The Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) was saddened to learn of the recent death of Coach Willie Averett. Mr. Averett, 90, who served 33 of his 35 years in Monroe County as a successful teacher, basketball coach and athletic director at J. F. Shields High School, was inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2005.
He guided the 1972 team, led by John Drew, to its first-ever state championship. He also coached Tony Stallworth, the AHSAA’s current Associate Executive Director.
The highly respected coach was selected to coach in the in the North-South all-star game and received coach-of-the-year honors three times.
The school gym is named in his honor. He is a graduate of Georgiana Training High School and Alabama State University.
“Coach Averett was a legend in many ways,” said Stallworth. “I can personally give him credit for my career decisions upon leaving high school. He inspired me by the way he approached his physical education classes.
“He always taught the rules and skills of each activity before the physical aspect. His words were “You can’t play a sport if you don’t know anything about it.” He taught by example, which inspired each one of us to perform to the highest.
“I was also amazed with his coaching and game management during athletic events. Coach was tough and demanding and was a devout Christian man who always put God first. He was my mentor. I credit any successes in my life as a teacher, coach and administrator to him.
“The last conversation I had with him was an emotional one where he once again told me how proud he was of (former teammate) Jerome Sanders and myself for keeping his dream alive in the coaching profession. We both thanked him for being such a major influence and strong model in our lives. He will be a legend forever.”
Funeral services were held Wednesday, Jan. 24, at 11 a.m., at Friendship Baptist Church in Georgiana. Georgiana Memorial Funeral Home conducted the memorial service.