Opelika, AL—Blake Smalley has been named the new Head Girls’ Basketball Coach at Opelika High School. “I’m extremely excited to be back with the Opelika City Schools as the head girls’ basketball coach at OHS. It is a great opportunity to build on the successful program Coach Devin Booth has already established,” said Smalley.
Coach Smalley has been the head varsity boys’ basketball coach at Handley High School since 2016. While at Handley, he also served as the head track coach and as an assistant football coach from 2016-2018. Prior to teaching and coaching at Handley High School, Smalley taught at Opelika Middle School and was the head coach for the OMS 8th grade basketball team from 2013-2016. “Opelika High School welcomes Coach Smalley as our head girls’ basketball coach. He has a proven record of making positive differences in students’ lives,” stated OHS Principal Farrell Seymore. “As a veteran teacher and coach, he will build on the rich basketball tradition at Opelika High School.”
Coach Smalley is a graduate of Auburn University with a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education. He is married to Megan Smalley and they have three children, twin boys who are almost 4 and one 10-month-old son. 7/27/21 Picture and release was from Opelika City Schools.
Jessica Thornton named new head softball coach at Opelika High School
Opelika, AL—Jessica Thornton has been named the new head softball coach at Opelika High School. Originally from Vancouver, WA, Thornton has most recently been an Assistant Softball Coach at the University of Louisiana, Monroe (ULM). “We are extremely excited to welcome Coach Thornton to Opelika as our new head softball coach,” stated Dr. Farrell Seymore, OHS Principal. “We look forward to Coach Thornton contributing to the rich tradition at OHS. Her expertise and student-centered approach to teaching and coaching will help our students for years to come.”
Thornton began her ULM coaching career as a volunteer coach and was hired as an assistant coach in August 2015. Prior to coaching, Thornton was awarded multiple honors as a collegiate player. She began her career at Mt. Hood Community College (MHCC) in Oregon and completed her career at Jacksonville State University in Alabama. In 2010, she was named the Southern Region Player of the Year and helped lead MHCC to a combined 69-18 record, back-to-back NWAACC titles, and the Southern Region Title. Thornton was named to the Louisville Slugger NFCA NWAACC All-American Team and was the MHCC Female Athlete of the Year in 2011. “I am super excited for the opportunity to advance the softball program at OHS and to be able to work with the kids to help them achieve their goals on and off the field,” stated Thornton.
Thornton earned both her Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree from Jacksonville State University. She is married to Cole Thornton and they have two sons, ages (almost) 3 and 9 months.
Central Board of Control Selects Alvin Briggs As the Next AHSAA Executive Director
MONTGOMERY – Current Associate Executive Director Alvin Briggs has been selected to become the fifth Executive Director of the Alabama High School Athletic Association. The unanimously approved the hiring of Briggs at a special Central Board meeting Monday morning and the announcement was made by current AHSAA Central Board of Control president Van Phillips Monday at a press conference held at the AHSAA office today. Briggs, 56, who has been on the executive staff of the AHSAA since 2011, will be taking over his new role as Executive Director officially on July 1. Steve Savarese, who has served as Executive Director for the 15 years, announced his plans to retire at the April meeting of the CBOC. “I believe Mr. Alvin Briggs in the person who can meet the challenges the AHSAA will face in the coming years ahead with the same commitment to the AHSAA mission as the four executive directors that came before him,” said Phillips. “He attended high school in the AHSAA where he was an outstanding student-athlete who went on to represent his family, school and the AHSAA well at the college and professional level. “After coaching for several years at the collegiate level, he became a high school teacher, coach and administrator at our member schools …. again representing himself as the ultimate professional.” Briggs becomes just the fifth person to hold this position fulltime in AHSAA history. Cliff Harper was the first hired by the CBOC in 1948 and served until 1966. Herman L. “Bubba” Scott served in the position from 1966-1991. Dan Washburn then served from 1991-2007. Savarese replaced Washburn in 2007 and has remained in the position ever since. Sellers Stough of Birmingham served in in a part-time position as executive secretary-treasurer from 1921 to 1948. “I am honored, humbled and excited to be selected as the next Executive Director of the AHSAA,” said Briggs. “I want to thank the Central Board Search Committee, Central Board President Van Phillips and current Executive Director Mr. Savarese for the confidence they have shown in me to lead this great organization in the years ahead. “No doubt, I have big shoes to fill. The previous executive directors Cliff Harper, Bubba Scott, Dan Washburn, and Mr. Savarese have set some tremendous standards and have left a legacy of outstanding leadership for all our member schools. I pray I can continue to lead this organization in the same manner as these great men who have stood before me.” All four previous executive directors had a major impact nationally with Scott and Washburn serving as president of the National Federation of High School Associations (NFHS) Board of Directors. Savarese is currently president-elect but will not move into that position now that he is retiring. Harper (1987), Scott (1990) and Washburn (2011) have been inducted into the National High School Sports Hall of Fame. Savarese will be eligible for induction upon retirement. All four have been enshrined in the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame and the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.
Briggs is the first person selected for executive director who was already working on the AHSAA executive staff. He brings a wealth of leadership and knowledge of AHSAA operations spending the last decade serving, first, as Director of the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association from 2011-2018 and for the last three years serving as the Associate Executive Director. Savarese said Alvin Briggs’ transition to Executive Director “will be a seamless transition. He has great staff in place and understands what this job is going to require. He is an outstanding leader, and I have full confidence in him.” Briggs earned his Bachelor of Science in Education degree from the University of North Alabama in 1993, and his Master of Arts in Education from UNA in 1995. His major was Health, Physical Education and Recreation (HPER). A former standout high school student-athlete at Greenville High School (1982), he had an outstanding collegiate career playing defensive back at Auburn University from 1983-1987. He was a member of the Dallas Cowboys (1988-1989) until injuries cut short his NFL career. As a high schooler, he played in the AHSAA North-South Football All-Star Game in 1982 – becoming the first and only player in all-star history to score a touchdown on offense and defense. Briggs joined the football coaching staff at the University of North Alabama in 1993 and remained through 2001. During his time on the staff, he helped lead the Lions to seven NCAA Division II playoff appearances, three Gulf South Conference Championships and three NCAA Division II National Championships. He moved back to his hometown of Greenville in 2001 as system Athletic Director and head football coach through 2005. He then moved back to Florence as assistant athletic director for the Florence City School System. In 2007 he was promoted to system athletic director and head football coach at Florence High School through 2011. His overall coaching record was 52-44 overall. His Greenville teams made three trips to the state playoffs in four years and his Florence teams made two trips in four years. His best season was 9-3 in 2009. At the AHSAA, Briggs oversaw the AHSADCA managing the All-Star Sports Week and Summer Conference providing important professional development for more than 7,000 attendees each year. As Associate Executive Director at the AHSAA, he worked alongside the Executive Director. He has served on various NFHS committees including the Track Committee, Coaches Association Committee and the Tackle Football Education Committee. Overseeing the sport of football, he helped develop the current contact limitations for practice that have been championed nationwide in helping to reduce injuries making the sport of football safer for the more than 32,000 student-athletes in Alabama who play football in the AHSAA, and for student-athletes nationally. He has also served in leadership positions for the AHSAA Reclassification Committee, Joint Ad Hoc Committee, Strategic Planning Committee, and the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame Committee. He is also currently serving on the Bryant-Jordan Selection Committee and has served on the Board of the Alabama Football Coaches Association. He is active in civic organizations as well including the Kiwanis Club of Montgomery, Montgomery Quarterback Club, and served on the Board of the YMCA of Shoals. He is also a volunteer for various events sponsored by the Alabama Music Hall of Fame Museum.
Following was the Press Release from Opelika City Schools:
Jaclyn Button named Girls’ Flag Football Coach at Opelika High School
Opelika, AL—Jaclyn Button has been named the Girls’ Flag Football Coach at Opelika High School. Coach Button currently serves as the OHS Head Girls’ Soccer Coach and will continue to serve in that role. “I am excited for the girls to have this opportunity to play a new sport and for Opelika High School to be a part of the flag football pilot program,” stated Button. “It will be one more way for our female athletes to be accountable and be part of a team.” OHS Principal Dr. Farrell Seymore added, “Coach Button is a veteran coach who is committed to student success and leading with integrity. We are excited to offer another strong program for our students.” Coach Jaclyn Button has served as the head coach for the girls’ soccer team since 2017 and was the assistant coach for four years prior to that. From 2013-2018, she served as Assistant Girls’ Varsity Basketball Coach and Head JV Girls’ Basketball Coach. At OHS, Button teaches Pre-Calculus, Analytical Math, and Algebraic Connections. She received her Bachelor’s of Science in Education from Auburn University in 2013 and earned her Master’s Degree from the University of West Alabama in 2020. Button is originally from St. Louis, MO and is married to Wesley Button. When not working and coaching, the Buttons enjoy spending time at the lake. Girls at OHS interested in trying out for the flag football team should sign up on the list by Coach Button’s classroom or contact her at [email protected] In early April, the Alabama High School Athletic Association announced that girls’ flag football would be a sanctioned sport beginning in the fall of 2021. For more information regarding AHSAA Girls’ Flag Football,
refer to the following link: https://www.ahsaa.com/Media/AHSAANOW/News-Articles/alabama-high-school- athletic-association-to-offer-girls-flag-football-as-a-sanctioned-sport-in-2021 .
For more information, contact Becky Brown, Public Relations Coordinator, 334-524-9720.