Nearly every high school in Alabama has a football stadium that can double and sometimes triple as a soccer field or a place to run track. Basketball and volleyball teams have their gyms on campus. Many schools have baseball and softball fields nearby.
When I first met with the staff at the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) in December of 2019 to map out stories for the upcoming year, the most common refrain I received from the staff was “high school sports, more than a game.”
It is one of the most memorable traditions in sports—honorary captains participating in the coin toss before the start of a championship football game. Presidents, heroes, hall of famers and celebrities are typically given the distinction. In Alabama, we take it to a higher level.
When I was interviewing people for this story about Vestavia Hills Head Football Coach Buddy Anderson, the winningest football coach in Alabama High School history, I noticed something. Not one person mentioned the score of a game or the wins that added up to that record. Not a word.
New guidelines have been provided by the Alabama High School Athletic Association for games that take place this fall. Decisions regarding participation are up to each individual school/district but should they decide to participate schools will need to follow the new AHSAA guidelines.
Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson has issued an order requiring all people over the age of 8 to wear coverings inside businesses that are open to the public and while taking public transportation.
Since 2015, 32 high school student-athletes (16 new ones each year) from every corner of Alabama have gathered in Montgomery. They do not travel there for a championship or an all-star game. In fact, there are no uniforms, helmets, bats, balls or any athletic gear.
That’s how colleagues describe Toney Pugh, longtime director of the Birmingham Athletic Partnership (BAP), legendary wrestling coach and official and the athletic director who successfully established two high school athletic programs from scratch at Clay-Chalkville and Oak Mountain High Schools.
Before you sit down to watch the Super Bowl this Sunday between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers, here is some Birmingham/Alabama football trivia we learned from Ron Ingram, longtime sportswriter and director of communications for the AHSAA.