Sunday, September 22, 2019






Obadiah Threadgill Legacy Stretches Four Generations with Sumter County family

                          By Bill Plott
                                          AHSAA Historian


        Retired Notasulga High School basketball coach Obadiah Threadgill III was born into a family of educators. Both of his parents were teachers, and his father, Obadiah Threadgill II, coached and officiated in the Sumter County area.
         In addition, his brother Kenneth Threadgill taught and coached basketball at Livingston High School, winning a state championship in 2003.  Another brother, Reginald Threadgill, is a longtime basketball official in the Jefferson County area.

          That legacy has now extended into a fourth generation. Obadiah’s wife Joyce is a career elementary school teacher. Their son, Obadiah Threadgill IV, the head boys’ basketball coach at LaFayette High School, has already coached a state championship team at LaFayette, and his wife Shernika is cheerleader coach.
          It all started with Obadiah Threadgill I, said Obadiah III, who has been selected to be enshrined into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018. “He was the son of slaves,” he said, “and a God-fearing man who knew the importance of getting an education.”

          Pam Langford, Dadeville High School administrator and a former Notasulga teacher, in her letter nominating Threadgill for the Hall of Fame, said there is still another legacy.

“Athletics serve an important role in the lives of many young people,” Langford said. “Coach Threadgill has used his love of basketball and his coaching ability to give many student-athletes an opportunity to be successful. However, as a school principal, parent and friend, it is his character that I admire and appreciate the most! Not only did Coach Threadgill teach kids to be winners on the court, he taught them to be winners in life.
            “His examples of integrity, work ethic, perseverance and compassion were so important for our students. Now, thousands of his students and athletes are adults. It warms my heart to know that those characteristics have helped them be successful in life.”
           Langford said Threadgill’s influence didn’t top there.
           “I see [them] instilling those winning characteristics in their own children,” she said. “Coach Threadgill’s positive impact will go on forever.”
           Threadgill attend Sumter County Training School, graduating in 1965. He attended Tuskegee University, graduating in 1970. He later earned a master’s degree from Auburn University in 1980.

          A Vietnam veteran, Threadgill went into military service after his graduation from Tuskegee. He served from 1970-72. Out of the Army, he returned home to Sumter County and accepted the position of director of the Sumter County Head Start Center.

In 1973 he moved to Macon County, first as teacher and coach at Tuskegee Public Middle School from 1973-74, and then at Deborah C. Wolfe High School from 1974-77. From 1977-81 he held a similar position at Tuskegee Institute High School.

In 1981 he accepted the position of teacher and head basketball coach at Notasulga High School where he served through 2002.

Notasulga in the 1960s and 1970s was a town with difficult integration issues. Those issues were overcome by a community that came together. Macon County Board of Education member Karey Thompson recalled that situation in his letter.

“Dwight Sanderson and Buddy Knapp, along with Principal Robert Anderson, became legendary leaders at Notasulga, having navigated an uncharted journey of school desegregation in the early 1970s not only in the athletic program but also in academic achievement and positive community relations. In 1974 a television crew (BBC/England) visited the campus of NHS, recording the school’s story and later aired to a national and international audience, a documentary of Notasulga’s success.

“In Notasulga, Coach Threadgill is viewed much the same as Sanderson-Knapp-Anderson. If the Blue Devils had a Mt. Rushmore, the four mentioned would receive priority placement. In 2014, in a combined project, by act of the Macon County Commission, Macon County Board of Education and Town of Notasulga, Notasulga High School honored the legendary coaches by naming the football stadium Sanderson-Knapp Football Stadium and the gym Obadiah Threadgill Gymnasium. NHS Principal Robert Anderson (deceased) will receive special recognition at a later date.”
            When he retired after a 30-year teaching and coaching career, Threadgill’s coaching legacy included:

·         More than 900 wins coaching boys’ and girls’ basketball at varsity and JV levels.

·         Two boys’ state championships in 1987 and 1992; one girls’ state championship in 2001; two state tournament runners-up.

·         Nine Final 48 appearances, including three in a row in girls’ basketball.

·         Nine consecutive Southeast Region appearances.

·         State Coach of the Year for boys in 1987 and 1992 and for girls in 2001,  and six Region Coach of the Year awards in boys’ basketball and six in girls’ basketball.

·         Coached both boys’ and girls’ teams in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game.

·         Notasulga High School Gymnasium was named in his honor.


Dr. Lenda Jo Connell, wife of principal Anderson, said Threadgill’s strong character was the key.
         “Character can be formed in many ways,” she said. “Coach Threadgill’s unshakeable character came from a rock-solid family who valued faith, family and education leveled with a good dose of humor! This is a dedicated, strong family that has left their mark and continues to leave their mark on high school athletics in the state of Alabama.

“Coach Threadgill is the type of gentleman whom you want influencing young people. A humble man, I never heard him say ‘I’. It was always ‘We’ when referring to his many successful endeavors. Because of his commitment, dedication, and willingness to work together, Notasulga High School stands today as a testament to men like Coach Threadgill, who believed that (education-based) athletics could build young men and women and community.”  
SATURDAY: Edward Wood’s impact still strong after four decades.

Loachapoka Coach Jerome Tate Taught Players to be Physically and Mentally Tough

                          By Bill Plott
                                          AHSAA Historian

          When Jerome Tate came out of college, he was a big man with big plans. And he would take that plan to the small Lee County community of Loachapoka where he spent more than two decades instilling big dreams in the student-athletes he taught.
          A native of Selma, Tate is being inducted into Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018. He graduated from Selma High School in 1977 as an All-State offensive and defensive lineman and was selected to play in the AHSAA North-South All-Star Game.  He attended Alabama A&M University, where he continued his on-the-field success and graduated in 1982 with a bachelor’s degree in health, physical education and recreation.

          His first job out of college was at Keith High in Orrville where he served as head football and assistant basketball coach. He taught physical education and health, subjects that he taught at each stop in his career.

          For the next two years he coached at the college level, first at Alabama A&M and then at Tuskegee University.  He was defensive line coach at A&M. At Tuskegee he served as an assistant football coach, and head strength and conditioning coach. However, he knew in his heart that he belonged back in high school.
          In 1990 he moved to Lanett High School where he spent 10 years as defensive coordinator, linebackers coach and offensive line coach. He also was head track coach from 1990-95 at Lanett.

          When Tate left Lanett to accept the athletic director and head football coach position at Loachapoka High School, sportswriter Todd Brooks wrote of his impact at Lanett.

“Perhaps the thing I noticed most about Jerome in the past four years I’ve known him is not how well he coached, but how well he got along with the students,” Brooks said. “Anyone who has seen the man in a school setting can tell that he cares. When (coach) Billy Kinnard left (Lanett) in 1993, it was Tate who led the team until a new coach was found. He, along with the other coaches, took them through spring training and kept them together until Lee Gilliland was hired.

“I have never seen players respond to a coach the way the Panthers have responded to Tate. When I interviewed Cliff Jackson about being selected to the state’s Super 12 team, I asked him about who he credits for his success. Jackson immediately spoke the name of Jerome Tate. ‘He’s my biggest fan, my biggest buddy.’ That’s pretty impressive to hear a 17-year-old kid speaking so highly of an adult these days.”

Tate went to Loachapoka in 1995. Over the next 22 years he compiled a record of 152-98 and won four region titles and become the school’s all-time wins leader. The Indians were in the state playoffs 17 times in 22 years, including a string of 14 straight appearances.

          His coaching accomplishments and honors include:

·         15 winning football seasons in 22 years at Loachapoka. Seventeen of his 22 teams made the state playoffs.

·         Led his 2004 team to an undefeated regular season and finished 12-1 overall. The 12 wins is a single season is a school record.

·          Finished 11-2 in 2009, tied a school record for wins and advanced to the playoff semifinals.

·         All-time winningest coach in Lee County.

·         Coach of the Year awards in 1997, 2004, 2005 and 2009.

·         Played in the North South All-Star Game and later coached in both the  North-South and the Alabama-Mississippi all-star games.


          Eleven of his players at Lanett and 16 at Loachapoka went on to play at the collegiate level. Three of them played professionally: Josh Evans with the Houston Oilers, Tennessee Titans and New York Jets; Kenny Sander with the New York Giants; and Tracy Brooks with the Salina Liberty of the Championship Indoor Football League.
           Long-time coaching rival and friend Jackie O’Neal, a 2012 Hall of Fame inductee, admired Coach Tate’s work ethic.

“He was focused and driven to develop his teams to be tough mentally and physically on the football field,” O’Neal said. “Through his mentorship and life of integrity, Coach Tate has positively impacted student athletes for over three decades…. He is a true professional, along with being one of the most honest and upstanding people I know. I truly call him a friend.”

Former AHSAA Executive Director Dan Washburn mentored Tate at Lanett and wrote the following:

“I have been associated with Jerome for 35 years. I hired Coach Tate as an assistant coach at Lanett High School during my tenure as superintendent of Lanett City schools. I have witnessed first-hand his love and passion for the game of football. Jerome demonstrates professional integrity, outstanding character and is a true professional in everything he undertakes.
          “Being a former coach, I have experienced how difficult it is to maintain a quality program over a period of many years. Jerome is the winningest coach in Lee County…. Every year we have numerous coaches who have qualifications to be part of this most prestigious hall of fame, but there are some outstanding individuals who simply stand above and beyond other nominees. Jerome Tate is definitely one of these.”

Coach Jim Hubbert, a 2006 Hall of Fame inductee, also wrote a letter endorsing Tate’s nomination. Hhe said, “I have known Coach Jerome Tate for over 30 years – as a college recruiting coach, as one of my assistant coaches, as a head coach and opponent, and mostly as a colleague and a friend. Jerome is the type of coach any father would love his son and grandson to have lead them. I was fortunate enough to have Coach Tate as one of my son’s coaches, and for that I am extremely thankful.

 “His teams always have been respected as hard-nosed, disciplined and respectful of opponents. Those positive attributes are the results of Coach Tate leading his teams to exhibit good moral and ethical standards, to demonstrate leadership qualities, and to display good sportsmanship. Because of Coach Tate’s leadership, his teams have always brought a source of pride and respect to his school and community.”

Tate was inducted into the Alabama A&M Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.

Friday: Obadiah Threadgill Legacy stretches over four generations.

Perseverance and Passion Has Highlighted Ann Schilling’s Journey to Hall of Fame

                                                       By Bill Plott

                                                   AHSAA Historian
         Ann Schilling’s journey to the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame started at the hands of a master. The Class of 2018 inductee played under the renowned Coach Becky Dickinson at McGill-Toolen Catholic High School. Coach Dickinson was in the very first class of inductees in 1991.

          In a letter nominating Schilling to the Hall of Fame, Coach Dickinson wrote:

“Before her high school tenure with me even began, Ann fell during summer team camp and broke her right arm. Other athletes might have let that discourage them, but not Ann. She stayed at summer camp and continued to work out. She came to every volleyball practice and game, taking statistics and stepping in wherever she could. She even taught herself to shoot a basketball left-handed.

“She had her silly moments, too. When she was still a freshman, our basketball team played an area championship, and I watched as my starting players fouled out one by one, clearing my bench until I was left with Ann. When I put her in the game, I called a time-out and shared the game plan with my players. We were ahead and time was running out. They were to maintain possession of the ball. We didn’t need any baskets, so they weren’t to shoot.
           “Ann Stepped out onto the court and received the ball out in Timbuctoo. She didn’t’ dribble. She didn’t pass. She didn’t’ fake her opponent.  No, that 14-year-old kid launched the ball toward our goal, and – swoosh! – made it. After the game, I told her had her ill-advised shot missed, she would never have seen playing time on one of my teams again.

“But she hadn’t missed. And perhaps she had learned something about strategy, something that came in handy for her as she played at Auburn or as she began her own coaching career at Bayside Academy.”

A native of Mobile, Schilling went from McGill-Toolen to Auburn University where she played basketball for four years, walking on and earning a scholarship by her sophomore year. She stayed a fifth year at Auburn to play volleyball when the program was reinstated.

With college-level varsity experience in basketball and volleyball under her belt, she accepted the position of physical education teacher, basketball and volleyball coach at Bayside Academy in 1987. It was a perfect union. Schilling is now in her 31st season of teaching and coaching at Bayside.

That career, by the numbers, includes the following:

·         23 state volleyball championships, four runners-up

·         16 consecutive state champions 2002-2017, an Alabama record and second in the nation, and 19 in 20 years since 1998

·         More than 1,400 wins, first among state active coaches and second in the state all-time

·         6 Mobile Press Register Super 12 Coach of the Year awards

·         5 Birmingham News Coach of the Year awards

·         7 selections as AHSAA all-star coach

·         National Federation of High Schools Volleyball Coach of the Year award in 2010

Additionally, Schilling has received two John L. Finley Awards for Superb Achievement as a coach and an R. L. Lindsay Service Award for club volleyball. She is founder and director of the Eastern Shore Volleyball Club.

She was elected to the Bayside Academy Hall of Fame in 2004 and to the Mobile Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.

Nancy Shoquist, varsity volleyball coach at Mary G. Montgomery High School and a Hall of Fame inductee in 2014, wrote of her long association and friendship with Schilling:

“I truly feel Ann is the smartest high school volleyball coach in Alabama,” she said. “She studies the game, wanting always to learn new ideas and strategies which will give her an advantage. Her career record, state championships and state tournament appearances speak loads of her success.

“She will continue to be successful in volleyball because of the work ethic, love of her teams and lover of the game.”

Bayside Head of School Michael Papa spoke to the intangibles in Schilling’s career.

“Ann plays a huge role in the character development of the young ladies she coaches,” he said. “She instills good sportsmanship and the importance of teamwork in her players, regardless of the outcome of the game. Ann’s players respect her, and they want to work hard to win under her direction.”

Coach Dickinson said she saw Schilling develop and grow into a superb leader.

“Looking back at her outstanding career, it may come as a surprise that Ann was not a born leader,” Dickinson said. “During her senior year, the captain of the volleyball team missed one of our tournaments, and I watched as my team floundered, leaderless.   A few timeouts later, when I asked Ann and her fellow senior to take charge, I watched her step onto the court and step into her own. After that, nothing Ann did surprised me.
           “I was not surprised when she started and didn’t stop winning state championships. I was not surprised when Ann’s peers repeatedly recognized her coaching ability by voting her Coach of the Year. I was not surprised that she learned to take relatively unskilled young women and teach them game skills while building their confidence and leadership skills.”
         And it is no surprise that Ann Schilling is now being inducted into the AHSAA Sports Hall of Fame in the Class of 2018.
THURSDAY: Jerome Tate taught his players to be mentally tough.

Alvin Rauls Is Aptly Described as a Trailblazer in AHSAA Athletic Circles

                          By Bill Plott
                                          AHSAA Historian

         When Alvin Rauls was presented an AHSAA Making a Difference Award in 2017, he was aptly described as a “trailblazer.”

          In 1992 this 2018 Alabama Sports Hall of Fame selection became the first black head coach to win a state baseball championship. Last year he became the first black coach to win a girls fast-pitch softball state championship. He is just the second coach in AHSA history to win titles in both of those sports.

          A strong advocate of sportsmanship, Rauls was described as “an outstanding role model for students and is well respected by his peers.” Additionally, his service to the AHSAA has included serving on the Central Board of Control, Legislative Council and District Board of Officers.

A native of Albany (GA), he attended Monroe High School in Albany, graduating in 1972. Rauls then attended Florida A&M University on a baseball scholarship. At FAMU he played second base and was teammates with future baseball Hall of Famer Andre Dawson. He received his bachelor’s degree in Health, Physical Education and Recreation and Driver’s Education in 1977.

After graduation he moved to Huntsville where he became Director of Parks and Recreation for the town of Triana, a small town that was incorporated in Madison County in 1919 – which officially became just the second city incorporated in the county’s history. With this job he became the first black recreation director for a city or township in the state. He also was responsible for implementing the Summer Youth Program.

His coaching career had begun back in Albany with an American Legion team. He continued at Triana where he coached the city women’s softball team and the men’s After Dark slow-pitch softball team, which won a state championship. He also became certified as an AHSAA basketball official during this time, calling games regularly from 1979-98.

In 1981 he became head baseball coach at Alabama A&M University, serving in that position for three years.

In 1988 he went to New Hope High School as baseball coach. He was named Madison County Coach of the Year in 1990 and 1993. He won the state Class 2A championship in 1992 and his 1990 team was Class 3A runner-up. At New Hope he also served as assistant football coach as well as driver’s education and physical education teacher. He took on head football coaching duties in 1993 and 1994, compiling a 10-10 record.

In 1995 he went to Sparkman High School as head baseball coach, assistant football coach and driver’s education teacher. He held the same positions at S.R. Butler from 1997-2002 and at Bob Jones from 2002-06.

          During his tenure as a baseball coach he has won more than 350 games and has received Coach of the Year honors at the county and state level numerous times.

In 2007 he went to Buckhorn High School as softball coach compiling a 256-141 record through the 2017 season. In addition to the 2017 state championship, the 2015 team won the Area 7 championship and made it to the semifinals in the state playoffs.
         In nominating Rauls for the Hall of Fame, Buckhorn Principal Todd Markham wrote: “I have known Coach Rauls for many years. We have worked together as coaches, and I now serve as his principal. He is a man of great character, and he has devoted his life to coaching and teaching young people.”

He also has coached American Legion baseball for Post 237, winning state championships in 1990 and 1993.

           Another letter of nomination came from Buckhorn Athletic Director David Carroll. “I have known him since around 1984,” Carroll said. “He was just ‘Al’ to me as an eight-year-old boy signing up to play basketball, soccer or baseball. He worked for the Madison Recreation Center and always had a big smile and that trademark deep voice. I would see him at the gym, all gyms it seemed, for he was also a basketball official. I waved at him as I rode my bicycle on the walkway up and down Hughes Road.

          “As luck would have it, Coach Rauls took over the head baseball and assistant football jobs at New Hope High School as I entered the 9th grade. I would see him plenty over the next four years as the New Hope/Bob Jones rivalry in football and baseball had championship implications every year. Coach Rauls had a deep impact on the players he coached at BJHS, and they became my mentors.
          “A vivid memory I have of my first day of baseball practice involves a drill run by senior Paul Fulda. We were working on ‘crow-hops’ in the outfield, and I was not familiar with it. As I struggled to catch on, I questioned, ‘Why are we doing this?’ Fulda’s reply was simply, ‘Coach Rauls taught us to do it this way.’ I had pride that I was at least indirectly coached by Al Rauls.

“As years passed and I got into coaching, our paths crossed several times. Any time I could pick his brain or ask advice he would never hesitate to talk ball with me. I had had countless conversations with those who either played for or coached with him. He is revered. I am now fortunate to be his athletic director as he has coached softball at Buckhorn. Although he is now coaching girls, the winning and the reverence is still the same.”  
WEDNESDAY: Ann Schilling – Perseverance and Passion Has Been her Trademark.

Carver-Montgomery Director of Bands Selected as Section 3 Recipient of NFHS National High School Heart of the Arts Award

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                             Contact: John Gillis

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (March 12, 2018) —LaFrancis Davis, the director of bands at Montgomery’s Carver High School, has been selected as the 2018 Section 3 recipient of the “National High School Heart of the Arts Award” by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). Cecelia Egan of Riverside (Rhode Island) St. Mary Academy-Bay View has been selected the 2018 national recipient of the “National High School Heart of the Arts Award” by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).
          Davis will be recognized at the AHSAA Summer Conference Championship Coaches banquet on Friday night, July 20 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.
         The National High School Heart of the Arts Award was created by the NFHS to recognize those individuals who exemplify the ideals of the positive heart of the arts that represent the core mission of education-based activities. This is the fifth year that the National High School Heart of the Arts Award has been offered. Eight

Ever since he was a student at Slocomb High School, Davis has had a passion for music. However, he was also a tremendous athlete who excelled in football, basketball, baseball and track. As such, he often faced schedule conflicts between athletics and performing arts.

By the time he was a junior, Davis had developed into a very talented all-around athlete who emerged as one of the state’s best football running backs. Band director Debra Lynn Long encouraged Davis to keep playing football and to keep playing the trumpet. He would often gain several yards in the first half of a football game and then march in his football uniform in the Marching Red Top Band before returning to the backfield in the second half.

When Davis prepared to graduate, several college football programs vied for his services. While Davis really wanted to play college football, he also wanted to major in music. He chose to attend Alabama A&M University, which had an outstanding music program.

After graduation, he served in the U.S. Army for 10 years. After that, he was persuaded to become band director at Coffee Springs High School. After resurrecting a struggling program there, he moved to Geneva County High School. He had two more stops along the way before landing at Carver, where he encourages his students to not just “… love all music, but to love playing the music and singing the songs even more.”
           He rejuvenated Carver’s struggling band program from less than 60 members to now more than 150. He also started a band program at its feeder middle school that now nearly 100 students involved as well.

Alabama Football Official Selected as Section 3 Recipient of NFHS National High School Spirit of Sport Award

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                             Contact: John Gillis

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (March 12, 2018) — Mark Russell, a high school football official and president of the Huntsville (Alabama) City Council, has been selected as the 2018 Section 3 recipient of the “National High School Spirit of Sport Award” by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). Russell will be recognized at the AHSAA Summer Conference Championship Coaches awards banquet Friday night, July 20 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.

The National High School Spirit of Sport Award was created by the NFHS to recognize those individuals who exemplify the ideals of the spirit of sport that represent the core mission of education-based athletics. Marissa Walker, a student-athlete at Waterford (Connecticut) High School, was selected the 2018 national recipient of the “National High School Spirit of Sport Award.” One recipient from each of the NFHS’s eight districts was selected for section recognition.
           An Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) and youth league football official for more than 30 years, Russell has been a member of the Northeast Football Officials Association (NEFBOA) during most of that time. He has served as head of its nominating committee, as the leader of the local football association’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes group, and as chair of the NEFBOA’s benevolent committee projects. He has officiated several AHSAA state championship football games – most recently as a linesman at the 2017 Class 7A title game.

That seemingly innocuous officiating assignment was nothing less than a miracle. Just three months earlier on August 25, Russell was officiating a season-opening high school game between Alabama school Madison Academy and McCallie Academy from Tennessee. During the game, Russell collapsed on the field with heart failure. Paulette Berryman, a nurse who just happened to be working as the Madison Academy school photographer, was standing at the sidelines and quickly came to his aid performing CPR until he was revived. His heart had been stopped with no heartbeat for eight minutes while he lay unconscious on the ground in front of the packed stadium of fans.

He was then rushed by ambulance to Huntsville Hospital’s emergency ward. Within two hours, doctors stabilized him, implanted a stent, and he was sitting up with more than 40 officials who had rushed to the hospital ICU to pray for him and to support him during his time of need. Advised by the doctors to take some extended time off, Russell returned to football in less than a month for a coin toss, and then back as a linesman within six weeks.

There is Much More to ‘Coach Rags’ Than Wins and Losses Can Measure

                          By Bill Plott
                                          AHSAA Historian


To fully measure the impact of Alabama Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2018 inductee Randy Ragsdale, one needs to look past his 242 football coaching victories.
         That’s the opinion who those who know him, including Trinity Presbyterian High School’s head of school Kerry Palmer. “There is so much more to ‘Coach Rags’ than metrics can measure,” Palmer said. “Randy Ragsdale is one of the finest human beings I have ever known. He truly loves and cares for all of the students at our school – not just ‘his boys’. He learns every name, knows every relationship and demonstrates real interest in each individual student. Randy’s positivity, enthusiasm and optimism are always present and are contagious.”
       Ragsdale is being inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2018 at the Hall of Fame banquet March 19 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.
      A native of Coyners, a suburban city near Atlanta, Ragsdale attended Rockdale County High School, graduating in 1975.
      After an outstanding high school career, he received a football scholarship to Jacksonville State University. At JSU he earned All-American honors starting at tackle for three years and played in the NCAA Division II National Championship game in 1978 as a senior.
      Upon graduation the following spring, he accepted a position at north Clayton High School in Georgia where he was an assistant coach for three years. He then moved to Fayette County (GA) where he coached from 1982-85.

      In 1985 he moved to Alabama and joined the Northview High School coaching staff as defensive coordinator at the Dothan school. His impact was felt immediately as Northview won the 1985 Class 6A state championship.

      After four years at Northview, Ragsdale moved to Trinity Presbyterian as head football coach, a position he held through the 2016 season. Although he announced his retirement from coaching, he continues to serve in the Middle School Dean position he has held since 2006.
      With his retirement from football, Ragsdale legacy includes:

·         He compiled an overall head-coaching record of 242-86.

·         His teams qualified for the state playoffs 25 times in 28 seasons.

·         Trinity was 15-0 in 2003 and won the Class 4A state championship.

·         The Wildcats compiled a 45-game regular-season win streak from 2000-05.

·         His teams won 13 Region titles with an overall 116-23 region record.

·         He served as a coach in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game, was head coach in the North-South All-Star Game in 2010 and assistant coach in 1997 and 2004; and also coached a team in the Down under Bowl in Australia.

·         He was named 2003 State Coach of the Year and was selected three times Metro Coach of the Year.

·         Received the prestigious Herman L. “Bubba” Scott Lifetime Achievement Award from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in 2017 for his positive impact as a coach and commitment to his faith.

·         The City of Montgomery proclaimed October 10, 2017, as Randy Ragsdale Day with commendations coming from the mayor’s office and the governor’s office.

     “He makes our school better, and he makes the world better,” Palmer said. “Coach Ragsdale is not simply a colleague. He is a close personal friend and my brother in Christ.”

      Todd Parsons, president of the Trinity Presbyterian Board of Trustees, added, “Coach Ragsdale put the Trinity football program on the map and compiled a record on the field of play that may never again be matched by a coach at a single school in Montgomery. Several members of our Trustee Board played for Coach Ragsdale and admire and respect him greatly.
      “In fact, our board has voted to re-name our football field in honor of Coach Ragsdale. Our playing field will be known as Ragsdale-Boykin Field, honoring what we believe to be two of the finest men ever to serve this institution.“
     In a 2014 interview with Duane Rankin of The Montgomery Advertiser, Ragsdale attributed part of his success to a simple motto his teams strived to live by: “Be accountable.”
      “Our young men work to try to do what we ask them to do,” he said. “We repeat that over and over and over again. I think that comes with helping teach them to handle their own stuff. They’ve got to be personally accountable. And I say this in a positive way. We’re going to demand that out of them.”
      Wilson Van Hooser, a former Trinity player who played collegiately at Tulane and Troy and received a tryout with the New England Patriots, was asked why Trinity has one of the best football programs in the state.
       “I tell people this all the time,” he said, referring to what he learned as a member of a Randy Ragsdale-coached team. “We were a bunch of crazy, small guys out there. We weren’t the most athletic team out there. We had one or two (outstanding players) and my senior year we had three or four. (What we did have)  was just a bunch out there who would lunge into people and knew how to play by the details.
       We were relentless. We never let up. Whether we’re down or up, we (would) keep the pedal to the metal the whole game.”
Tuesday: Alvin Rauls – A trailblazer in high school athletics.

Deshler’s John Mothershed Connected With Students on and off the Field

                          By Bill Plott
                                          AHSAA Historian


          Longtime Deshler High School head football coach John Mothershed displayed an innate ability to connect with students – on and off the football field.
          Current Deshler principal Russ Tate supports that assessment.
          “Coach Mothershed was not only a winner on the football field, but also a great teacher,” Tate said. “I have been told by many former teachers and students about his amazing ability to connect with students first in the classroom and then on the field. His teaching ability was respected by all members of the faculty at Deshler High School.”
          Mothershed is being inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2018 at the Hall of Fame banquet March 19 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center. He compiled a 201-53 head-coaching record at Deshler from 1995-2013.
          Molding youngsters into men was his even bigger accomplishment, Tate said.
         “While his athletic accomplishments are numerous and most deserving of this award, we must never forget why we are in this business of education, and that is to mold and develop the minds of our youth,” Tate said. “Coach Mothershed took the same principles that he taught to his players and used them to impact the entire school. He was a teacher first and coach second.”
          A native of Florence, John Mothershed attended Sheffield High School where he lettered in football and wrestling. He was All-Area in football during his senior season and a state runner-up in wrestling in the 155-pound weight class.

          After high school, he attended the University of North Alabama where he received his bachelor’s degree in 1985. While in college, he actually began his high school coaching career, serving as assistant wrestling coach. After graduation he returned to his alma mater as assistant football coach.

          In 1987 he left Sheffield and accepted a position as teacher and assistant at Deshler High School. From 1987-94 he worked with Coach Tandy Gerelds, a 2016 Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame inductee. During those eight years with Gerelds, Mothershed helped develop a program that was in the state playoffs every year, including 1990 when the Tigers won the state championship with a 15-0 record. Deshler was also runner-up the following year.

          In 1995 he was promoted to head football coach and athletic director. He gave up the athletic director position in 2007 to concentrate on coaching, a role he held until 2013. Deshler won his 200th game in the final regular season game in 2013, a 49-20 win over North Jackson. During his career at Deshler, Mothershed had the following accomplishments:

·       An overall record of 201-53, a 71% winning mark

·       Class 4A State Championships in 1998 and 1999

·       Class 4A runners-up in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2010

·       13 Area and Region championships with a record of 103-13

·       In the state playoffs each of his 19 years, advancing to the third round in all but three of those years, with an overall playoff record of 49-17


     “(I think) every coach (at Deshler) will be measured against his success,” Tate said. “Coach Mothershed was a winner and invoked a winning attitude into every sport here at Deshler High School. I was lucky enough to watch from afar while Coach Mothershed was the head football coach, and it was one of the first scores I always tried to find on Friday night during football season.
   “During Mothershed’s tenure as coach, he accumulated a multitude of playoff victories, won back-to-back state titles, finished as state runner-up numerous times, and concluded his coaching career with a 201-53 record.  That is why every coach who will ever patrol the sidelines at Deshler High School will have a difficult challenge of measuring up to the standard that Coach Mothershed established.”

          In a 2009 interview with Sean Lowery, Mothershed talked of his coaching philosophy.

          “All eyes are on you, and the more successful your program, the more eyes are on you. It kind of goes to Matthew 5:14, ‘You are the light of the world.’ Those that are behind you look to you for leadership. Those that are against you watch closely to see if you stumble so they can pounce on that,” he said.

           Asked how you handle that kind of pressure, Coach Mothershed said, “You just do what you can do. You’re just a man, and you’re not anything more than that. So, you just focus on your job and doing your job. You don’t get too excited when they are praising you, nor do you get too down when they are trashing you. You just go on and do your job.”
         From 2001-03 he served as vice president of the Alabama High School Athletic Directors and Coaches Association He was president in 2004.

          He was inducted into the Colbert County Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.
MONDAY: Randy Ragsdale – Much more to him than wins and losses.

AHSAA Soccer Guru Joe Manjone Has Been Immersed in the Sport for Decades

                          By Bill Plott
                                          AHSAA Historian

Joe Manjone has been immersed in soccer for decades. He began officiating the sport as a teenager and has been involved in it as an official and administrator for more than 50 years. The 2018 Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame selectee’s involvement has been far reaching as well – spanning more than seven states and two continents.
          In Alabama, his service stretches over more than 30 years. Manjone is one of 11 selectees in the Class of 2018 who will be inducted into Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame at a banquet set for 6:30 p.m., March 19, at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.

“Throughout my career in high school athletics, I have been privileged to work with some of the finest men and women in the field of high school athletics,” AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese said. “This group includes coaches, officials, administrators and AHSAA contributors who all have had one common trait – a desire to excel and to make a difference in the lives of those they serve.

          “The epitome of those individuals is Joe Manjone, the AHSAA Soccer Director and former National Federation of State High Schools Association (NFHS) Soccer Rules Committee Chair. For over 30 years, Joe has served the AHSAA in numerous soccer roles from officiating to rules interpreter. Not only has Joe always been an outstanding official, officiating other sports besides soccer, but also he has been a dedicated professional and a true credit to this Association.”
        Manjone’s contributions have not gone unnoticed. He was recently named the recipient of the NFHS’s prestigious Citation for Officials for 2017, which is presented annually to only one contest official nationwide.
          “Among Joe’s prestigious accomplishments is the AHSAA Distinguished Service Award for service as an official,” Savarese said. “His greatest contribution has been his outstanding leadership exemplified to officials statewide while maintaining the relevance of high school athletics. He is a great ambassador for this Association and the entire Alabama high school sports community.”

          A native of Hazelton, Pennsylvania, Manjone attended Black Creek Township High School, graduating in 1959.

He attended Penn State University, graduating in 1963 with a bachelor’s degree. He later earned additional education degrees from the University of Georgia and Penn State.

He was a soccer official from 1959-72 for the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association. In 1973 he officiated for United States high schools in Europe. From 1974-80 he was officiating in such diverse locations as Athens, GA; Greenville-Spartanburg, SC: Martinsburg, WV; and Hagerstown, MD.

In 1980 he came to Alabama, settling in Huntsville and established a high school soccer officials association in North Alabama. He has been involved with AHSAA soccer officiating and conducting rules clinics ever since. Over the years, some of his service have included: AHSAA State Rules Interpreter and  AHSAA Championship Officials Coordinator (since 1991); NFHS Soccer Rules Committee member beginning in 2000. He has served as rules committee chairman and is the current NFHS rules consultant and interpreter. In 2012 he received the NFHS Sports Officials Association Contributor of the Year Award.
         Manjone has also served as a National Intercollegiate Soccer Officials Association Committee representative and NISOA Rules Committee and Executive Committee. He wrote the NISOA High School Soccer Officials Refresher Exam used through 2014. He was named the NISOA High School Official of the year in 2003 and induced into its Hall of Fame in 2013.
         Manjone might be called a “Renaissance Man” of officiating because he has done it all. His baseball officiating and administrator work stretches from1960-2002; basketball (1960-2005); fast and slow-pitch softball (1967-2005); football (1960-2003); volleyball (1964-98); cross country/track and field (1967-74); and wrestling (1967-72).
         While this unbelievable career of combined 272 officiating service years was ongoing, Manjone was also employed in a number of “day jobs.” He began as coach, girls’ athletic director, intramural sports director, teacher and boys’ and girls’ basketball coach at Lansdale Catholic High School from 1964-67. He taught physical education and was assistant director of intramural athletics at Penn State from 1967-73. He spent a year in Europe, directing comprehensive array of varsity sports, intramural athletics and fitness and wellness programs for U.S. military personnel and dependents in 18 military communities.

Returning to the United States, he subsequently held physical education, intramural and recreation positions at Lander College in South Carolina, Shepherd College in West Virginia, the University of Alabama-Huntsville, and Frostburg State University in Pennsylvania. He was Dean of Continuing Education and Distance Learning at the United States Sports Academy from 1998-2000, Executive Vice President and Provost for Academics at Columbia Southern University from 2000-2010, and President of Waldorf College in Forest City, Iowa, from 2009-11. He is current reaffiliated with Columbia Southern as Vice Provost of Student Affairs and Special Programs.

Mark A. Koski, Director of Sports, Events and Development for the NFHS, wrote of his relationship with Manjone:

“Of the hundreds of people with whom I have worked, Dr. Joe Manjone is truly outstanding. He is knowledgeable, bright, and creative. He is one of the most reliable people that I have ever been associated with. If a task is assigned to Dr. Joe, he always follows through – and in superior quality. He is eager to volunteer and he has the rare ability to take on many tasks at once, juggling them with skill, and pursue each to completion. One of Dr. Joe’s greatest gifts is his delightful personality. He is just plain nice to be around!”
SUNDAY: John Mothershed guided Deshler to top of Class 4A

Greg Brewer’s Leadership and Impact Raised Standards for High School Officials

                           By Bill Plott
                                          AHSAA Historian

            Greg Brewer’s impact on raising the standards of officiating, especially for all high school sports, has been recognized on both local and national levels. 
           When he retired last year AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese said, “Mr. Brewer has been a trailblazer in the development of training for contest officials. He has dedicated himself to raising the competence across the board with contest officials in all sports He leaves some big shoes to be filled.”

That impact is being recognized by his peers in the AHSAA. He is being enshrined into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame in the Class of 2018. The 2018 induction banquet will be March 19 at 6:30 p.m. at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.
           Brewer’s legacy as AHSAA Director of Officials includes the following:

·         He established statewide training camps for officials in all sports and set up the current District Director program that is used to rate and further train contest officials. 

·         He also developed and helped implement the AHSAA pitch count rule for baseball, which has been applauded around the nation by several national organizations, including Little League Baseball and USA Baseball.

·         He created a sports officiating class for high school students. It has been approved by the Alabama State Department of Education and is being taught in more than 40 high schools across the state where students have the opportunity to learn to become certified officials.

           “Greg Brewer represented the AHSAA with distinction while working with the National Federation of State High School Associations in many capacities,” said former AHSAA Executive Director Dan Washburn. “His contribution to the NFHS football and baseball rules was recognized nationally when he received the NFHS Section 3 Citation Award in 2006.”
          In his home state, his work was equally important. “During the 31 years Greg served the Association, he pioneered the formation of District Directors for officials in each of eight districts within the state of Alabama,” Washburn said. “Greg developed an evaluation system for officials, which utilized the District Directors in evaluating and naming those officials to serve as game officials for the state playoffs in all sports.

        “He facilitated and worked very closely with the executive director and AHSAA staff in each re-classification of schools. He communicated with officials’ associations and with individual officials on a daily basis.”

           In an interview with writer Josh Bean, Brewer explained some of the overriding philosophy of producing good officials:

“I have always maintained the position that I can’t open up your head and put rules in your head. You’ve got to do that. I can’t open up your head and give you good judgment. That comes with instinct and the development of experience. But I can give you common material that you can look at and study from – like our manual – and you will be calling everything as consistently in Huntsville as you would in Mobile, Birmingham, Anniston, wherever.”

A nominating letter from the 7th District Athletic Board of Officers, which includes current AHSAA Central Board of Control president principal John Hardin of Hackleburg, credited Brewer with playing “a leading role in advancing athletics in our state. He has introduced new ideas and methods that have made our officials some of the best in the nation.”

          A native of Florence, Brewer attended Bradshaw High School in Florence where he served as Student Government Association president. He graduated in 1975.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration and physical education from the University of North Alabama where he was an SGA representative and Jaycee Project Chairman of the Year for 1976-77.

He received his master’s degree from the University of Alabama where he was a graduate assistant in the Athletic Department and served as an academic assistant for baseball, arranging study halls and tutors for athletes. He also supervised intramurals. He taught a sports officiating class and individual sports. From 1980-2001 he was the official basketball scorer for the University of Alabama Sports Information Department.

He became associated with the Alabama High School Athletic Association in 1976, serving as a contest official in football, basketball and baseball through 1992. Brewer joined the AHSAA fulltime in 1985 as assistant director, serving until his retirement in 2017.
          As Director of Officials with the Association, he was in charge of scheduling, budgeting, payroll and camps for officials. As Computer System Administrator, he oversaw purchasing and maintenance of the Office Automation System.

He also served as editor of the AHSAA Officials Guide and the AHSAA Mechanics Manual for all sports. He coordinated the bi-annual reclassification of member schools and coordinated and administered championship events in all sports.  

He served numerous terms on National Federation committees on baseball and football rules and the equipment sub-committee. Brewer also received the Alabama Baseball Coaches Association’s Distinguished Service Award in 2012 and the Alabama State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance Leader Award in 2015. He co-founded and is current board chairman of the Alabama Sports Officials Foundation, a non-profit foundation that helps secure educational scholarships at state schools for the children of sports officials.
          He worked with the American Legion’s Boys State program as a staff member from 1981-92, was executive director of the Florence Little League program from 1977-79, and he served as official scorer or University of Alabama basketball for many years.
SATURDAY: Joe Manjone had major impact on soccer officiating nationally.