Coach Steve Jefferson Jr. has made a name for himself coaching basketball and football.
Coach Steve Jefferson Jr. has made a name for himself coaching basketball and football.

Jefferson welcomed to Atmore Area Hall of Fame

Published 6:00am Saturday, April 13, 2013

Coach Steve Jefferson, Jr. has enjoyed success in the sports arena for most of his life, and in May he will be inducted into the Atmore Area Hall of Fame because of it.

Jefferson, an Atmore native, is the son of Emma and Steve Jefferson, Sr. He graduated from Escambia County Training School in 1958 after leading both the football and basketball teams to undefeated seasons.

“During our time we didn’t know of anyone who didn’t go undefeated at Escambia County,” Jefferson said. “We were always very good.”

Jefferson went on to graduate from Alabama State College in 1962. While playing quarterback for the Hornets, he sustained a career-ending knee injury. For Jefferson, his playing days may have been over, but his career in sports had just begun.

Jefferson was hired as the head coach over football and basketball at Conecuh County Training School in Evergreen in 1965, where he immediately took the basketball squad to the state tournament.

By 1970, Jefferson had moved on to Carver High School in Birmingham, where he would remain until 1998. During his 28 years, mostly spent as the school’s head basketball and assistant football coach, Jefferson compiled over 600 wins, including two basketball state championships during nine appearances in the state tournament.

Jefferson said he still looks back to the coaches and teachers in Atmore as his inspiration for success.

“Coach (Cornell) Torrence had just graduated from Alabama State when I was in Atmore,” Jefferson said. “He may have been there two years or so. He was very instrumental in making me  think I could play college ball.”

During his high school days, Jefferson said most parents were not extremely involved in sports, so often times motivating students to succeed after high school fell on the shoulders of teachers and coaches.

“I was like all of the other kids that just wanted to graduate and see if I could get a job,” he said. “It was the teachers and coaches that really kind of convinced us to go to college.”

Jefferson said it was because of that initial support group that, by 1979, he had become the first basketball coach in Birmingham history to lead his team to back-to-back state championships.

Jefferson became Carver’s athletic director in 1985 and, under his direction, both the basketball and football programs continued to have a continued presence at state championship games until his departure. In 1998, Jefferson coached his final high school game in a close, 33-24 state championship game loss to St. Paul’s.

“I guess of all of my accomplishments, one of the biggest was when we won state championships back-to-back,” Jefferson said of his long and illustrious career. “For a coach to get to the tournament and to win it back-to-back was a real accomplishment.”

Although Jefferson retired from teaching and coaching at the high school level in 1998, he did make a return to the basketball court in 2003, taking a coaching job at Lawson State Junior and Community College, where he compiled a record of 102-26 and took his team to four championship games before retiring once again in 2008.

“I still really enjoy going to games and things,” Jefferson said of retired life. “It’s fun to watch, but it’s tough when teams aren’t doing as well. I never had a losing season and that’s a real blessing.”

Jefferson said he is honored and excited to be named into this year’s hall of fame in his hometown, adding he will certainly be present for the induction ceremony, scheduled to be held Saturday, May 4.

“I will be there,” he said. “It’s always a blessing to be honored by hometown folks. Atmore has always been special to me. Whatever I have accomplished in life, I just give it back to the same God that was with me when I was in Atmore.”

Jefferson is married to his wife of 48 years, Margaret Allen Jefferson. He has two daughters, Doris Jefferson and Yolanda Banks. He has five grandchildren. He currently serves as a deacon of the property committee at the Sardis Missionary Baptist Church, where he has been a member since 1976.

In addition to his many achievements on the field of play, Jefferson was voted Alabama Junior and Community College Conference Division I Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year in 1998; won the Frank Nix Distinguished Basketball Award in 1998; was named Birmingham Area Tipp Off Club Coach of the Year in 1979 and 1998; named Birmingham City School’s Basketball Coach of the Year 10 times; named Basketball Coach of the Year four times by the Birmingham Times.

Joining Jefferson in this year’s hall of class will be: Thomas Jernigan – business; Eddie L. Tullis – government; Charles Madison – athletics; Ron Middleton – athletics; George Turberville – military.

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