The Wire

  • New tunnel, premium RV section at Talladega Superspeedway on schedule despite weather


    Construction of a new oversized vehicle tunnel and premium RV infield parking section at Talladega Superspeedway is still on schedule to be completed in time for the April NASCAR race, despite large amounts of rainfall and unusual groundwater conditions underneath the track.

    Track Chairman Grant Lynch, during a news conference Wednesday at the track, said he’s amazed the general contractor, Taylor Corporation of Oxford, has been able to keep the project on schedule.

    “The amount of water they have pumped out of that and the extra engineering they did from the original design, basically to keep that tunnel from floating up out of the earth, was remarkable,” Lynch said.

  • Alabama workers built 1.6M engines in 2018 to add auto horsepower


    Alabama’s auto workers built nearly 1.6 million engines last year, as the state industry continues to carve out a place in global markets with innovative, high-performance parts, systems and finished vehicles.

    Last year also saw major new developments in engine manufacturing among the state’s key players, and more advanced infrastructure is on the way in the coming year.

    Hyundai expects to complete a key addition to its engine operations in Montgomery during the first half of 2019, while Honda continues to reap the benefits of a cutting-edge Alabama engine line installed several years ago.

  • Groundbreaking on Alabama’s newest aerospace plant made possible through key partnerships


    Political and business leaders gathered for a groundbreaking at Alabama’s newest aerospace plant gave credit to the formation of the many key partnerships that made it possible.

    Governor Kay Ivey and several other federal, state and local officials attended the event which celebrated the construction of rocket engine builder Blue Origin’s facility in Huntsville.

and 9 months ago

High school football playoffs: A community happening


Many people would agree that their years in high school were some of the best years of their lives – particularly those individuals who were members of a sports team or participated in other activities such as the marching band or debate team.

In many cases, team members become lifelong friends. Team reunions are held from time to time as teammates return to remember the relationships, which ultimately mean much, much more than the outcome of games or events they had participating in high school activities. Quite often, reunions for sports teams are staged during the highlight of each sports season during the state playoffs.

And as the calendar turns to November, there is nothing like the excitement of high school football playoffs in cities and communities across Alabama and throughout the nation every Friday night.


While each team will be trying to advance to the state championship, the outcome of the games is only a part of the experience for those individuals in attendance.

Why? Because the people in the stands at high school football playoffs are moms and dads, grandparents, aunts and uncles, sisters and brothers, neighbors down the street, fellow students, and longtime residents of the community. People in the bleachers know the players on the field. Win or lose, their support and love is always there.

There is no tradition in sports with the history of high school football. There are 30 rivalry games (60 high schools) that started before 1900 and continue today, the longest of which is Connecticut’s New London High School vs. Norwich Free Academy, which have been playing annually since 1875.

In Alabama, the first game confirmed was in 1892 – when the Alabama School for the Deaf played the Anniston Military Institute and tied 0-0. By the time the AHSAA formed in 1921, more than 100 high schools in Alabama were playing football. Guntersville and Albertville recently completed their 105th meeting, dating back to 1914. Albertville’s Aggies won 24-21 in a series that now stands at 52-47-6 in Guntersville’s favor. Clarke County also has two ongoing series that have reached 104 games – county rivals Jackson and Thomasville.

In Michigan, Battle Creek Central and Kalamazoo Central have been playing since 1896. In Massachusetts, the Wellesley-Needham Heights rivalry dates to 1882. And in Colorado, Pueblo Central and Pueblo Centennial have been matched since 1892.

Although there are more options for entertainment on a Friday night than ever before, there is still nothing to match high school football playoffs in the fall. With all the people attending games of the 14,247 high schools that play football, expect more than 10 million fans each Friday night – easily the No. 1 fan base in the country.

As you attend high school football playoff games this year in Alabama, remember that the players, coaches and game officials deserve your utmost support, encouragement and respect. While advancing in the playoffs is the desire of each team, the ultimate objective of high school sports and activities is to have fun and enjoy these special years.

We urge you to continue to support the high school teams in your community!

Karissa Niehoff is the executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations

Steve Savarese is the executive director of the Alabama High School Athletic Association

The Alabama High School Athletic Association, founded in 1921, is a private agency organized by its member schools to control and promote their athletic programs. The purpose of the AHSAA is to regulate, coordinate and promote the interscholastic athletic programs among its member schools, which include public, private and parochial institutions.

and 11 months ago

Parents and adult fans: The biggest challenge facing high school sports today

(AHSAA/Contributed, YHN)

Inappropriate adult behavior at high school athletic events in Alabama is a growing concern.

When more than 2,000 high school athletic directors were asked in a recent national survey what they like least about their job, 62.3% said it was “dealing with aggressive parents and adult fans.”

The men and women who wear the black and white stripes agree. In fact, almost 80% of officials quit after the first two years on the job because of the actions of unruly fans. As a result, there is a growing shortage of high school officials here in Alabama, and in some sports like wrestling, swimming, and track and field, the shortage is severe. Contests cannot be played without officials. As a result, we need to do everything we can to keep good officials officiating and to make the sporting event a positive experience for all.

If you are a parent or adult fan attending a high school athletic event this fall, you can help by following these six guidelines:


1. Be the responsible one. You are the adult whom others model behavior after. Your behavior should not be a negative reflection or impression on your family or school. Make them both proud by being the model of good sportsmanship.

2. Parents should not live their lives vicariously through their children. High school sports are educational athletic opportunities for the student-athletes. Your family’s reputation is not determined by how well your children perform on the field of play.

3. Let your children talk to the coach instead of you doing it for them. High school athletes learn how to become more confident, independent and capable through open communication with their coaches. Let your children discuss concerns with their coaches, and you be their supportive listener when they share the discussion with you.

4. Be supportive. No matter how much you disagree with the coach’s decision or official’s call, avoid coaching or officiating from the sidelines. Your role is to be a responsible, supportive parent — not a coach or official.

5. Remember, participating in a high school sport is not about getting a college scholarship. According to the NCAA, less than 3% of all high school athletes are awarded an athletic scholarship to participate at the next level, and the total value of the scholarship is only about $18,000. Playing sports in high school should focus on the experience and life lessons that are learned. If a scholarship is offered as the result, that’s great. If not, it’s still great because the child has been a part of a team and has some great memories that are priceless.

6. Make sure your children know you love watching them play. Do not critique your child’s performance during the car ride home. Participating in high school sports is about character development, learning and having fun — not winning and losing. Don’t waste important time discussing things you can do nothing about. Focus on making memories. The time your child is a high school athlete is short. Enjoy the moment.

Purchasing a ticket to a high school athletic event does not give anyone the right to be disrespectful or verbally abusive. Cheer loud and be proud but be responsible and respectful. The future of high school athletics depends upon how players, coaches and officials are treated by the fans and parents. Be the example you want your children to be.

Karissa Niehoff is the executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations and Steve Savarese is the executive director of the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA).