Twelve major contributors to prep athletics in Alabama have been selected to the 23nd class of the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame.
The 2013 class, which will be inducted at a March 18 banquet at the Renaissance Hotel at the Convention Center in Montgomery, includes coaches, administrators, a contest official and an “old-timer”.
Selected was Joe Evans, the former basketball coach and former Associate Executive Director of the AHSAA. Also chosen were volleyball coach Julie Sinclair, coach/administrator Denise Rhodes Ainsworth, basketball coaches Raymond White, Jim Hunter Jr., and Larry Davidson, wrestling coach Stephen Gaydosh, baseball coach Michael Estes, football coaches Ben Harris and Arthur “Buddy” Davis, administrator Jim Tuley and basketball official Greg England. Davis, now deceased, was selected in the “Old-timer” category.
The 18-member Hall of Fame Committee made the selections from the 46 nominations on the Hall of Fame ballot. The Hall of Fame is located at the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) office in Montgomery.
Sponsors of the Hall of Fame program are the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA) and the AHSAA. The corporate sponsors are AL.com, Cadence Bank, Coca-Cola, Encore Rehabilitation, Farmers Insurance, Russell Athletic, TeamIP and Wilson Sporting Goods.
A thumbnail sketch of each 2012 inductee:
DENISE RHODES AINSWORTH: Ainsworth began her teaching/coaching career at Sacred Heart Junior High in Hattiesburg, Miss., in 1981. In 1986, she started a long and successful tenure Alabama Christian Academy as a softball and volleyball coach, later serving as athletic director from 2001-2012. In July 2012, she became an assistant director with the AHSAA. As a softball coach, she compiled a 455-233-4 career record overall, including a 361-142-4 fast-pitch record after she helped the Eagles make a successful transition from slow-pitch. Her teams won seven state softball titles – one in slow-pitch in 1995 and six in fast-pitch including three straight from 2004-2006. As a volleyball coach, her teams compiled a 331-180 record from 1995-2006, winning back-to-back state championships in 2002 and 2003 – thus having the rare distinction of coaching state championship teams in two different sports in the same school year in back-to-back years. She earned numerous coach-of-the-year honors including NFHS State Softball Coach of the Year in 2000 and the NFHS Section III Coach of the Year in 2006. She was named the Alabama Sports Writers Association Class 3A Coach of the Year in 2004 and 2006. Earlier this year, Alabama Christian honored her by naming the school’s softball field in her honor. The Florence native graduated from Wilson High School in 1976 and the University of North Alabama in 1981. She earned her masters in 1983 at Southern Miss.
LARRY DAVIDSON: The longtime basketball coach in Calhoun County served at Walter Wellborn from 1977-80, then moved to Oxford where he was boys head coach from 1980-2006. He joined athletic administration in 2006 as athletic director, a position in which he still serves. He recorded a 415-256 career record, with six Calhoun County tournament championships, six area championships and two final eight appearances. He also was an assistant coach on Oxford’s 1988, 1989 and 1993 state football championship teams and coached tennis from 1981-2006. Davidson graduated from Hixson High School in Chattanooga in 1972 and Jacksonville State University in 1977. He received his masters from JSU in 1980.
ARTHUR “BUDDY” DAVIS: Davis attended Alabama State University High School and ASU. He then spent three years in the NFL with the Chicago Bears as a starting tackle. He returned to Montgomery in 1954 and embarked on a 16-year coaching run at Booker T. Washington High School leading the team to a 139-15-2 record. His 89.1 winning percentage is still among the best in state history. When BTW was closed, he moved to Jeff Davis where he was an assistant coach with head coach Billy Livings, helping to build the Vols into a powerhouse. He also coached track. While he produced some of the top teams in AIAA history at BTW, he is also noted for producing a pipeline to the NFL. Among his former players are Eugene Jeter (Denver Broncos), Mike Washington (Baltimore Colts), Walter Lewis (Dallas Cowboys), Bobby Lee (San Francisco 49ers), Manuel Sistrunk (Washington Redskins), Ernie Moore (Los Angeles Rams) and Samuel Smith (New Orleans Saints). At least 30 others played college football. Davis also spent time in the Marines where he played football and earned All-Armed Forces honors. He also reached the U.S. Olympic trials as a shot putter.
GREG ENGLAND: England, a multi-sport standout and 1965 graduate of Tarrant High School, joined the Birmingham Basketball Officials Association (BBOA) in 1971. His leadership over the last 41 years has been a driving force in the recruitment and training of many of the AHSAA’s top basketball officials. He served on the BBOA Board of Directors for 32 years with 10 years as president and eight years as chairman of the board. A contest official in great demand by area coaches, he officiated in 10 regional tournaments and in the AHSAA state tournament 25 years. He was one of the original AHSAA basketball state camp instructors, a position he continued for 12 years. He served as an AHSAA regional tournament director for 10 years. When he stepped down as president of the BBOA in 2005, the association voted to name the President’s Award to the Greg England President’s Award in honor of his outstanding character and moral values. In 2012, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the AHSAA for basketball officiating. He still serves the AHSAA as an official observer and remains an active BBOA member.
MICHAEL ESTES: Following graduation from Jacksonville State University in 1973, the Hokes Bluff High School 1968 graduate returned to his alma mater in 1975 and began a 34-year baseball coaching career that produced nine state championships. His teams won three in a row (1987, 1976, 1977) and he closed out his career with six in a row from 2003-2008. He compiled a 606-299 record that also included two state runner-up teams and three others that reached the playoff semifinals. Estes was named NFHS 2005 State Coach of the Year, received the AHSAA Award of Merit in 2005, was inducted into the Etowah County Sports Hall of Fame in 2006, the Alabama Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2008 and received the prestigious Sammy Dunn Memorial Award from the same group, also in 2008. He and longtime assistant coach David Wright, who was hired with Estes in 1975, retired together along with longtime pitching coach Steve Shields following the 2008 season.
JOE EVANS: After a successful high school and college coaching career, Evans became just the third Associate Executive Director of the AHSAA. He served in that position admirably from 2000 until his retirement in 2011. Evans compiled a 378-85 coaching record at Keith High School in Orrville before joining the staff of Coach Gene Bartow at the University of Alabama-Birmingham in the mid-1980s. He was the first Alabama prep coach invited to coach in the prestigious McDonald’s All-America Game. After leaving the high school ranks, he was considered one of the nation’s top college recruiters for Bartow and the UAB Blazers. He later served as athletic director and Chair of the Health and Physical Education Department at Lawson State Community College in Birmingham before joining the AHSAA staff. While at the AHSAA, he spearheaded an emphasis on coaches’ education and school accountability. He graduated from R.B. Hudson High School in Selma in 1966 and from Bishop (Texas) College in 1971.
STEPHEN GAYDOSH: A graduate of New York’s Amityville Memorial High School (1968) and Massachusetts’ Springfield College (1972), Gaydosh coached wrestling at Tuscola High School in Waynesville, N.C., from 1974-79 and in college at the University of Tennessee from 1979-82 before joining the staff at Vestavia Hills in 1982. He has been the Rebels’ coach ever since. A four-time New England Conference wrestling champion in college, Gaydosh brought his enthusiasm and unique coaching style to Alabama. Vestavia Hills has won 12 Class 6A state wrestling titles and finished as runner-up seven times. He has coached 75 individual state champions and was selected as the 6A state coach of the year 12 times. In 1994 he was inducted into the National High School Coaches Association Wrestling Hall of Achievement and, in 2001, was the NFHS and USA Wrestling Magazine National Coach of the Year. He was selected president of the National High School Wrestling Coaches Association in 1997, a position he still holds.
BEN HARRIS: Harris’ remarkable football coaching career is highlighted by the amazing turnaround he had at Blount High School in Prichard. When he arrived at Blount in 1988, the Leopards’ football program had lost more games the previous 10 seasons than any other 5A school in the state. Over the next 10 years, Blount became Class 5A’s winningest team with state championships in 1990, 1992, 1996 and 1997 and runner-up finishes in 1991 and 1995. Harris went on to compile a 148-69 overall head coaching record. His efforts in the community and off the field were lauded by civic leaders and culminated with Harris being named Mobile County Citizen of the Year in 1996. He was selected Blount High School Teacher of the Year in 1992 and received the Mobile Mentors Pride Award from 1992-96. He served as head coach in the 1991 Alabama-Mississippi Football Classic and was an assistant in 1997. In 1998 he was named the NFL High School Coach of the Year. Harris graduated from Toulminville High School (1975) and Alabama State University (1980).
JIM HUNTER, JR.: An outstanding multi-sport prep athlete at Billingsley High School, Hunter has spent most of his teaching/coaching career at Calhoun High School in Lowndes County. He began his basketball and football coaching career at Southern Normal High School in Brewton (1978-84), then moved to St. Jude from 1984-86. He then moved to Calhoun in 1986 and has been there ever since. He was head football coach from 1986-2001 and has been head basketball coach since 1997. He has been the school’s athletic director during his entire tenure. He has compiled a 383-174 boys basketball coaching record and was 98-157 as a football coach. His basketball teams at Calhoun won the Class 3A state championship in 2001 and 2003 with the 2003 team finishing 30-5. He coached in the 2003 Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game and 2001 and 2007 North-South games. He was named 3A coach of the year in 2001 and 2003. His teams have been recognized often for their outstanding sportsmanship. He graduated from Billingsley in 1973 and Tusculum College in 1978. He served as president of the AHSADCA in 2011-12.
JULIE SINCLAIR: Sinclair joined a very exclusive coaching club in the recently completed 2012 AHSAA volleyball season by recording the 1,100th victory of her coaching career at Montgomery Academy. She finished her 34th season this year with an overall 1,115-346 career record with state championships in 1986, 2005 and 2006. The Lady Eagles also have finished runner-up in the state tournament eight times. The 2005 team set a school record with 54 wins (four losses). Her entire coaching career has been spent at Montgomery Academy. She has served in numerous coaching roles including varsity softball, varsity basketball, varsity track and junior varsity golf. She currently is associate athletic director in addition to her teaching and volleyball coaching duties and is also a member of the AHSAA Volleyball Coaches Committee and the AHSADCA Advisory Board. She was named the NFHS Section III Coach of the Year for volleyball in 2005. Sinclair graduated from St. James High School in 1974 and Auburn University in 1978, completing her masters in 1979.
JIM TULEY: A longtime standout coach at Robert E. Lee High School from 1971-1995, Tuley then became athletic director at Trinity Presbyterian School in Montgomery where he remained until his retirement following the 2011-12 school year. He served in various positions at Lee during his tenure including head golf coach, where his teams won the state championship in 1973 and 1974. He served as head track coach from 1979-1993 and was varsity girls tennis coach his last two years at Lee. In addition, he was a key member of the football and basketball coaching staffs, helping the Generals win state football titles in 1986, 1991 and 1992. The football program was 187-82 during his years on the staff. At Trinity, he managed the school’s entire athletic program with the football, baseball, softball, girls and boys tennis and boys soccer teams all claiming state championships during his watch. Tuley served in many other administrative leadership roles including president of the AHSAA’s District 3. A 1964 Lee graduate, he was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 1999. Tuley graduated from Auburn University in 1968.
RAYMOND WHITE: White has spent his entire 37-year boys basketball coaching career in Barbour County, with stops at Louisville and Clayton (Barbour County High School). The Clio High School and Alabama State University graduate led the Jaguars to the 2012 Class 2A state championship with a perfect 34-0 record. He won the 700th game of his head coaching career last season as well, joining a very exclusive club, and finished the 2011-12 year with a 711-259 career record. Counting his junior varsity and junior high wins, he has more than 1,400 coaching victories. His teams have won three state titles (2001, 2009 and 2012) and have finished second three more times in nine Final 48 appearances. He has coached in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game and the North-South Game. He has received numerous Coach-of-the-Year awards, including the 2012 AHSADCA Class 2A Boys Coach of the Year.