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Saint James coach reflects on AHSAA Hall of Fame induction

Published: Mar. 28, 2022 at 4:43 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 28, 2022 at 7:19 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Last Monday night was a night Saint James head football coach Jimmy Perry won’t forget.

“It was kind of a neat deal,” he said.

His 43 years of coaching football at the high school and collegiate level were recognized as he was inducted as a member of the class of 2022 AHSAA Sports Hall of Fame.

“It was just so humbling to be up there with the others. They’re so successful in what they’ve done in athletics, whether it was administration or other sports besides football,” he said. “I was just so honored and humbled just to be a small part of that.”

Perry, along with 11 others, was inducted at the Renaissance in Montgomery last week. Perry got his call back in November, and it was a pretty unique one.

“Alvin (Briggs) called me the Thursday before Thanksgiving, a week before Thanksgiving. Of course he’s a jokester, and so he was telling me that they’d gotten a report on me and they’d double-checked it and he was having to give me some bad news,” said Perry.

The Saint James coach of 10 years said after that, Briggs, the AHSAA’s director, and Elaine Davis, a former classmate of Perry’s at Lee High School in Montgomery, delivered the news that he’d be voted as a member of the AHSAA Sports Hall of Fame.

“It was funny but very, very special and very emotional. Very moved that they did that,” said Perry.

Perry got his start in coaching back in 1979 at Trinity Presbyterian. He returned to coach at his alma mater in 1982, where he remained until 2000. During his time at Lee, he served as an assistant coach before being named the head coach in 1995. He made one state championship game appearance with the Generals in 1999.

Perry is the all-time winningest coach in Saint James history with a record of 79-35 and nine playoff appearances. But in his more than 40 years of coaching, he says one thing stands out to him the most.

“The one who ought to be in the Hall of Fame is my wife because she’s had to basically raise the family by herself,” he said. “And go around with me to all these schools that I’ve coached at and spend the time away from home, and she’s having to run the house. So she’s really the one that ought to get the award, not me. But her unselfishness has allowed me to do what I really love to do and my life’s passion and that’s to coach young men in football.”

Perry says he also takes pride in the players he’s coached who went along to become coaches, like current Benjamin Russell head football coach Aubrey Blackwell and Ben Blackmon, who recently took the head coaching position at Enterprise High School.

“Probably the most proud is you’ve had a player that plays for you, and I think this is any coach, and that player sees something in you that he wants to emulate, and he goes into coaching himself,” said Perry. “That’s probably the most rewarding because you see kids that you think you’ve made just a small impact on, but it actually kind of gave them some direction in their life and gave them a way to make a living and share that same passion of football that I have.

Perry says he has no plans to stop coaching anytime soon, partly, and with a smile, saying all of his friends are coaches.

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