The 11th annual convention of the Alabama Football Coaches Association kicks off Thursday at the Embassy Suites Hotel in downtown Montgomery with a new corporate sponsor as the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl has thrown its support behind the popular high school coaches’ clinic.
“We do a youth clinic in the summer to give underprivileged kids an opportunity to be exposed to the sport of football and then our other strategic plan for our bowl is to have our own coaches’ clinic,” Camellia Bowl executive director Johnny Williams said. “Well, when I looked around, I explained back to our superiors that we would rather partner because I knew about their organization.
“Virtually every high school coach in the state, at least 90 percent of them, participate and I knew the (financial) need was there so we came on board as one of their sponsors. We hope it’s a long-term commitment to give back to the sport of football and help those coaches to keep doing a great job and encourage the kids to come out and play the game.”
The convention opens on Thursday with appearances by Alabama High School Athletic Association executive director Steve Savarese, Auburn University football coach Gus Malzahn, University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban and Jacksonville State University football coach John Grass.
ALFCA executive director Jack Wood said he was thrilled to have the Camellia Bowl offer their support by becoming a sponsor.
“I think they thought they ought to be doing something in the way of a clinic, which is kind of counterproductive because we’ve got a pretty big deal,” Wood said. “So they became a sponsor.
“We’re thrilled to death with the relationship. It’s good for Alabama, it’s good for Alabama football. That’s what we’re for. They want to give back to the community and to the coaches and they’re doing that by helping to sponsor our convention and our clinic. It’s a great partnership.”
The convention runs through Saturday when high school coaches of the year from each classification are honored for their work in 2015. The organization will also honor several veteran coaches with the annual ALFCA Lifetime Achievement Award, which has recognized some of the state’s best high school football coaches since 2008.
Camellia Bowl officials believe they can only grow their game through support of high school and collegiate football programs. One way they do that is by honoring a college coaching legend at their annual pre-game banquet. Another way is to offer tickets to high school programs for players and coaches to attend the annual matchup between Sun Belt and Mid-American programs. Now, the bowl hopes to get involved in the teaching aspect of the game as well.
“This year, we reached out to all the schools and made a limited number of tickets available for them to bring their team to the game,” Williams said. “That’s something we’ll continue to do annually. And we’ll probably assist (ALFCA officials) with speakers and from our platform bring in people who can help educate the coaches on the marketing and promotions part of their sport. Hopefully, we’ll be heavily engaged in helping them to grow their organization. The purpose of a coaching clinic is to learn so hopefully we can learn from each other.”
Wood said the two sides will get together this weekend to plan future involvement from bowl officials.
“Looking forward, there may be some things we can do to expand it some and we’d like to do that,” he said. “We’ve talked about some things we can do, from a TV spot to an ad in the (bowl) program, but any visibility we can get would be great.
“We’re just getting it started. We’ll know a lot more after this year’s convention, what we can do.”