For Steve Savarese, it was not just about the winning. He has done plenty of that. It has always been about the integrity of high school athletics. The AHSAA Executive Director certainly is deserving of the ALFCA Lifetime Achievement Award.
A native of Leeds, Savarese attending college in Kansas and began his coaching career there. In 1978 at age 26, he won his first state championship at Douglass High School in Kansas. He returned to Alabama in 1982, spending three seasons at Ensley High School where one of his players was Cornelius Bennett. In 1985 he left for Benjamin Russell High School in Alexander City. Over the next twelve seasons the Wildcats would finish each year with a winning record and qualify for the playoffs nine times. His 1988 team went undefeated in the regular season. Benjamin Russell won seven region championships during his tenure there and one of his players was NFL Hall of Famer Terrell Owens.
In 1997 Savarese left for Daphne High School. The Trojans had played football for seven seasons and never won more than six games. Coach Savarese took them to a new level. In seven seasons he took them to 77 wins against 14 losses. His 2001 team, led by quarterback Patrick White, went 15-0 and defeated Hoover 48-21 in the state championship game. His 2000 and 2003 teams went to the state finals only to lose to Hoover.
In 2004 he moved across the bay to McGill Toolen and started laying the foundation for future Yellow Jacket success. In three seasons he went 25-11, making the playoffs each season. His overall coaching record, including his Kansas years, is 287-84.
In 2007 he became the fourth full time executive director of the AHSAA, following Dan Washburn. During his tenure the AHSAA has expanded many sports to regional play, took the football state championships to Auburn and Alabama and began a revenue sharing plan with the AHSAA member schools.
Savarese is a member of the AHSAA Coaches Hall of Fame and was recently elected to the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in Birmingham.
His dedication to high school sports, particularly football, has been significant to our sport in the state of Alabama.