There isn’t much that Janice Slay hasn’t accomplished while she’s been the head volleyball coach at Donoho.
In eight years as the Falcons' head coach, Slay has led Donoho to state titles in 2011 and 2012 with runner-up finishes in 2013 and 2015. She also led the Falcons to the Calhoun County tournament title in 2011 and was twice selected as The Anniston Star’s Coach of the Year.
Last weekend the veteran coach added one more accomplishment to the list when she picked up her 300th win as a high school head coach. The win came during the Falcons’ tournament, the Donoho Classic, where they finished runner-up to Decatur Heritage.
While it would have been easy for Slay to take the credit for the 300 wins, she instead gave the credit to all the players she’s coached and the program.
“I tend to look at it more as a victory for the program than I do for me,” Slay said. “I’ve had a lot of great kids to coach over the years and the kids I have now are putting a lot of time and effort into the program. I think this is much more about what the kids have done.”
The interesting thing is this coaching milestone almost didn’t happen.
Slay retired after last season with 288 wins and Rachel Matson, one of Slay’s former players, was set to replace her until she accepted a job with Oxford City Schools this summer.
Slay agreed to return to coach the team this year and in the process picked up the 12 more wins she needed to reach the 300 mark.
“My husband made the comment when I didn’t think I was going to come back this season that ‘you’re only a dozen wins shy of the 300 mark’ and I said ‘that’s OK.’ We felt like at the time it was what we needed to do for our circumstances. The records are nice, but I think the program is more important.”
Slay enjoyed just as much success when she was the head coach at Jacksonville State University from 1979 to 1996. During that time she finished with a 430-288 record. She stepped down from JSU to raise her family. In 2009, she returned to coaching at Donoho and the rest is history. Her current record at Donoho is 304-90.
While she’s accomplished so much in terms of wins and championships, she said her main focus has always been the players.
“Coaching for me is about what you can do for kids and about trying to put them in a position where they can have some success,” Slay said. “Fortunately for me I’ve had a lot of great kids over the years that have been willing to work for the program. That’s led to the success we’ve had.”
Donoho (16-8, 2-0 Class 1A, Area 10 play) will return to play today in a tri-match at Wellborn against the Panthers and Piedmont.
Oxford, Ohatchee move up in polls: The undefeated Oxford Yellow Jackets cracked the top 5 in the Alabama Sports Writers Association prep football poll this week.
The Yellow Jackets were ranked sixth in Class 6A in the preseason poll and they remained there after starting the season 4-0. Last week they extended their winning streak with a 44-0 win against Albertville and in return moved up to fifth in Class 6A.
It’s the first time the Yellow Jackets have been ranked in the top 5 since 2012, during the Week 1 poll. Before that they were ranked as high as third in 2008.
Ohatchee, which had been ranked ninth, also moved up after its dominating 41-21 victory against then tenth-ranked Weaver. The Indians moved to eighth in this week’s poll.
The Indians will play Ashville this week in a non-region matchup and Oxford will host Benjamin-Russell.
Former Alexandria golfer gets JUCO honor: Jordan Gregoria’s collegiate golf career at Snead State Community College got off to a good start this week after she was named Golfer of the Week by the Alabama Community College Conference.
Gregoria shot rounds of 79 and 76 to finish tied for the 13th at the Birmingham Southern Shootout at Highland Park.
Gregoria was an individual state champion at Alexandria in 2014. After high school she went to Jacksonville State to play golf, but then decided to step away from the course. She then found out Snead State was starting a golf program. Last spring she signed with the Parsons along with her former teammate at Alexandria, Morgan Mayfield.