Much preparation goes into a gathering of the magnitude that has accompanied the ALFCA Convention of recent years. As the convention and banquet come and go, it’s time to take a moment and relive some of the best parts of this year’s weekend. Let’s start at the end.
On Saturday, the Coach of the Year Banquet was held at the Embassy Suites. There were 200 people in attendance, a long way from the first year when board members required all of their coaching staffs to stay and attend the banquet for fear that no one would be there. The last awards given are the Lifetime Achievement Awards.
The Lifetime winners over the years are truly a who’s who of high school football coaches in our state. The committee attempts to go back and look at the past years and recognize “old timers”, some of who coached before the playoff eras and would probably never be nominated. This award recognizes the coach who gave much of his life’s work to high school football in our state.
This year’s winners- Mike Battles, Dan Washburn and Fred Yancey worked well into their 60’s and 70’s. They were important to the growth of our sport, and all three were different.
When Fred Yancey arrived at Briarwood Christian in Birmingham in 1990, he had already coached several years in Georgia and Tennessee. He went to this private school in a big city, found a home and stayed until he retired in 2018. Fred built a highly successful program, which had only been in the AHSAA six years, with a touch of class and Christian character. He won over 300 games over his career.
Fred Yancey (center) flanked by ALFCA director Jack Wood (left) and ALFCA President Terry Curtis.
Mike Battles did the opposite. He coached at more than a dozen schools, including Walter Wellborn where he did three different tours of duty. He won state championships in Alabama and had great seasons in other states. He finished his career at B.B. Comer, taking over an 0-10 team that had not had a winning campaign in 13 years and won 7 games over his three seasons there, coaching them hard everyday. Mike surely saw the highs and lows of high school football.
Mike Battles was presented his Lifetime Award by his son, Tallassee coach Mike Battles, Jr.
Dan Washburn spent all but one year as a head coach at Lanett, and became a legend in that small community. He went from coach to eventually superintendent. He succeeded Bubba Scott as the AHSAA executive director in the early 1990’s. It is under Coach Washburn’s leadership that the Super 6 concept was born. His contributions to football in his community and in his state were numerous and significant.
Dan Washburn(right) receiving his Lifetime Achievement Award from Jack Wood
Three different coaches with three different situations and three different roles. All had success by the numbers, but also built lasting relationships with their players, their parents and the people in and around each school and community. All three were important to the growth and development of high school football in Alabama. The Alabama Football Coaches Association thanks them and honors them for what they have done for football in our state.
Somewhere coaching today is another Fred Yancey, another Mike Battles and another Dan Washburn. It is part of our mission with the ALFCA to provide our younger coaches with the knowledge and wisdom so that they might one day have the same success as these three great coaches.