HUNTSVILLE – Two coaches with a combined nine state championships, two teammates in high school and college who both went on to the National Football League, and a coach who became a coaching icon at his alma mater following his playing days at the same university are among 12 people selected to the Class of 2024 of the Huntsville -Madison County Hall of Fame.
Also, former coach Bobby Pierce who started the baseball program at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and led Troy to four NCAA berths, was selected to receive the Special Recognition Award.
Andy Blackston, who won five boys titles in Alabama and another last year at Nashville’s Brentwood Academy, and Greg Brown, who has won three boys state titles, at Lee High School join a class featuring a renowned official, a nationally renowned official, local pioneers in women’s athletics, one of the most esteemed figures in Alabama A&M athletics, and an ex-player whose front-office responsibilities earned him a Super Bowl ring.
“We think this is another outstanding class, with great diversity in sports and between coaches, athletes and officials,” Hall of Fame Chair Vann Pettaway said. “A special thanks to our Board of Directors, which considered more than four dozen nominees before electing this great class.”
The Huntsville-Madison County Athletic Hall of Fame banquet, presented by TOC, will be April 15, 2024 at the Von Braun Center. The class of 2024 was selected by a vote of the Hall of Fame board of directors based on nominations from the public.
The Special Achievement Award will be presented to Bobby Pierce, a former University of Alabama player who started the UAH baseball program and later led Troy to four NCAA tournaments. Pierce was 276-108 at UAH and had 450 wins at Troy.
Hall of Fame Class of ‘24:
- Ron Alexander was a softball umpire in the SEC for 24 years and is one of the most respected umpires in college softball. He worked the NCAA Division I championship from 1997-2021 and twice umpired in the College World Series.
- Andy Blackston won five state basketball championships as coach at Madison Academy and 11 times led his teams to the AHSAA Final Four. He won another title at Brentwood Academy in Nashville last year. Prior to coaching at Madison Academy, he was an assistant men’s coach at UAH, head women’s coach for two seasons and women’s coach at Austin Peay from 2003-06.
- Greg Brown, aside from coaching his son Kobe into the NBA where he is a rookie with the L.A. Clippers, has superbly coached Lee High School for more than 20 years. He has led Lee to three ASHAA state championships, reached the Final Four seven times and won 13 area titles.
- Kenneth Darby, who enters the Hall of Fame alongside former Butler High and Alabama teammate Ramzee Robinson, rushed for 4,674 yards at Butler and became a starter at Alabama as a sophomore. He was All-SEC first-team as a junior and twice second-team All-SEC. He was drafted in the seventh round by Tampa Bay in 2007, but later became as starter at St. Louis.
- Annette Fletcher was an All-City basketball player at Johnson High in 1980-81 and played on a state runner-up team. She played collegiately at UAH, leading the team in 3-pointers during her career and she still owns seven Charger records.
- Ruthie Hambrick, a graduate of Buckhorn, was the first African-American cheerleader at that school in the days when interscholastic opportunities for female athletes were rare. After graduation from Alabama A&M, she became a slow-pitch softball standout, with more than 40 years on the diamond. She also became an official, umpiring softball and refereeing basketball.
- Kathy Hauff graduated from Huntsville High, then attended the University of Alabama, where she tried out for the Tide’s first women’s basketball team. Tennis, however, was her sport and she played as No. 2 and No. 3 for the Tide before transferring to UMass and becoming the No. 1 player there. She was ranked No. 1 in doubles in the USTA Southern District.
- Ramzee Robinson, Kenneth Darby’s teammate at Butler, was a defensive back for Alabama, starting in 36 games. He was chosen by Detroit with the last pick of the 2007 NFL draft, earning the “Mr. Irrelevant” title. He played briefly with the Lions, and is now owner of a Super Bowl ring as the Director of Player Engagement for the Kansas City Chiefs.
- Jay Scherer was a high school All-American at Grissom and the 1988 Player of the Year in Huntsville, while also making All-City in baseball. He played collegiately at Northwestern State in Louisiana, where he was league Newcomer of the Year and named second-team all-conference. He was fifth in the league in scoring and once hit 29 consecutive free throws.
- Angie Stafford was a standout in track and volleyball at Hazel Green High. She played on two state championship volleyball teams, winning All-County and All-Area honors and being named MVP in the state tourney. In track, she won more than six state titles, including three in the pentathlon. She attended Montevallo on a volleyball scholarship.
- Clifford Toney was a running back at Butler High in the 1970s and was selected for the AHSAA All-Star Game. He also ran track for three seasons, competing in the 100, 220 and triple jump. He signed with Auburn, and led the Tigers in interceptions in 1980. He then played five seasons in the Canadian Football League, with 12 interceptions in five seasons.
- Brawnski Towns was a defensive back at Alabama A&M, where he set a school record for interceptions, but it was after graduation he made his greatest impact at AAMU. He coached 34 years at his alma mater, as defensive backs coach and as defensive coordinator, with his teams having dominating performances in the SWAC.