The year was 1994 and things were going extremely well for Central Alabama Community College’s athletic program.
The Trojans had just brought back their men’s tennis team the year prior and were expecting big things after placing third at state in their first year of resurgence. They got exactly what they hoped for when on May 1, 1994, CACC won its first-ever state tennis title.
The Trojans defeated Snead State to take home the state championship and also had four individual winners — two singles and two doubles. At No. 1 singles, Robert Wojcik earned a state championship as did Pedro Becerra at No. 2 singles.
The two then teamed up to win the No. 1 double titles and at No. 3 doubles, Richard Rodriguez and Jason Gardner also earned the victory.
“I was really happy for our players, specially our sophomores that were able to win the state tournament,” then-coach Bob Berryman said. “It was definitely a different mood during and after the tournament than last year.”
But that wasn’t all the glory for Central Alabama that year.
Just a few days later, the baseball team also advanced to its first-ever state title series. The Trojans had won 41 games up to that point and knocked off Jeff Davis Community College to advance to the final against Calhoun.
Although the Trojans ultimately didn’t win the title, it was still a notch in the belt of the program.
Several years early, tradition was starting to build in another part of Alexander City as Steve Savarese was running his first week of spring practice with the Benjamin Russell football team this week back in 1985.
“I want to build the tradition here and I want good things for our kids,” Savarese said during his third day of spring training. “We may not win a game next year. We may not score a point the first game and we may score a point but I want people to look at our kids five or six years from now and know they were well brought up.”
Saverese certainly began a tradition of greatness at BRHS; he coached the Wildcats for the next 12 seasons amassing a 96-38 record, appearing in the playoffs in all but three seasons. He also hired coach Phil Lazenby and coach Willie Carl Martin, who became head coaches and Hall of Famers — as did Savarese.
Now, 35 years later, Savarese is the executive director of the AHSAA and the stadium at the Charles E. Bailey Sportplex was recently named in his and Martin’s honor.
Fast forward to just last year and the softball team at Benjamin Russell was showing off its power hitting. On this day exactly one year ago, Bailey Underwood, Taylor McVey, Emma Tapley and Ryann Ruffin all smacked home runs in a 13-3 victory over Dadeville to end the 2019 regular season.
State — April 26, 2012
Nick Saban was already sending plenty of talent from Tuscaloosa into the NFL but this was the first class which every player drafted was coached by Saban from the beginning of their college career at Alabama until the end.
The Crimson Tide had never been quiet on the NFL stage but the 2012 Draft showed their players would be a staple in the first round for years to come. Alabama tied a program record with four players drafted in the first round including getting two players, Trent Richardson and Mark Barron, in the top 10 for the second straight season.
Dre Kirkpatrick and Dont’a Hightower rounded out the first-round picks for Alabama with Courtney Upshaw going early in the second round with the 35th pick. Hightower and Upshaw went on to win Super Bowl rings with the teams they were drafted by.
By the end of the draft, Alabama had eight players drafted, which was a school record at the time but has since been broken four times.
National — April 25, 1950
For the first time in NBA history, a black man was selected in the NBA Draft when the Boston Celtics took Chuck Cooper with the first pick of the second round. Cooper, along with Earl Lloyd who was drafted in the ninth round of the Washington Capitols, broke the league’s color barrier and helped set the stage for future stars in the league.
Lloyd became the first black person to play in the league because the Capitols opened the season before the Celtics but both players made history for their own teams. Both players have been named to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame with Lloyd being voted in in 2003 and Cooper making the cut in 2019.
International — April 24, 2012
Chelsea and Barcelona have a history with controversial referee decisions happening in their UEFA Champions League matchups and the 2012 semifinal tie was no different. After Chelsea took a 1-0 lead in the first leg, Barcelona was ready to hit back in the second leg and it wasted very little time as Sergio Busquets leveled the score.
Two minutes later, Chelsea’s captain John Terry was sent off for a red card after kneeing a Barcelona player in the back away from the play and it seemed like Barcelona was about to walk to the final. However, a wonder goal from Ramires and a last-minute breakaway from Fernando Torres kept Chelsea in control and sent it into the final where it defeated Bayern Munich for its first Champions League title in club history.
— Sports writer Caleb Turrentine contributed to this report.