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Jackson named to hall of fame

MONTGOMERY – Woodie Jackson of Selma, one of the most successful high school basketball coaches in the nation, is one of nine major contributors to prep athletics in Alabama who has been selected to the 20th class of the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame.

Jackson guided Francis Marion to a then-state record four state championships in a row (1988- 1991) and five overall, the last one in 2000. He also guided Westside High School to the state championship in 1978.

His six state titles overall have come in three different classifications (1A, 2A and 3A).

His coaching career has spanned 32 years with stops at Westside, East Perry, Francis Marion and now Selma High School. He also spent three years as head coach at Dillard University. Heading into the 2009-10 season, Jackson has compiled a 617-272 career coaching record.

The recipient of numerous coach-of-the-year honors, he coached in the first Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic in 1991 and again in 2000. He was coached in the prestigious McDonald’s High School All-America Classic (2008). He is a graduate of Choctaw High School (1971) and Talladega College.

The 2010 class, which will be inducted at a March 22 banquet at the Renaissance Hotel at the Convention Center in Montgomery, includes coaches, administrators and contributors.

Also selected were George Baker, John Esslinger, Dr. Lawrence Lemak, Jamie Riggs, Steve Savarese, June Seals, Russell Taylor and Ron Watters.

The 16-member Hall of Fame Committee made the selections from the 64 nominations on the Hall of Fame ballot.

— Baker is a Gadsden native who graduated from Carver High School in 1958, became an outstanding multi-sport athlete at Alabama State University and then returned home to coach high school basketball in his hometown from 1962-2001 (39 years).

— As Scottsboro High School’s legendary track and cross country coach, Esslinger has led the Wildcats to more than 40 state championships, including the 2009 Class 5A girls state cross country title.

— Lemak, a world-renowned orthopedic surgeon, has been a major contributor to the well being of high school student-athletes in Alabama, thanks to his role as chairman of the AHSAA Medical Advisory Board where he has been a member since 1985.

— One of the state’s most successful high school football coaches, Riggs has been head coach and athletic director at T.R. Miller High School in Brewton since 1989.

— Savarese has been a coach, teacher, athletic director and administrator in high school athletics for 36 years.

— A pioneer in Alabama girls high school athletics, Seals has coached high school girls basketball for more than 30 years with an overall record of 677-139.

— Taylor, a Rockdale County, Ga., native, made his mark on a state and national scale as head wrestling coach at Weaver High School from 1989-2004.

— Watters of Sylacauga served as head football coach at Randolph County High School in Wedowee for 22 years where he compiled a 152-96-0 record as the winningest head coach in school history.