Jim Chafin was a builder. It seems that everywhere he went he started something new and moved it forward quickly to the head of the line. He was also one of the most recognizable names in Alabama High school football in the late 60’s and early 70’s. His Robert E. Lee teams were the model of winning football in the state.
A native of Albertville, Jim Chafin’s first coaching job was at Isabella High School in 1949 where he was the football and basketball coach and built the school’s first baseball team. After serving in the military during the Korean War, he went to Sidney Lanier High School in 1954 as assistant football coach and head baseball coach. His baseball team won the state championship in that first year. In 1955 Robert E. Lee High School opened its doors and they needed someone to help build its athletic program. He served as the baseball coach for 11 years and helped Coach Tom Jones build the foundation of the Lee football program. A record of 95-12-5 and 5 state championships followed. He then became Lee’s second head coach and in six years compiled a record of 51-13-2. In 1966, his Lee team played in the state’s first championship game, losing 9-7 to a great Lanier team before 25,000 fans in Cramton Bowl. Three years later in 1969, he had his team back in the championship game at Legion field defeating Bob Finley’s Berry team 14-8 before 26,000 fans. In 1970 the Generals returned to Legion Field and defeated Minor 27-7 behind the running of Mike Washington, Ralph Stokes and Sedrick McIntyre. The Generals would eventually stretch their win streak to 32 games and Jim Chafin was the number 1 coach in the state of Alabama. He also coached a state championship wrestling team as well as being head coach of the South All Stars in 1970 and also served as president of the State Coaches Association.
He left coaching and became the first supervisor of Physical education and athletics for Montgomery county. In 1982, he finished his career by building once more. He became Athletic Director at trinity Presbyterian School and spent 11 years building one of the best athletic programs in the state before his retirement in 1992. He is a member of the Alabama High School Coaches Hall of Fame.
But most of all Jim Chafin was a class act. Not only did he produce some of Alabama’s greatest football players of that generation, he influenced many coaches of the next generation. Former player Spence McCracken said “ I’ve never known a man as consistent living his life the right way as Coach Chafin. I learned to coach by watching him teach. I am a better man because of him.” The Alabama Football Coaches association is proud to bestow its lifetime achievement award on Coach Jim Chafin.