Taylor inducted into Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame

Published 9:15 am Wednesday, March 15, 2023

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Andalusia Head Football Coach Trent Taylor was officially inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame during a ceremony Monday night at the Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center in Montgomery.

Taylor was among 13 inducted with the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023.

The Hall of Fame is a program developed and managed by the AHSAA’s Alabama High School Athletic Directors and Coaches Association (AHSADCA). This year’s class is the 33rd inducted since the HOF inception in 1991.

“To get that call from (AHSAA Executive Director Alvin Briggs) that I had been selected for the Hall of Fame, I’m not going to lie, was a little emotional,” Taylor said. “Once word got out I was selected, I not only received phone calls from Andalusia but also from Straughn knowing how much it meant to their community. It was very special to me. It is an individual award and I will be the one accepting all that recognition, but the truth of the matter is that there are so many people in both of those communities that have so much to do with the fact I’m here tonight.”

He said among those who helped him pave a path into coaching was his high school football coach, Don Sharpe.

“I grew up in a household that was big into the sport of football. Anybody who has ever played will tell you this, but the discipline, hard work, and dedication to that sport was a major contributor to the person I am today. The biggest impact on me was my high school football coach. I remember going to coach (Don) Sharpe my senior year and telling him I want to be a high school football coach and asking ‘What do I need to do?’”

One of Taylor’s former players, Grant Holley, spoke about the impact Taylor has on his players.

“I could go on and on about Coach Taylor’s ability to coach a football team, but instead, I would like to touch on the impact he had on my teammates, my entire family, and me. It’s not often a coach, not only impacts you on the field, but also off the field in an even more outstanding manner,” Holley said.

Holley said Taylor helped him cope with real-life challenges.

“Coach Taylor showed incredible compassion toward my family and me. I lost my father when I was nine years old. My mother later remarried to Tim Nall, who was Coach Taylor’s friend and teammate in high school. Anyone who has had an immediate death in the family understands that the funeral can be quite a blur. We had some close friends, family, and teachers come to support our family. But, out of everyone that showed care that day and that I hugged, there were two people that I vividly remember embracing me and giving me hope. One was Coach Tyler Dent, and the other was Coach Taylor. I know they are very busy men. I know that they have numerous obligations, but they stood in the blazing sun that day at the cemetery waiting to speak to me.”

Holley said the bond between player and coach was very real.

“I’m not sure what makes a coach and a player’s bond so strong,” he said. “I am not sure what makes a coach be the same each and every day, never hypocritical, always wanting the best for their players. I also do not know how any person can spend the hours that Coach Taylor has invested, not only in the football program, but also the players individually. However, I thank God that he did. I strongly believe Coach Taylor and the assistants he hired have helped make and mold me into the man I have become. Thank you, Coach Taylor, for being there for me on and off the field, and being the example, friend, and mentor, you are to so many.”

Circuit Judge Charles A. Short has observed Taylor’s impact for more than five decades.

“I have known Coach Taylor for over 50 years and have had the pleasure of observing the positive influence that he has had on the countless young people he has coached and the many young coaches that he has mentored. After Andalusia enjoyed great success in the 1970s, our program rarely came close to being considered a top-tier program in the years that followed. That all changed when Coach Taylor returned in 2015. During that period, Andalusia has compiled a very impressive record. However, while the record on the field is enviable, the effect of the program on our community as a whole is unbelievable.”

Short added, “Under Coach Taylor’s leadership, Andalusia High School has rebuilt its football stadium into a facility with which very few schools in the state can compare. Coach Taylor has rallied the entire community to support the team once again. A Friday in Andalusia during the football season is the kind of event that every high school kid should have the opportunity to experience. It has truly become a community-wide celebration.”

Other inductees into the Hall of Fame included Paul Benefield, Homer Davis, Steve Giddens, William Earl Griffin, Ronald “Jack” Jackson, Matthew L. Jones, Charlie McCaleb, Timothy “Tim” Miller, David Powell, Michael “Mike” Robertson, Jack Steele Jr., and John Woody.