. He was awarded a Lifetime Honorary Membership in the Mid-State Officials Association in 1987 and received an AHSAA Distinguished Service Award in 2008.

            Robertson has spent the last 30 years serving the AHSAA in various off-the-court training and mentoring roles. In 1981, he became a state rules clinician and has been a regional tournament officials’ coordinator since the inception of the regional tournament format in 1994. Robertson has also served as South-Central District Director for basketball since 1999.  In 2008, he added duties as the State Basketball Rules Interpreter and State Basketball Camp Director.

            In a letter of recommendation, former AHSAA Director of Officials Greg Brewer wrote: “Johnny has worked with the AHSAA as a football and basketball official for 30-plus years. He has been assigned to and officiated numerous championship contests. Johnny has also served on the AHSAAA officiating staff for years as a clinician, state rules interpreter, camp instructor and district director. He has helped assign and coordinate the officials at the basketball state tournament for a number of years. Johnny has been an integral part of the AHSAA as a volunteer helping us in the administration of several other events including the all-star events.”
           Brewer said Robertson’s love of sports and its ability to mold young people has been evident in involvement in officiating – from calling games to training officials. He credits Robertson for making a major difference in the quality of officiating in Alabama.

            “Johnny is an outstanding citizen and is cherished for working with the children of this state as well as the adults who work with the children. He has never failed to help the AHSAA when asked, and we hope he will be around for a long time to come.”

Steve Bailey, of the Central Alabama Sports Commission, described Robertson as a man who “truly exhibits a servant’s heart.” He added: “I have known Johnny for over 20 years, having worked with him mainly in my time as Director of the Athletic Directors & Coaches Association of the AHSAA. During those years, He was involved in observing, training and evaluating officials during regional and state tournaments. Johnny has been an official in the sports of football and basketball for over 30 years and appeared in numerous state championship games. Many young and upcoming officials have benefitted from his knowledge and dedication, and he has always acted in a professional, dedicated and caring manner”
           Bailey also praised Robertson’s community involvement.

            “Johnny has also been overly dedicated to the youth of our state and local areas. He is a member of the Montgomery Kiwanis Club and has been instrumental in supporting basketball players during the All-Star Sports Week in Montgomery. During one particular year, he led the way in acquiring a $5,000 grant to provide meals and gifts for the student-athletes to make their all-star experience one to remember.”

            Calhoun County Commissioner Don Hudson, who officiated with Robertson for more than 30 years, treasured his time on and off the court with his friend.
           “I have known Johnny for 35 years as a fellow official, as a rules clinician, district director and personal friend,” he said. “I have the highest respect for him as leader, a listener, an expert and providing a shoulder to lean on in our field of officiating. He is dedicated to the purpose of making every official in the state a better official. He is conscientious and has worked tirelessly in an effort to making officiating in the state the very best. Johnny was also an outstanding official, and he has the ability to bring out the best in us. I am extremely proud to recommend Johnny for the Hall of Fame. It is my opinion there is no one more deserving.”

            Former Selma Mayor George P. Evans, who also officiated with Robertson, said, “I have known and worked with Johnny Robertson in many programs and athletics activities over the past 25 years. He is a very dependable and solid man when it comes to successfully getting the job done. Johnny has been involved in just about every level of athletics. His involvement with officiating and evaluating officials for the personal improvement is impeccable.”

            Robertson has served his community in a number of other worthwhile civic and charitable endeavors. He is past president of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the River Region, past president of the Montgomery Estate Planning Council, past president of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, past president of the Kiwanis Club of Montgomery with 28 years of perfect attendance, and past president of the Mid-State Football Officials Association.
           He served as Kiwanis lieutenant governor for three years and is active in the First United Methodist Church. He also coached Dixie Youth baseball and YMCA basketball. He has been a Boys and Girls Club board member since 1998 and is currently chairman of the group’s golf tournament.
COMING SATURDAY: Installment 11 – Coach R.G. Cook, Bullock County High School


Alabama Coaches Give All-Stars Rest Heading into Friday’s 29th Classic

    MONTGOMERY – Alabama’s All-Star coaches are banking on hustle and defense when the boys’ and girls’ 12-member teams square off with Mississippi Friday night at Alabama State University’s Dunn-Oliver Acadome in the 29th annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Girls’ and Boys’ Basketball Games. The girls’ game will tip off at 5 p.m., and the boys’ game will follow at 7.
     “We made it pretty simple,” said Mountain Brook Coach Bucky McMillan, who coaches the Alabama Boys with Carver-Montgomery Coach James “J.J.” Jackson. “We told them we knew they could score. The reason all of them got chosen for the team was because they could score. But the team that wins is the team that plays defense the best.”
      That is the reason, McMillan said Alabama’s All-Stars took the afternoon off from its scheduled practice time. “We wanted to make sure our kids are well rested,” he said. “We are planning a substitution pattern a little different than most all-star games. We are going to substitute five at a time early and let them all show us just how important playing defense to them. The ones who play defense the hardest are the ones that will get the most time on the court.”
      McMillan praised the talent level of the Alabama boys’ squad. The top player, his own 6-foot-9 two-time Mr. Basketball Trendon Watford has taken a leadership role, he said. “Trendon and I talked about his leadership before we got here,” said McMillan. “He knows what it took for us to win three state championships, and he has been setting a good example for the rest.”
       He said the players had a good first hour Wednesday but the second hour was just so-so.
       “Thursday morning’s practice session was much, much better,” he said. “We as coaches pointed out to them that at the next level, the players who play defense get more playing time. This game will be a good test for them.”
       Both McMillan and Jackson were outstanding guards in high school. And both have noticed the play of Westminster Christian guard Auston Leslie, a 6-4 left-handed guard who helped his team reached the Class 3A state finals earlier this month. “He has been coached really well from Coach (Ronnie) Stapler,” said McMillan. “He does so many of the little things very well.”
     McMillan also praised the athleticism of LeFlore 6-8 forward DeAntoni Gordon, the guard play of Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa’s Jalon Johnson, Brewbaker Tech’s Desmond Williams, and the Wenonah duo of Justin Minter and Cameron Tucker. He also lauded Lee-Montgomery’s 6-8 forward Demond Johnson. Tucker earned Class 5A state tourney MVP for the state champion Dragons.
      “Demond is such an outstanding personality on the team … and keeps everyone loose,” said McMillan.
     Alabama’s All-Star Girls are coached by Hazel Green’s Tim Miller and Cold Springs’ Tammy West. The girls also had solid workouts, and like the boys, took Thursday afternoon off to rest. Among the players on the Alabama girls’ squad is McDonald’s All-America selection River Baldwin of Pleasant Home. The 6-5 center earned South MVP honors at last summer’s North-South All-Star Game. Also anchoring the team are Class 6A state tourney MVP Marisa Snodgrass of Hazel Green, Class 7A state tourney MVP Skyla Knight of Hoover and Auburn signee Annie Hughes of Pisgah, the Class 3A MVP in 2018 and 2019.

     The games are hosted by AHSAA with the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA) managing the contests in conjunction with the Mississippi Association of Coaches (MAC).
            Both games will be live-streamed over the NFHS Network by the AHSAA and MAC and broadcast over the AHSAA Radio Network.  Stacy Mills is producing the NFHS Network live-stream, Caleb Brooks is producing the Alabama Radio Network broadcast and Chris Saxton is producing the event for Mississippi. Handling play-by-play and color for all three productions are Luke Robinson and Brooks of the AHSAA Radio Network, and Don Barnes of the Mississippi network. To view the NFHS Network subscriber-based livestream, go to
www.nfhsnetwork.com and follow the prompts. The AHSAA Radio Network link can be found at www.ahsaa.com.  Tickets are $10 each, are good for both games and may be purchased on-site at the Acadome.
     The Alabama and Mississippi All-Stars were scheduled to tour the Hyundai Plant Thursday night, followed by dinner at Dreamland BBQ. All four squads will have shoot-arounds at the Acadome Friday morning with Alabama going first from 9 to 10 a.m., and Mississippi following from 10 to 11 a.m.
     The series is knotted at 14-14 for the girls’ and boys’ all-stars. Alabama’s girls won last year in Mississippi 109-96 and the Mississippi boys won 127-90. The Mississippi boys bring a three-game winning streak into Friday’s contest, and Alabama girls’ snapped a two-game winning streak last year with its win in 2018.
      
ALABAMA-MISSISSIPPI BASKETBALL CLASSIC SERIES

YEAR BY YEAR HISTORY

GIRLS

YEAR                                      SCORE                         SITE

2018               Alabama 109, Mississippi 96            Mississippi College, Clinton, MS

2017               Mississippi 93, Alabama 86             Alabama State, Montgomery, AL

2016               Mississippi 78, Alabama 77             Mississippi College, Clinton, MS     

2015               Alabama 93, Mississippi 87             Alabama State, Montgomery, AL

2014               Mississippi 95, Alabama 89             Jackson State, Jackson, MS

2013               Alabama 64, Mississippi 54             Alabama State, Montgomery, AL

2012               Mississippi 94, Alabama 91             Alabama State, Montgomery, AL

2011               Mississippi 73, Alabama 60             Pelham CC, Pelham, AL

2010               Mississippi 78, Alabama 56             Pelham CC, Pelham, AL

2009               Alabama 81, Mississippi 73             Pelham CC, Pelham, AL

2008               Alabama 89, Mississippi 86 (OT)            Pelham CC, Pelham, AL

2007               Alabama 90, Mississippi 65             Pelham CC, Pelham, AL

2006               Mississippi 89, Alabama 80             Pelham CC, Pelham, AL

2005               Mississippi 101, Alabama 83            Pelham CC, Pelham, AL

2004               Alabama 114, Mississippi 78            Pelham CC, Pelham, AL

2003               Mississippi 95, Alabama 82             Pelham CC, Pelham, AL

2002               Alabama 76, Mississippi 71             Mississippi College, Clinton, MS

2001               Alabama 87, Mississippi 76             North Alabama, Florence, AL

2000               Mississippi 87, Alabama 82             Holmes CC, Goodman, MS

1999               Alabama 95, Mississippi 85             North Alabama, Florence, AL

1998               Alabama 105, Mississippi 84            Mississippi College, Clinton, MS

1997               Alabama 60, Mississippi 54             North Alabama, Florence, AL

1996               Mississippi 88, Alabama 72             Mississippi College, Clinton, MS

1995               Alabama 80, Mississippi 77             North Alabama, Florence, AL

1994               Mississippi 92, Alabama 84             Mississippi College, Clinton, MS

1993               Alabama 73, Mississippi 66             North Alabama, Florence, AL

1992               Mississippi 74, Alabama 61             Mississippi College, Clinton, MS

1991               Mississippi 82, Alabama 66             North Alabama, Florence, AL

SERIES RECORD:     Mississippi 14, Alabama 14

WIN LOSS RECORDS BY SITE:

Jackson State                     Mississippi 1, Alabama 0

Alabama State         Alabama 2, Mississippi 2

Pelham CC               Mississippi 5, Alabama 4

UNA                         Alabama 5, Mississippi 1

Miss College            Mississippi 4, Alabama 3

Holmes CC               Mississippi 1, Alabama 0

 

                     TOTAL POINTS          GAME AVERAGE

Alabama         2,374                          84.7 ppg

Mississippi     2,258                          80.6 ppg

 

                        MOST POINTS                     FEWEST POINTS         VICTORY MARGIN

Alabama         2007 (113)                2002 (67)                   1991 (41)

Mississippi     1994 (123)                2013 (54)                   2002 (31)      

 

GAME            MOST POINTS

2018               205 (Alabama 109, Mississippi 96 @ Mississippi College)

GAME            FEWEST POINTS

1997               114 (Alabama 60, Mississippi 54 @ North Alabama)

 

LONGEST WINNING STREAK:         Mississippi, 3 games (2010, 2011, 2012) 
                                                            Alabama, 3 games (2007, 2008, 2009)
                                                            Alabama, 3 games (1997, 1998, 1999)

 

 

 

 

 

 

ALABAMA-MISSISSIPPI BASKETBALL CLASSIC SERIES

YEAR BY YEAR HISTORY

BOYS

YEAR                                      SCORE                         SITE

2018               Mississippi 127, Alabama 90            Mississippi College, Clinton, MS

2017               Mississippi 96, Alabama 91             Alabama State, Montgomery, AL

2016               Mississippi 85, Alabama 83             Mississippi College, Clinton, MS

2015               Alabama 101, Mississippi 88            Alabama State, Montgomery, AL

2014               Alabama 90, Mississippi 83             Jackson State, Jackson, MS

2013               Alabama 87, Mississippi 76             Alabama State, Montgomery, AL

2012               Alabama 109, Mississippi 104            Alabama State, Montgomery, AL

2011               Mississippi 85, Alabama 74             Pelham CC, Pelham, AL

2010               Mississippi 112, Alabama 88            Pelham CC, Pelham, AL

2009               Alabama 78, Mississippi 74             Pelham CC, Pelham, AL

2008               Alabama 101, Mississippi 99            Pelham CC, Pelham, AL

2007               Mississippi 118, Alabama 113            Pelham CC, Pelham, AL

2006               Mississippi 94, Alabama 87             Pelham CC, Pelham, AL

2005               Alabama 84, Mississippi 79             Pelham CC, Pelham, AL

2004               Alabama 87, Mississippi 86             Pelham CC, Pelham, AL

2003               Mississippi 82, Alabama 80             Pelham CC, Pelham, AL

2002               Mississippi 98, Alabama 67             Mississippi College, Clinton, MS

2001               Mississippi 87, Alabama 83             North Alabama, Florence, AL

2000               Alabama 90, Mississippi 82             Holmes CC, Goodman, MS

1999               Alabama 95, Mississippi 68             North Alabama, Florence, AL

1998               Alabama 111, Mississippi 76            Mississippi College, Clinton, MS

1997               Alabama 110, Mississippi 91            North Alabama, Florence, AL

1996               Mississippi 105, Alabama 97            Mississippi College, Clinton, MS

1995               Alabama 85, Mississippi 69             North Alabama, Florence, AL

1994               Mississippi 123, Alabama 111            Mississippi College, Clinton, MS

1993               Mississippi 82, Alabama 75             North Alabama, Florence, AL

1992               Mississippi 73, Alabama 71             Mississippi College, Clinton, MS

1991               Alabama 103, Mississippi 62            North Alabama, Florence, AL

SERIES RECORD:     Alabama 14, Mississippi 14

WIN LOSS RECORDS BY SITE:

Jackson State                     Alabama 1, Mississippi 0

Alabama State         Alabama 3, Mississippi 1

Pelham CC               Mississippi 5, Alabama 4

UNA                         Alabama 4, Mississippi 2

Mississippi College   Mississippi 6, Alabama 1

Holmes CC               Alabama 1, Mississippi 0

 

                     TOTAL POINTS          GAME AVERAGE

Alabama         2,545                          90.8 ppg

Mississippi     2,504                          89.4 ppg

 

                        MOST POINTS                     FEWEST POINTS         VICTORY MARGIN

Alabama         2007 (113)                2002 (67)                   1991 (41)

Mississippi     2018 (127)                1991 (62)                   2018 (37)      

 

GAME            MOST POINTS

1994               234 (Mississippi 123, Alabama 111 @ Miss. College)

GAME            FEWEST POINTS

1992               144 (Mississippi 73, Alabama 71 @ Miss. College)

 

LONGEST WINNING STREAK:         Alabama, 4 games (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015)

                                                            Alabama, 4 games (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000
                                                            Mississippi, 3 games (2016, 2017, 2018)
                                                            Mississippi, 3 games (2001, 2002, 2003)
                                                            Mississippi, 3 games (1992, 193, 1994)


Organizers Praise Innovative Billy Odom’s Impact on Alabama-Mississippi Game

Ninth of an 11-Part Series introducing the HOF Class of 2019

By BILL PLOTT

            The general consensus of those who know him is that “Billy Odom loves high school sports.” And as a result, the organizers of the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Football Classic love Billy Odom.
            The longtime Mobile high school football coach has been a volunteer. No, a super volunteer for the annual Classic from the game’s inception in 1988.  He has been the one constant through the years as the administrative coach working in the background year after year to make sure the all-star clash is a memorable for all involved.
            The Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame plans to the same for him March 18 at its annual induction banquet held at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center by enshrining Billy Odom as a member of the Hall of Fame Class of 2019.
            “Billy Odon loves high school sports, and to do what he has done for so long with no involvement with a particular school or coach is very honorable and what a true servant is about,” said UMS-Wright football coach Terry Curtis, a longtime friend and admirer who was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame himself in 2004.
           A native of Mobile, Odom graduated from Baker High School in 1968 after a stellar high school career as a student-athlete. He attended Mississippi College on a football and track scholarship, receiving his bachelor’s degree from Mississippi College in 1972. He also earned a master’s degree in 1988.

            He began his teaching and coaching career at his high school alma mater in 1972 as assistant football and head basketball and track coach. Three years later, he became head football coach and compiled a record of 61-80. Although his win-loss record was not spectacular, he was in the forefront of innovation at the time.

            “He was the one that brought the passing game to Mobile high schools,” said Ed Lathan, who coached against Odom at B.C. Rain and later hired him at Alba High School. “When everyone else was in the wishbone, in the veer, and in the power-I, he had them spread out. We really didn’t know how to defend it.”
            Retired Baker principal Clem Richardson remembers Odom’s impact on the student-athletes in Mobile County, especially his school.
            “While most coaches were using two tight ends and the ‘three yards in a cloud of dust’ approach, his offenses were two or three wide receivers and throwing the ball,” Richardson said. “His offensive style opened the door for many of his players to receive scholarship offers when they graduated.”

            Odom left Baker in 1988 to return to graduate school. After earning his master’s degree, he moved to Murphy High School for three years as a football assistant. Murphy went to the finals twice during his tenure there.

            He accepted the head football coach position at Alba High School in 1992. He finished his coaching career at Alma Bryant in 2005.

            Richardson said Odom was a major influence on and off the field. “Billy Odom has definitely made an impact on my life. His guidance was one of the reasons that I went into teaching and coaching. I recently retired as principal of Baker High School, and I have used many of the life lessons that I learned from him in my career as coach and administrator. Someone who has touched the lives of his players in the way that Billy Odom has definitely deserves to be in the AHSAA Hall of Fame. Billy Odom was truly a player’s coach. I had the honor of playing for Coach Odom in the 1970s and also serving as an assistant coach under him in the 1980s. He always put his players first when making decisions. As a father of three daughters, his players were the sons he never had.
        “His door was always open to his players, who often went to him seeking guidance. On the field, he treated his players with respect and used every opportunity as a teaching moment to build confidence and self-esteem.”

            Odom served in two important outside administrative positions even while he was teaching and coaching. For 29 years he was the administrative coach for the South team in Mobile’s Senior Bowl game.  He also served as administrative coach for the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game, handling players, coaches, equipment, rooms, meals and transportation.

             UMS-Wright’s Curtis also noted Odom’s innovations in the passing game, but added his friend’s contributions were not limited to that.
            “I have known Billy for 40 years,” he said. “The memories of Billy that stand out in my mind include his involvement with the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game. Billy has been administrative assistant for all of the 30-plus years of the existence of the game. He handles all duties with the players and coaches for the entire week. He is the most organized, perfectionist person I have ever been around. In my opinion, without Billy Odom, the Alabama-Mississippi Game would not be in existence today.”

            Randy White, a Hall of Fame inductee in the Class of 2005 and a super volunteer himself, recognized quickly just how much Odom’s involvement means to the AHSAA and its member schools.
            “I have had the privilege of working as an administrative assistant to Mr. Odom in the Alabama-Mississippi football game for the past four years,” said White. “I can honestly say that I have never been associated with anyone as dedicated, organized and detailed as Billy Odom. I did not know Billy when he was coaching in the Mobile area, but I know without a doubt his teams were well-prepared because of his attention to detail in all aspects of the game. I honestly cannot think of anyone more deserving (for the Hall of Fame).”
              Odom was awarded the prestigious L’Arch Mobile Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012 and the Bob Pannone Service Award in 2017.
COMING FRIDAY: Installment 10 – Contest Official Johnny Robertson of Montgomery


Alabama-Mississippi All-Stars Set for Friday’s Games at ASU

    MONTGOMERY – Alabama and Mississippi All-Stars reported Wednesday and began workouts in preparation for Friday night’s in the 29th annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Girls’ and Boys’ Basketball Games to be played at Dunn-Oliver Acadome on the Alabama State University campus. The girls’ game will tip off at 5 p.m., and the boys’ game will follow at 7.
     The games are hosted by AHSAA with the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA) managing the contests in conjunction with the Mississippi Association of Coaches (MAC).
      Both games will be live-streamed over the NFHS Network by the AHSAA and MAC and broadcast over the AHSAA Radio Network.
     The Alabama and Mississippi teams, comprised of current high school seniors, had one practice Wednesday, have two practices Thursday and a shoot-around Friday morning prior to the doubleheader at the Acadome. Thursday’s practices will be at Montgomery Academy and the Auburn University-Montgomery Wellness Center. Each team will have one practice at each site.
     The series is knotted at 14-14 for the girls’ and boys’ all-stars. Alabama’s girls won last year in Mississippi 109-96 and the Mississippi boys won 127-90. The Mississippi boys bring a three-game winning streak into Friday’s contest, and Alabama girls’ snapped a two-game winning streak last year with its win in 2018.
        Hazel Green Coach Tim Miller is coaching in the girls’ game for Alabama for the second year in a row, and Cold Springs Coach Tammy West is also coaching the Alabama girls. Administrative coach is Pisgah Coach Carey Ellison. All three led their high school teams to state championships in 2019.  Coaching the Mississippi girls are Shayne Linzy of Lafayette and Vicky Rutland of Lawrence County. Administrative coach is Donny Fuller.
       Mountain Brook Coach Bucky McMillan and Carver-Montgomery Coach James “J.J.” Jackson are Alabama’s boys’ coaches.  Administrative coach is Mountain Brook’s David Good.  McMillan has coached the Spartans to the last three Class 7A state titles, and Jackson, who guided Carver to the 2018 Class 6A state crown, coached the Wolverines to a Class 6A ru9nner-up finish in 2019.
      Alabama’s squad reported at full strength. Headlining the Alabama boys’ squad is Mountain Brook’s 6-foot-9 senior standout Trendon Watford, who finished his prep career earn in Class 7A state tourney MVP for the last three seasons. He also scored over 3,500 career points and set the AHSAA career rebounding record with 1,909. Considered one of the Top 10 players nationally still unsigned or uncommitted, Watford is also scheduled to play in the McDonald’s All-America Game. A pair of 6-6 power forward, Georgia signee Jaykwon Walton of Carver-Montgomery and Kobe Brown of Lee-Huntsville, are also among the state’s top prospects as are 6-8 bookends Murray State commit Demond Robinson of Lee-Montgomery and Wichita State signee DeAntoni Gordon of LeFlore.
     Headlining the Alabama girls’ squad is 6-5 senior center River Baldwin, who has also been selected to participate in the McDonald’s All-America Game. She has signed with Florida State. Guard Annie Hughes of Pisgah, the Class 3A state tourney MVP the last years, is an Auburn signee, Wenonah’s 6-1 forward Thaniya Marks is headed to Grambling State, Hoover’s Joiya Maddox is going to Rutgers, Ramsay  point guard Jaylyn Sherrod to Colorado and Ramsay forward Aniyah Smith has signed with Alabama State.
      Mississippi’s team reported minus one player selected – 6-8 D.J. Jeffries of Olive Branch. Jeffries, who is headed to the University of Memphis, is expected to be replaced, said MAC Director Johnny Mims. That leaves John Rawls of East Marion as the only player on the Mississippi roster over 6-6.  Jaylen Forbes of Florence (MS), a 6-5 guard, is a University of Alabama signee.  Point guard Sania Wells of East Central, an Auburn signee, headlines the Mississippi girls’ roster.
     The series history:

ALABAMA-MISSISSIPPI BASKETBALL CLASSIC SERIES

YEAR BY YEAR HISTORY

GIRLS

YEAR                                      SCORE                         SITE

2018               Alabama 109, Mississippi 96            Mississippi College, Clinton, MS

2017               Mississippi 93, Alabama 86             Alabama State, Montgomery, AL

2016               Mississippi 78, Alabama 77             Mississippi College, Clinton, MS     

2015               Alabama 93, Mississippi 87             Alabama State, Montgomery, AL

2014               Mississippi 95, Alabama 89             Jackson State, Jackson, MS

2013               Alabama 64, Mississippi 54             Alabama State, Montgomery, AL

2012               Mississippi 94, Alabama 91             Alabama State, Montgomery, AL

2011               Mississippi 73, Alabama 60             Pelham CC, Pelham, AL

2010               Mississippi 78, Alabama 56             Pelham CC, Pelham, AL

2009               Alabama 81, Mississippi 73             Pelham CC, Pelham, AL

2008               Alabama 89, Mississippi 86 (OT)            Pelham CC, Pelham, AL

2007               Alabama 90, Mississippi 65             Pelham CC, Pelham, AL

2006               Mississippi 89, Alabama 80             Pelham CC, Pelham, AL

2005               Mississippi 101, Alabama 83            Pelham CC, Pelham, AL

2004               Alabama 114, Mississippi 78            Pelham CC, Pelham, AL

2003               Mississippi 95, Alabama 82             Pelham CC, Pelham, AL

2002               Alabama 76, Mississippi 71             Mississippi College, Clinton, MS

2001               Alabama 87, Mississippi 76             North Alabama, Florence, AL

2000               Mississippi 87, Alabama 82             Holmes CC, Goodman, MS

1999               Alabama 95, Mississippi 85             North Alabama, Florence, AL

1998               Alabama 105, Mississippi 84            Mississippi College, Clinton, MS

1997               Alabama 60, Mississippi 54             North Alabama, Florence, AL

1996               Mississippi 88, Alabama 72             Mississippi College, Clinton, MS

1995               Alabama 80, Mississippi 77             North Alabama, Florence, AL

1994               Mississippi 92, Alabama 84             Mississippi College, Clinton, MS

1993               Alabama 73, Mississippi 66             North Alabama, Florence, AL

1992               Mississippi 74, Alabama 61             Mississippi College, Clinton, MS

1991               Mississippi 82, Alabama 66             North Alabama, Florence, AL

SERIES RECORD:     Mississippi 14, Alabama 14

WIN LOSS RECORDS BY SITE:

Jackson State                     Mississippi 1, Alabama 0

Alabama State         Alabama 2, Mississippi 2

Pelham CC               Mississippi 5, Alabama 4

UNA                         Alabama 5, Mississippi 1

Miss College            Mississippi 4, Alabama 3

Holmes CC               Mississippi 1, Alabama 0

 

                     TOTAL POINTS          GAME AVERAGE

Alabama         2,374                          84.7 ppg

Mississippi     2,258                          80.6 ppg

 

                        MOST POINTS                     FEWEST POINTS         VICTORY MARGIN

Alabama         2007 (113)                2002 (67)                   1991 (41)

Mississippi     1994 (123)                2013 (54)                   2002 (31)      

 

GAME            MOST POINTS

2018               205 (Alabama 109, Mississippi 96 @ Mississippi College)

GAME            FEWEST POINTS

1997               114 (Alabama 60, Mississippi 54 @ North Alabama)

 

LONGEST WINNING STREAK:         Mississippi, 3 games (2010, 2011, 2012) 
                                                            Alabama, 3 games (2007, 2008, 2009)
                                                            Alabama, 3 games (1997, 1998, 1999)

 

 

 

 

 

 

ALABAMA-MISSISSIPPI BASKETBALL CLASSIC SERIES

YEAR BY YEAR HISTORY

BOYS

YEAR                                      SCORE                         SITE

2018               Mississippi 127, Alabama 90            Mississippi College, Clinton, MS

2017               Mississippi 96, Alabama 91             Alabama State, Montgomery, AL

2016               Mississippi 85, Alabama 83             Mississippi College, Clinton, MS

2015               Alabama 101, Mississippi 88            Alabama State, Montgomery, AL

2014               Alabama 90, Mississippi 83             Jackson State, Jackson, MS

2013               Alabama 87, Mississippi 76             Alabama State, Montgomery, AL

2012               Alabama 109, Mississippi 104            Alabama State, Montgomery, AL

2011               Mississippi 85, Alabama 74             Pelham CC, Pelham, AL

2010               Mississippi 112, Alabama 88            Pelham CC, Pelham, AL

2009               Alabama 78, Mississippi 74             Pelham CC, Pelham, AL

2008               Alabama 101, Mississippi 99            Pelham CC, Pelham, AL

2007               Mississippi 118, Alabama 113            Pelham CC, Pelham, AL

2006               Mississippi 94, Alabama 87             Pelham CC, Pelham, AL

2005               Alabama 84, Mississippi 79             Pelham CC, Pelham, AL

2004               Alabama 87, Mississippi 86             Pelham CC, Pelham, AL

2003               Mississippi 82, Alabama 80             Pelham CC, Pelham, AL

2002               Mississippi 98, Alabama 67             Mississippi College, Clinton, MS

2001               Mississippi 87, Alabama 83             North Alabama, Florence, AL

2000               Alabama 90, Mississippi 82             Holmes CC, Goodman, MS

1999               Alabama 95, Mississippi 68             North Alabama, Florence, AL

1998               Alabama 111, Mississippi 76            Mississippi College, Clinton, MS

1997               Alabama 110, Mississippi 91            North Alabama, Florence, AL

1996               Mississippi 105, Alabama 97            Mississippi College, Clinton, MS

1995               Alabama 85, Mississippi 69             North Alabama, Florence, AL

1994               Mississippi 123, Alabama 111            Mississippi College, Clinton, MS

1993               Mississippi 82, Alabama 75             North Alabama, Florence, AL

1992               Mississippi 73, Alabama 71             Mississippi College, Clinton, MS

1991               Alabama 103, Mississippi 62            North Alabama, Florence, AL

SERIES RECORD:     Alabama 14, Mississippi 14

WIN LOSS RECORDS BY SITE:

Jackson State                     Alabama 1, Mississippi 0

Alabama State         Alabama 3, Mississippi 1

Pelham CC               Mississippi 5, Alabama 4

UNA                         Alabama 4, Mississippi 2

Mississippi College   Mississippi 6, Alabama 1

Holmes CC               Alabama 1, Mississippi 0

 

                     TOTAL POINTS          GAME AVERAGE

Alabama         2,545                          90.8 ppg

Mississippi     2,504                          89.4 ppg

 

                        MOST POINTS                     FEWEST POINTS         VICTORY MARGIN

Alabama         2007 (113)                2002 (67)                   1991 (41)

Mississippi     2018 (127)                1991 (62)                   2018 (37)      

 

GAME            MOST POINTS

1994               234 (Mississippi 123, Alabama 111 @ Miss. College)

GAME            FEWEST POINTS

1992               144 (Mississippi 73, Alabama 71 @ Miss. College)

 

LONGEST WINNING STREAK:         Alabama, 4 games (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015)

                                                            Alabama, 4 games (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000
                                                            Mississippi, 3 games (2016, 2017, 2018)
                                                            Mississippi, 3 games (2001, 2002, 2003)
                                                            Mississippi, 3 games (1992, 193, 1994)


Street named for Ronnie Sikes Memorializes the Impact of Coaching Legend’s Career

Eighth of an 11-Part Series introducing the HOF Class of 2019

By BILL PLOTT

            The City of Notasulga went the extra mile, sort of, to honor former Notasulga High Coach Ronnie Sikes’ impact on their small Macon County town. The City Council renamed a street Sikes-Taylor Loop for the much loved football coach.
            Sikes had two stints as a coach at Notasulga, one as an assistant and the other as a head coach, with both being memorable rides to success. Sikes, who also had successful coaching tenures at Lanett, Valley, Beulah and Mortimer Jordan high schools, is a member of the Class of 2019 being inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame March 18. The banquet will be held at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center with a 6:30 p.m. start. A press conference for all l1 members of the 29th class will be at 5:30 at the Renaissance.
            A native of Wedowee and a 1977 graduate of Randolph County High School, Sikes attended Southern Union Junior College and Auburn University, receiving his bachelor s degree in 1981. He earned a master’s degree from Auburn in 1987.

             He began his teaching and coaching career at Valley High School in 1981.            “During my first year as head football coach and athletic director at Valley High School, we hired Coach Sikes,” recalled Dwight Sanderson, who was enshrined into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.   “He was fresh out of college, but we hired him even though there were two other applicants that had eight and 10 years of experience. He was that impressive.”
            His football assignments were running backs on offense and the secondary on defense. He was the B-team basketball coach (the 1984 team was 17-3) and head track coach. Valley had never had a track program, but by the second year, Coach Sikes’s track program was solid.”

            Next, he went to Notasulga High School as an assistant for four years, then moved to Mortimer Jordan High School as an assistant. He took over as head football coach the following year leading the Blue Devils to a 7-4 season and a berth in the AHSAA state playoffs. The school had been 5-25 the previous three years. He moved to Beulah High School in 1990-91 as an assistant.

            In 1992, he returned to Notasulga, this time as head football coach. Over the next 12 years his teams compiled a 91-51 record of 91-51 with 10 state playoff appearances. He had undefeated regular seasons in 1998 and 1999. The 1999 team advanced to the semifinals in the state playoffs. Notasulga had four straight seasons of 10 or more wins and put together a 25-game regular-season winning streak during that stretch.

            He accepted the head football coach’s position at Lanett High School in 2004, taking over a program that had been struggling. He remained there for five years, compiling a record of 36-23. The Panthers reached the state playoffs four straight years with the 2007 team finishing the regular season undefeated and advancing to the quarterfinals. That was the third Lanett team to win 12 games in school history. The 1976 team coached by AHSAA Hall of Famer Dan Washburn was the first to win 12 games, finishing 12-1, and Lee Gilliland's 1994 team finished 12-2.

            Sikes retired from the Alabama Public School System in 2009. He was at Springwood Academy from 2009-13. Since then, he has coached at various schools in Georgia. His record in Alabama was 161-96.

            In 1998, he was named Coach of the Year by the Opelika-Auburn News. He was twice named Coach of the Year by the Valley Times. He was selected as a coach in the North-South All-Star football game three times.

            Christopher R. Martin, assistant police chief in Dadeville, shared his grateful experience with Sikes: “I would not be an assistant police chief today if it were not for Coach Ronnie Sikes and his leadership,” Martin said. “I would not have been a sergeant first class in the United States Army with 16 years of service, a Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medals, five Army Achievement Medals and three successful deployments to some of the most hostile places on planet Earth if it were not for Coach Ronnie Sikes and his leadership, mentorship and discipline.

            “What Coach Ronnie Sikes gave to me, I’ll never be able to repay. It has allowed me to mentor others, succeed beyond what I ever thought I would. It allowed me to come from some of the most inhospitable places imaginable. With all he has given me, the least I can do is write this letter to you all, telling you that this man, this coach, this father figure, this coaching genius, and this all-around great man should have his place in the Hall of Fame.”
             Martin said his world was turning upside down when he first met Sikes.
            “I became acquainted with Coach Sikes during my junior year while I attended Reeltown High School in 1999,” he explains. “I was taken in by Karey Thompson of Notasulga after I had an unfortunate set of circumstances that left me without a guardian. Mr. Thompson introduced me to Coach Sikes, and we immediately began talking about football. Football was my passion. At that time, for a child like I was, football was one of the only structured things that I had in my life. It was what I looked to in an effort to stay out of trouble and keep me straight in my endeavors,

            “Coach Sikes was more than happy to welcome me to the team and give me a chance to play. Many of the (his) words spoken to me when I was a teenager still carry on with me today. I attribute my success in life to what Coach Ronnie Sikes instilled into me with a football helmet and adrenaline in my blood.”  

Thompson, chair of the Notasulga Hall of Fame Committee and a member of the Macon County Board of Education, will always remember Sikes’ impact as well.
            “Recently (April 2018), to memorialize his name in an expression of appreciation, the Town of Notasulga renamed a street in honor of Coach Sikes,” said Thompson. That street is now known Sikes-Taylor Loop. Coach Ronnie Sikes is a legend in Notasulga.”
COMING THURSDAY: Installment 9 – Football Coach and Super Volunteer Billy Odom


Former Alabama Student-athlete Selected as Section 3 Recipient of NFHS National High School Spirit of Sport Award

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (March 12, 2019) — Zoe Portis, a 2018 graduate of Trinity Presbyterian School in Montgomery, Alabama, has been selected as the Section 3 recipient of the “National High School Spirit of Sport Award” by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).

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.

Born in a small Ethiopian village, Portis’ mother died in childbirth, and her grandmother and father died before she attended school. Essentially an orphan, she moved in with another family, where she became a servant.

Portis was then asked if she was interested in a possible adoption by an American family. That led to an interview and a move to an orphanage to await a family match. She then received a callback that a family in Montgomery, Alabama wanted to adopt her. Cole and Joy Portis already had three biological children before deciding to adopt, and they have since adopted seven children.

When Portis arrived in Montgomery, she didn’t speak any English. A combination of tutoring, living with a large family and watching American television helped her learn the language. As a National Honor Society student at Trinity, Portis maintained a 3.75 grade-point average, was class president for three years and was SGA president during her senior year.

Portis also was a standout athlete in high school, where she participated in basketball and soccer. A three-year varsity basketball team member, Portis received the Varsity Basketball Wildcat Award as a junior. She played four years of varsity soccer, during which time the Trinity squad placed third in the Alabama High School Athletic Association tournament her freshman year; reached the quarterfinals during her sophomore year; and won the state championship her senior year with a 23-2-2 win-loss record. In 2018, she was named the AHSAA Class 4A Bryant-Jordan Award Program Student-Athlete Achievement Winner.



 

About the Award

The NFHS divides the nation into eight geographical sections. The states in Section 3 are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Nominations for this award were generated through NFHS member state associations and reviewed by the NFHS Spirit of Sport Award Selection Committee composed of state association staff members.

While the national winner will be recognized June 29 at the NFHS Summer Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, the section winners will be recognized within their respective states and will receive awards before the end of the current school year.

 


# # #

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 fine arts activities. Since 1920, the NFHS has led the development of education-based interscholastic sports and fine 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 19,000 high schools and 11 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; produces publications for high school coaches, officials and athletic directors; sponsors professional organizations for high school coaches, officials, spirit coaches, 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 www.nfhs.org.

 

 

 

MEDIA CONTACT:                          John Gillis, 317-972-6900

                                                      National Federation of State High School Associations

                                                      PO Box 690, Indianapolis, Indiana 46206

                                                      jgillis@nfhs.org


Schuessler Ware Had a Special Knack in Transforming Youngsters into Winners

Seventh of an 11-Part Series introducing the HOF Class of 2019

By BILL PLOTT

        Anniston High School long-time boys’ basketball coach Schuessler Ware had a special way with kids. And he have an even more extraordinary way with those considered difficult kids.
        Now retired, Ware used that talent to mold numerous youngsters from into successful adults by teaching them how to succeed. His efforts have not gone unnoticed. Ware is being inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame at its banquet set for March 18 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center. He is one of 11 being inducted in the Class of 2019.
        A native of Anniston, Ware graduated from Anniston High School in 1974 and Talladega College in 1978. He also earned a master’s degree in elementary education from Jacksonville State. Following his graduation from college, Ware returned to his alma mater to begin his teaching and coaching career. He remained there throughout his more than 30-year career.
        He became head basketball coach in 1997, position he held for the next 19 years. His teams were 420-168 during that span with two state championships and three other trips to the semifinals of the state tournament. The Bulldogs also won eight county championships, five region titles and 13 area titles. He was named Calhoun County Coach of the Year nine times and received State Coach of the Year honors in both Class 4A and Class 5A.

        Ware’s teams had 12 seasons of 20 or more wins and only one losing season (13-16) in his head-coaching career.
        Writing in support of Ware’s Hall of Fame nomination, Anniston City Schools Superintendent Darren Douthitt said: “Coach Ware is known throughout the state of Alabama as the winningest (boys’ basketball) coach in Anniston High School’s history. What many people do not know is that the foundation for his success as a head basketball coach was laid with years of hard work. He and I worked together as basketball and football coaches for Anniston Middle School and Anniston High School, and I learned a lot from him as he transitioned from assistant to head coach. One of the first things I learned from him is that winning does not happen by chance. It is the result of much preparation.”

         Douthitt said Ware was born to be a motivating force for student-athletes.
        “His practices and games were managed in such a way his players understood that they had to give 110% of themselves or be relegated to the end of the bench. Coach Ware was an expert at teaching the fundamentals of the game of basketball, and that is what made him successful. Coaches and opposing players would often watch in amazement as Coach Ware’s players moved the basketball the full length of the court without one dribble. His teams were more defensive than offensive, and most opposing coaches that had to deal with Coach Ware’s version of the 1-3-1 defense knew they could not win and only wanted to make the score respectable.”
        The superintendent also described Ware as a difference maker in young folks’ lives – especially those who need the nurturing most.
        “During his career, Coach Ware transformed some of the most difficult young adults into winners, Douthitt said. “He made sure they were properly equipped for the game that we call ‘life.’ Coach Ware protected many Anniston youths from the epidemic known as the school-to-prison pipeline. Simply put, his impact on the game of basketball is second to his impact on the lives of the student-athletes he served in the Anniston community.”

        Marcus Perry, a former college and professional player, attributed much of his success to the lessons he learned from Ware.

         “I met Coach Ware my freshman year at Anniston High School in 1998,” Perry said. “I can recall going to Coach Ware and letting him know that I wanted to play varsity right out of the gate. He told me to keep working on my game, and that I had guys ahead of me. I ended up playing on the freshman team where I dominated in all facets of the game. I recall staying in the gym late and working on my game.
        “Coach Ware moved me up on the varsity for the 1999-2000 school year. I didn’t play much that year, which really frustrated me at the time, but it taught me patience and perseverance. Those were things I struggled with at first. Little did I know, those things would prepare me for the career I have had.”

        After a junior year injury, Perry said he became discouraged, let his grades slip and failed to pass the graduation exam. No colleges seemed interested in him.

        “I was frustrated and wanted to give up. I remember Coach Ware calling me into his office and talking with me. He told me that everything happened for a reason, and I just have to believe that God had a plan for my life. He encouraged me to keep pressing toward my goal and to study harder than I ever have before. He helped me get tutoring that summer so I would pass the test when it came time to take it again. I did pass the exam and, shortly after that I was contacted by a close friend of Coach Ware, Ron Radford from Southern Union Community College.”

        Perry went to become a Junior College All-American and earned a scholarship to the University of Nebraska. From there, he played professionally in Europe.

         “I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this if it wasn’t for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, my family, Coach Ware and my other mentor, Steven Folks. There were a lot of people who played a major role in my success.
         When I was going through my high school years and playing for Coach Ware, he always talked with me about working hard and competing at the highest level possible. Those things helped me tremendously as I went on to further my basketball career.”

       Ware, despite his retirement, is still actively serving the Anniston community, He is a Board Member of the Presbyterian Westminster Apartments and a member and Elder of First Presbyterian Church.
COMING WEDNESDAY: Installment 8 – Football Coach Ronnie Sikes