MONTGOMERY - Twelve major contributors to prep athletics in Alabama have been selected to the 21th class of the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame.
The 2011 class, which will be inducted at a March 21 banquet at the Renaissance Hotel at the Convention Center in Montgomery, includes coaches, an official, a contributor and an oldtimer.
Selected were game official Tony Baggiano; basketball coaches Joe Belyue, Johnny Patrick, George Hatchett and Gerald "Jerry" Weems; former basketball coach and current AHSAA Assistant Director Wanda Gilliland; baseball and cross country coach William "Bill" Murrell; track and cross country coach Jim Tate; football coaches Lester Smith, Waldon Tucker and Lyle Underwood; former football coach and contributor Doug Barfield; and Underwood, selected in the "oldtimer" category.
The 17-member Hall of Fame Committee made the selections from the 69 nominations on the Hall of Fame ballot. The Hall of Fame is located at the State Office of the Alabama High School Athletic Association in Montgomery.
Sponsors of the Hall of Fame program are the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association and the AHSAA. The corporate sponsors are al.com, Alfa Insurance, SouthPoint Ban k, Coca-Cola, Encore Rehabilitation, ESP Screen Printing, Russel Athleticl and Wilson Sporting Goods.
To order tickets ($35 each), mail requests along with check or money order (payable to AHSAA) to: Alabama High School Athletic Association, P. O. Box 242367, Montgomery, AL 36124. Additional information is available at 334-263-6994.
TONY BAGGIANO -- The veteran AHSAA football and basketball official from Montgomery called contests in three decades from 1973-1994. He served as one of the AHSAA's chief clinicians, administering more than 150 football and basketball rules clinics, and worked closely with the AHSAA while serving in several leadership positions statewide and in local officials associations. Born in Jamestown, N.Y., Baggiano called many playoff contests and even flew back from Washington D.C. on one occasion to work a game, then flew back to the Capitol to finish his business there. The retired U.S. Air Force Colonel also served on the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) Board of Directors from 1990-1996 and chairman of the Pan American Sports Council. A judge at National and World Junior Water Ski Championships, he is a member of the American Water Ski Educational Foundation Hall of Fame.
DOUG BARFIELD – The former Auburn University head football coach has been a major contributor to the AHSAA as a head coach, athletic director and through his marketing efforts with the AHSAA and the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association. He has also served the AHSAA in a coordinating role for Encore Rehabilitation, an AHSAA corporate partner, and working extensively with the AHSAA wrestling weight management program. The Grove Hill native compiled a 25-5 record as head coach and athletic director at UMS-Wright of Mobile from 1963-65, then coached Andalusia two years with a 15-4-1 slate before moving into the college coaching ranks for 18 years at Southern Miss, Clemson, Auburn and Mississippi State. Barfield returned to the high school ranks in 1989 at Hillcrest-Evergreen where his team was 8-1 in the school's initial season. He then resurrected Opelika's program with a 40-19 record over five seasons with five trips to the state playoffs. His overall high school head-coaching record was 88-29-1. Barfield quarterbacked the South's 26-0 win in the 1953 North-South All-Star Game and became the game's first player to coach in the game in 1964.
JOE BELUE – The veteran boys basketball coach has served as head coach at Goodwater and then for more than 20 years at Central-Coosa High School in his hometown of Rockford where he attended J.D. Thompson High School (Cottage Grove) and then graduated from Coosa County in 1972. Belue's teams have won four state championships (1995, 2000, 2001, 2004) and finished runner-up in 2008. He was 94-46 at Goodwater, which reached the semifinals in 1987, and now has a 526-223 overall coaching record. Belue was named Class 4A Coach of the Year by the Alabama Sports Writers Association twice (1995, 2004) and was recipient of the Cap Brown Coach of the Year honor in 2001. Named Southeast Coach of the Year in 2001, he coached in the 2000 Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic and also in the AHSAA North-South game. He has the distinction of coaching standouts Adalius Thomas and Justin Tuck, who played against each other in Super Bowl WLII in 2008.
WANDA GILLILAND – A member of the AHSAA executive staff as an assistant director since 1996, she has played a key role in developing the state championship programs in volleyball, softball, basketball and cross country. She has also served on the NFHS basketball, softball and spirit rules committees and has helped enforce the AHSAA 's eligibility requirements through school audits, investigations and foreign exchange student regulations. The Marion County native served as a teacher and coach/athletic director at Hamilton High School from 1979-1996 where her girls basketball teams compiled a 301-96 record and won the 1990 Class 5A state championship and finished runner-up the next year. Her teams made four state tournament appearances , won the Marion County tournament seven times and the area title 10 times. She received coach of the year honors in basketball, track, golf and softball. She was inducted into the Marion County Sports Hall of Fame in 2001.
GEORGE HATCHETT – The Ramsay High School graduate began his coaching career in 1973 at Fairfield High School as an assistant in football and basketball. After a stint at Mortimer Jordan High School, he joined the coaching staff at Vestavia Hills, first in 1977 at Pizitz Middle School and in 1981 at Vestavia Hills High School where he became head boys basketball coach, a position he still holds. His teams won Class 6A state championships in 1992 and 2009, regional titles in 1999 and 2009 and finished as regional Tourney runner-up twice. Named Coach of the Year twice by the Birmingham Tip-Off Club, he has compiled a 506-345 career high school head coaching record. Hatchett has also served as freshman football coach.
WILLIAM "BILL" MURRELL – Murrell has been a teacher, coach and administrator at Athens Bible School since 1970. Growing up as a preacher's son in Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, Illinois, Indiana, West Virginia and England, he has served as Athens Bible head baseball coach for 37 years and his teams have compiled a 658-351 overall record. His teams won the 2008 Class 1A state crown, finished second five times (1980, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009) and reached the Class A semifinals three other times (1987, 1989, 2007). His teams have reached the state playoffs 27 times, including 21 of the last 24 years, and have won 24 area titles. He was named Class 1A Coach of the Year by the Alabama Sports Writers Association in 2008 and 2002. As head cross country coach for 34 years, he has guided his teams to four boys state championships (1977, 1978, 1979, 1980) and five runner-up finishes and his girls team to two runner-up finishes. His program has produced 36 All-State runners and five individual state champions.
JOHNNY PATRICK – A 1968 graduate of Kinterbish High School in Sumter County, Patrick, became one of the state's premier boys basketball coaches from 1972-2004 and also served as head football coach from 1977-82 with a 22-27 overall record. From 1982-2003 his Wildcat teams were 497-124 with 10 state tournament appearances and five state championships (1988, 1994, 1998, 1999, 2004). He was named Class 4A Coach of the Year five times and served as head coach in the Alabama-Mississippi Basketball Classic three times (1994, 1997, 2004). He also headed the 1996 South team in the AHSAA North-South Game. He also served Sumter County High School as athletic director and assistant principal.
LESTER SMITH – Smith is a life-long resident of Foley where he was an outstanding quarterback who helped his prep teams go 19-1 and be declared state champs in 1961. He began his coaching career at Foley in 1969 where remained until moving into administration in 1986 as assistant principal and then principal. He served as Baldwin County Athletic Director from 1995 until he returned to Foley to rejuvenate the football program in 2001. He returned to administration in 2004. His overall coaching record was 119-53-2, including a stretch of 10 years where the teams went 84-20, the best in the Mobile area. Five of his teams won Baldwin County championships and four reached the state playoffs. Voted one of the state's top high school coaches by his peers, he was named the 1993 Rotary "Citizen of the Year." He is a member of four halls of fame, Baldwin County Coaches, Baldwin County Middle School Athletic, Foley High School and East Mississippi Athletic.
JIM TATE – The long-time St. Paul's Episcopal School track and cross country coach has won more state championships than any other coach in AHSAA history. The Atlanta native, who got his coaching start as the head basketball and track coach at Christ Church Episcopal School in Greenville, S.C., also served in both capacities at The Lovett School in Atlanta. Since coming to St. Paul's in 1978, his boys track teams have captured 13 outdoor track & field championships, 11 indoor titles and nine cross country crowns. His girls teams have won 18 cross country titles, 17 indoor crowns and 20 outdoor titles. His junior high teams won two crowns, giving him 90 overall. His 16 consecutive girls state cross country championships (1983-1998) is the current national high school record. His teams have also posted 40 state runner-up finishes in track and cross country. The former Airborne U.S. Army Captain earned the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster for his service in Viet Nam.
WALDON TUCKER – Tucker became the state's all-time winningest prep football coach earlier this season and after beginning the 2010 campaign at Fayette County High School with 299 wins. His overall record through his quarterfinal playoff elimination loss is 309-126-3, 284 of those wins in the AHSAA. He was named Class 2A Coach of the Year at Gordo in 1980 after a 13-0 state championship run and then headed the North team in the AHSAA North-South game. Coaching at Fayette County since 1984, he guided the 1996 team to a 15-0 season and the Class 4A state title. Tucker was named 5A Coach of the Year in 1989 and 4A Coach of the Year in 1996. The Linden native, who has served as a Fayette City Councilman for eight years, played on 1971 Livingston University (now West Alabama) NAIA national championship team.
LYLE UNDERWOOD – Nicknamed "Bull," Underwood was selected as an old-timer. The 1951 Foley High School graduate was a teacher and football coach in Baldwin County during 1960-64 and 1966-80. He was head coach at Baldwin County High School for19 seasons with a 102-38-3 overall record and seven state playoff appearances. From 1969-1972 his teams were 35-6 and ranked in the Top 10 four times by The Birmingham News. Named Baldwin County Coach of the Year four times, he has been inducted into the Foley High School and Baldwin County Athletic halls of fame.
GERALD "JERRY" WEEMS – The longtime boys head basketball and assistant football coach at Clay County High School has proven to be one of the state's most versatile mentors. The 1966 Walter Wellborn High School graduate has compiled an overall 536-382 basketball coaching record with back-to-back state championships in 1990 and 1991 and a runner-up finish in 1988. Two players, Billy Ross (3,383 points) and his son Lance (3,660 points), finished their careers as the state's career scoring leaders. As defensive coordinator for the football team, he helped the Panthers win a state-record 55 consecutive games from 1994-1997. His defensive unit set a state record (including playoffs) with only 22 points allowed in 1994 and 42 each of the next two seasons as all three teams won state titles. The 1996 team also posted 11 shutouts, the 1994 team 10 and the '95 team nine. The Clay County gym's playing court was named in his honor in 2006. He also compiled a 139-102 record as baseball coach with 10 state playoff appearances from 1977-1995. Now one of the state's top baseball umpires, he worked in the 2009 state finals.