Selma renames Saints gym

Published 11:27 pm Monday, August 17, 2009

SELMA — Beginning this season, the Selma High basketball teams will be playing in a different gymnasium.

Not different on the inside, but starting on the outside.

Before Saturday’s Southside-Selma Alumni Basketball Game, the Saints gym was renamed the A.A. Sewell-Willie Maxey Gymnasium after two of the school’s most outstanding coaches.

Former Selma standout Ronald Lane presented Sewell with a framed depiction of the renamed gym. Former Saints players congratulated the 30-year teaching and coaching veteran before posing for photographs.

Lane — a forward for Sewell in 1982-1983 — is the Wallace Community College Selma’s men’s basketball coach. He said Sewell was a strict coach.

“He was a tough guy, disciplinarian, old school,” said Lane,. “You learned a lot beside basketball from him.”

Marcus Hannah, the athletics director at WCCS, played guard from 1984-1986 under Sewell. Sewell, who taught math, gave his players valuable lessons.

“He talked to you about life,” Hannah said. “When you got older, you would see it unfold in front of you.”

Lane said, “He would take us out to halfcourt and he would talk to us about a half hour about life and about all the traps and snares that were ahead of you, And when you grew up and ran into a situation, you would say, ‘Oh, that’s what Coach was talking about.’”

Sewell didn’t pull any punches, Lane said.

“He gave it to you the real way; he gave it to you raw,” he said.

Hannah said, “He was the type of coach who would not only take you home after practice, he would take you to his house, he would feed you and he would make sure you were taken care of.

“He helped out when we went to college, making sure we had everything we needed,” Hannah said. “He also supported us when we went to college.”

Selma Athletics Director Patrick Evans played under Sewell from 1985-1987. He also played under Maxey in junior high.

Ion 1985 when Selma went from a school with grades 10-12 to grades nine-12, Maxey moved from Westside to coach junior high and serve as assistant under Sewell. When Sewell was forced into early retirement after a stroke, Maxey took over the high school team.

Maxey’s 1994 team won the state Class 6A championship.

“Sewell had zero tolerance when it came to basketball,” Evans said. “You really looked forward to playing under both coaches. Both had similar coaching styles. So for some players, it was a double blessing.”

The combination of outstanding coaches made a difference on Selma players, Evans said.

“Playing under both coaches made a big impression on a young kid,” he said.