Twelve of Alabama’s most outstanding contest officials have been selected for induction into the Alabama Sports Officials Foundation (ASOF) Hall of Fame in the Class of 2020.
Several have connections to the Gulf Coast. This includes Reggie Copeland, Patsy Burke, Paul Greene and Houston Young. Others selected for induction are Owen Butts, Kevin Fehr, Bill Gaulden, Glenn Hawkins, Jeff Hilyer, Mark Jones, Dana Wallace and James Wilson.
According to ASOF, the Class of 2020 includes individuals who have officiating backgrounds ranging from high school to college to professional sports. The individuals have played important roles in training and developing contest officials in Alabama as well as mentoring and raising the level of consistency and professionalism in the state.
The selections were made by a special ASOF Hall of Fame Committee from nominations submitted. Greg Brewer, spokesperson for ASOF, said the induction ceremony is expected to take place in August.
Here is a glance at those with local connections (the full news release can be found at ahsaa.com):
* The most familiar name on this list, even for those who do not follow sports, is Copeland. The granddaddy of basketball officiating at 90 years of age, he is still working diligently to make a difference in the Mobile area. A past president of the Mobile City Council, the Murphy High School graduate is considered one of the top high school and college officials in the nation. He began officiating basketball in the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) in 1952.
The Southeastern Conference (SEC) recruited him 10 years later and he spent the next 25 years as one of the busiest basketball officials around. He worked SEC, Sun Belt, Metro, Southwest and Gulf South conference games. He was selected to work the NCAA Tourney in 1970 and called the Final Four in 1972 and 1977. He was ranked the nation’s top college basketball official in 1977. He served as coordinator of officials for the Southern States Conference.
Copeland has been inducted into the Spring Hill College Hall of Fame (1980), Mobile Sports HOF (1990), Mobile Little League HOF (2007) and Murphy High HOF (2009). He was selected as a Knight of St. Gregory the Great (2006); named Mobilian of the Year (2011); received the Metro Mobile Golden Eagle Award (2011); and served on the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame board for six years.
* Burke, who currently lives in Daphne, served 25 years at the UAB School of Medicine’s Department of Family Medicine and became involved with volleyball as a statistician at Pelham High School. Upon her retirement from her “first” career at UAB, she moved into volleyball and softball officiating. She would climb to the top as one the state’s and nation’s most knowledgeable experts in both sports, and a devoted leader in both.
She has officiated high school volleyball for 25 years, beginning in the Birmingham Volleyball Officials Association (BVOA), and now with the North Baldwin Volleyball Association (NBVBOA). She served as president of the BVOA and a board member and alternate assignor for the NBVBOA. She is the head clinician for the AHSAA State Volleyball Camp; serves on the board of the National Federation of Rules for Volleyball; is the AHSAA State Rules Interpreter and AHSAA State Camp Director; and served on the NFHS Rules Committee from 2010-14.
Burke was an AHSAA softball official from 1996-2014, serving as past president and treasurer of the Central Alabama Softball Officials Association. Burke also was a collegiate volleyball and softball official for more than 15 years, working with the NAIA, SEC, OVC, Conference USA and Gulf South Conference and continues to work countless hours each year promoting junior volleyball. Referee Magazine also published articles by Burke in 2016 and 2017.
* Greene has officiated basketball and football for 57 years, including at the college level for 32 years. Beginning his officiating career in 1963, he still serves as a mentor and instructor for other officials. He served in the Mobile Metro Football Officials Association for more than 40 years and received the AHSAA Distinguished Service Award for 42 years of service in 2005. He officiated in the AHSAA State Basketball Tournament for more than 20 years and still remains active as an instructor and observer.
As a college basketball official, he worked the NCAA Southwest Regional at Baton Rouge in 1986. His passion has been his mentoring, however. “The contribution he has made helping to develop many of the AHSAA’s current and past officials has been priceless,” said nominator and current Mobile Metro President Jeffrey McCurley.
* Young is a veteran track official and is considered one of the nation’s top authorities in track and field. He has been an official at the AHSAA Outdoor State Track Championships for 52 straight years and has served as the meet director for the past 20 years. He is also the AHSAA Track and Field Rules Interpreter for indoor and outdoor track and has served as the meet director for the AHSAA Indoor State Track Championships for six years.
Young, who is the officials coordinator for two college conferences, is one of the top college track officials as well, serving as the NAIA National Championships meet director for six years and an official at the meet for 13 years. He has worked in various capacities — as a starter, throws official and meet director — and an instructor at district camps for five decades. Among his other highlights, he was the starter at the NCAA Division I National Indoor Championships in 2019, the starter for the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships in 2013 and the starter for the NCAA Division III Championships in 2018.
Young is a member of the Port City Track Officials Association in Mobile, the AHSAA Officials Association and the United State Track and Field Association (USATF). He was named the AHSAA District Official of the Year (2005), the State Track Official of the Year (2008) and received the NFHS Citation Award in 2010 as the national official of the year. Young was inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.
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