Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) Executive Director Alvin Briggs kicked off the fifth annual east Alabama High School Media Days at the Bottling Plant Event Center in Opelika on Tuesday.

Briggs, who recently completed his first year in the position of executive director, opened the event with an update on the status of the AHSAA.

“It seems like it was two months ago that I was on the radio talking about the end of spring sports, and here we are starting it off with the beginning of another athletic year,” Briggs said.

“Some of our fall sports have already started –– we have several team who started football and volleyball practice this week; we are excited about that. We are excited about the upcoming year. As we still navigate through the last three years of difficulties being involved with the pandemic, we have had two years of record-setting participants [grades] seven through 12 in [AHSAA] sporting events. That means we have students and communities who want to get involved in athletics, and that means a lot to the communities throughout the state of Alabama. Prior to the pandemic, we were losing athletes in various sports, but it’s been record setting.”

The first year of Briggs’s tenure was a fruitful one, although not without its challenges.

“The challenges that really stand out, not many, were just the everyday task I had to adjust to throughout the year,” Briggs said. “I don’t know if it was a challenge, but just getting used to the position, it’s different … yes, coach Savarese (the previous executive director of AHSAA) went over a lot of things … but I didn’t have him in the office, I had him a phone call away.”

Briggs acknowledged the framework of the AHSAA that was built before through previous executive directors that has made his transition into the role successful.

“All we want to do is keep that car on the path that they paved and keep giving our communities and staff the best field to participate in,” Briggs said.

In his first year at the helm of the AHSAA, a number of pioneering events occurred under Briggs.

The use of Birmingham’s new Protective Stadium as the site of the Super 7 state championships was one of the most notable developments.

“Our venues, we have been very lucky that high school athletics is a great product and we have cities and communities that want our products,” Briggs said. “The great thing about Birmingham and the new venue, Protective Stadium, they wanted to be a part of the Super 7. Coach Savarese set a milestone when we started playing in Bryant-Denny and Jordan Hare; it became the envy across the nation to be able to play in those two stadiums. Birmingham was talking with Savarese and the staff for years. We wanted to make sure we didn’t upset either one of those (Auburn or Tuscaloosa). We think it’s going to be a great thing. Protective Stadium became the perfect storm; for the first year, it was good.”

The development of girls’ flag football also took a step toward to a positive future last year, with a number of schools and athletes competing in the first ever year of the AHSAA with flag football as a sport.

“It’s still a pilot program,” Briggs said. “Flag football –– we were actually trying to implement it before the pandemic. We had a chance to get some foundation money from the Atlanta Falcons and we are going to pilot it for two more years. Right now, as of July 7 or a little earlier, we had close to 64 teams committed to flag football.”

Lastly, Briggs thanked those in attendance, and members of the AHSAA, before expressing his excitement for the new athletic year.

 “As we get ready to embark on another fall year, we just came out of our summer conference, and we had another record setting participants there and we are excited about that,” he said. “As we continue to be leaders in high school athletics throughout the nation, it’s because the gentleman I mentioned before and our membership.”