Battles, Weatherly into state prep Hall of Fame
by Rip Donovan
Special to The Star
Nov 17, 2013 | 1724 views |  0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When Handley begins the 2014 football season, the Tigers will be led by a Hall of Fame coach. No, the Roanoke school hasn’t replaced current coach Mike Battles.

Instead, Battles has added a new honor to his coaching credentials. The man who considers his career “a work in progress” and the late Eugene Weatherly, former basketball coach at Cobb Avenue, Anniston and Hatcher in Centre, headline the 12 members of the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2014. The 2014 banquet, the 24th annual event, will be March 17 at the Renaissance Hotel in Montgomery.

Battles said Saturday evening he learned of his selection Friday afternoon when he received a telephone call from Alabama High School Athletic Association executive director Steve Savarese.

“Me, I’m still a work in progress. I’m planning on coaching for a while and I was a little bit surprised,” Battles said. “Those kinds of things usually happen at the end of your career or that’s what I thought. It’s a big honor and I appreciate it whether it’s deserved or not.”

Battles coached 15 seasons during three stints at Wellborn. His Panthers teams won 97 games and reached the playoffs seven times. His 10-year tenure at Handley has produced 85 wins and nine seasons in the playoffs, including a 15-0 Class 3A state championship run in 2011. He has the most wins of any coach at both Wellborn and Handley. In addition to Wellborn and Handley, Battles has also served as head coach at Pell City and Hueytown in Alabama, Irwin County in Georgia and Pascagoula, Gautier and Biloxi in Mississippi. His career record is 277-161-2.

Battles was a three-year letterman in football at Sylacauga for Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame coach Tom Calvin and served as a captain during his senior season in 1965. He said joining his former coach in the Hall of Fame made the recognition even more meaningful.

“He was such a great coach. He was something when I was in high school,” Battles said of Calvin. “There are just a lot of great guys down there (in the Hall of Fame) and that’s the reason I’m surprised even to be considered. It’s just something to be a part of it.”

After high school, Battles was a three-year starter at linebacker for Southern Mississippi. His first coaching job came at Lincoln in 1970 where he worked as an assistant with head coach Conrad Nix. When Nix went to Georgia the next year, Battles went, too.

Weatherly, a Gadsden native, graduated from G.W. Carver in 1948. While at Carver, he captained the football and basketball teams. He graduated from Alabama State then started the athletic program at Hatcher in 1953. Weatherly remained as coach at Hatcher until the school closed in a consolidation with Cherokee County.

In the fall of 1971, Weatherly became head basketball coach at Cobb Avenue. His second Cobb team won the Calhoun County big schools tournament and was one of eight teams in its class to advance to the state tournament. The following year, Cobb and Anniston combined. Weatherly became head basketball coach at Anniston and led the Bulldogs to the big-schools county championship and a runner-up finish in the big-schools state tournament in 1974. After one year at Anniston, Weatherly became head basketball coach at Georgia School for the Deaf and spent the final 21 years of his career there.

Weatherly, who died in 2001, was inducted into the Cherokee County Sports Hall of Fame in June of this year.

Joining Battles and Weatherly as the Class of 2014 are Dickie Brown, Jim Garner, Major Lane, Alvin Moore, Larry Morris, Donnie Roberts, Dr. Jimmy Robinson, Nancy Shoquist, Mike Smith and Tony Stallworth. The Hall of Fame is located at the AHSAA office in Montgomery.

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Battles, Weatherly into state prep Hall of Fame by Rip Donovan
Special to The Star

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