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Merle West

 

A native of Haleyville, he has been active in athletics his entire life. He was undefeated for four years in Haleyville's boxing program as a youth, while playing basketball, baseball, volleyball and swimming. As a junior in high school he was considered a top recruit and attracted attention from Alabama, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Southern Miss and others. However, he missed the entire season because of an accident that resulted in severe arm, leg and back injuries. After seven months in the hospital he managed to play his senior season and later accepted a scholarship with Itawamba Junior College where he started on offense and defense. He also earned a scholarship at Florence State Teachers College and became most valuable lineman as a senior. He helped organize the football team at Central and then became boys and girls basketball coach at Collinwood. His coaching career also included football, boys basketball and track at Handley High, where his team was named state's best by Birmingham News. He coached at Athens, Cullman and Butler high schools before moving to Coffee. He spent the next 20 years with the Jackets, serving as head coach for three seasons. He also started the wrestling program, which advanced to the state every year and produced numerous individual state champions. He coached the boys and girls golf teams at Coffee, winning one state title. He later was football and baseball head coach at Loretto, where he coached future Major League pitcher David Weathers. He has 40 years of coaching experience and was Coach of the 'dear in 1983. He also was a basketball official for 38 years and a wrestling official for 12 years, officiated in state tournaments in both sports. He is a member of the Winston County Sports Hall of Fame.