MONTGOMERY – Seven individuals who have made an impact as exemplary role models have been selected as the 2018 Making a Difference Award recipients by the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) and the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA).
One recipient from each of the AHSAA’s seven classifications was chosen from nominations submitted by AHSAA member schools and other support organizations.
This year’s recipients are Jack Hayes, Brilliant High School (1A); JimBob Striplin, Geneva County High School (2A); Anthony McCall, Montgomery Academy (3A); Frances Dunn, Greensboro High School (4A); Stanley Johnson, Lawrence County High School (5A); Pam Robinson, Benjamin Russell High School (6A); and Clem Richardson, Baker High School (7A).
The honorees will be recognized during the Championship Coaches Banquet at the Renaissance Montgomery Convention Center July 20. The 6 p.m. event will close out the 2018 AHSAA Summer Conference and All-Star Sports Week for member schools. The Officials’ Awards luncheon will officially close out the week on Saturday, July 21, at the Renaissance at 11:30 a.m.
The Making a Difference Award was established in 2011 by the AHSAA and AHSADCA to recognize individuals who go beyond their normal duties as a coach, teacher or administrator to make a positive impact in their schools and communities. This year’s recipients include two principals, three athletic directors, one basketball and one track coach. One of the athletic directors also serves as head football coach, one is a head volleyball coach and the other is a head basketball coach.
“The recipients in this 2018 Making a Difference class are excellent examples of men and women who take their positions as role models for their students, faculty and community very seriously. Each has had a major positive impact in their communities and schools and across the state and are excellent choices for what this award stands for," said AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese.
“This award is the most important honor a professional educator in our state can receive. Characteristics considered for this prestigious award include the recipient’s character, integrity and service, all of which have enabled these individuals to have a life-changing impact on the community or school where they serve,” he added.
Savarese said this special award exemplifies what makes education-based sports so important.
“This is one way we can honor them for the examples they set and the life lessons they teach on a daily basis,” he said.
Following is a brief synopsis of the Making a Difference recipients for 2018:
JACK HAYES, BRILLIANT HIGH SCHOOL – A longtime coach, teacher and administrator who is much loved by his students and community, Hayes has served Brilliant High School for the last 38 years. He was a teacher and coach from 1980-1997, was head baseball coach for 12 years, head football coach and athletic director for four years and head boys’ basketball coach for seven years. He has been the school’s principal since 1997 and is retiring at the end of June.
He grew up in Marion County, graduating from Phillips High School in 1974, and graduated from the University of Alabama in 1979. His has served as a member of the District 7 Board and on the AHSAA Legislative Council representing District 7 since 2004. Although his high school is one of the smallest in the AHSAA, he has worked tirelessly to provide his students with opportunities. He has been the Bryant-Jordan Student Scholarship Program Area and Region Chairperson for two decades and has chaired the University of Alabama’s Commitment to Teaching Committee since 2003. He is also a member of the UA College of Education 21st Century College Circle. He also served as area or region coordinator for football, basketball, volleyball and baseball since 1969.
He was inducted into the Marion County Sports Hall of Fame as a player (2006) and in a special category for his leadership in 2004. He was also recognized as Brilliant High School Teacher of the Year in 1991-92 and Marion County Secondary School Teacher of the Year that same year.
He has dedicated his life to training young men and young women to be successful in the classroom and in the athletic arena and has emphasized the importance of teamwork and responsibility in each person’s daily life.
JIMBOB STRIPLIN, GENEVA COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL – A former college quarterback at Auburn University, Striplin has spent his coaching career at smaller schools where he has mastered the art of taking over struggling programs and building them into competitive teams year-in and year-out. He is always striving to find a way to include more students.
For instance, at New Brockton he started the student band program and mentored students outside sports. His overall football coaching record is 41-44, including 10-11 in two years at Geneva County. He inherited a New Brockton team that was 2-8 in 2006 and led them to a 7-4 record in 2009. At Hartford, he took over a team that won just two games in 2015 and led them to the playoffs each of the last two years.
His leadership and involvement with youth transcends the school setting to his church and community commitment.
Now at Geneva County, his alma mater, his role as a mentor has evolved for students and parents alike. As an AD, he reinstated volleyball as a girls’ sport, has coached girls’ basketball and track and constantly walks the halls encouraging students to try some extracurricular activity. He also has such a passion about the influence coaches and teachers had on his life that he found time to author and have published a novel about a coach who makes a difference. He is one of the AHSAA’s prize resources and with his humility, you would never know it, said the nominator.
ANTHONY McCALL, MONTGOMERY ACADEMY – Praised as a strong administrator, McCall has proven to be an excellent head coach and example for students and coaches alike. He has also been an outspoken leader in promoting the educational mission for member schools in the AHSAA – taking his stance to the legislature at times on behalf of the member schools.
An outstanding student-athlete at Sidney Lanier High School and later Auburn University, McCall returned to Montgomery in 1992 and joined the Montgomery Academy faculty where he has been the last 27 years. He has served as the school’s athletic director for much of that time, helping build the Eagles’ girls’ and boys’ program into one of the strongest and most respected overall athletic programs in the state. His football program was 39-18 in five seasons, compiling a 32-5 record over his last three seasons (2013-15). His basketball teams were very competitive and had a strong reputation of taking on the toughest challengers available.
It is his personal desire to reach every student that grabbed one nominator’s attention. She wrote of his kindness and ability to find those struggling students and help them grow into strong, confident adults.
He recently resigned to take a similar position at a school in Florida.
FRANCES DUNN, GREENSBORO HIGH SCHOOL – Mrs. Dunn has spent 35 years teaching and coaching in Hale County – and has served the last 13 years as head girls basketball and volleyball coach for the Lady Raiders, compiling a 301-91 record in basketball. Her teams are always competitive, reaching AHSAA State semifinals the last two seasons, and also tenacious and most respectful of the rules of the game, their opponents and each other.
She works diligently with her girls on and off the court to make them the best they can be. She helps them set high standards for their lives and then equips them with ideals and tools that help them reach those standards they set.
At Greensboro, Mrs. Dunn has become an institution. She is a Francis Marion High School graduate and a prize pupil of FM principal legend and former Central Board member Mrs. Maxine Coley.
STANLEY JOHNSON, LAWRENCE COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL -- This tireless coach has not only taught his teams to be champions but also at the same time has taken over the State CC Championships, molded the community together to provide a state championship event for all students in the state.
Johnson, who also serves as assistant principal at Moulton Middle School and director of city’s “Strawberry Festival,” was named "Citizen of the Year" at the annual Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce banquet last January. Johnson was nominated for that prestigious honor by Lawrence County District Attorney Errek Jett for his contributions to the community as an educator, boys’ and girls' cross country coach and director of the annual festival.
"Stanley has a genuine love for Lawrence County," Jett said. "I'm proud to say I'm not only a personal friend of Stanley, but draw inspiration and stand amazed at all he does. He places our children and community before himself. He gives significant time and resources to that effort while wanting to be in the shadows instead of the spotlight. Lawrence County is better for having him as a citizen here."
Johnson has been one of the AHSAA’s most successful cross country coaches, guiding Lawrence County to boys’ and girls’ state cross country titles in 2015, 2014 and 2003. He coached the 2014 and 2015 championships while also organizing and managing the state meet for all runners and teams in every classification. His track and cross country programs are among some of the largest in the AHSAA – involving many students that were introduced to educational athletics for the first time by Johnson.
The NFHS honored Johnson as the Alabama Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2015 and the Section 3 Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2001. He was one of eight recipients nationally of the prestigious Section honor.
PAM ROBINSON, BENJAMIN RUSSELL HIGH SCHOOL – The Benjamin Russell High School athletic director has proven herself as a teacher, coach and administrator over the last three decades by displaying toughness and compassion. She has contributed her leadership to all the children of Alex City and still finds the time to work with AHSAA in such capacities as the Medical Advisory Committee. Her passion for the children is most evident.
The Wildcats’ head volleyball coach for the past 25 years, Robinson also coached softball and for the last several years served as the school’s AD. She recently stepped down from coaching volleyball to devote all her time to her athletic director duties and to her grandson.
Her impact has gone well beyond the playing field or gymnasium. She has been a constant leader and mentor for students and teachers alike.
“The greatest thing about coaching is being able to get to know the kids,” Robinson recently told the Alexander City Outlook. “You get to know them in the classroom, but when you’re coaching them, you’re around them more than their parents are. With summer workouts, practices every day, games, time on the bus, it really is fun.”
CLEM RICHARDSON, BAKER HIGH SCHOOL – The principal at Baker High School since 2003, Richardson attended and graduated from Baker HS in 1974 – playing on the Hornets’ first state baseball championship team. He has seen the school and community grow from a rural Class 2A/3A size school to now one of the largest schools in the AHSAA.
Students and teachers alike point out that Richardson has always had a compassion for students who need “a little nudge or extra guidance.”
He graduated from Troy University in 1978 and received a master’s degree in Mental Retardation from South Alabama in 1984. He earned a second masters in Educational Leadership from USA in 1994.
He served as special education teacher and coach at Baker from 1981-1996, then served as assistant principal at Williamson and Theodore before becoming the Mobile County Schools athletic director from 2001-2003. He was named principal at Baker in 2003 and has served in that role ever since. He recently announced his plans to retire this summer
He was an assistant coach on Baker’s 1990 state baseball championship team. More important, however, he has been one of Mobile County’s most prominent administrators, sharing his leadership skills--always offering a well thought-out approach to most problems. He has also served in a leadership capacity in District I and in the AHSAA.