1st in a 13-part series introducing the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2023
By Bill Plott | AHSAA
Montgomery, AL – It is easy to see why Charles McCaleb is widely known as “Mr. Bibb County High School”.
For this Bibb County alumnus. serving as point guard on the first Bibb County High School team to make it to the state basketball tournament in 1967 was just the beginning of a life devoted to the school and the city of Centreville.
There are few positions at Bibb County High School that McCaleb hasn’t filled at some point in his teaching and coaching career. In fact, he has been head coach at one time or another for boys’ basketball, girls’ basketball coach, football, volleyball, softball, and baseball. Wherever there was a need, he answered the call for nearly half a century in Centreville, 36 of those years in active coaching. If he wasn’t the head coach, he was usually an assistant. If he wasn’t coaching a varsity team, he was coaching a junior varsity or junior high school team.
McCaleb is one of 13 individuals who are being inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame next Monday, March 13, at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center. The banquet will begin at 6 p.m. At noon, a press conference will be held at the Renaissance introducing the Class of 2023 to the media.
McCaleb’s coaching stint also has included a 16-year stint as athletic director, decades of teaching physical education and driver education, and a year as transportation supervisor for the Bibb County School System.
And he is still going strong.
Charles McCaleb graduated from Bibb County High School in Centreville in 1968. He attended the University of Alabama, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physical education in 1973 and 1978, respectively.
He began his career in1974 as head coach of the Bibb County junior varsity basketball team. He held that position for seven years compiling a record of 142-42. For three years, during the same time period, he coached the junior high teams to a 40-12 record. He was also an assistant to varsity boys’ basketball team, which went to the Final Four in 1976.
Following is a summary of Coach McCaleb’s other numbers:
BOYS’ BASKETBALL, 1982-1998: Fourteen winning seasons in 16 years, 11 Area titles and three state semifinals appearances including the 1989 state championship. An overall record of 315-127 that includes two 30-plus wins seasons and five additional 20-plus seasons.
GIRLS’ BASKETBALL, 2000-2010: Eleven years, five winning seasons, two Area championships, overall record of 82-94.
SOFTBALL, 2001-2010: Ten years, 10 straight Area championships, six state tournament appearances, state runner-up in 2003 and 2005, overall record of 285-130.
VOLLEYBALL, 2003-2009: Seven years, four Area championships, 29-12 record through 2006.
BASEBALL, 1984 & 1988: Interim coach, 23-17 combined record.
FOOTBALL, 2004: Interim varsity coach in 2004, 1-9 record. Junior high coach 1978-92, 58-60 record.
Centreville Mayor Mike Oakley said, “I think my perspective is very unique in that I was on his first team. My daughter played softball for him, and she and both our sons learned how to drive from him. I was also a member of the Bibb County Board of Education from 1998-2020 and have had the advantage of that relationship as he was employed by the Board as a teacher and coach. As someone who was there from the beginning, I can honestly say that outside of my dad and my grandfathers, he has been the most impactful male influence in my life, and I can say that as a representative of hundreds of young boys through the years.”
Bibb County Principal James G. Alston, Jr., shared his perspective. ““I have had the satisfaction of working with Coach McCaleb for 18 years in the positions of teacher, coach, and administrator,” he said. “It is rare that you get the opportunity to be mentored by a teacher and coach with over 40 years of service to the same school. As a new teacher that was also new to the community, Coach McCaleb was instrumental in my assimilation into the community.
“At the time I started teaching, Coach already had nearly 30 years of service at Bibb County High School. He knew every grandmother, mother and child that I would teach or coach. This allowed me to make family connections that were instrumental to the program. When you become part of a school faculty, you quickly learn who the legends are. It is easy to see that Coach McCaleb is a legend in Bibb County. You can’t attend a sporting event without someone bringing up Coach McCaleb. Though they talk about his wins and losses, what they really want to discuss is what he did for them.”
Marengo County Superintendent Luke Hallmark said he has observed McCaleb’s impact for decades. “I can say without a doubt in my mind that he has had as much of an impact on kids’ character development as anyone who coached the game” Hallmark said. “He taught his players how to be men and how to win with grace and lose with grit and determination. He remains a beloved figure among basketball coaches in Alabama. I personally thank God for putting Coach McCaleb in a place to be a difference maker.”
McCaleb received the AHSAA’s Class 5A Making a Difference award in 2017, and was selected Class 3A Boys’ Basketball Coach of the Year in 1989.