Photo |  Courtesy University of South Alabama

The University of South Alabama won 104 league titles under former Athletic Director Joe Gottfried, right, shown with USSA President Dr. T.J. Rosandich. USA teams appeared in 54 NCAA Championship events in that time, while individuals qualified for NCAA postseason action on 123 occasions.

Joe Gottfried, the Mobile Sports Hall of Fame chairman and former University of South Alabama (USA) athletic director, has been presented the 2018 Distinguished Service Award by the United States Sports Academy (USSA).

The award recognizes outstanding contributions to sport. USSA Trustee and Art Committee member Susan McCollough presented the award to Gottfried at the home of academy founding president Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich.

Gottfried joined USA’s department of athletics in 1981 as assistant athletic director. He served as the athletic director for 25 years beginning in 1984.

He was one of the key individuals involved in making football the school’s 17th program. During his tenure, USA claimed the Vic Bubas Cup (going to the Sun Belt Conference program demonstrating excellence in the league’s athletic programs) 10 times in a 13-year span.

With Gottfried at the helm, the men and women’s teams won 104 league titles. USA teams appeared in 54 NCAA Championship events in that time, while individuals qualified for NCAA postseason action on 123 occasions.

On the national level, 75 USA student-athletes earned All-American recognition while 62 of the school’s coaches were selected Sun Belt Coach of the Year in their sports. Also, 83 percent of USA’s student-athletes who completed their eligibility graduated.

Gottfried’s impact can be seen across the West Mobile campus, from the 10,000-seat Mitchell Center (home to the men and women’s basketball program as well as offices for athletic department personnel) to baseball’s Stanky Field, which underwent a $3.5 million renovation prior to the 2005 campaign.

Since his retirement from USA, Gottfried has served as chairman for the Mobile Sports Hall of Fame. This organization works to recognize and honor outstanding athletes and sports personalities from Mobile. More information on the foundation can be found at

The Distinguished Service Award is part of USSA’s Awards of Sport, which each year serve as “A Tribute to the Artist and the Athlete.” The Academy presents the awards to pay tribute to those who have made significant contributions to sport, in categories as diverse as the artist and the athlete in several different arenas of sport.

USSA is an independent, nonprofit sports university created to offer programs in instruction, research and service. The academy is based in Daphne. For more information, call 251-626-3303 or visit

Volleyball champs

Here is a belated shoutout to the area teams that brought home trophies from the Alabama High School Athletic Association. The games were played at Birmingham’s Bill Harris Arena.

Bayside Academy captured its 17th consecutive title and 27th overall since 1981. The Admirals (37-18) beat Providence Christian 25-13, 25-27, 25-22 and 25-22 after moving up to Class 4A this season. Bayside is the first school to win state titles in four different classifications, along with 1A, 2A and 3A. Earning all-star honors were junior Jacque Martin and freshman Ella Broadhead. Ann Schilling was named the state’s coach of the year.

According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, Bayside only trails one school in the total number of state titles and consecutive crowns. Going into this season, Bishop England in Charleston, South Carolina, had won 18 straight titles and 28 overall. However, they lost in their championship match this year to snap the streak.

In Class 6A, Spanish Fort wrapped up an incredible season by beating Hazel Green in dramatic fashion 25-22, 25-23, 23-25, 21-25 and 15-6. The Toros set a record for wins at 65-5 in claiming their second title in the last four seasons. Earning all-star honors were senior Taylor Fontenelle, junior Kayla Keshock, junior Avery Rodgers and sophomore Kamble Frenette.

In Class 7A, McGill-Toolen Catholic High School defended its crown by beating Bob Jones 25-17, 25-8 and 25-23. The Jackets end the year at 48-5. It was the 21st overall state title for McGill-Toolen, which captured its first trophy in 1974. Senior Lillie Fromdahl has been named the state best player. Also earning all-star honors were seniors Kenya McQuirter and Alex Pierre and junior Imani Nicholson.

Tennis at the beach

The Orange Beach Fall UTR Tennis Tournament took place at the Orange Beach Tennis Center, with 115 players from seven states participating in the three-day event. Players traveled from Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Arkansas, Florida and throughout Alabama.

Singles winners included Lillie McInnis of Orange Beach in the Fed Cup Division, Raquel Russell of Orange Beach in the Indian Wells Division, Blaeze Russell of Orange Beach in the Laver Cup Division, Emma Jane Hamilton of Mobile in the Miami Open Division and Hallet Green of Mobile in the Wimbledon Division.

In doubles, Missy Black of Orange Beach and Melissa Blanchfield of Baton Rouge combined to win the Lemon Shark Doubles Division. Each singles champion and finalist was awarded an engraved tumbler. Each doubles champion and finalist was given an engraved silver cup.

The next Orange Beach tennis tournament will be a USTA Junior Tournament, State Level 3, during the weekend of Feb. 23-24.

College honors

• For two straight weeks, the Sun Belt Conference has named USA’s Antoinette Lewis the women’s basketball player of the week. The sophomore forward from Memphis shot 63 percent from the field and averaged 17.5 points and seven rebounds per game for the Jaguars in the second week, and 18.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3 blocks during the first week. USA is off to its best start since the 1984-1985 season.

• Spring Hill College has swept the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference’s player and newcomer of the week. Junior forward Tiffany Valentine earned her second-straight player of the week honor, while freshman forward Mathilde Nicolas received her first nod as newcomer of the week. Valentine averaged 15 points and 10.5 rebounds in the two games, while shooting 52 percent (12-of-23) from the floor. Nicholas posted career-high numbers in almost every category during the week while posting her first two double-digit scoring performances.