“I’m very excited to get money for our athletics,” ASD Athletics Director Walter Ripley said. “We’ll use it for track equipment and some weightlifting equipment also. All athletics use our weight room. P.E. classes use the weight room also.”
It was the second time ASD has received the award since the award’s inception in 2008. The school previously received the award in 2011. When they won the award in 2011, they used the grant to make necessary safety upgrades for the track program.
“It helped pay for better track equipment and helped with safety,” Ripley said. “In pole-vaulting, the state rules became really strict, and we needed to get a new pole vault system. We used the money to help us with that. AHSAA said we were the first school to get the Lemak Award two times.”
According to the AHSAA, with this year’s grants Lemak has given more than $150,000 in grant money to 56 AHSAA high schools since 2008. More than 40 schools applied for the grant this year. Other schools receiving the award were: Carbondale, Fultondale, Fyffe, Hanceville, Hazel Green, Huffman, Jeff Davis, Marbury and Oakman. ASD was the lone school from class 1A to receive the award.
AHSAA makes applying for the grant a relatively painless, smooth process through a one-page form. The form requires pertinent information, such as the school name, address, principal’s contact information and superintendent’s contact information. The majority of the form is the section asking for a description of the school’s particular needs. This would presumably be one of the key portions that helps determines the winners.
“We are very excited,” Ripley said. “We wanted to help the community. We get many local schools here for track meets and the required fee is a small fee, so it helps with that. Many schools can’t afford to pay a lot of money—the fees to go—so, we make it a small fee. Getting the Lemak Award helps us get better equipment and it helps us to host our track meets for many local schools. Community volunteers help our track meets, the coaches help host the track meets, and other communities come here and watch. It supports our athletic programs as well. The community can also use our track. Kiwanis donated money for the track, so locals come and use our track. Some of the money will go to repaving the surface of the track because many members of the community come here to use it.”
The award is named in honor of AHSAA Medical Advisory Committee Member Dr. Lawrence Lemak. Lemak Sports Medicine and Orthopedics has offices in Childersburg, Pell City and Sylacauga, as well as Alabaster, Birmingham, Clanton, Gardendale, Hoover, Trussville and Winfield. Dr. Lemak was the first physician to be inducted into the AHSAA Hall of Fame for his long-standing dedication to the health of high school athletes.
“Dr. Lawrence Lemak gave us the trophy,” Ripley said of Friday’s banquet. “His son, Dr. David Lemak, works in Birmingham. My kids have seen him a few times. My daughter Amelia has had surgery by David Lemak before, my son J.B. and myself have all had surgery by David Lemak before. We’ve met him, but we’ve never [formally] met his father Dr. Lawrence Lemak. He did present us with the trophy on Friday. Dr. Lawrence Lemak has given money, lots of money, the last five years donating to ten different schools every year. We really appreciate him.”