by Jerome Saintjones
Huntsville, Ala. ---- Excitement is beginning to build on “The Hill” in anticipation of another series of events culminating with the 2nd annual Louis Crews Classic on Saturday, September 17, on the Alabama A&M University campus, says Hon. M. Lynn Sherrod, event co-chair.
The Bulldogs will take on the Golden Tigers of Tuskegee University at Louis Crews Stadium at 6 p.m. Week-long activities are designed to pay tribute to Coach Crews, the Bessemer, Ala., native who attended Alabama A&M University, where he was an outstanding back and quarterback for the Bulldogs. Ultimately, Crews’ extensive athletic biography culminated with his becoming an AAMU coaching legend.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 11
Prayer & Praise Worship
Louis Crews Classic activities will launch with Prayer & Praise Worship at the nearby Fellowship of Faith Church on North Memorial Parkway Sunday, September 11, at 4 p.m.
Among the scheduled program participants are: The Fellowship of Faith Choir, The Singing Pearls of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., St. James P.B. Choir, Minister Alexis Crutcher, Sisters in Praise of the Huntsville Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Progressive Union “Came to Praise” (C2P) Praise Dance Team and others. Rev. Troy Garner is the pastor of Fellowship of Faith Church.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 15
2nd Annual Coach Anthony Jones Breakfast
The Coach Anthony Jones Breakfast will be held Thursday, September 15, in the Knight Center at 8 a.m. Individual tickets are $25. Attractive sponsorship packages are available for $1,000, $2,500 and $5,000. For details, contact the Office of Madison County Commissioner Bob Harrison, Dr. Larry McDaniel at (256) 372-4812, or the AAMU Ticket Office at (256) 372-4059.
Naming of Tailgate Plaza
The naming of the George Jones Tailgate Plaza will be held in the Tailgate Area of AAMU's massive tailgate area at 5:30 p.m. For additional information on the naming program, contact Betty K. Austin, AAMU athletics director, at (256) 372-5364.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 16
Rickey Smiley Morning Show
The Louis Crews Classic will be featured on the popular Rickey Smiley Morning Show (featuring the entire CREW) to be broadcast LIVE from the AAMU campus in the T.M. Elmore Gymnasium at 5:30 a.m. The activity, with entertainment and giveaways, is graciously sponsored by WEUP 103.1 and Landers McLarty Dodge Crysler Jeep.
The Hill Project
The Hill Project will continue to strengthen the ties between Butler High School freshmen and Alabama A&M University. The program will be held Friday, September 16, at 8:30 a.m. Alabama A&M adopts the Butler 9th Grade Academy students to help increase the graduation rate and inspire the next generations to pursue a college education. The Program includes breakfast and lunch on the AAMU campus, along with a legacy project, tour of the campus, and two information sessions geared to inspiring the students about their futures.
Pass and Kick Competition
The Classic organizers anticipate ample support for the newly implemented Pass and Kick Competition sponsored by Pepsi at 10 a.m. at the Louis Crews Stadium.
On the eve of the gridiron competition, Friday, September 16, the Louis Crews Classic Concert will feature a number of top-notch performers. Headlining the concert lineup is the soul/R&B recording group The O’Jays (bottom right). The famous O'Jays were formed in Canton, Ohio, in 1958 by a group of young men attending McKinley High School and performing under different group names.
In 1963, the group took the name "The O'Jays" and released "Lonely Drifter," which charted nationally. In spite of the record's success, the group was considering quitting the music industry until Gamble & Huff, a team of producers and songwriters, took an interest in the group. With Gamble & Huff, the O'Jays (now a trio after the departure of Isles and Massey) emerged at the forefront of Philadelphia soul. Throughout the 1960s, they continued to chart with a number of songs. In 1972, however, they scored with their first million-seller, "Back Stabbers." The following year, the group's "Love Train" topped the Billboard Hot 100. Long-time O'Jays lead singer Eddie Levert is a native of Bessemer, Ala.
Songstress Marsha Ambrosius (left) of “Far Away” and duo Floetry fame will round out the diverse musical talent with able assistance from Monroe, La.-turned-Chicago-soulster Terisa Griffin (“Soulzophrenic”, right). General admission tickets are $40 ($45 on concert day); reserved tickets $45 ($50); and VIP tickets $65.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 17
Game Day, September 17, will begin with the Crews' Players Reception in the Knight Center at 2 p.m., followed by the Bulldog Walk from the Knight Center to the Stadium at 3 p.m. The much-anticipated Louis Crews Classic will be held at 6 p.m. in Louis Crews Stadium, pitting the mighty Bulldogs against the Golden Tigers of Tuskegee University.
More on the Legend
Upon graduation, he joined the Armed Forces and served the needs of the nation for almost four years. He also played football during his Army career. Upon completion of his service tour, Coach Crews was invited to work at Wilberforce University for one year before moving on to Ohio State University, where he earned the B.S. degree in physical education while obtaining valuable teaching experience.
Immediately after completion of his work at Ohio State University, Coach Crews accepted an invitation at Alcorn College. Coach Crews served as backfield coach, head baseball coach, basketball coach for women and supervised physical education majors. It was during his tenure at Alcorn that several other important events in his life occurred. These included earning a diploma from Yale University, the M.S. and Director’s degrees from Indiana University.
Coach Crews was invited to return to his alma mater. He accepted with joy and immediately posted a 7-1 won-lost record in football. The Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) honored his accomplishments that season by presenting him with no less than four (4) trophies. He was also voted coach of the year by the 100% Wrong Club and the Forecasters Club in recognition of his team’s outstanding performance. The Bulldogs of A&M were rated second only to Florida A&M University that year. Continuing his winning ways, Coach Crews led the Bulldogs to their first SIAC Championship in 1972 and, in addition to being Coach of the State for several consecutive years, he was voted Coach of the State during his first and last years as coach at AAMU.
During his coaching career, Coach Crews produced some professional players, including Ronald Coleman, Ronald Foxx, Oliver Ross, Wayne Mosley and John Stallworth. Somewhat eclipsed by his brilliant work as head football mentor is his 12 or more years as baseball coach for the University. But here, too, he showed the stuff of which champions are made as he coached the only championship baseball team in the University’s one hundred years of existence.
Coach Crews amassed an outstanding record of 110 wins, 61 losses and 3 ties in football. He received many awards, was voted the Outstanding Citizen of Huntsville, and received a citation from Governor George C. Wallace for his contribution to the state of Alabama.
Crews was a gentleman and a dynamic leader. He was a man who loved people and always enjoyed helping them. He gave much of his time and even a part of the money he earned just to help people. Not only did Coach Crews help football players at Wilberforce, Alcorn, Jarvis and Alabama A&M, but he helped non-football players, as well.
Look for additional information about a series of other activities slated for Crews Classic Week on the AAMU website, WJAB-FM 90.9 and other local media outlets. All tickets are available via Ticketmaster, the AAMU Ticket Office at Louis Crews Stadium (256-372-4059), and James Records and Tapes (256-270-9199) in Huntsville, Ala.