By Jeff Helms
Outstanding Alabama athletes and coaches were recognized on an international stage by Alfa Insurance® and the Alabama Farmers Federation during The World Games July 13.
Courtney Sides of Elmore County High School in Eclectic and Xavier Sutton of Brewbaker Technology Magnet High School in Montgomery were honored alongside coaches JoVanka Ward of Ramsay High School in Birmingham and Clifford Story of Lanett High School in Lanett.
Federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan said the organization was proud to spotlight Alabama high school athletics as part of its World Games sponsorship.
“When we had the opportunity to step up as a corporate citizen and support this great event, one of the first things we said was, ‘We want to celebrate high school athletes and coaches,’” Pinyan said. “Alfa Insurance and the Alabama Farmers Federation have a long history of supporting education and athletics through our partnership with the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA), the Bryant-Jordan scholarship program, Alabama’s Teacher of the Year and much more.
“We were excited to recognize student athletes and the coaches who invest so much in their futures as we welcomed world-class competitors to our state.”
The outstanding athletes and coaches were presented awards before the aerobic and rhythmic gymnastics competition at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex Legacy Arena. Alfa later hosted a reception for honorees in the nearby Uptown Birmingham dining district. Alfa’s sponsorship also included Athletes’ Night at Jones Valley Teaching Farm.
Sides, who serves with Sutton on the AHSAA Student Leadership Group, said The World Games experience is one she’ll remember for a lifetime.
“It is a tremendous honor and blessing for me and my family to be recognized as Female Athlete of the Year,” said Sides. “It was amazing to see incredible athletes from all over the world come together to compete in the sports they love. It was truly inspiring, and I thank Alfa Insurance, the Alabama Farmers Federation and The World Games for taking time to recognize this small-town girl for doing what she loves.”
During The World Games, Birmingham welcomed 3,600 athletes from 100 countries to compete in over 30 sports. The 11-day event marked the 40th anniversary of the games and only the second time an American city has hosted the competition since 1981. The World Games is composed of 37 international sports federations and is recognized by the International Olympic Committee.