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12 Selected to be Inducted into Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame’s 31st Class

Central Al Scoreboard

Story and photos by AHSAA Staff

MONTGOMERY – Twelve major contributors to prep athletics in Alabama were selected from a list of 62 nominations, which include a record 13 nominations in the “Old Timer” category, to be inducted into the into the 31st class of the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame Monday night. The 2021 class will be enshrined at a banquet held at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Spa Convention Center next March. The selections were made at a meeting Thursday and all inductees were notified Friday.
      “The selection committee had a very difficult task from a long list of outstanding nominees,” said AHSAA Executive Director Alvin Briggs. “Those selected have represented themselves well throughout their careers and have made a major difference in the lives of all who know them. We are proud to be recognizing these individuals with this special honor.”
     The Class of 2021 include: Those selected were: administrator Larry DiChiara; contest official and former AHSAA Director of Officials Mark Jones; track and cross country coach David Dobbs; girls’ basketball, volleyball, tennis and softball coach Jana Killen; football coaches Stacy Luker; Jimmy Perry; and  Danny Powell; basketball coaches Johnny Shelwood, Tim Smith and Ronnie Stapler; and selected in the “Old-Timers’ Division” were track coach Donald Wayne Murphy and basketball coach Wade Robinson. Both are deceased.
     This group includes one contest official, former AHSAA Director of Officials Jones; two coaches selected, Murphy and Robinson; and two basketball coaches, Stapler and Killen, who have recorded more than 800 coaching wins. Killen has also won more than 900 volleyball matches in her stellar career. Two football coaches selected, Luker and Powell, won five state football titles each. Luker won five state crowns at Sweet Water and Powell had four at Leroy and one at Jackson.
    The Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association, the coaches’ wing of the AHSAA, oversees the Hall of Fame. A selection committee comprised of coaches, administrators and media representatives made the selections from a very impressive list of nominations.
    “We thank the Hall of Fame Selection Committee for their dedication and thoroughness in selecting these very deserving individuals,” said Brandon Dean, Director of the AHSADCA. “These outstanding inductees, as well as all the nominees, have dedicated their lives to help promote and support education-based athletics.
    Sponsors of the Hall of Fame program are the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA) and the AHSAA. The corporate partners include Alabama Power, ALFA, Cadence Bank, Coca-Cola, Encore Rehabilitation, Jack’s, Future 1s, TeamIP and Wilson Sporting Goods.
     The first class was inducted in 1991. These 12 new inductees will run the total enshrined into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame to 377.

       A profile of each selectee:

LARRY DICHIARA (ADMINISTRATOR): A graduate of Foley High School (1977) and Auburn University (1981), DiChiara, 62,received his master’s in special education in and doctorate in education leadership in 2000.
   Now an educational consultant with SOY Education Associates, Inc., he started out his career as a teacher and boys’ basketball coach at Loachapoka High School in Lee County. He later became the principal – continuing his role as boys’ basketball coach and eventually moved to the Lee County Schools Central Office. He served as the Superintendent of Phenix City Public Schools from 2004-2013 and was chief administrative officer and acting superintendent for Selma City Schools from 2014-15.
    As a coach, his teams compiled a 115-75 record over a six-year period with back-to-back Class 1A state championships in 1988 and 1989.
    He also has served as radio sports analyst for Auburn University’s Lady Tigers basketball team since 2018.
   He has spent much of his professional life working with the State Department of Education providing training across the state for principals, athletic directors and school safety officers on how to develop a comprehensive safety and emergency action plan for athletic venues and extracurricular events. He also served as AHSAA external facilitator for its five-year strategic plan and also served as the Lee County Schools coordinator of Special Olympics for four years.
   DiChiara also served on the National Youth Sports Program Advisory Board and has had a number of articles published concerning school safety. He currently resides in Gulf Shores.
DAVID DOBBS (COACH): Recognized as one of the AHSAA’s most outstanding track and cross-country coaches, Dobbs, 64, grew up in Birmingham. He graduated from Banks High School (1975) and UAB (1990). He received his masters from UAB in 1995.
   A man recognized by his peers and students for his kindness and humility, he has led by example on the track and in his own personal life. He has worked with several charities including the Firehouse Men’s Shelter, Community Kitchens and Catholic Charities.
    He has also been a leader in the AHSAA serving on the AHSAA Track Coaches Committee, Cross Country Coaches Committee and has been an AHSAA Summer Conference moderator on many occasions. In 2020, he was named the AHSAA Class 7A “Making a Difference” Award recipient.
    A leader who has always been ready to lend an ear or a helping hand to fellow coaches, Dobbs served a head track & field and cross-country coach for boys and girls at Hewitt-Trussville High School for 31 years – from 1990 – 2021. Named Jefferson County Teacher of the Year in 1996 and Jefferson County Track and Cross-Country Coach of the Year several times, he developed the Huskies’ program into one of the state’s elite programs.
    His girls won state titles in indoor track and outdoor track in 1999, and his boys’ and girls’ teams each won the state crown in 2021. That same year, the two teams finished as runner-up in the Class 7A Outdoor Track championships.
   More than 90 of his student-athletes signed college scholarships and currently hold 10 boys’ and girls’ overall or Class 7A state indoor track records and eight AHSAA outdoor state overall or Class 7A state records. His wife Anita has been working alongside him the entire way.

Hewitt-Trussville Track Coach David Dobbs with wife Anita

MARK JONES (OFFICIAL): Recognized as one of the state’s most respected contest officials and teachers of officiating, Jones, 61, grew up in Marshall County graduating from Guntersville High School (1978) and Jacksonville State University (1982). He earned his degree and master in education at JSU, then was employed by the university as Director of Recreation Sports from 1984-2016. 
    While at JSU, he taught several classes in officiating and became one of the top trainers of officials in the state.
    He became the AHSAA Director of Officials in 2016 where he remained until his retirement last year. Jones officiated basketball, football, softball and baseball at the high school and collegiate level from 1978 – 2010. He was a state football camp instructor from 1995-2008, was East-Central Football Director from 2008-2016 and officiated in numerous state championship games.
   In addition, he served as the AHSAA Northeast Regional Basketball Tournament Director for 23 years. A mentor and leader among the state’s high officials, he oversaw the introduction of Instant Replay in AHSAA high school football and played a key role in organizing and developing the current Officials Director program used by the AHSAA to train and monitor its contest officials.
   He used his officiating skills wisely as a Jacksonville City Councilman from 2008-2016, serving as council president the last four years. Jones was inducted into the Alabama Sports Officials (ASOA) Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2020.

Former AHSAA Director of Officials Mark Jones

JANA KILLEN (COACH): Deshler High School won the jackpot when Jana Killen, 57, joined the faculty and coaching staff fresh out of College at the University of North Alabama in 1989. The Lawrence County (TN) High School graduate (1982) made an immediate and lasting impression becoming one the state’s most successful and versatile coaches in AHSAA history over her 33-year coaching and teaching career.
   As the Tiger’ head girls’ basketball coach, she has compiled an 808-212 overall record through the 2021 season with six state championships to her credit. As the school’s volleyball coach, her teams have compiled a 918-460 record through the 2021 season with two state runner-up finishes.  She served as head coach for the tennis program from 2004-2017 with her 2015 team capturing state runner-up. She also served as the softball coach for 12 seasons from 1989-2001.
    Deshler won state basketball titles in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2015 and 2016. Her teams were also runner-up six times (2002, 2008, 2010, 2017, 2018 and 2016), won 12 regional titles and more than 25 area tournament titles.
   She was inducted into the Colbert County Sports Hall of Fame, named the Florence Times Daily Coach of the Year 13 times and ASWA Class 4A State Coach of the Year three times. The school named the floor at Deshler’s gymnasium in her honor last season, and she was also selected Tuscumbia City Schools Teacher of the Year in 2021. In her spare time, she enjoys riding horses and raising American Quarter Horse foals.

Deshler Girls’ Coaching Legend Jana Killen

STACY LUKER (COACH): Sweet Water High School claims a lot of outstanding alumni. Stacy Luker has to be at the top of the list.  An outstanding student-athlete at the Marengo County school during the prime of 1991 inaugural Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame inductee Coach Nolan Atkins’ career, Luker, 57, learned well from his mentor. 
    He graduated from Sweet Water (1983) and the University of West Alabama (1988) and returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach. He served defensive coordinator for the football team and head baseball coach for the Bulldogs from 1988-94 winning two Class 1A state titles and one Class 2A state crown. 
    He became head football coach at Washington County High School in 1995, compiling a 10-11 record over two seasons and launching a head-football coaching career that is still in full swing.  He had stints at Thomasville (30-23), returned to Sweet Water from 2002-2013 compiling a 131-32 record with five state championships. He then had one year at Neshoba Central (MS). He moved back to Alabama serving as head coach at Demopolis (17-7) for two seasons and then settled in at Clarke County where his 2021 team won 10 games this season and was 34-23 through the second round of the 2021 state playoffs.
     His overall coaching record in 27 seasons is 228-101 and 47-10 in the state playoffs. 
     Named AHSAA Class 1A State Football Coach of the Year five times, Luker is a deacon at Sweet Water Baptist Church.

DONALD WAYNE MURPHY (OLD-TIMER): Track coach Murphy, who was born in 1941, graduated from Tallassee High School in 1959 and attended college at Troy State University and Auburn University. He received his degree in 1963 and later earned his master degree.
    He immediately went to work in 1964 a teacher and track coach at Auburn High School. The Tigers won the state title in 1965, 1966 and 1967.  The much-admired teacher and coach was the commencement speaker for the 1968 AHS senior class. Also well respected nationally, he coached Alabama’s track team at the National Jaycee Track Meet in Iowa in 1968.
   He became thee director of Auburn University’s Memorial Coliseum from 1968-1979 but returned to Auburn High School as head track coach in 1984 where he remained until becoming the Auburn City Schools’ first city-wide athletic director in 1993 and remained through 1998.
   A strong man of character and faith, he served as a deacon at First Baptist Church, was q leader in several service organizations including Boy Scouts and Bass Masters, and became a swimming official helping to bring the Olympics to Auburn University in 1974-75.
   Always striving to improve track and field, he developed the indoor runway for long jump, triple jump and pole vault for Sico Stage Company, which was patented and produced by that company.
    Now deceased, he passed away in 2011.

JAMES “JIMMY’ PERRY (COACH): A 1975 graduate of Robert E. Lee High School in Montgomery, he attended Auburn University earning his degree in 1979 and a masters in 1982.
    Perry, 64, currently the head football coach at Saint James High School in Montgomery, started his football-coaching career at Trinity Presbyterian School in 1979 as an assistant coach. He moved back to his alma mater in 1982 as an assistant coach and offensive coordinator and was named head coach for the Generals in 1999. He remained through 2000 when he left high school coaching to join the Auburn University football staff.
   He remained at Auburn through 2008 – serving as Director of NFL Relations and Director of Football Relations during his tenure. He returned to high school coaching in 2008 as head coach at St. Paul’s Episcopal School in Mobile. He returned to Montgomery in 2012 to take over the Saint James football program. He currently serves as head football coach and dean of students.
    He is the winningest football coach in Saint James history (79-35) and owns a 144-67 record overall in 18 seasons. Perry has served as a coach in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic and North-South All-Star Classic and has earned numerous Coach of the Year honors. He was inducted into the Lee High School Hall of Fame in 2002.
    He also serves on the National Kidney Foundation Board of Directors, is a member of the American Football Coaches Association, National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame and the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association.

DANNY POWELL (COACH): Considered one or the AHSAA’s top football and baseball coaches during the last three decades, Powell, 72, graduated from Leroy High School in 1968 and Livingston (West Alabama) University in 1972. 
    He began his teaching and coaching career in 1979 at McIntosh Academy. He then served short stints at Lee-Scott and Jackson Academy in the AISA before moving to Clarke County High School in 1992 as head baseball coach and football offensive coordinator. A man of strong character and quiet strength, he led the Bulldogs to the state playoffs all three years, then decided to join his alma mater Leroy High School in 1995 as head baseball coach and defensive coordinator for the football team.
  When he stepped down in 2010, the Bears had won five state titles including 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010 with Powell as head coach. During that stretch Leroy also won state baseball championships in 201, 2003 and 2008. His baseball teams won over 300 games and his football teams were 66-7 overall in six seasons.
   He then move to Jackson High School in 2011 and immediately led the Aggies to a 15-0 record and Class 4A state championship. His teams won 82 games at Jackson. He closed his head-coaching career with a 177-72-1 record over 20 seasons.
   He earned numerous “Coach of the Year” awards including the AFLCA and ASWA Coach of the Year in 2006He has been inducted into the Alabama Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Former Leroy Head Football Coach Danny Powell

WADE ROBINSON (OLD-TIMER): The Wilcox County High School basketball coach made a big impression during his career as a player at Wilcox County Training School. That was just the beginning, however.
   After graduating from the Camden school in 1965, he attended Daniel Payne College graduating in 1970. Robinson, now deceased, returned home to his alma mater in 1970 and began teaching the same tenacity and dedication he displayed as a player during his impressive coaching career. 
    That career continued at Wilcox County High School culminating with a 77-74 win over local favorite Jones Valley the 1985 Class 4A state basketball championship game held at Birmingham’s Bill Harris Arena for the school’s only AHSAA state title.  His 1989 team lost to LaFayette in the 1989 Class 3A finals 84-74 at Tuscaloosa.
   He used his own vehicle and own time to help children get home after practice and made it a point to visit homes of his players to encourage parents to take a more active role in supporting their children’s efforts.
    Active in church and community activities, Robinson year-round to provide positive activities for youth. He organized little league baseball for the entire county, and worked diligently to keep children on the right track. In 2006 he received the Special Civic Service and Merit Award for his effort. 

JOHNNY D. SHELWOOD (COACH): LeFlore High School’s legendary basketball program foundation was laid by Shelwood and his ability to get the most out of his students – on the court and in the classroom.
    Shelwood, 78, graduated from Central High School in Mobile in 1960 and Dillard University in 1964. He earned his master degree from Indiana University in 1974. His high school coaching and teaching career began in 1964 at Central, where he served as assistant head coach for two region championship teams. He moved to Toulminville High School in 1966 – leading the team from the AIAA to the AHSAA during the merger of 1968 and remained as head coach through 1980 compiling a 193-165 record. He also served as defensive coordinator for the football team helping the team go 8-0-1 allowing only three touchdowns in 10 games in 1968.
    He served as had girls’ track coach at LeFlore from 1975-1984 and head basketball coach from 1981-1991 winning two state titles and coaching some of the top players in Mobile prep history had developing a reputation for his discipline and attention to fundamentals. His overall basketball coaching record at Toulminville and LeFlore was 447-239 with state titles in 1986 and 1989 and reached the state tournament 10 times. 
    He left LeFlore in 1992 and coached at Bishop State Community College until his retirement in 2019.

LeFlore basketball coach icon Johnny Shelwood

TIM SMITH (COACH): A graduate of Ranburne High School in 1969, Tim Smith, 70, returned to his alma mater after completing his degree at Auburn University (1975) and quietly began a teaching and coaching career that would establish his girls’ basketball program as one of the best in AHSAA history.
   He was an assistant football coach for Coach Harlan Robinson and the Bulldogs that won the school’s first state title in 1977. He then became the first and only girls’ head basketball coach for the school over the next four decades leading the program to a 643—344 record in 41 seasons. His girls won 21 area titles, advanced to 12 Sweet 16’s seven Elite Eight state tourneys and three Final Four’s. His Bulldogs won the Class 2A state championship in 1991.
   Eleven of his players signed college scholarships, and the program was known throughout the state as one of impeccable integrity.
   As impressive as his coaching record was, however, it paled in comparison to his character and integrity he has displayed daily for his students and fellow teachers during his incredible tenure. He served as school sponsor for its Fellowship of Christian Athletes program, and at Macedonia Baptist Church, he has served in virtually every layman role possible including choir director, Sunday school superintendent, youth teacher, youth director, and Baptist Brotherhood director.
    His solid faith carried over to his role as school teacher, coach and assistant principal.
    His genuine passion to help young people has helped troubled students find their way.
    His demeanor and positive outlook has been the model that his fellow teachers have tried to emulate.
    He has had numerous coaching honors. His principal Tim Ward says, however, “His 643 wins in coaching do not compare to the lives he has impacted as a role model.”

RONNIE STAPLER (COACH): The Butler High School 1965 graduate returned to Huntsville following college at the University of North Alabama and began a high school basketball coaching career that has for 50 years. 
   Stapler, 74, has had coaching stops at Grissom High School, Guntersville High School, Randolph School and currently Westminster Christian Academy, where he has recorded more than 800 career wins in 47 seasons. His 800th win came in January of 2021 making him the sixth coach in AHSAA history to reach that milestone coaching boys’ basketball.
   His program has sent more than 100 players to the college ranks with scholarships. One of the state’s biggest high school basketball advocates, he served as Grissom’s boys’ basketball coach from 1970 to 2003 – winning state championships in Class 6A in 1988 and 1999. The Tigers finished runner-up in 1997.
    He led the Guntersville basketball program from 2003 to 2008, then spent five years at Randolph School in Huntsville coaching the girls’ team.
   He moved to Westminster in 2014 and has remained with the Wildcats ever since. He guided Westminster to the 4A state crown in 2016 and had runner-up finishes in 2015 and 2019.
   Stapler also coached boys’ golf at Grissom winning the 4A state title in 1983. He has received numerous coach of the year awards and coached in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic in 1999 and 2016. Three of his players earned Mr. Basketball honors.
    During his 50-year coaching career he has also coached wrestling, football and softball. He served on the AHSAA Basketball Coaches Committee from 1997-2001 and was inducted into the Huntsville/Madison County Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997.

Scores and stories from around Central Alabama. More than just a sports Article.

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