Atmore native to join state sports hall of fame

Published 3:47 pm Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Atmore native Steve Jefferson Jr. will be one of 12 new members in the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.

Jefferson, who graduated from Escambia County Training School in 1958, had a high school basketball coaching career spanning more than 30 years and featuring more than 650 wins and two state championships.

Most of Jefferson’s success came at Carver High School in Birmingham, where he worked from 1970 to 1998 as the head basketball coach and an assistant football coach. During that time, his basketball teams advanced to the state tournament nine times, winning back-to-back championships in 1978 and 1979. His Carver teams also made the state finals three other times — in 1983, 1997 and 1998.

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Jefferson, the son of Emma and Steve Jefferson Sr., was inducted into the Atmore Area Hall of Fame in 2013. He said it was humbling to be named to the state hall of fame, as well.

“It was a pleasure to learn that I had been selected,” Jefferson said. “I just enjoyed helping kids. That was my greatest joy, to help other kids go off to college and be successful in life.”

Jefferson helped lead the Escambia County Training School football and basketball teams to undefeated seasons in his senior year. He then went on to graduate from Alabama State College (now Alabama State University) in 1962, playing for the Hornets football team.

Although Jefferson’s playing career ended due to a knee injury, he continued to participate in sports as a coach. His first job was as the head football and head basketball coach at Conecuh County Training School in Evergreen, in 1965. In his first year, the basketball team advanced to the AISA state tournament.
Jefferson stayed at Conecuh County Training School until 1968, before taking a job at Birmingham’s Ullman High School as the head football coach for one year. He then moved on to Carver, where he stayed until the school closed in 1998 — it has since reopened.

Jefferson credited two of his high school coaches in Atmore for encouraging his strong work ethic.

“Coach George Mosby and Coach Cornell Torrence were my high school coaches and they were a huge influence in my life,” he said. “They helped me believe that I could be successful in college, and in college ball, and I just wanted to give other kids that same chance as well.”

Although Jefferson’s last high school game was in 1998, he continued to coach at the college level. He returned to the court in 2003, coaching Lawson State Junior and Community College to a record of 102-26 before retiring again in 2008.

Jefferson said he still misses the competitive energy of the hardwood.

“I miss the competitiveness of it and the chance to go against the best,” he said. “I still miss that.”

The 2015 class will be inducted at a special Silver Anniversary banquet commemorating all 25 years of the Hall of Fame, at the Renaissance Hotel at the Convention Center in Montgomery on Monday, March 23.

To order tickets, at a cost of $35 each, mail requests along with a check or money order (payable to the AHSADCA) to “Alabama High School Athletic Directors and Coaches Association, P.O. Box 242367, Montgomery, AL 36124.” For more information, call (334) 263-6994.

“I’m hoping that Atmore will be will represented at the ceremony,” Jefferson said.

The other members of the 2015 class of the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame include tennis coach Nancy Becker; basketball coach Jack Doss and Bobby Wright; football coaches Steve Rivers, Doug Goodwin and John Tatum; athletic director Myra Miles; track official Houston Young; and administrators Alan Mitchell and Ron Ingram. Selected in the “Old Timer” category was longtime Geneva County football coach James D. Chasteen.