Jackson nominated to Hall

Published 1:35 am Sunday, November 8, 2009

SELMA — Selma High boys’ basketball coach Woodie Jackson begins his second season as Saints head coach when Keith comes to town this Friday.

Jackson, however, won’t be starting over. His history of victories at Francis Marion High School in Marion has led to his nomination for induction the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame.

The selection meeting will be Nov. 17.

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“It was a blessing to be recognized,” said Jackson, who coached at Francis Marion from 1987-1992, then Dillard University two years and returned to Francis Marion 1994-2008.

Jackson certainly has the numbers to bring him the selection. He has been the first in many areas.

He was the first coach of the Alabama-Mississippi Game in 1991; he later coached in the 2000 game. He won both.

He was the first coach in 1978 of the North-South Game, which he won. He also won the 2008 McDonald’s game

He has coached for four decades.

At Francis Marion, the numbers tell the story:

— 11 state tournament appearances;

— Six state champions;

— One state runner-up

— Four state titles in a row in 1988-1991 in Classes 1A, 2A, 3A. He wears a ring that shows the four years.

— Six trips in a row from 1987-1993.

— 617-272 overall record for a winning percentage of 69.4 percent.

Jackson was born and raised in Lisman, and he attended Choctaw County High in Butler. As a senior, he averaged 32 points per game.

He said his high school coach, 75-year-old Vernon “Bear” Johnson, tries to come to as many games as possible.

Jackson played guard at Selma University, then went to Delaware State.

Jackson said the victories at Francis Marion helped unite the community during that time.

“Winning does a lot for you,” Jackson said. “We were able to get a lot of exposure because we would go out of state for regular-season games. Or we would play in Atlanta or Birmingham in tournaments.”

He improved his teams by going against bigger, more experienced opponents.

“We played teams that were better than we were so we could get better,” Jackson said. “Sometimes we’d beat them.”

The success of the basketball team united the school, the town and the surrounding area.

“We had a very supporting community,” he said. “Where we went, we went in droves. Sometimes we’d have more than 50 cars.”

The support helped the team, he said. “The community believed in the children and that’s the way it should be.”

Jackson credits the players with the desire to win and to improve themselves.

“I’ve been fortunate to coach several young men who are doctors, lawyers and engineers,” Jackson said. “I also feel blessed to come from where I came from to where I am today.”

Among the players Jackson mentioned as former players are Willie Shears, Alonzo Johnson, Keith Tubbs, John Oliver, Darryl Crenshaw, Tavaris Childs, Clevie Joe Parker, Jerome Lee, Joseph More, Johnny McAlpine Jr., Stanley Stewart, Derrick Shaw, Lamont Shaw, Greg Tolbert and Marvin Moore.

Jackson also emphasizes the scholastic side of high school before athletics.

“A player is a student first and an athlete second,” he said. “There’s more to academics than putting pen on paper.”

He tells his players basketball can be the means to an end in education.

“Whatever it takes, at the end of the day, children will be children,” he said. “I tell them if they work hard, basketball could be a vehicle to assist with getting an education.”

Jackson also gave a lot of credit to his family for their support, especially his wife, Rosemary. His children are Courtney, who’s in medical school; and Demetrice, who is the football line coach at Anniston.