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Ryan Hall receives AHSAA “Making A Difference” Award

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MONTGOMERY – Seven individuals, including Oakman head football coach Ryan Hall, were recognized Friday night at the AHSAA’s 25th annual AHSAA Championship Coaches’ Awards Banquet as recipients of the prestigious “Making A Difference” Award as the 2021 AHSAA Summer Conference concluded at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.

The banquet also kicked off the 100th anniversary of the AHSAA, which was organized in 2021. The AHSAA, which unveiled its official “100th Anniversary” logo, plans to honor the anniversary with special events during the upcoming year.

The week-long conference, which attracted more than 4,000 administrators, coaches and other support personnel from AHSAA member schools to Montgomery, was hosted by the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA). It included 14 North-South all-star competitions during the week – for the sports of baseball, softball, boys’ and girls’ soccer, boys’ and girls’ basketball, boys’ and girls’ cross country, volleyball, football, and for the first time boys’ and girls’ tennis and golf. The South beat the North in the 25th North-South volleyball all-star match 25-22, 25-22, 25-22 to close out all-star play Thursday night.

The highlight of Friday’s Championship Coaches’ banquet was the “Making A Difference” Award recognition, however, now in its ninth year. One AHSAA member school coach, administrator or contributor was honored in each classification for their contributions to their schools and communities that help change lives in daily in a positive way.

The recipients were: track, football, softball and girls’ basketball coach Anthony Edwards, Loachapoka High School (1A); baseball coach Matt Kennedy, Westbrook Christian High School (2A); head football coach Ryan Hall of Oakman High School (3A); girls’ basketball coach Eddie Bullock, Anniston High School (4A); volunteer head track coach Chris Bashaw, Guntersville High School (5A); soccer coach Joe Webb, Mountain Brook High School 6A);  retiring volleyball coach Nancy Shoquist, Mary Montgomery High School (7A).

“It’s a humbling experience for my name to be attached to anything about making a difference,” Hall said. “There are so many people who have made a difference in my life and so it’s almost funny it’s that way because I really owe all that to them.”

Jamie Ferguson of Bayside Academy in Daphne was honored by the AHSADCA as the AHSAA 2021 Athletic Director of the Year, and Blount High School football coach and athletic director Lev Holly received AHSADCA Past President’s Award.

House Majority Leader state legislator Nathaniel Ledbetter was the keynote speaker at Friday’s awards banquet recognized 115 state championship coaches who led teams to state titles in the AHSAA’s championship programs in 2020-21 as well as honoring several others for outstanding service or accomplishment.  AHSAA Assistant Director Jamie Lee served as emcee.

“We had an outstanding week of professional development, all-star competition and a lot of old-fashioned catching up with old friends,” said AHSAA Executive Director Alvin Briggs, who oversaw his first Summer Conference in his new position since replacing Steve Savarese, who retired after 14 years in the executive director seat on June 30. Briggs, who joined the AHSAA in 2011, served as Director of the Alabama High School Athletic Directors and Coaches Association (AHSADCA) before moving into the Associate Executive Director role at the AHSAA in 2019. He began his duties as Executive Director officially on July 1.

“We are so proud of all our member schools,” Briggs added. “Despite the COVID 19 Pandemic challenges facing our state and nation, we were able to start our schools on time, completed all our seasons and championships on time as member schools worked hard to provide the safest environment possible. They bought in to the best practices and safety guidelines outlined by the AHSAA and its Medical Advisory Committee and the Alabama Department of Health. As Mr. Savarese pointed out many times, we think it would our schools’ and communities’ finest hour.”

A total of 76 AHSAA member high schools earned at least one state championship in 2020-21. Class 6A Mountain Brook won four state titles during the 2020-21 school year to lead the AHSAA. The Spartans posted championships in boys’ basketball, volleyball, girls’ tennis and boys’ golf.  Class 7A Hewitt-Trussville, Hoover, Huntsville and Vestavia Hills won three state championships each, Class 3A Providence Christian and Montgomery Academy also won three apiece.