By Rob Ketcham
The Cullman Times
Yes, Tammy West is a girls basketball coach — and a great one at that.
But above all, the Cold Springs legend is a proud mother to three daughters: Hayden, Bailey and Toni.
West has carried over those maternal instincts not just to the court but also to the classroom, two locations where the elementary school teacher has positively impacted so many students and athletes over the years.
“I want my students to see me as a positive role model, loyal and a good mother,” she said in a press release. “We are role models whether we like it or not, and it is important to lead by example.”
The folks at Cold Springs apparently aren’t the only ones who view West as a positive role model, though. The Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) and Alabama High School Athletic Directors and Coaches Association (AHSADCA) must have noticed, too, considering both organizations picked West as this year’s Class 2A recipient of the Making a Difference Award.
Only one coach, teacher or adminstrator from each of the AHSAA’s six classifications is selected for the high honor. Winners were chosen based on nominations.
“Tammy West has taken our basketball program to another level, but that’s just part of it,” said in the release by outgoing principal Tommy Youngblood, who sent in a letter on West’s behalf. “She is so good with these kids. My kid played for her, and she is now about to graduate nursing school. Mrs. West is a big reason. My kid would go through a wall for Coach West. She loves her that much.”
Cold Springs has transformed into a perennial state title contender — and three-time state championship winner — throughout West’s 21 years atop the girls basketball program.
The Eagles combined for an astounding 70 wins — they were 36-1 in 2008 and 34-1 the following season — en route to back-to-back crowns. West led Cold Springs to its first title in 1999.
Already sporting an overall record of 467-151 with 16 regional appearances, four regional tournament titles and four state tourney berths, West doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. Her last nine squads have touted at least 20 wins, and her last eight teams have secured area titles.
West and the other five recipients of the Making a Difference Award — James Lucas, Notasulga (1A); Jim Burkhalter, Fayette County (3A); Richard Brown, Beauregard (4A); Dan Buczek, John Carroll Catholic (5A); and Pat Hamrick, Thompson (6A) — were recognized on Friday night at the Championship Coaches Banquet, which closed out the AHSAA’s 2013 Summer Conference and All-Star Sports Week.
The accolade has only been handed out by the AHSAA and AHSADCA since 2011.
“We think the members of our third class of Making a Difference recipients are wonderful examples of what this award stands for,” AHSAA executive director Steve Savarese said in the release. “Each has made a major difference in their communities and schools. All are excellent role models for the students, faculty and community.
“This award is the most important honor a professional educator in our state can receive. Characteristics considered for this prestigious award include the recipient’s character, integrity and service, all of which have enabled these individuals to have a life-changing impact on the community or school.”
Also at Friday’s banquet, Hanceville and nine other Alabama schools were presented with a Dr. Lawrence Lemak Award. The need-based grant provides each school $2,500 to go toward its athletic programs.
“The Lemak Awards have helped many schools in a variety of ways ranging from transportation to uniforms to purcharshing equipment to starting new sports programs,” Savarese said in a release. “We appreciate him and his medial team so much for all they do for the children of this state.”
Dr. Lemak has been a part of the AHSAA Medical Advisory Board for 30 years.
“I think it is important to always give back to those who have been so important and have done so much for me and my practice,” he said in the release.
Last but not least, six local schools were acknowledged on Friday at the AHSAA’s sixth annual Sportsmanship Banquet for being fine and ejection free during the 2012-13 school year.
Addison, Good Hope, Holly Pond, St. Bernard and West Point have all made the list four years in a row now, while Cold Springs has pulled off the feat twice.
“We are very proud of our schools’ efforts in promoting good sportsmanship,” Savarese said in a release. “We must continue to emphasize good sportsmanship in all that we do, and this special recognition is one way to show our appreciation.”
% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 138 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.