By Rubin E. Grant
Debra Broome was completely caught off guard when she received the news that she was the Class 7A recipient of the 2022 Making a Difference Award given by the Alabama High School Athletic Association and the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association.
“I was shocked, totally surprised,” said Broome, a longtime coach at Vestavia Hills High School.
One recipient from each of the AHSAA’s seven classifications was selected from about 40 nominations submitted by AHSAA member schools and other support organizations or individuals. The recipients were chosen because they have made an impact as exemplary role models.
Each honoree was recognized July 22 during the 2022 AHSAA Summer Conference Championship Coaches’ Awards Banquet at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.
Broome said any recognition she receives is a credit “to the people I’ve worked with.”
Then she added, “This means a lot to me. Once the word got out, I got lots of emails, texts and phone calls, some from old players who said I did make a difference in their lives.”
Broome has served as a physical education teacher and coach for 35 years – with all but one year in the Vestavia Hills City School System. A graduate of Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona, she has spent most of her teaching time in elementary or middle school physical education. In her year working in the Jefferson County School system, she also assisted the special education teacher in her daily duties.
As a coach, Broome has been someone Vestavia Hills High School could turn to no matter the sport. She has coached at one time or another recreational softball and basketball; middle school basketball and volleyball; and high school volleyball, basketball, softball, golf, bowling and girls flag football. She currently serves as girls golf coach, girls bowling coach and girls flag football coach. She served as assistant basketball coach for former Lady Rebels head coach Fran Braasch for many years.
Her nominator described Broome by saying, “Coach Broome fits the description of what a difference maker should be. On a daily basis she makes sure that all her players are taken care of, and she has the day-to-day logistics organized to a tee.
“You never have to worry about anything when Coach Broome is the coach because she is so professional, organized, caring and ALWAYS goes above and beyond for everyone,” the nomination continued.
“She is a true team player and blessing to us at Vestavia Hills High School. Her loving and caring disposition around everyone is why she makes a difference every day. She brings the best out in us all.”
This summer, Broome assisted with the just-completed World Games. She checked in athletes, helped the Hoover Met get ready to host softball, worked at the bowling event and even served as VIP driver.
“I got to meet a lot of international people,” Broome said. “It was really fabulous, a great experience.”
The Making a Difference Award was established in 2011 by the AHSAA and AHSADCA to recognize individuals who go beyond their normal duties as a coach, teacher or administrator to make a positive impact in their schools and communities. This year’s recipients include one baseball coach, one volleyball coach, one soccer coach, one track coach, one head football coach, another former head football coach who serves as head girls basketball coach, and one coach who serves as head track, girls basketball and softball coach.
“The recipients in this 2022 Making a Difference class are prime examples of men and women who take their positions as role models for their students, faculty and community very seriously and have shown exceptional leadership and determination in the challenges each has faced,” said AHSAA Executive Director Alvin Briggs. “Each of these individuals have spent their entire teaching, coaching and administrative careers making a major positive impact in their communities and schools across the state and are excellent examples for what this award stands for.
“This award is the most important honor a professional educator in our state can receive. Qualities considered for this prestigious award include the recipient’s character, integrity, determination and service, all of which have enabled them to have a life-changing impact on the community or school which they serve.”