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TUSCALOOSA -- The Alabama Sports Writers Association named G.W. Long’s Libby Baker its 2019 Miss Softball recipient as the top prep player in the state. Morgan Academy's Gunnar Henderson was selected Mr. Baseball by the ASWA and Haleyville's Scott McAlpine with the Jimmy Smothers Courage Award. The honorees were announced at the ASWA Convention Awards Banquet Sunday night.
Baker, a Troy signee, led G.W. Long to its second straight Class 2A softball state championship, setting a single-season national record with 37 home runs this season. She also had a state best 101 RBIs and 2.058 OPS with 81 hits, 72 runs, 12 doubles, .559 average, .637 on-base and produced 2.4 runs per game. In the circle, Baker posted 20-1 record with five saves, 271 strikeouts (14.6 per 7 innings), 16 shutouts, five no-hitters and four perfect games. She had an 0.027 ERA, .048 WHIP and allowed only two home runs in 130 innings while opponents batted .077. Baker, who earned the Class 2A state tournament MVP in 2019, leads the ASWA Super All-State softball list along with Hewitt-Trussville's Hannah Borden, Holtville's Kaylyn Dismukes, Fairhope's Alea Johnson, Macon East's Madisyn Kennedy, Spanish Fort's Ainsley Lambert, Gardendale's Carlee McCondichie, Alabama Christian's Haley Pittman, Brantley's Kassidy Wilcox and Hayden's Savannah Woodward.
Baker is the 17th Miss Softball and first G.W. Long player to earn the honor. Grissom’s Anna Thompson is the only two-time Miss Softball winner, earning the award in 2004 and 2006. Only Pisgah, Hueytown and Baker have multiple winners in the 17-year history of the award.
Henderson, who was the first pick of the MLB Draft’s second round (42nd overall), was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles. He is also an Auburn baseball signee. He heads the Super All-State list and is joined by Hazel Green's Jordan Beck, McGill-Toolen's Chandler Best, Mobile Christian's Ethan Hearn, Springville's Braden Hughes, Oak Mountain's Jackson Kimbrell, Chilton County's Pico Kohn, Bob Jones' Dylan Ray, G.W. Long's Matt Snell and Providence Christian's Grayson Stewart.
The Jimmy Smothers Courage Award, named for the former long-time Gadsden Times sports editor, honors an athlete who overcomes adversity to excel in sports. Haleyville's Scott McAlpine lost his sister to a heart condition when he was 6 years old and was diagnosed with Type I diabetes five years later. His father was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer when McAlpine was a freshman. McAlpine said football and baseball provided him with the courage and will to keep going.
2019 ASWA Super All-State Baseball
Mr. Baseball: Gunnar Henderson, Morgan Academy
Jordan Beck, Hazel Green
Chandler Best, McGill-Toolen
Ethan Hearn, Mobile Christian
Braden Hughes, Springville
Jackson Kimbrell, Oak Mountain
Pico Kohn, Chilton County
Dylan Ray, Bob Jones
Matt Snell, G.W. Long
Grayson Stewart, Providence Christian
ASWA Mr. Baseball Winners
2019: Gunnar Henderson, Morgan Academy
2018: Jeremiah Jackson, St. Luke’s
2017: Tanner Burns, Decatur
2016: Owen Lovell, Cullman
2015: Brax Garrett, Florence
2014: Cody Reed, Ardmore
2013: Keegan Thompson, Cullman
2012: Mikey White, Spain Park
2011: Daniel Koger, Huntsville
2010: Daryl Norris, Fairhope
2009: Luke Bole, Hartselle
2008: Tyler Stovall, Hokes Bluff
2007: John David Smelser, Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa
2006: Del Howell, American Christian
2005: Colby Rasmus, Russell County
2004: Patrick White, Daphne
2003: Joey Doan, Baker
2002: Allen Ponder, Lee-Scott Academy
2001: Eric West, Southside-Gadsden
2000: Wade Miller, G.W. Long
1999: Matthew Maniscalco, Oxford
2019 ASWA Super All-State Softball
Miss Softball: Libby Baker, G.W. Long
Hannah Borden, Hewitt-Trussville
Kaylyn Dismukes, Holtville
Alea Johnson, Fairhope
Madisyn Kennedy, Macon-East
Ainsley Lambert, Spanish Fort
Carlee McCondichie, Gardendale
Haley Pittman, Alabama Christian
Kassidy Wilcox, Brantley
Savannah Woodward, Hayden
ASWA Miss Softball Winners
2019: Libby Baker, G.W. Long
2018: Leanna Johnson, Brantley
2017: Annie Willis, Westminster Christian
2016: Ashlee Swindle, Curry
2015: Lacey Sumerlin, Baker
2014: Madi Moore, Winfield
2013: Kasey Cooper, Dothan
2012: Haylie McCleney, Mortimer Jordan
2011: Shelby Holley, Pisgah
2010: Leigh Streetman, Hueytown
2009: Hilary Phillips, Ider
2008: Lindsey Dunlap, Hueytown
2007: Whitney Larsen, Vestavia Hills
2006: Anna Thompson, Grissom
2005: Tara Donaldson, Baker
2004: Anna Thompson, Grissom
2003: Holly Currie, Pisgah
ASWA Jimmy Smothers Courage Award Winners
2019: Scott McAlpine, Haleyville (football, baseball)
2018: Anna Bryant, Pleasant Valley (volleyball)
2017: Ethan Hearn, Mobile Christian, (football)
2016: Alex Wilcox, Brantley (softball)
MONTGOMERY – Seven individuals who have made an impact as exemplary role models have been selected as the 2019 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 John Hardin, Hackleburg High School (1A) principal; Lisa Bates, Sand Rock High School (2A) girls’ basketball and volleyball coach; Willie Wright, Pike County (3A) principal; Chris Goodman, Alabama Christian Academy (4A) softball coach; Russ Holcomb, Hamilton High School (5A) football coach; D. Mark Mitchell, WKKR Radio (iheart) sports announcer, Opelika (6A); and Ken Storie, Jefferson County Schools Athletic Director (7A).
The honorees will be recognized at the Championship Coaches Banquet at the Renaissance Montgomery Convention Center July 19. The 6 p.m. event will close out the 2019 AHSAA Summer Conference and All-Star Sports Week for member schools. The Officials’ Awards luncheon will officially close out the week on Saturday, July 20, 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 2019 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 have 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.”
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 2019:
JOHN HARDIN, HACKLEBURG PRINCIPAL: Hardin is currently finishing his second year as president of the AHSAA Central Board of Control. He served 10 years on the Central Board, where he served as vice president and was on several key committees including Finance, Hall of Fame and Bryant-Jordan Selection Committee. He has been an officer on the District 7 Board and Legislative Council for 23 years.
A 1974 graduate of Hackleburg High School, he received a B.S. degree in Education from the University of Mississippi in 1978 and a master’s in educational leadership from the University of West Alabama in 2007.
in 1978, he began a career in education that spanned 40 years with his first job as a middle school teacher and coach at Amory (MS). In 1987, he returned to his alma mater as a history teacher, assistant football and varsity softball coach. He later served as head football coach for 20 years from 1989 to 2009 and was the head girls’ basketball coach for 13 years from 1992 – 2005. In 2010, Hardin became the school’s principal, a position he has held ever since. He is planning to retire June 30.
Successful at all tasks, his softball trams compiled a 244-121 record with six Marion County championships, five West Alabama Conference championships, seven area championships and six state tournament appearances. His football trams compiled a 120-95 record with 10 area titles and 13 state playoff appearances, and his girls’ basketball teams were 234-106 with five county championships, six conference titles and eight regional appearances in 13 year. Twice his teams advanced to the State Tourney Final 4 in Birmingham.
His leadership, however, following the tragic tornado that destroyed the school and community in 2011, proved to be his finest hour as Hackleburg dug out of the rubble to return to normalcy much sooner than expected.
That same leadership quality helped him lead the AHSAA with wisdom, patience and strength as its Central Board president.
LISA (BASWELL) BATES, SAND ROCK HIGH SCHOOL COACH – An outstanding student-athlete in high school graduating as valedictorian at Locust Fork in 1995, Bates was named Class 3A Player of the Year in 1995 averaging 27.5 points and 15.4 rebounds a game. She played in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic and led her team to the Final Four twice. She was inducted into the Blount County Sports Hall of Fame last March and still holds the AHSAA girls’ single-season rebound record (624) she set in 1995.
She also had a tremendous college basketball career at Southern Miss and Jacksonville State. She graduated in 1999 and was inducted into JSU’s Hall of Fame in 2011. While in college, Bates was the recipient of JSU's prestigious Eagle Owl Award and also served as president of the JSU Student Athlete Advisory Committee while also volunteering as an event coordinator for the Special Olympics. She earned Academic All-America honors and was Atlantic Sun Conference Student-Athlete of the Year in 1999 and 2000.
She and her husband Keith, also a teacher and coach at Sand Rock since 2000, have been leaders on and off the court, in and out of the classroom. Best known outside Cherokee County as the school’s girls’ varsity basketball and volleyball coach, those inside the county know here for so much more. Her primary responsibility is Special Education Chairperson at SRHS. She works with all students in K thru 12 that receive special education services and is a strong advocate for students with disabilities. She has served as Job Ready Day Coordinator since 2016, a service that prepares all Cherokee County students with special needs to enter and be successful in the work force by lining up mock interview experiences for all students with special needs in grades 9-12. She is also a Special Olympics volunteer. She was named 2015 Vocational Rehabilitation Teacher of the Year.
Her basketball teams have compiled a 382-191 record with three county titles, eight regional appearances and two Class 2A state runner-up finishes. She was named Class 2A Coach of the Year in 2018. Her volleyball teams have compiled a 622-219 record since 2002 with eight area titles, eight county championships, nine Elite Eight state tourney appearances and five Final Four finishes.
WILLIE WRIGHT, PIKE COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL PRINCIPAL: Wright is a graduate of Jefferson Davis High School in Montgomery where he played basketball and baseball. He played baseball at Troy University and earned a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and a Masters’ degree in Educational Leadership. He began his career in education at Admiral Moorer Middle School in Eufaula teaching physical education and coaching football, baseball and basketball.
Pike County has made great strides academically and athletically during his time as an administrator at the Brundidge school. He has served as an assistant principal at Pike County High School and principal of Pike County Elementary School. He became principal at the high school in 2011. During his tenure in administration, PCHS has been recognized as a School of Distinction in 2018 by the Council for Leaders in Alabama; received the Best Hustle Award for improving FAFSA completion rate (2017-18); awarded a bronze medal by U.S. News and World Reports as part of the magazine’s “Best High Schools” throughout the United States (2008, 2009, and 2016); recognized by the Yellowhammer News as one of the top 25 Safest High Schools in Alabama. Also, Pike County received recognition from SREB for “Making Middle Grades Work” (2017). Athletically, Pike County High School won two state football championships (2005 and 2006) and the boys’ basketball team won the South Regional title and advanced to the AHSAA State tournament Final Four (2016). He has overseen the construction of Pike County High School’s football fieldhouse and renovations of the gymnasium and football stadium.
Wright is also the Brundidge Recreation Department Director and is coaching his daughter Skylar’s 7-and-under softball team.
CHRIS GOODMAN, ALABAMA CHRISTIAN ACADEMY COACH: Goodman is a Wetumpka High School graduate and a Faulkner University grad as well. He played college baseball at Faulkner.
An outstanding baseball, softball and basketball coach since joining the Alabama Christian Academy staff, Goodman became the first coach in AHSAA history to win state titles in baseball and softball – and he has done it twice.
As a softball coach, his team presented him with his 500th career win in 2019 and closed out the year as Class 4A state champions. His first team in 2007 also won a state title. The Lady Eagles have reached the state tourney every year but one (2016) with three state crowns, three state runner-up finishes and have compiled a 537-195-5 record. He coached ACA baseball teams to a 389-192 record with state titles in 1995 and 2000 and finished runner-up in 1994 and 2004.
He coached the boys’ basketball program to three area titles and a 216-168 record and led the ACA girls to six area titles and a 225-93 record. He has been named Metro Coach of the Year in all four sports. His four-sport overall coaching record is 1,367-634-5. His ability to coach boys and girls alike with the amazing successes he has had is a testament to how he helps the student-athletes reach their potential time and time again.
He has served on the AHSAA State Softball Coaches Committee since 2007.
RUSH HOLCOMB, HAMILTON HIGH SCHOOL COACH – Holcomb graduated from the University of Mississippi in 2002 and went to work at Hamilton High School that same year. He just completed his 17th year as a teacher and coach at Hamilton. He currently serves as defensive coordinator in football. He was elevated to that position in 2010 and helped Hamilton reach the state finals that year.
Head coach and athletic director Rodney Stidham says while Holcomb is excellent at the X’s and O’s of football, he is means so much more to the students off the field.
“What started out many years ago with him taking boys to colleges to visit and to try out evolved into him helping in other ways that did not always have anything to do with Hamilton High School football,” said Stidham.
Since then, Holcomb, wo still lives just across the state line in Mississippi, has taken over a dozen kids into his home to help them pass summer school, has worked to help others get into college and helped them with transportation to and from school. In addition, he and his wife and son have from time to time taken in kids who were homeless. One of the students failed to graduate on time and the coach helped him study and pass his last class so he could finally get his diploma. The Holcombs were the only “family” at the young man’s private graduation ceremony. For many others he has helped get them food when hungry and to the doctor when sick.
“Coach Holcomb and these kids continue to be like family today,” said Stidham. “And if you are ever at Sargent Stadium on a Friday night, you can usually see several crowded up on the hill waiting for him to come out of the locker room and take the field. For over 15 years he has been the greatest coach I have ever known. What he has done for the kids of Hamilton has permeated throughout the school and town and all are better for having him be a part of both.”
D. MARK MITCHELL, OPELIKA RADIO PERSONALITY– Self-described as “Once a Dawg, always a Dawg,” Mitchell’s radio legacy as the sports authority on all things dealing with Opelika High School has spanned 37 years – starting in 1978 when he was still in high school. Mitchell, a 1982 OHS graduate, broadcast Opelika High School athletics, especially football, for that entire span.
He has celebrated the wins and suffered the losses first-hand as he sat behind the microphone for OHS athletics. He made no excuses for his love of the “Dawgs.” In fact, that is what has endeared him for so many years to the Opelika community. And despite dealing with health problems that led to 37 surgeries since the 1990s, he missed being in the booth on a Friday night only a handful of times during the last four decades.
In addition to his play-by-play duties, which finally came to an end after the 2017-18 school year, he has hosted “On the Mark,” a local sports talk radio show concentrating on local sports for 13 years and counting. The iheart radio affiliate (WKKR and WTLM) sports director also has hosted the “East Alabama High School Coaches Show” for 15 years and has hosted the high school wrap-up show for seven years.
A committed volunteer and president of the OHS Booster Club for many years, he currently serves as co-chair of the Auburn-Opelika Sports Council, co-chair of the Auburn-Opelika Super 7 Committee, is sports editor of the Opelika Observer and also serves as the Alabama Dixie Boys Baseball State Director.
His work behind the scenes helped bring the Super 7 football championships to Auburn and Alabama on a rotating basis in 2009 and he is still working full steam ahead each year to create opportunities for Opelika.
KEN STORIE, JEFFERSON COUNTY SCHOOLS ATHLETIC DIRECTOR -- Storie has spent his entire career in education working behind the scenes without fanfare for the betterment of the students and schools in his trust. Serving as athletic director of the Jefferson County School System from 2007-2019, Storie attended Jefferson County schools graduating from Hewitt-Trussville High School when it was still a member of the Jeffco System. He then attended UAB and earned his masters at the University of Montevallo. In 1990 he returned to Jefferson County where he taught history and coached football at Hewitt-Trussville Junior high. In 1996 he moved to Clay-Chalkville and joined the varsity football staff while teaching economics and sociology. He became assistant principal in 1998.
He became principal at Moody High School from 2004-2007 helping the school achieve initial accreditation from SACS. In 2007, he returned to the Jefferson County School System in 2007 as Athletic Director where he has remained ever since. He retired earlier this month.
He earned a reputation of being an excellent judge of personnel as he helped Jeffco Schools fill countless coaching positions during his tenure. Also, during his tenure, the school system won multiple state championships in softball, football and basketball along with several runners-up. He instituted the Jefferson County Cheer competition and helped develop the Jefferson-Shelby Hoops tournament for boys and girls featuring Jefferson County Schools vs. Shelby County Schools.
Storie also achieved a major overhaul of the system’s coaching supplement structure while assisting in upgrades to athletic facilities at virtually all Jefferson County high schools and also wrote a district wide athletic finance manual that has been instrumental in helping the schools’ athletic programs be financially solvent.
A public service, “Celebrating the Legacy of Bart Starr,” will take place this Sunday, June 9th, from 3-5 pm. at the Samford University Wright Center. Doors will open at 2:30 pm.
Bryan Bartlett “Bart” Starr of Birmingham passed away on May 26, 2019 surrounded by his family and close friends. He is survived by his loving and supportive wife of 65 years, Cherry, his son Bart Starr, Jr., three granddaughters (Shannon, Jenny, and Lisa) and three great grandchildren (Bryan, Teddy, and Violet). He was preceded in death by his parents Benjamin Bryan Starr and Lula Tucker Starr, his brother Hilton, and his son Bret.
In lieu of flowers, a donation may be made to the Bart and Cherry Starr Foundation, which supports causes close to their heart. Donations are being accepted by the Bart & Cherry Starr Foundation, 2647 Rocky Ridge Lane, Birmingham, AL 35216.
Samford University Wright Center is located at 800 Lakeshore Drive, in Birmingham, Alabama. Parking and handicap accessibility available. Media is welcome. No personal interviews or live broadcast will be available.
Alabama Sports Hall of Fame
Honorees To Be Recognized At June 13 Pairings Party
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – A six-time AHSAA state championship coach, a state championship wrestler who has overcome daunting odds and a forward who led her team’s dramatic turnaround are the winners of the fifth annual John Stallworth Award.
Tim Miller, the girls basketball coach at Hazel Green, wrestler Jay Spencer of St. John Paul II Catholic High and basketball star Ariana Powe of Grissom High will be honored on Thursday, June 13 as part of the 17th annual John Stallworth Foundation Golf Tournament festivities.
The winners will be recognized at the pairings party at the Huntsville Botanical Garden. The event begins at 6 p.m. with a social hour and silent auction, and the program begins at 7.
The award is presented by the John Stallworth Foundation, which provides scholarship assistance to deserving students. The award itself comes with a donation to the coach’s program and with scholarship assistance for the winning athletes.
Along with honoring the John Stallworth Award winners, guests will meet the celebrity participants in the June 14 golf tournament and hear from students who have earned John Stallworth scholarships. The tournament has raised more than $550,000 to aid students, primarily at Alabama A&M, Stallworth’s alma mater.
Powe, an All-State basketball star, will follow Stallworth’s footsteps as an A&M athlete. She signed a scholarship with the Lady Bulldogs on April 17. She finished her career at Grissom with more than 1,300 points and 500 rebounds, and was honored by the Alabama Sports Writers Association on their All-State lists the past two years. She was part of a resurgence in Grissom girls’ hoops, helping lead the Tigers to a regional tournament for three consecutive seasons, the first time that has happened in nearly two decades.
Spencer, an Eagle Scout, won the state wrestling championship in the 160-pound class last February in the third consecutive state meet for which he had qualified. He was also the starting center on the Falcons’ football team. All this despite being legally blind, having been diagnosed with Leber congenital amaurosis 10, an inherited retinal degenerative disease.
Miller guided Hazel Green to a repeat title in Class 6A a season after the Trojans lost three starters, two of which were Division I signees. Hazel Green went 34-3 overall and finished undefeated against in-state opponents. The Montgomery native, who served one season on the University of Alabama women’s basketball staff, previously won state titles at his alma mater, Jeff Davis, and three at Bob Jones. He is 577-93 in 19 seasons as a high school head coach.
Previous athletes who have won the award are Kerryon Johnson (Madison Academy football), Josh Langford (Madison Academy basketball), Brandon Crosby (multi-sport athlete at Mae Jemison), Kenysha Coulson (multi-sport athlete at Lee), Abby Brooks (Madison Academy volleyball), Malik Langham (Lee football) and Taylor Davis (Sparkman softball).
The coach of the year winners have been Jack Doss (Johnson basketball), Ronnie Stapler (Westminster basketball), Richard Wilson (Lee tennis) and Al Rauls (Buckhorn girls basketball).
# # #
FOR YOUR INFORMATION:
Pairings Party John Stallworth Celebrity Golf Tournament
Botanical Garden, June 13, 6 p.m. Hampton Cove, June 14, 9 a.m.
Media interviews beginning 5:30
Pairings party and silent auction are open to the public, with tickets $75 each, $125 per couple. Contact the John Stallworth Foundation office at 256-536-8050 for tickets. There is no walk-up admission.
About John Stallworth: A 14-year veteran of the NFL, he was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002. He played on four Super Bowl-winning teams and retired as the Steelers’ all-time leader in receptions.
For more information:
Freeda McDowell Mark McCarter
JSF Golf Committee JSF Golf Committee
HUNTSVILLE – Twelve major contributors to sports officiating in Alabama have been selected to be inducted into the inaugural Class of the Alabama Sports Officials Hall of Fame, The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held at the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, Aug. 24, 2019, at 6 p.m.
Alabama Sports Officials Foundation spokesman Greg Brewer announced the members of the first class today.
The 12 inductees are: Paul Andzrejewski, Ronnie Baynes, Ormond Brown, Dick Burleson, Mary Day, Ray Gargus, Walter Garrett, Apple Kridakorn, Joe Manjone, Bob Patrick, Sam Short and Bobby Skelton. The inductees include individuals who have varied officiating backgrounds – from high school to college and professional sports. The individuals have played important roles in training and developing contest officials in Alabama as well as mentoring and raising the level of consistency and professionalism in the state. The selections by a special ASOF Hall of Fame Committee from nominations submitted.
Most notable in this group are Short, who was inducted into the NFHS National High School Hall of Fame in 2007; Manjone, a college president who received the NFHS Citation for Officials in 2018; Baynes and Skelton, two standout college athletes who moved through the ranks of officiating to become two of the top officials in the NFL. Baynes was awarded the NFL’s prestigious Art McNally Award in 2011. Burleson balanced officiating with his military career, where he rose to the rank of Major General, and Garrett, one of the AHSAA’s top basketball officials for three decades, still holds the national prep record for points scored in a high school basketball game (97) when scoring all his team’s points.
The ASOF was founded by five current and/or retired Alabama sports officials. These Board Members are David Bell, Greg Brewer, Burkles Davis, Jeff Hilyer and Robert Lose. Additional board members include Craig Kelley, Craig Cleveland, Mark Wehrwein and Wanda Weeks.
Tickets for the Induction ceremony are $50. For more information, contact board chairman Greg Brewer at: email@example.com.
A thumbnail sketch of each inductee:
PAUL ANDZREJEWSKI: Has the rare distinction of having a baseball signed by him on display at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. He struck out 18 in a six-inning game as an 11-year old in 1958. He walked on at the University of Alabama and eventually earned a baseball scholarship. He began officiating high school baseball and basketball in the AHSAA in 1970.
He also was an original member of the Alabama Collegiate Umpires Association.
He has worked in the SEC, Sun Belt, Trans American, Great Midwest, Southwest, Mid Continent, Gulf South, Southern States and Alabama JUCU Conference in both baseball and basketball. He is also an original member of the umpire staff for SEC women’s softball.
Andzrejewski has served in numerous basketball officials’ camps including directing the ABC Basketball Officials Camp at Troy University.
He was selected by USA Basketball to officiate the U.S. Olympic Festival in 1991 in Los Angeles, umpired an exhibition game for the New York Yankees in 1994, worked a Kentucky-Indiana basketball game in 1989 attended by more than 40,000 fans, and also worked a Kentucky at North Carolina basketball game.
He is also remembered for officiating Troy University’s 1992 basketball game versus DeVry College that set the NCAA scoring record (258-141).
He was inducted into the John F. Kennedy High School (NY) Athletic Hall of Fame in 1991. He is currently working as an official observer.
RONNIE BAYNES: One of the most respected coaches and football officials in AHSAA history, the outstanding high school baseball and football coach rose through the ranks to become Supervisor of NFL Officials from 2001-2008. The Talladega High School alumnus was an outstanding high school athlete who turned down a professional baseball offer to attend Auburn University – becoming one of the last four-sport lettermen in AU history (football, baseball, track and basketball). After completing his college eligibility, the All-SEC defensive end played in the 1965 Blue-Gray All-Star Game, then signed with the Dallas Cowboys before a knee injury ended his playing career. He began officiating at the high school level in 1971, then moved to the Southeastern Conference from 1974-1987.
He advanced to the NFL ranks in 1987 and was an on-field official for 14 years (1987-2001) before moving to Supervisor of Officials. After stepping down from that administrative position, he became Director of Scouting for the NFL until his retirement in 2015. His retirement has been short-lived. He currently serves as an SEC and Conference USA evaluator and trainer and is currently serving as Alliance of American Football Supervisor and Trainer.
Baynes officiated seven bowl games during his on-the-field career, including the National Championship Game featuring Oklahoma and Washington held at the Orange Bowl. He also officiated two Super Bowls, five NFC-AFC championship games. He has been inducted into the Alabama Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame, the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame and the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. One honor he especially treasures is the Art McNally Award, presented to Baynes in 2011. The highest honor an NFL official can attain, The Art McNally Award was created in 2002 by the NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and given annually to an NFL game official who exhibits exemplary professionalism, leadership and commitment to sportsmanship, on and off the field. This award is presented at the Pro Bowl each year.
Baynes coached five teams to AHSAA state baseball titles and took 16 teams to the state playoffs and coached Central Alabama Community College to a third-place finish at the JUCO World Series at Grand Junction (CO).
ORMOND BROWN: He has been a high school football and basketball official in the AHSAA for 41 years, working 30 state basketball tournament finals and five all-star games. He also spent 32 years as a college basketball official, including 17 years in the SEC. He worked five SEC tournaments and one NIT Tourney. As a JUCO and NAIA official, Brown has officiated three national JUCO tournaments and three NAIA national tourneys. He has also held an international officiating license for 10 years.
He has been an assignor, president and vice president in his local association and served as a District Director and Camp Instructor for more than a decade. He was inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2001 and is an Etowah County Sports Hall of Fame inductee.
DICK BURLESON: One of the early mentors for officiating in the AHSAA, Burleson, who reached the rank of Major General in the U.S. Army Reserve, was a member of the Birmingham Football Officials Association (BFOA) from 1963-1977 where he held many leadership positions. He was selected as a clinic instructor for the first three held by the AHSAA. The J.B. Pennington High School (1957) graduate went to Georgia Tech on a football scholarship and was commissioned as a second Lieutenant coming out of college. Distinguished Military graduate.
He commanded more than 40,000 troops in eight states and commanded 5,000 soldiers placed on active duty during Desert Storm. One of his highest personal honors was being presented the Audie Murphy Patriotism Award.
As a contest official he served in the SEC for 25 seasons, serving as Chief Referee and president of the SEC officials. He officiated 15 major college bowl games and the SEC Championship game. His last game on the field was as the head referee for the National Championship Rose Bowl game. He is now an SEC staff advisor on officiating and evaluates officials’ performance each Saturday from the SEC Command Center.
He became just the seventh athlete elected to the Blount County Sports Hall of Fame.
In 2000, he became the only official to ever receive the Distinguished Service award from the Birmingham Quarterback Club, and he was inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2001. Burleson is one of the most requested speakers in the U.S. and is a professional member of the National Speakers Association. His book, You Better Be Right, has reached #1 on the Best Sellers list at Barnes & Noble Bookstores.
MARY DAY: She made history in the AHSAA becoming the first female to officiate in a boys’ state tournament game. She has also officiated two NCAA Women’s Final 4 Championship tournaments.
Active as a volleyball and basketball official, Day has served as state rules interpreter and district director in volleyball and is currently serving as the Supervisor of Women’s Basketball Officials for the Southern Athletic Association, a position she has held for 11 years.
The AHSAA recognized her with a 25-Year Service Award and she was also named the 2011 Naismith Women’s Basketball Official of the Year.
RAY GARGUS: The veteran high school baseball and football official was a key teacher, leader and much respected mentor for officials over his 34 years in officiating from 1976 until his death in 2010. He served in the AHSAA with the Greater Huntsville Umpires Association and the North Alabama Football Officials Association. He was an active officer in the two Huntsville area associations serving as an assignor, board member, trainer and friend.
He served as one of the AHSAA camp instructors (1992-1998) and was the first district director for the Northeast District. Gargus was posthumously inducted into the Huntsville-Madison County Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012.
WALTER GARRETT: The lanky basketball standout first drew the attention of the nation when he scored 97 points in the final game of his prep career at Birmingham’s West End High School. The 97 points set a national high school record that still stands. He scored all 97 of his team’s points in the win over Glenn. After high school, he had a hall-of-fame college basketball career at Birmingham-Southern.
Garrett was highly regarded as a basketball official in the AHSAA for 30 years – working several regional and state tournaments during his tenure. He was also a college basketball official for 25 years working in the Sun Belt, C-USA, TAAC, Gulf South and Southern States conference. He officiated numerous college tournaments including a NIT Tourney official for two years.
He was president of the Magic City Basketball Officials Association for eight years, a member of the NFHS Basketball Rules Committee for one year and has served as an AHSAA District Director for 12 years. He has also been a C-USA observer for four years.
The AHSAA honored Garrett with its Distinguished Service Award. He also received the Governor’s State of Alabama Physical Fitness Award, was inducted into the Birmingham-Southern College Hall of Fame and the BASA Softball Hall of Fame. He is a member of the National Association of Sports Officials.
APPLE KIRDAKORN: Has 48 years of service as a volleyball official at the high school and college level. She has been the Central Alabama Volleyball Officials assigner since 1987 and has also served as past president, vice-president and treasurer. She is also the assigner for the Alabama Board of Officials (college) and is the organization’s current treasurer. She has been the NFHS Rules Interpreter for the AHSAA for 15 years, has been a state tournament referee coordinator for 15 years and a state camp instructor/coordinator for nine years.
She received the AHSAA Distinguished Service Award (2004); the NFHS Section III Distinguished Active Official Award (2007); the PAVO Excellence in Service Award (2011); was named South Central District Volleyball Official of the Year by the AHSAA (2013); was inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame (2016); and the University of Montevallo Sports Hall of Fame (2019).
JOE MANJONE: Manjone, a native of Hazelton, Pennsylvania, began officiating soccer as a teenager and has been involved in the sport as an official and administrator for more than 50 years. His influence in the sport has been far reaching – spanning most of the nation and two continents.
In Alabama, his service stretches over more than 30 years. The AHSAA Soccer Director and former National Federation of State High Schools Association (NFHS) Soccer Rules Committee Chair has served the AHSAA in numerous soccer roles from officiating to rules interpreter. He has officiated a variety of sports including basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball, football, wrestling, cross country, track and his specialty, soccer. He has worked at the high school and college level calling women’s sports in the SEC, ECAC, SIAC and AIAW.
Manjone received the NFHS’s prestigious Citation for Officials in 2017, which is presented annually to only one contest official nationwide. 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.
A former college president who serves as rules editor for Referee Magazine, he was inducted into the NISOA Hall of Fame in 2013 and the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2018. He also received the NISOA 1995 Officials Recognition Award; the AHSAA Distinguished Service Award (2010); The NFHS Sports Officials Contributor Award (2012); and in 2017, the Continuing Education Center at Columbia Southern University renamed the facility the Dr. Joseph Manjone Center.
BOB PATRICK: A veteran football official who came up through the high school ranks, Patrick has officiated football in the SEC for 29 years (on the field). Among his milestones have been the Rose Bowl (National Championship Game), Sugar Bowl, Cotton Bowl (twice), Weed Eater Bowl, Orlando Bowl, Freedom Bowl, Gator Bowl and St. Petersburg Bowl. He also has officiated 11 Senior Bowl all-star contests and has worked as an administrator for the Cotton Bowl, Armed Service Bowl and the Holiday Bowl. He is currently in his 19th year as a college administrator. He has held various administrative positions as a high school official and has also served as a game day observer and replay booth official at the college level.
In addition to his selection as a bowl official, Patrick has also served as a Chief Specialist for line judges in the SEC. He is currently a member of NASO, AHSAA and SEC Officials Association.
SAM SHORT: One of the state’s most respected teachers of officiating, the Birmingham native has been the expert in football and basketball rules for the AHSAA for more than 50 years. He was involved in basketball officiating for 53 years and football officiating for 38. He was instrumental in developing state camps for officials to gain consistency throughout the state and was Supervisor of Officials and rules coordinator for the AHSAA. Short has served on the NFHS Basketball Rules Committee and was an advisor to the Football Rules Committee for 15 years.
He was an original board member of the NFHS Coaches Association, and in 1999, received the NFHS Officials Association Contributors Award. Short was inducted into the National High School Sports Hall of Fame (NFHS) in 2007 and was inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame (AHSAA) in 1993 – as a member of the third class overall.
BOBBY SKELTON: Began officiating in Tuscaloosa while attending college, Skelton became a top high school football, basketball and baseball official – later working in Huntsville, East Alabama and Montgomery associations. He became an SEC football official in 1972. He worked more than eight bowl games including two National Championship Games. In 1985, he began a 20-year tenure as a contest official in the NFL. He worked Super Bowl XXIV and several playoff games including one AFC and two NFC championship games.
He moved off the field in 2005 and became an NFL replay official. He held that position for six years until he retired in 2011.He also served as a position evaluator for the NFLRA for several years.
As a high school official he worked top assignments in all three sports including working many of the early playoff games when only four teams were selected per class for the playoffs. He was a member of the NFL Referees’ Association, SEC Officials Association, the AHSAA, NFRA and NASO officials organizations.
MONTGOMERY – The AHSAA is saddened to learn of the death of Green Bay Packers legendary quarterback Bart Starr, 85, who died on Sunday morning in Birmingham, following a recent illness.
Starr, who prepped at Sidney Lanier High School in Montgomery, was the first athlete and third person overall from Alabama to be inducted into the National Hall School Hall of Fame (Class of 1989).
“We offer our heart-felt condolences to Mr. Starr’s family,” said AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese. “Not only was he a legend to student-athletes and coaches alike in the AHSAA and the nation, he was an outstanding leader on and off the field and a person of great character that set an example for all of use to aspire to.”
Starr, who participated in the AHSAA 1952 North-South All-Star Game after a stellar prep career at Sidney Lanier, was named MVP of the South team in the 7-7 tie. He went on to the University of Alabama before embarking on a career in the NFL playing for the Packers from 1956 to 1971. He later served as head coach at Green Bay from 1975-1983.
He was the first quarterback in NFL history to win five NFL championships, and is still the only QB to lead his team to three consecutive titles. Starr was also named the MVP of the Super Bowl I.
He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977 and is a member of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.
Funeral arrangements were not available.
MONTGOMERY – The AHSAA was saddened to learn of the deaths of longtime Auburn University sports announcer Rod Bramblett, 52, and his wife Paula, 53. Both were killed in a two-car collision at Auburn Saturday, May 25.
“This is such tragic news. Our hearts go out to the Bramblett family and their extended Auburn University family and pray God will sustain them at this difficult time,” said AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese. “Rod was the Voice of Auburn Athletics, a consummate professional, one of the best.”
Bramblett was a native of Valley and his wife Paula, a native of Huguley. Both communities are near Auburn. Bramblett, a 1988 AU graduate, served as Director of Broadcast Operations for AU Athletics and was the Voice of Auburn football, basketball and baseball.
Bramblett was a three-time winner (2006, 2010, and 2013) of the Alabama State Broadcaster of the Year as presented by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. He was also named National Broadcaster of the Year by Sports Illustrated in 2013.
He began his broadcasting career in Lanett, working part-time at WZZZ/WCJM radio stations while attending Auburn University. From there he went on to work in Auburn at WAUD Radio from 1989-1991 and then again from 1993-1996. It was at that time he did play-by-play for Lee-Scott Academy and Auburn High School athletics. In the one-year away from WAUD he worked in Morristown, Tenn., for two different radio stations where he served as the play-by-play voice of Morristown West High School football.
Paula Bramblett also worked at Auburn University’s Information Technology Department. The couple are survived by two children.
The funeral service for Paula and Rod Bramblett will take place on Thursday, May 30 at 2 p.m. inside Auburn Arena. Visitation will be from 12 p.m. until 2 p.m.
The service is open to the public. There will be a private burial for the family following the service. Rev. Dr. George Mathison will officiate the funeral.
MONTGOMERY –Montgomery native Randal Beesley, a staff accountant with the State of Alabama and Anniston School System teacher Ken Washington are joining the staff of the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA)..
Both will begin with the AHSAA officially on June 1. The announcement was made Friday by AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese.
Beesley will serve as Chief Financial Officer. He is replacing Mrs. Sandy Logan, who is retiring June 30 after 42 years of service with the AHSAA. She joined the AHSAA staff in 1977. Washington is beginning a new Assistant Director position that will include working with Director of Officials Mark Jones as well as working with championship sports including the sports of basketball and track.
“We are fortunate and delighted to have Randal Beesley and Ken Washington join our staff,” Savarese said. “Both are talented individuals who have a long history of service in the AHSAA as sports officials. Both are men of high integrity, will be tremendous additions to the AHSAA staff and will enable us to better serve our member schools.”
Beesley, who became a Certified Public Accountant in 1986, is a graduate of Auburn University-Montgomery. He is currently an accountant with the General Services Division of the State of Alabama and has worked with the state since 2017. He spent 10 years with Alfa Mutual Insurance in Montgomery serving as supervisor of Real Estate Accounting. He has also been an AHSAA football official since 1988. He has served as booking agent and is the current president of the Mid-State Football Officials Association. He was the referee in the 1998 Super 6 Class 4A state Championship Game at Legion Field.
“I have always had two passions,” Beesley said, “to be a football official and to work with the AHSAA. To say I am elated is an understatement. I love accounting, especially working in financial oversight, and I have always admired the AHSAA and what it stands for. I grew up in Montgomery and understand the important role of the AHSAA. I thank Mr. Savarese and the Central Board for giving me this opportunity.”
Washington has been serving as a teacher and coach (football and track) in the Anniston City Schools system. He also worked with Mark Jones at Jacksonville State University from 2012-2015 as the University Fitness Coordinator in the Recreational Sports Department. He has been officiating basketball since 2005 – at all levels including high school, college and the NBA. He is currently a Division I basketball official in the Southeastern Conference, Sunbelt, Southern, Atlantic Sun and SWAC conferences. He also worked in the AHSAA state basketball finals this past year.
“Joining the AHSAA staff allows me to give back what has been taught to me from my time working with the NBA and SEC. I have had some great teachers, and this is a great opportunity for me share what I have learned,” said Washington. “I look forward to working with Mr. Savarese and Mr. Jones and with the other great men and women at the AHSAA who are dedicated to providing the best programs and opportunities for the member schools and student-athletes in the AHSAA.”
In addition to basketball, Washington has officiated the sports of football and volleyball. The Mobile native played basketball at Davidson High School and received a scholarship to play at Faulkner State Community College. He then attended Jacksonville State University where he received his Bachelor of Science and master’s degrees.
“Working with Ken at Jacksonville State, I know he will be a great addition to the staff of the AHSAA while contributing to the enhancement of officiating in Alabama,” said Jones.
MONTGOMERY – St. Paul’s Episcopal High School requested that its lawsuit filed against the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) objecting to the AHSAA Competitive Balance implemented in the 2018-19 school year be dismissed Wednesday, May 22. United States District Judge Terry Moorer granted the dismissal without prejudice, ending more than a year of litigation.
AHSAA Central Board President John Hardin said, “While I am pleased that the case has finally been dismissed, I am extremely disappointed that St. Paul’s Episcopal High School did not resolve their issues within the mechanisms already in place for member schools.”
AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese said he is also pleased the case has been dismissed and that the member schools’ process to govern themselves has been upheld.
“We have always had faith in our member schools’ ability to make the rules, abide by these rules and govern themselves,” said Savarese. “Our member schools will continue to govern themselves through its fair and democratic legislative process.”
Statement from AHSAA Legal Counsel Jim Williams
We are very pleased that St. Paul’s has finally decided to voluntarily dismiss their case today. This was a frivolous case resulting in a tremendous waste of time and money for the Court, the Association, and all of its member schools. On June 27, 2018, the Honorable Judge William Steele entered an Order denying St. Paul’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction and specifically ruled: “St. Paul’s has not shown a substantial likelihood that the competitive balance rule is unconstitutional, or that it violates the terms of the Association’s Constitution, Bylaws and Handbook.” Yet, St. Paul’s waited another eleven months after Judge Steele’s ruling to dismiss their case. St. Paul’s knew they had lost this case last June and have only been trying to avoid an inevitable ruling that would not be in their favor since then. The Association and its member schools look forward to St. Paul’s reimbursing all of the legal fees incurred in defending this case.
James E. Williams
Melton, Espy & Williams, P.C.
Post Office Drawer 5130
Montgomery, AL 36103-5130
All questions should be referred to AHSAA Legal Counsel James E. Williams
MONTGOMERY – Mars Hill Bible High School’s Lady Panthers softball team closed out the 2019 AHSAA State Softball Championships Saturday night with a 7-6 win over defending state champion Brantley.
The AHSAA crowned seven state champions in its State Softball Championships held at Lagoon Park.
The Panthers (40-11) of Coach Matt Burgess rolled through the winner’s bracket undefeated – beating Brantley 5-0 in the second round of the winner’s bracket Friday. The Bulldogs (42-12) stormed through the elimination bracket to get to the finals, then beat Mars Hill 9-8 to set up the showdown with the Panthers in the “if necessary” game which concluded after 10 p.m.
Mars Hill collected seven runs off 14 hits and held off Brantley for the Class 1A state title. The Panthers scored all seven runs in the first four innings.
After allowing Brantley to score four runs in the first two innings, Mars Hill pitcher Riley Vaughn settled in and kept the Bulldogs offense at bay. Trailing 7-5 in the final inning, Brantley got a solo home run by Hannah Sims, but could get no closer.
The Panthers broke a 4-4 tie with two runs in the top of the third inning to take the lead for good. RBI singles by Grace Stanfield and Kylie Thigpen gave Mars Hill a 6-4 lead and never trailed again. Emma Pettus was 4-for-4 in the championship game. Stanfield and Thigpen each finished with two hits and two RBIs for Mars Hill. Vaughn worked all seven innings to get the win in the circle. Brantley, coaches by Cindy Hawthorne, was led by Olivia Jones, who went 3-for-4 with an RBI. Emory Bush had two hits and drove in two runs.
Mars Hill Bible’s Erika Mitchell was selected Class 1A State Tourney MVP. Also named to the 1A All-State Tourney Team were Grace Stanfield and Riley Vaughn of Mars Hill and Emory Bush, Kayden Dunn and Olivia Jones of Brantley.
The softball title gave the Florence school a sweep in Montgomery. The Mars Hill Bible baseball team also won a state championship at Riverwalk Stadium earlier in the week.
Game 14: Brantley 9, Mars Hill 8
Brantley forced the ‘if necessary’ game by building a 9-4 lead and holding off a late Mars Hill rally. The Panthers scored four unanswered runs, including three in the sixth inning before coming up one run short. Mars Hill held an 11-5 advantage in hits but stranded eight runners. Five different Brantley players had one hit each. Kylie Thigpen was 3-for-4 to lead the Panthers.
Game 13: Brantley 12, Spring Garden 7
Brantley (42-11) took an 11-1 lead into the bottom of the fifth inning before a Spring Garden rally fell short in the elimination bracket finals. Spring Garden (31-11) scored six runs in the frame, sending 11 batters to the plate to pull to within 11-7. Brantley answered with a single run in the top of the seventh to wrap the scoring.
Olivia Jones was 3-for-4 with a trio of RBIs to lead Brantley. Emory Bush, Kayden Dunn, Ainsley Watts and Elleigh Layton added two hits each.
The win set up a showdown in the championship finals with Mars Hill Bible, which beat the Bulldogs 5-0 in the second round of the winner’s bracket.
Game 11: Mars Hill Bible 3, Spring Garden 1 (10 innings)
Hannah Henry’s three-run home run in the bottom of the 10th inning gave Mars Hill the walk-off win to clinch a berth in the 1A championship game. After entering the frame in a 1-1 deadlock, the Panthers opened the inning with consecutive base runners on a hit and a Spring Garden error. Henry then homered to center. Riley Vaughn drove in the Panthers’ other run and also got the pitching win. She struck out 18 in 10 innings of work.
Game 9: Belgreen 8, Kinston 6
Belgreen used a five-run second inning to grab a big lead before holding off Kinston in the elimination bracket. The Bulldogs got four hits in the frame to take a 6-0 lead. Kinston trailed 8-4 heading into the last inning before playing two runs and leaving the tying run on base.
Sydney Borden and Gracie Dempsey each went 3-for-4 at the plate while Katie Dempsey and Jaelyn Johnson added two hits each for Belgreen. Cadence Elmore led Kinston with a 3-for-3 showing.
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