Dr. Larry DiChiara To Be inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame March 21

Dr. Larry DiChiara Has Always Championed Educational Athletics

                                                       By BILL PLOTT
                                                       For the AHSAA

     From classroom to courtside to central office, the state of Alabama has had no greater champion of public education and educational-based athletics than Dr. Larry E. DiChiara, who was named Alabama’s state superintendent of the year in 2012.

     DiChiara is one of 12 coaches and administrators being inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame March 21 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center at 6:30 p.m. A press conference precedes the banquet at 5:30 p.m. He will give the acceptance address for this year’s class of inductees.
     A native of Gulf Shores now living in Auburn, DiChiara attended Foley High School where he played basketball. From there he went to Auburn University but not as athlete; he was seeking degree in special education.

     Athletics became important part of his life in 1987 in the middle of his tenure as a classroom teacher at Loachapoka High School. Asked to take over the boys’ basketball program, he raised it to the same level of excellence already enjoyed by the school’s football program. Over the next six years he compiled a record of 115-75, winning back-to-back Class 1A state championships in 1988 and 1989. The 1990 team was runner-up. He had also had a junior high school runner-up in 1983.
     DiChiara was named State Coach of the Year by the Alabama Sports Writers Association in 1988 and 1989. He was the Opelika-Auburn News Area Coach of the Year three times (1988-90) and the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer All-Valley Coach of the Year in 1989.
     He also had a passion to become an administrator. In 1993 he accepted a position as central office administrator for the Lee County School District, serving in that position until 2004 when he became superintendent of Phenix City Public Schools.
     In 2014 he left the Phenix City system to become chief administrative officer and acting superintendent of the Selma City Schools, which had been taken over by the State Board of Education.
     He is currently an adjunct professor at Auburn University, a position he also held at Troy University for 12 years. He is also an educational consultant with SOY Education Association, Inc.
     He has spent much of his professional life working with the State Department of Education providing training across the state for principals, athletic directors and school safety officers on how to develop a comprehensive safety and emergency action plan for athletic venues and extracurricular events. He also served as AHSAA external facilitator for its five-year strategic plan and also served as the Lee County Schools coordinator of Special Olympics for four years.
      DiChiara also served on the National Youth Sports Program Advisory Board and has had a number of articles published concerning school safety. One of his favorite “avocations” has been his role as an analyst for the Auburn University Lady Tigers’ basketball radio network. He also co-hosted “Sports Fever,” a call-in radio show with John Bodiford, for several years.
     For all of his achievements and honors, it his personal, caring relationship that is most often recalled by his former players.
     “Coach D inspired our team to increase our overall grade-point average from mid Cs to a high B level,” said Calvin E. Crabb II, s former student of DiChiara. “He not only asked us individually how things were going at home, but always checked on us after school when he could because he cared. Coach D gave us extra gym time to keep us out of trouble during the summer and fall months before our basketball season began. He also helped a few of us who needed it obtain a summer job.
     “He stated that if we ever later in life need some help or support, we could feel free to find or contact him, and he would still be willing to help us no matter what…this is why today I am still grateful and blessed to be able to call Coach D a real educator, mentor, and a true friend.”

Copied From the AHASS Release

Auburn #1!!!!

Auburn’s basketball team was finial named number one in this weeks AP ranking after being overlooked as number one last week. This is the first time in 118 years that Auburn Men’s basketball has achieved this ranking. The Auburn team with the leadership of Coach Pearl has proven they can do the job with 15 wins in a row and 7-0 SEC. Congratulations to Coach Pearl and the Auburn Tigers Men’s Basketball Team.

Opelika Dawgs Gets Big Win!

In area play, Opelika defects Eufaula 68 to 67 with a last second block by Grady Bynum. Bynum blocked the shot after Eufaula brought in the ball with 3.1 seconds. Pass was made to baseline where the shooter made the shot that Bynum blocked to win the game.

Scores from tonight’s game:

Isaiah Knight 16pts

Kaden Cooper 13pts

Mekhiron Brock 13pts

Grady Bynum 11pts

Landon Lee 9pts

Blake Smalley named Head Girls’ Basketball Coach at Opelika High School

Opelika, AL—Blake Smalley has been named the new Head Girls’ Basketball Coach at Opelika High  School. “I’m extremely excited to be back with the Opelika City Schools as the head girls’ basketball coach at  OHS. It is a great opportunity to build on the successful program Coach Devin Booth has already established,”  said Smalley.  

Coach Smalley has been the head varsity boys’ basketball coach at Handley High School since 2016.  While at Handley, he also served as the head track coach and as an assistant football coach from 2016-2018.  Prior to teaching and coaching at Handley High School, Smalley taught at Opelika Middle School and was the  head coach for the OMS 8th grade basketball team from 2013-2016. “Opelika High School welcomes Coach  Smalley as our head girls’ basketball coach. He has a proven record of making positive differences in students’  lives,” stated OHS Principal Farrell Seymore. “As a veteran teacher and coach, he will build on the rich  basketball tradition at Opelika High School.”  

Coach Smalley is a graduate of Auburn University with a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education. He  is married to Megan Smalley and they have three children, twin boys who are almost 4 and one 10-month-old son.  7/27/21 Picture and release was from Opelika City Schools.

Wesley Button named new Head Boys Basketball Coach at Opelka High School

This was the press release on April 16, 2021:

Picture provided by Opelika City Schools.

Opelika, AL—Wesley Button has been named the new head boys basketball coach at Opelika
High School. “We are excited to welcome Coach Wesley Button as the new OHS head boys basketball
coach,” stated Farrell Seymore, OHS Principal. “Coach Button has been a valuable member of our
staff for a number of years and has grown into a tremendous teacher and coach.” Button has served
as the interim Opelika High School head boys basketball coach since January 2021.
Button graduated from the University of Alabama in 2015. He earned a Bachelor of Science in
Education and currently teaches history at Opelika High School. At OHS, Button has served as the
Varsity Basketball Assistant Coach since 2015. He also coached 9th grade basketball (2018-2020) and
was a varsity soccer assistant coach (2015-2020).
“I’m super excited to have the opportunity to coach these guys. They’re my guys and we’re
poised to be very competitive next season. My expectations are high and I look forward to working
with the team,” stated Button.
Button is originally from Decatur, AL. When not at work, he and his wife Jaclyn enjoy spending
time with their dogs Tag and Samford.

2021-01-04 Coach Wesley Button

Girls Basketball – Opelika 55 Russell Co 45 in Semi-Final Area Game

Congratulations to the Opelika Lady Basketball team & Coaches for their victory Semi-Final Area Tournament Game over Russell Co. 55 – 45 Top Scores were:Ladajah Huguley – 16 pointsErica Mathews – 14 pointsAshanti Thomas – 13 pointsKaitlyn Bryant – 12 points. Opelika will play the winner of Eufaula – Valley game on Friday night.

2021 Opelika Lady Bulldog Basketball Coaches

L-R Allison Gregory, Morris Lockhart, Head Coach Devin Booth, & Sarah Chandler