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In Praise of Small Weddings As if planning a wedding around two busy surgical residency schedules wasn’t enough, a global health crisis came knocking at the door. Although Lauren Theiss and Frank Gleason stuck to their guns for a time, luck was not on the world’s side as COVID-19 raged on. Ultimately the couple made the decision to downsize to a family-only wedding ceremony and reception. SEE STORY PAGE 21

Photo by Rebecca Long



2 • Thursday, June 17, 2021




Murphy’s Law

I GRAND OPENNING Vestavia Hills Chamber to host ‘I Love America Night,’ celebrate opening of Wald Park Grand Lawn PAGE 6

‘ONE WORLD, ONE GAMES’ The World Games 2022 announces Noah Galloway as Honorary Co-Chairman PAGE 8

‘A NEW BEGINNING’ IPC’s new pastor excited about the challenge that awaits PAGE 8

BEFORE AND AFTER Jim Sturdivant changed with the birth of his first child and again raising a child with Down syndrome PAGE 10

’m going to apologize right up light hours frittering away on your front. I shouldn’t be miffed about phone. something so inconsequential. I So, here is my plea: Check the rearshould be kinder, gentler, less prone to view. When there is space to move formuttering disparaging words in quasiward, do it. Do not willfully inconvepublic, but alas, sometimes I am not. nience the people behind you. It isn’t Like today. I was in the drive-thru nice. line and there were, as always, several Having said all this, however, I cars ahead of me. That was fine. Being have to giggle, because this situation is a seasoned drive-thru veteran, I know sooooo Harold. My late husband was a the line involves a certain amount of champion grouser. I think he actually wait time and I factor it in, but today, enjoyed having something to grouse today it made me crazy. about, a cause to champion as he Sue Murphy People handle their drive-thru wait strove to make the world a less irritattimes in different ways. Some coning place. The girls and I laughingly verse with their carmates. Others kept a running list of his Top Ten roll their windows down and sing beefs, and when Harold passed Even now, when along with the music being piped away, I printed them out, along with we come across outside. Still others grip the steering his picture, and it sits framed on wheel and pounce on every availeach of our desks. something openly able inch of forward progress. I fall Beef number one was a classic: irritating, the girls somewhere in the middle, simulta“First of all, pick a hair color.” neously trying to enjoy the ambiLater, the hair issue was inexplicaand I will smile. ence (why wouldn’t you?) while bly resolved and he moved on to, ‘Dad would have “First of all, wear a belt.” focusing on keeping the line movThere were beefs about the timing steadily forward. loved this.’ ing of traffic lights and the shrinkWhen a large gap develops in ing size of ice cream cartons, but the drive-thru line, people (OK, me) they were all eclipsed the day he stood in the doughnut crane their necks to see just who is holding up the line, line behind a lady who wanted a dozen donuts but had and invariably it is someone who is using their wait time to catch up on their texts or tweets or other phone- given no previous thought to which kind of donuts she wanted and insisted on getting immediate dietary inforbased functions. Eventually, they do look up and lurch mation on each and every one. forward, but this lack of sustained focus makes the I kind of miss all that. Even now, when we come gripper people tense. Actually, it makes everyone tense. across something openly irritating, the girls and I will Even if you are one of the singing crowd, you entered smile. “Dad would have loved this.” the line with the expectation of getting your beverage Perhaps my drive-thru rant is my way of picking up and moving on to some other activity. No one planned the Top Ten torch. Or maybe I’m just becoming an old to make a day of it. crab. Turns out Harold already had the situation covThe problem, as I see it, is that people lose sight of ered with Rant Number Three: “Hang up and drive.” the fact that there are, indeed, people behind them who I’m just adding a corollary – “in the drive-thru line.” might have someplace to be, or even if they don’t, Boy, I miss that guy. would really appreciate it if you didn’t eat up their day-

ABOUT TOWN 3 WEDDINGS 21 NEWS 8 SCHOOLS 25 LIFE 10 SPORTS 28 SOCIAL 14 WE’RE ON VACATION! We’ll return with our next issue July 15.


With everything that’s happening “Over the Mountain,” it can be difficult to keep up. That’s why we have launched the OTMJ newsletter. Published every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday - we’ll give you a quick recap of the latest news, sports and social events as well as a heads up on upcoming events so you won’t miss any of the interesting and fun happenings in the Greater Birmingham metro area. To sign up for our newsletter, visit otmj.com. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram, @overthemountainjournal, for daily updates on what’s going on around town, too.

Over the Mountain Views

Old Glory Retirement Ceremony


In honor of Flag Day, celebrated on June 14, members of the Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church’s Monsignor Frank J. Wade Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus Assembly and Boy Scouts of America Troop 237 held a ceremony on June 12 atop the church’s parking deck to retire 50 frayed and faded United States flags. The ceremony was led by the assembly’s Faithful Comptroller Rick Lange and scouts were led by scoutmaster Matthew Hails. Bo Burke, left, was one of several scouts who participated in the cerermony.

June 17, 2021 JOU RNAL Publisher & Editor: Maury Wald Copy Editor: Virginia Martin Features Writer: Donna Cornelius Staff Writers: Emily Williams-Robertshaw, Sam Prickett Photographer: Jordan Wald Editorial Assistant: Stacie Galbraith Sports: Rubin E. Grant Contributors: Susan Murphy, June Mathews, Emil Wald, Marvin Gentry, Lee Walls, Bryan Bunch Advertising Sales: Julie Trammell Edwards, Tommy Wald, Gail Kidd Journal photo by Jordan Wald

Vol. 30, No. 22

Over The Mountain Journal is a suburban bi-weekly newspaper delivered to Mountain Brook, Homewood, Vestavia Hills, Hoover and North Shelby County areas. Subscriptions for The Journal are available for $24 yearly. Mail to: Over the Mountain Journal, P.O. Box 660502, Vestavia Hills, AL 35216. Phone: (205) 823-9646. E-mail the editorial department at editorial@otmj.com. E-mail our advertising department at mwald@otmj.com. Find us on the Web at otmj.com. Copyright 2021 Over The Mountain Journal, Inc. All rights reserved. The Journal is not responsible for return of photos, copy and other unsolicited materials submitted. To have materials returned, please specify when submitting and provide a stamped, self-addressed envelope. All materials submitted are subject to editorial review and may be edited or declined without notification.

Mind the Gap


Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. When: Thurs.-Sat., 7:30 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m. Where: Virginia Samford Theatre Website: virginiasamfordtheatre.org

Fri., June 18 Funky Monkey Journal photo by Jordan Wald

Smile-A-Mile’s Junior Board of Directors will host this annual summer fundraiser, featuring raffles, a live

auction, music by Blackberry Breeze, drinks and heavy hors d’oeuvre. When: 6 p.m. Where: Regions Field Website: smileamile.com

June 18-20 Euphonious Music Festival

This socially distanced concert series will be hosted on Father’s Day weekend, featuring a lineup of local and international including headliners

Drew and Ellie Holcomb, Moon Taxi and Tonic. When: 5:30-10:30 p.m. Where: The Birmingham Zoo Website: euphonious.ai

I’m With Mike Virtual 5K

The Mike Slive Foundation will host its annual 5K in a virtual format, honoring those whose lives have been impacted by prostate cancer, as well as raising awareness and funds for research. Website: imwithmike5k.com



Each Friday during the month of June, a familyfriendly movie will be shown at Hoover’s Veterans Park. Upcoming movies include Tom and Jerry and the Croods: A New Age. When: 6:30 p.m., park opens Where: Veteran’s Park Website: “Free Friday Flicks” Facebook page

Photo courtesy Vulcan Park and Museum

Thursday, June 17, 2021 • 3


The Only Sale in Our 99 Year History! Enjoying Free Friday Flicks on June 4 were, from left, Morgan and Robby DeCola with Bryan and Amanda Bosse.

JUN 17 - JUL 1



LAST CH AN CE ! – Sale Ends June 19 – th

Through June 27





Original Ticketed Prices

SAVE up to

* Certain exclusions may apply.

Million Dollar Quartet See page 7 for Independence Day fun

Virginia Samford Theatre presents this Tony Award-winning musical inspired by a famed recording session featuring Elvis Presley,


M O N DAY - S AT U R DAY : 9 : 3 0 A M - 6 P M Levys.Ad_OverTheMountain_LastChance.indd 1

6/8/21 5:57 PM

Sat., June 19 Juneteenth

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute will present this annual day-long festival of heritage and culture celebrating the emancipation of enslaved people in America. When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Where: Birmingham Civil Rights District Website: bcri.org

Father/Daughter Tea

The Vestavia Hills Library in the Forest will host its seventh annual father and daughter tea with space limited to 25 families. The event will be held at the library’s amphitheater and this year’s theme will be “Unicorns and Stardust.” Guests are invited to bring picnic blankets. When: 11 a.m.-noon Where: Vestavia Hills Library in the Forest Website: vestavialibrary.org

The Noles Group Casino Night Gala

This annual “salute to service” fundraiser, benefiting Alabama Veteran, will feature casino games, dancing, a silent auction, dinner and more. The featured guest speaker will be motivational speaker and comedian Bobby Henline, a retired Army Staff Sergeant whose story and experiences have been featured in numerous media outlets around the world. When: 5:30 p.m. Where: Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa, Hoover Website: alabamaveteran.org/gala

Thurs., June 24 “Is This Funny… Or What?”

For their first in-person production since COVID-19 shutdowns, Red Mountain Theatre Company’s Seasoned Performers are back with a live comedic performance. When: 10:30 a.m. Where: Vestavia Hills Baptist Church Amphitheater Website: redmountaintheatre.org

Fri., June 25 Sips for Strays

The Greater Birmingham Humane Society’s Young Professionals Board will host this event in memory of the late Megan Montgomery, a founding member of the board. Proceeds will benefit GBHS Project Pet Safe in Montgomery’s honor. Festivities include local vendors and music by the band “Mother May I.” When: 6-9 p.m. Where: Cahaba Brewing Company Website: gbhs.org

Sat., June 26 Birmingham Margarita and Taco Festival

Attendees at this cooking competition will get to cast their vote to decide who creates Birmingham’s best tacos, along with mixologists shaking up Birmingham’s Best Margaritas. Proceeds will benefit the community supported arts organization. When: Where: Sloss Furnaces Website: barehandsinc.org/2020-taco-fest

ABOUT TOWN Thurs., July 1 Party on the Patio

The Cahaba Heights Merchants Association will host the second installment of its summer event series, featuring pop up shopping and music by The Mountain Grass Unit. When: 4-8 p.m. Where: The Heights Village Website: “Shopcahabaheights” Facebook page

SAVE THE DATE July 15-18 Art From The Heart

Studio By the Tracks will host its annual art auction in a hybrid format this year, including a limited-capacity VIP in-person live auction which will be streamed online for those who cannot attend. An online silent auction will feature more than 250 pieces of art from July 16 at 9 a.m. until July 18 at 6 p.m. Funds raised support the organization’s mission to provide a career path and studio space for adult artists with autism spectrum disorders. When: 6-8 p.m., live auction Where: Clubhouse on Highland Website: studiobythetracks.org

Fri., July 16 United Ability Day

United Ability, a local non-profit that provides innovative services for people with disabilities to connect with their community, is selling t-shirts in honor of its annual United Ability Day. The organization asks that the community wear their shirts on July 16 to show support and spread awareness for United Ability. Website: unitedability.org/ourevents/abilityday/

Sat., July 17 Market Day

Mountain Brook Village presents its 20th annual European-style tent sale giving shops a chance to open their doors to customers new and old and offer them sales and other opportunities. Check with individual merchants to see their sale options. When: Check with individual merchants Where: Mountain Brook Village Website: mtnbrookchamber. org

Sun., July 18 Le Tour de Cahaba

Cahaba Cycles will host its annual race, including five route options: 65 miles, 45 miles, 34 miles, 10 miles and the Slow Your Roll Family Ride (less than 5 miles). A post-race cookout will follow. Funds from each registration will be donated to the Children’s of Alabama SHINE clinic. When: 7 a.m., 65, 45 and 34 miles; and 9 a.m., 10 mile and family ride Where: Cahaba Cycles Homewood location Website: cahabacycles.com


For the Kids

BridgeWays Alabama to Host Ninth Annual S’mores and Pours Fundraiser By Emily Williams-Robertshaw June 1 was a busy day for BridgeWays Alabama, formerly Camp Fire Alabama. Not only did the organization announce its new brand, it was the first day of camp for kids attending Camp Fletcher. The staff also has been gearing up for their largest fundraiser of the year, BridgeWays Junior Board’s ninth annual S’mores and Pours, presented by the Thomas E. Jernigan Foundation. The event will be held June 24 at Avondale Brewing Company. According to BridgeWays Director of Outreach Sian Eastwood and Events Coordinator Patty Bromberg, the plan for this year is bigger than ever. Bromberg joined the staff in 2019, transformed the event into what Eastwood describes as a “boho-chic wonderland” and raised a record-breaking amount of money. The 2020 event was canceled due to the pandemic. This year’s festivities will be building on the success of 2019 with a record number of individuals and companies sponsoring the event. Festivities will include food from Taco Mama, a silent auction and raffles and live music from T.U.B. and UnKnamed Band. In addition, Jay’s Cheesecakes will be on-site, serving cheesecake by the slice. “They are going to be making a special s’mores cheesecake just for us,” Bromberg said. “They are phenomenal. He sent me the photos from their test run that they did this past Saturday.” Pop-up shops will feature local businesses and artists, including favorites from 2019 as well as some new additions. Vendors will include Kendra Scott, Village Dermatology, Naughty But Nice Kettle Corn Co., Sweet Spun Cotton Candy, Tim Rocks Caricatures, a Feel the Beat Entertainment photo booth and Wild Honey Flower Truck. According to Eastwood, the vendors will be donating a percentage of their sales to Bridgeways. Bromberg noted that the event will be dog friendly, so there will be bowls of water available and maybe even some dog treats.

A Year of Change

Staff members at BridgeWays Alabama used their time during the pandemic year to make some advances. “We are now operating independently so that we can really focus on our local market,” Eastwood said. “We launched our new name and new brand on June 1, so this will be the first big event that we have to get our name out into the community and help people understand why we made the changes we did and what we are all about.” BridgeWays’ mission is to provide a space for young people to learn to care, connect and contribute. Programs and services focus on teaching young people in grades 5K through 12 about social emotional

Photo courtesy Patty Bromberg

4 • Thursday, June 17, 2021

BridgeWays Junior Board will host its ninth annual S’mores and Pours on June 24, a dog friendly event with food, a silent auction, live music and more.

intelligence. Lessons seek to teach students more about the core values of kindness, caring and respect, not only for others but also for oneself. While BridgeWays staff members weren’t able to go into schools this past year, they were able to record their lessons and provide videos to administrators, counselors and teachers they typically work with. “Everything we do in school has been developed at the request of principals, counselors or parents,” Eastwood said. “We are all about serving people where the need is.” The organization’s Outside-In character development program, for example, was created in response to a rise locally in bullying, intimidation and violence in schools. Students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford a camp experience also have the opportunity to attend Camp Fletcher during the summer. The facility is located near McCalla and was founded in 1926 by Pauline Bray Fletcher to serve underprivileged Black children in the greater Birmingham community. BridgeWays continues to build on that legacy, offering a place for kids to explore the outdoors and grow during their summer vacations. This summer, camp is at full capacity and has a waiting list. During the pandemic, the organization was able to create its Fletcher Academy program, providing a space where students could complete their

remote learning coursework while also participating in outdoor activities. According to Eastwood, staff members hope to see the program continue in the fall. “I think that environment helped so many of the students we serve, not being in a school classroom,” Eastwood said. “They were still getting their work done but knowing that they were allowed to go run outdoors and do outdoor education, creek ecology and play games, it just helped.” The students were kept on a schedule, beginning with coursework in the morning before breaking for outdoor learning, then back to coursework in the late afternoon. “I think this pandemic has put everything into perspective and put the focus on what is really needed in our local community,” Eastwood said. Funds raised at this year’s S’mores and Pours will not only support existing programs but also BridgeWays’ efforts to address issues that arise in the future. “Everybody is able to get back together and enjoy some fellowship and fun,” Eastwood added. “At the end of the day, they are coming to support a great cause. They are helping support our programs and initiatives for children in the community. That’s really what it’s all about.” For more information, go to eventbrite.com and search “S’mores and Pours Fundraiser.”



Thursday, June 24, 2021

Many Thanks To All Our Sponsors

Thursday, June 17, 2021 • 5

6 • Thursday, June 17, 2021




Mountain Brook Village's Vestavia Hills Chamber to Host ‘I Love America Night,’ th Celebrate Opening of Wald Park Grand Lawn By Emily Williams-Robertshaw

Last year’s event was canceled due to the pandemic, and the 2019 event was hosted at Vestavia Hills High School because of construction being done at Wald Park. “We really think there is going to be

a big turnout, with people just wanting to get out and do things,” Karen Odle, president and CEO of the Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce, said. With that in mind, event organizers are preparing for a large crowd by creJournal photo by Jordan Wald

The city of Vestavia Hills’ annual show of patriotism, “I Love America Night,” will return to Wald Park on June 24 bigger and better than ever.

16 Annual

Karen Odle, president and CEO of the Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce, left, with Katie Woodruff, chamber communications manager.

Market Day Mountain Brook Village’s 20th Annual

Saturday, July 17 Shop Lane Parke and the Village for Great Deals! Check with individual merchants to see their sale operations.

ating a wide variety of activities throughout the evening. Festivities will be spread throughout the finished areas of Wald Park, including kids’ areas with inflatables and lawn games and vendor tents stationed on the park’s front lawns. The park’s aquatic center also will be open for free swimming – no membership needed. The event also will mark the grand opening of Wald Park’s Grand Lawn, which will be used as space for guests to sit and listen to a concert and watch the closing fireworks display. A pavilion at the far end of the lawn will house the Shades Mountain Baptist Church orchestra, which will perform a Pops in the Park concert as audiences spread out on the new lawn. Odle has been told that the acoustics in the pavilion should allow the sounds of the orchestra to be projected all the way to the Vestavia Hills Library in the Forest just across the street from the park.

Bigger and Quicker

Chamber workers not only planned a bigger event for “I Love America Night,” they also did it under a shorter timeframe. “We didn’t really decide until March that we would be able to do it,” Odle said. “Toward the end of March we still weren’t sure, so we’ve had to scramble.” Local businesses have shown support in droves, offering up ideas for activities or signing on as sponsors, she said. Odle noted that business has been carrying on in Vestavia Hills despite pandemic obstacles. While working on the latest edition of the chamber’s Vestavia Hills Living Magazine, Odle and her staff were surprised by the amount of ribbon cuttings that have taken place during and in the wake of COVID-19. “Coming up, we’ve got Southpoint Bank out in Liberty Park,” Odle said. “Unless U has opened. Crumbl Cookies is coming in July.” Under new management, the Vestavia Hills City Center has continued to blossom with the addition of Taco Mama Vestavia Hills, TrustCare Vestavia Hills and Chopt Creative Salad Co.

The chamber also will be hosting ribbon cuttings for Love Desserts, taking over the space formerly occupied by ‘Lette Macarons in the Heights Shopping Center, and Summit Smiles Pediatric Dentistry in Cahaba Heights. “That’s why I think we have all gotten so excited about it, because we are just ready to be back to something normal,” Odle said. Between the lifting of pandemic restrictions allowing people to be out and about and the unveiling of the completed work at the park, chamber staff were ready to push themselves to make this year’s celebration a reality.

Event Details

For those who are planning to attend “I Love America Night,” there are a few key details to factor into your evening. Parking on-site will be limited to the Civic Center and Vestavia Hills West Elementary School, with a portion blocked off due to the fireworks display. That being said, plenty of parking will be available at off-site locations with a shuttle service to Wald Park. A number of neighboring businesses and organizations are offering up their parking lots, including the Neighborhood Walmart on U.S. 31, the Vestavia Hills Library in the Forest, the lot at the former Sprout’s location and Swaid Clinic. On the west side of U.S. 31, parking will be available at Vestavia Hills City Hall, America’s First Credit Union and Southminster Presbyterian Church. Chamber officials are also stressing that attendees leave their dogs at home, not just because of the high attendance expected but the fireworks display, as well. Odle noted that letters were sent to let surrounding residents know that fireworks were on the schedule, in case they have pets who are sensitive to the noise. “We were not going to do those (fireworks) if we had pushback, but not a person said they didn’t want us to do it,” Odle said. For more information and updates, visit business.vestaviahills.org.


Independence Day Celebrations Through July 30 Red, White and Blue Days

American Village’s first event series following pandemic closures, this annual celebration of America’s Independence. While schedules will change day-to-day, visitors can expect to meet patriots of the past, watch puppet shows, listen to colonial music and more while learning about life during the Revolutionary War. When: Mondays-Fridays, 10 a.m.4 p.m. Where: American Village Website: americanvillage.org

July 1-3 OLS 4th of July Festival

Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church will host its 72nd annual festival featuring barbecue smoked on site. Bulk orders can be purchased in the OLS school cafeteria July 1 and July 2 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., or July 3 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Plates of meats and sides will be sold in the Parish Hall July 2-3 from 10:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. In addition, a raffle featuring 19 prizes will be drawn on July 3 at 3 p.m. Where: Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church Website: ourladyofsorrows.com

July 1-4 Star Spangled Science

Thursday, June 17, 2021 • 7

FOURTH OF JULY McWane Science Center will celebrate the Fourth of July with science. Events will take place on July 1, July 3 and July 4. When: July 1 and 3, 9 a.m.-5p.m.; July 4, noon-5 p.m. Where: McWane Science Center Website: mcwane.org

Sat., July 3 Bald Eagle Talks

The Alabama Wildlife Center will host educational talks about the history of bald eagles and their return from becoming an endangered species to thriving. Guests will also get to visit the center’s resident bald eagle, Shelby. When: noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Website: “Oak Mountain State Park” Facebook page

Fire on the Water

Pelham’s annual fireworks show will take place at 9 p.m., but guests are invited to come early and grab a spot on the beach. Tickets to the show will be $10 and attendance is limited. When: 5-10 p.m. Where: Oak Mountain State Park Website: “Oak Mountain State Park” Facebook page

Sun., July 4

start for walkers, 7 a.m. start for runners Where: Oak Mountain State Park Website: birminghamtrackclub. com

the beginning of the Thunder on the Mountain fireworks display. When: 5-9 p.m. Where: downtown Homewood Website: homewoodparks.com

July 4th Festival

Birmingham Barons

The city of Homewood and the Homewood Parks and Recreation Board will celebrate Independence Day by blocking off portions of 18th St. S and 29th Ave. S. and filling the street with inflatables, rides and other attractions. Activities will conclude at

As the Barons take on the Chattanooga Lookouts, Regions Field will host a Family Day presented by Jacks and the Birmingham Zoo. Game highlights will include an Independence Day celebration as well as post-game fireworks. When: 6:30

p.m. Where: Regions Field Website: milb.com/birmingham

Thunder on the Mountain

After cancelling the decades-old tradition of celebrating Independence Day with a fireworks display, Vulcan Park and Museum’s 20-minute fireworks show will be back this year. The display will be choreographed to a patriotic musical soundtrack. When: 9 p.m. Where: in the skies above Vulcan Website: visitvulcan.com

AUGUST 5 & 6 TWO DAYS OF WORLD-CLASS LEADERSHIP TRAINING It is time to gather again, connect, and join with local leaders committed to expanding their leadership. Bring your friends and co-workers to Mountaintop and experience rich, high-impact, inspiring simulcast sessions and learn from a diverse faculty who will share their wisdom and practical perspective to support you in your leadership growth.

BTC Peavine Falls Run

The Birmingham Track Club will host its 40th annual Independence Day run along an 8.2 mile course in Oak Mountain State Park. The race will begin and end in front of the Dogwood Picnic Pavilion on Terrace Drive in the park. When: 6:30 a.m.




8 • Thursday, June 17, 2021


‘One World, One Games’

The World Games 2022 Announces Noah Galloway as Honorary Co-Chairman, Introduces Disability Inclusion Initiative By Emily Williams-Robertshaw

The Birmingham games will be the first major international sporting event for amateur athletes that includes competitions for athletes with and without disabilities. Journal photo by Jordan Wald

Former U.S. Army Sgt. Noah Galloway, a Birmingham native, will serve as an honorary co-chairman for the The World Games 2022. The appointment was announced during a ceremony at the Lakeshore Foundation on June 3. As an honorary chairman, Galloway, who lost the majority of his left arm and left leg during an IED attack while serving in Iraq, made a promise to use his voice and his platforms to encourage those who are different. “For The World Games 2022, we wanted to identify a handful of Alabamians, folks to represent based on what they have achieved in their lives,” said The World Games 2022 CEO Nick Sellers. It’s an effort to celebrate the state as it becomes the stage for an international audience. Sellers added that Galloway fits the bill not only due to his heroic military service, but because of how he has lived his life since his time serving in the Iraqi War. “One thing that people may not know about my story is when I was injured, (Lakeshore Foundation) was the first place I came to,” Galloway said. He noted that it was the foundation’s staff, including President and CEO Jeff Underwood, who attended the ceremony, who motivated him to push himself in recovery. He has participated in fitness competitions throughout the country and become a motivational speaker. He was featured on the cover of Men’s Health Magazine in 2014, earning the

ceremonies in front of millions of people on global television at a huge moment for our city and state as the largest international sporting event in

From left, Nick Sellers, The World Games 2022 CEO; former U.S. Army Sgt. Noah Galloway, an honorary cochairman for the The World Games 2022; Krystal Drummond, director of employee and community engagement with Drummond Co. Inc. a sponsor of the disability inclusion initiative of the World Games and Jeff Underwood, Lakeshore Foundation president and CEO.

title “The Ultimate Guy.” In addition, he placed third on Season 20 of “Dancing with the Stars” and led his team to victory on Season 1 of Fox’s “American Grit.” In addition, Galloway established the “No Excuses Charitable Fund” to raise money and awareness for organizations that promote fitness, wellness and healthy habits. “I promise to be a spokesman for adaptive sports, and I promise to represent this team with the highest form of gratitude and sportsmanship,”

Galloway said. As a child, Galloway said, he never imagined an international sporting event would one day be held in his hometown. “As a veteran and an athlete, I believe it is increasingly important for the children and young adults to be surrounded with the friendly competition and challenges that not only shape their bodies, but also their minds.” Sellers said Galloway has represented “the true embodiment of over-

coming obstacles.” Galloway will join four other honorary co-chairs – all native Alabamians who are used to media attention: legendary country music star Randy Owen, former NBA allstar Charles Barkley and Olympic gold medal bobsledder Vonetta Flowers, who was the first black woman to win gold in the Winter Olympics. “I’m so excited that this man is going to be running the American Flag on July 7, 2022, in the opening

the Southeast since the 1996 Olympics,” Sellers said. He also said it will be the first major international sporting event held before full-capacity crowds in the United States postpandemic.

Disability Inclusion

“The World Games 2022 is dedicated to the implementation of what we are calling ‘a journey to one world, one games, an initiative for disability inclusion and access,’” Sellers said. The Birmingham games will be the first major international sporting event for amateur athletes that includes competitions for athletes with and without disabilities. “Wheelchair rugby will be on the official platform here, and if you have not seen these incredible athletes compete, you are in for an incredible treat to witness history when they compete on global television,” Sellers said. Through a partnership with the See GAMES, page 9

‘A New Beginning’

IPC’s New Pastor Excited About the Challenge That Awaits

Photo courtesy IPC

By Rubin E. Grant

Rev. Kevin Long

The Rev. Kevin Long wasn’t thinking about leaving the Pittsburgh church he had pastored for almost 10 years to head South. But he had made a commitment to listen to any church that called him about becoming its pastor and to listen to the Holy Spirit. So when Independent Presbyterian Church in Birmingham called, Long listened. Following an eight-month courtship, Long agreed to leave Sewickley Presbyterian Church, which is just 20 minutes northwest of Pittsburgh, to become the eighth pastor in the 105-

year history of IPC. Long will begin his role as IPC pastor and the head of staff on Aug. 1. “It was a long process,” Long said during a phone interview from Pennsylvania. “I wasn’t looking to leave where I am. We have a wonderful church here, and I have deep friendships here, and I was very happy here. “At first, I wasn’t real keen on the idea of coming to Birmingham. It’s such a different part of the country, very different from where we are, and Independent Presbyterian had some recent struggles, so coming in I knew it was going to be a big challenge.” Plus, Long and his wife, Rebecca,

had to consider three children, James, Jessica and Katelyn. Uprooting them was a big part of the decision since James will be a high school senior in the fall, and Jessica and Katelyn will be ninth and eighth graders, respectively. Long spent considerable time in prayer and sought the wisdom of his family, friends and his mentors in ministry. Then, he traveled to Birmingham to visit IPC, an 1,800-member church that is part of the Presbyterian Church (USA) denomination and is in the Highland Park neighborhood. “Over a period of months, I got to

See IPC, page 9


IPC From page 8

know the pastor nominating committee better, then I came to see the church and the people,” Long said. “The more time I spent with the people, I knew God was calling our family to become a part of the wonderful family of faith at IPC. We believe that God has great things in store for IPC.” The IPC Pastor Nominating Committee unanimously approved Long in a vote in early May. “God has clearly led the Pastor Nominating Committee to Kevin and his family, and him and his family to IPC and Birmingham,” said Teresa T. Pulliam, chairwoman of the committee. “God is very good and has certainly been in charge of this process from the beginning. “We have spent much time with Kevin and Rebecca in Pittsburgh and in Birmingham in prayer and fellowship, and we have shared many meals, car rides and both light-hearted and serious conversations. They are a team in ministry and in marriage. We are thrilled and so joyful that Kevin and his family accepted our call, and we are excited to welcome the Long family to our church and to Birmingham. We have no doubt our congregation will embrace them both as well as their wonderful children.” The Rev. Steve Goyer will continue serving as interim pastor at IPC through the end of July.

Thursday, June 17, 2021 • 9

NEWS Roots Far From Alabama

Long grew up as the son of a Presbyterian minister. He was raised in Southern California and in Murrysville, Pennsylvania, just east of Pittsburgh. He graduated from Wake Forest University, double majoring in biology and psychology. After pursuing a master’s degree in psychology at Old Dominion University, Kevin moved to New York City, where he worked for a number of years as a private tutor. While attending the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, Long met Rebecca, who had moved to the city to train with the Joffrey Ballet. He received his M.Div. from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. After graduating, he served as an associate pastor at Orchard Park Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis before becoming the pastor of the Sewickley Presbyterian Church in September of 2011. Long will move to Birmingham in August and start settling in. He will begin preaching on the Sunday after Labor Day, Sept. 12. His children will attend school in the Mountain Brook system. “It’s a new start and a new beginning,” Long said. “I’m leaving behind people who over time have become family. I feel a deep commitment and connection to them. It’s hard to leave, but we’re excited about coming to Birmingham and seeing what God has in store for us in Birmingham.”

GAMES From page 8

Lakeshore Foundation and the presenting sponsor, Drummond Company, organization officials have sought to create a diverse steering committee to create an inclusive and accessible athlete experience on and off the field. It also is enhancing accessibility for fans from the time they arrive in Birmingham until they leave. Originally scheduled to take place

this year, the 11th annual event was delayed due to the pandemic and will be hosted July 7-17, 2022. Composed of about 30 official sports, the event will include participation of more than 3,600 athletes representing more than 100 countries. Sports on the roster are supported by the International Olympic Committee. Sellers noted that athletes in six of the competitions that will take place next summer are now preparing to compete in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. Among well-known and well-loved

sports are softball, karate, sport climbing, handball and gymnastics. The games also will include sports Sellers and fellow officials believe will make it to the Olympic platform in the future, including lacrosse, parkour, water skiing and wakeboarding and dancesport. Events will take place in more than 25 venues throughout the Greater Birmingham area, including Over the Mountain venues at John Carroll Catholic High School, the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium and Oak Mountain State Park.

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LIFE Before and After

10 • Thursday, June 17, 2021


By Emily Williams-Robertshaw

When Vestavia Hills’ Jim Sturdivant looks back on his life before he had his first child, he sees a distinct line between the “before times” and the “after times.” “Fatherhood in general definitely made me more responsible,” he said. When he first learned in 1989 that he was going to have a child, he had what he acknowledges is the common epiphany. “Being a future father makes you look at the world differently than you did before,” he said. After Jim and his wife, Susan, welcomed their oldest son, Robert, they became the parents of twins, Adam and Daniel, and later their youngest, Thomas. Back when they had only one child, Jim recalls talking to a friend and saying he was a bit worried he might not be able to love another child as much as he loved Robert. “He said to me, ‘What happens is your heart just gets bigger,’” Jim said. “He was right, that’s what happens.” He’s now watching his oldest son take on the role of father to the first granddaughter, Addie. His advice to young fathers like Robert is to remember to breathe and try not to look too much into the future, because it goes by fast. “I feel very blessed to be a father and I feel that my children have taught me much more than I have ever taught them,” he added. Jim’s son Daniel has given him a special insight to some of life’s greatest lessons.

Special Challenges

Daniel was born with Down syndrome. In parenting their son with special needs, Jim and his wife were dunked into a Birmingham community that is not only close-knit but proactive. In fact, Jim recalls being contacted by someone with The Bell Center for Early Intervention in Homewood very early on in Daniel’s life.

‘You realize that we in the typical population have a lot to learn from these special people, if we would just slow down and let them teach us.’ JIM STURDIVANT

“From the beginning, we always felt that there were a lot of people out there who were ready to help,” Jim said. “You felt like you weren’t the only one.” Nevertheless, Daniel grew up with three brothers who were having typical life experiences. It’s no wonder that he would want those same things for himself. “He was constantly a part of what they were doing and was exposed to whatever they were doing,” Jim said. “He always has had a strong interest in being involved in community activ-

ities. He’s a real people person.” Through Daniel’s time in the Vestavia Hills City Schools system, the family became well acquainted with fellow Vestavia student Lindy Cleveland, née Williamson, who in no small measure changed Daniel’s life after his schooling. Cleveland served as a peer helper. Her brother, Jordan, also has Down syndrome. In fact, Jim’s mother taught Jordan in kindergarten at Green Valley Elementary School when she already was a grandmother to Daniel. “(Lindy) has been in his circle ever since I can remember,” Jim said. Susan noted that she has more than one family photo of Lindy and Daniel in middle school and high school. So, when Cleveland reached out to the Sturdivants in 2013 to tell them she was creating a day program for her brother and other young adults with special needs, there was no question that they were in. “Daniel was finishing high school, so we were very interested in having something for him to do,” Jim said. “We didn’t want him to just be sitting around.” He noted that there were many other programs in the area that Daniel participated in, and there always was the possibility he could get a job. “We certainly didn’t feel like we didn’t have anything, but we were still worried about him having a gap or lack of opportunities to do enriching, fun and productive things,” Jim said.


Journal photo by Jordan Wald

Unless U Board Member Jim Sturdivant Changed With the Birth of His First Child and Again Raising a Child With Down Syndrome

Jim Sturdivant, above with wife Susan and son Daniel, feels blessed to be a father and that his children “have taught me much more than I have ever taught them.”

Jim recalls the days of dropping Daniel off at the Williamson’s home in Liberty Park. Daniel is one of the six “founding fathers” of Unless U, a nonprofit that provides a day program in a collegestyle experience for adults with special needs. “Daniel loved it from the beginning,” Jim said. “He has always loved it and has always been excited about it. That has never changed.”

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Unless U is a part of the Sturdivant family; it’s even a part of their family dinners. The Sturdivants don’t begin their meal with the blessing but, instead, say it around the middle or end of the meal. It’s Daniel’s job to remind them. “When he says the blessing, he always prays for Unless U,” Sturdivant said. “In the last three or four years, it’s been Unless U’s new building, or that we find a place … to build. Lately, it is for the new Unless U building and for Lindy, who works so hard.” Jim saw the organization grow out of Cleveland’s house, flourish at Shades Mountain Church and now move to a freestanding facility in the

shadow of the Sturdivants’ church, Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church. In addition to being parents of a student, Jim serves on the board and Susan is on staff as a speech pathologist. Robert serves on the organization’s junior board and his wife, Brittany, a professional photographer, takes photos for Unless U. In addition, Adam and Thomas help out whenever they can. Jim said they have always been ready to help out as drivers, chaperones or even manual laborers around the new property. “My youngest son and I were up here helping sod a good portion of the area about a month or so ago,” Jim said. Serving on the board, he has seen just about the entire process to build a campus unfold, a journey that hasn’t been short or easy. In fall 2018, Jim, Susan and Daniel participated in a “groundbreaking ceremony” for the facility’s site next to Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church, though it didn’t actually include a groundbreaking. That happened more than a year later, after much site prep. Cleveland even jumped on a backhoe for that See STURDIVANT, page 12


Thursday, June 17, 2021 • 11


Great Gifts for Father’s Day | June 20

Sterling silver cufflinks from David Yurman’s Chevron Collection, $450, 18mm, offer a professional look that transitions from business meetings to evening events. Bromberg’s, The Summit, 205-969-1776; Mountain Brook, 205-871-3276.

The Corkcicle ice bucket, $100, will keep ice cold for 4 days. Great looking for any Dad’s bar. The Cook Store, 205-879-5277.

This small RC aircraft turns Dad’s dreams of flight into a reality. HobbyZone®-exclusive technology makes minor corrections and adjustments to help you stay confidently in control. Homewood Toy & Hobby, 205-879-3986.

Hand carved bird houses by a local woodcarver, $75.99. Each one unique and perfect for dad. Wild Birds Unlimited, 205-823-6500.

Jefferson’s Reserve - Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, $76, 750 ml. is smooth with notes of oak and tobacco, with a vanilla bean finish. R&R Wine & Liquor, 205-848-2080.

Antique Equestrian Cufflinks in platinum and 18k Gold, $1,650. JB & CO., 205-478-0455.

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Order Dad a portrait of his best friend for Father’s Day, starting at $200. Becky Best Portraits, beckybestpetportraits@gmail.com.

Hook and hide all leather belts. Leather strap, from $55-$60; wild turkey buckle, $115; mallard buckle, $105; fish buckle, $100. Caliber, 205-917-5800.

Gold filled 19th Century Railroad pocket watches, from $60-$125. Roman Brantley Art & Antiques, 205-460-1224.

Please make sure all information is correct, including address and phone number!

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Thank you for your prompt attention.

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Unique and custom handcrafted wood decanters, $110 each. Tricia’s Treasure, 205-871-9779.

The Genesis II SE-335 Smart Grill (Natural Gas). Make this Father’s Day one to remember when you get your dad a Weber Grill. Little Hardware, 205-871-4616.

An 8mm, 14k white gold wedding band in a machine finish with polished edge. Southeastern Jewelers, 205-980-9030.

Gift Guide continues on page 12

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12 • Thursday, June 17, 2021



Father's Day Shopping at Caliber Sporting Goods is Never a Miss!

STURDIVANT From page 10

occasion. “To finally see it be here and to also have it largely, if not totally, debt

Tory Burch White Logo bangle, $128. John-William Jeweller, 205-870-4367.

free is amazing,” Jim said.

Dedication to the Future

In May, Daniel and fellow Unless U students were able to see the facility for the first time with a large audience to help celebrate. When Jim looked around the room, he saw familiar faces of people he had a connection with through 917.5800 the special needs 2822 Central Ave. Homewood, AL 35209 Susan Sturdivant with sons Daniel and Robert at last community. He also www.caliberxl.com month’s celebration of the almost completely finished saw the faces of peonew home of Unless U in Vestavia Hills. ple there simply to support the cause. There were prominent members of this facility,” he said. Best Pet Portraits the local city government and chamJim’s dedication to the success of Starting at $200 ber of commerce in attendance, as the organization is not only for Daniel Artist, Becky Best well as representatives of companies and his peers; it’s also for those famibeckybestpetportraits@gmail.com. that helped create the facility. lies to come. Children with special Instagram best_pet_portraits “People put their sweat equity into needs finishing up their high school ber careers will have a place to graduate er The Mountain Journal, PHONE: 205-823-9646 to. X: 205-824-1246 “I think it says to people who are e new parents or relatives and friends of a special needs family that our society This is your AD PROOF from the OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL for the values your special family member,” June 17, 2021 issue. Please fax approval or changes to 824-1246. Jim said. “We think it’s important that your son or daughter has a place Please make sure all information is correct, where they can go and feel like they including address and phone number! belong. That’s what this place is.” Not only is it a place of support To: Becky If we have not heard from you by 5 pm of the Friday before the press date, for other parents but a place that From: Over the Mountain Journal 823-9646 ph, your ad will run as is. We print the paper Monday. teaches the wider community that Date: June 2021 people with special needs have much Thank you for your prompt attention. to give and are truly worth investing This is your AD PROOF FOR OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL for the June 17th issue. Please contact your in. Jim sees it every day as Daniel’s sales representative as soon as possible to approve your ad or make changes. father. Please make sure all information is correct, including address and phone number! “Daniel may not be able to do math problems very well, but when it comes to the things that really matter Please initial and fax back within 24 hours. If we have not heard from you by 5 pm of the friday before the press date, your ad will run as is. in life, he is far above me,” Jim said. “When you get the people in this Thank you for your prompt attention. community together, that realization is easier for others to see and it becomes stronger. “You realize that we in the typical population have a lot to learn from these special people, if we would just slow down and let them teach us.” As Father’s Day weekend BIRDFOOD • FEEDERS • GARDEN ACCENTS • UNIQUE GIFTS approaches, Jim can rest easy know1580 Montgomery Hwy • Birmingham • 823-6500 ing that Unless U’s facility welcomed www.wbu.com/birmingham • Tracy Hill • Owner/Operator ENGLISH VILLAGE • 2117 CAHABA ROAD • 871-4616 students to their own campus for the first time on June 14. Over-Under-Cord URA Duffle, $425.00; Duckhead Shorts, $72.50; Bertucci Performance Watch, solid titanium case, scratch resistant, water resistant, swiss super luminous, $490.00; Hook N Hide - Leather Strap, $50 - 65; Hook brass, fish belt, $100.00; Genteal Polo - Blue Sea Grass Stripe, $89.00; Barbour - Wax wash bag, $75.00; Jack Black - Double Duty Face Moisturizer, $48.00; Jack Black - Beard Lube Conditioning Shave, $11.50.

Happy Father's Day!


Journal photo by Jordan Wald

Monogram Cuff Links, starting at $70, and Monogram Bracelet, starting at $110, are available in sterling silver, yellow gold and white gold. Shay’s Jewelers, 205-978-5880.

These Damascus blade knives and detailed leather sheaths, from $153$195, are crafted by Cherokee Hawk, a Native American in North Alabama. Each knife has a unique design. Available in-store only, exclusively at Alabama Goods, 205-803-3900.


Former Birmingham Lawyer J. William Lewis Releases Debut Novel

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Shoal Creek author J. William Lewis’ debut novel, “The Essence of Nathan Biddle,” may remind readers of J.D. Salinger’s famed novel “The Catcher in the Rye,” according to BookPage. Lewis, born in Chickasaw, grew up in Mobile and attended Spring Hill College, where he was a member of Alpha Sigma Nu, editor-in-chief of the literary magazine The Motley and recipient of the Merihl Award. He received his juris doctorate from the University of Virginia School of Law and served on the editorial board of the Virginia Law Review. Following a clerkship for Justice Walter P. Gewin of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, he practiced law in Birmingham for more than 35 years. He now serves as executive officer of his family’s investment company, Seaman Capital LLC, and its related companies. In Lewis’ coming-of-age tale, the novel’s protagonist, Kit Biddle, is a rising prep school senior who finds himself tangled in a web of spiritual quandaries and intellectual absurdities. Biddle’s angst is compounded by a psychological burden he is forced to carry. His intelligent but unstable Uncle Nat has committed an unspeakable act on what, according to the

Thursday, June 17, 2021 • 13


J. William Lewis practiced law in Birmingham for more than 35 years. His debut novel was released on June 1.

uncle’s deranged account, were direct orders from God. The tragedy haunting his family follows Kit like a dark and foreboding cloud, exacerbating his already compulsive struggle with existential questions about the meaning of his life. Through darkness, the protagonist is forced to confront his own issues and allow these explorations to lift him from his despair. Lewis’ debut novel was released on June 1. It is published by Greenleaf Book Group and is available on Amazon and in book stores. —Emily Williams-Robertshaw


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14 • Thursday, June 17, 2021



Blossoms at the Ball of Roses

Photos by Dee Moore


Grace and Bob Bentley.

he Ballet Guild of Birmingham held two balls on two consecutive nights this year to make up for not being able to conduct a ball at all during 2020 because of the pandemic. Both balls were held at the Country Club of Birmingham, with proceeds going to the Alabama Ballet.

White Roses and Luscious Greenery

Lawrence and Madison Greer with Amber and Rod Sones.

The 60th annual Ball of Roses was held June 4 in a room enrobed in white drapes, white roses and luscious greenery with soft lighting that magnified the pastels of the debutantes’ dresses. The evening began with the debut of 2020’s 56 presentees in a seated dinner for members and guests of the Men’s Committee and culminated in a second presentation followed by dancing into the night for guild members and relatives and friends of the presentees. Madison Whatley Merrill Greer served as the 2020 Ball of Roses chairwoman. Lacey Whatley Alford served as the Men’s Committee dinner chair. Carlee Stewart Arnold and Alex Yates were the greenery chairs, and Carole Sullivan was the florist for the ball. Amber Andrews Sones was the 2020 president of the Ballet Guild. Among those in attendance were: Mr. and Mrs. Robert Bentley III, Mr. and Mrs. Joe Jolly, Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Watkins Greer Jr., Dr. and Mrs. Rodney Matthew Sones, Mr. and Mrs. Jeffery Parker Hendry, Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Patrick Smith, Mr. and Mrs. William Hughes Satterfield, and Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Wade Loveman. ❖

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Thursday, June 17, 2021 • 15


Guests to the 61st Annual Ball of Roses, on June 5, were greeted to an elegant room covered in white roses and greenery accented with shades of coral and bright pink florals. The evening began with the debut of this year’s 66 presentees in a seated dinner for members and guests of the Men’s Committee. It culminated in another presentation followed by dancing into the night for guild members and relatives and friends of the presentees. Mary Elizabeth Roberson served as the 2021 Ball of Roses chairwoman. Handley McCrory planned the Men’s Committee dinner. Carlee Stewart Arnold and Alex Yates served as the greenery chairs, coordinating the gathering of the greenery from the private gardens of donor homeowners around the Mountain Brook and greater Birmingham area. Florals were arranged by Carole Sullivan. Anna Catherine Roberson is the 2021 president of the Ballet Guild. Among those in attendance that evening were Miss Mary Elizabeth Roberson, Miss Anna Catherine Roberson, Mr. and Mrs. Lee McWhorter Pope, Mr. and Mrs. Peyton Davis Falkenburg, Mr. and Mrs. John Forrester DeBuys III, Mr. and Mrs. James Hood McPherson, and Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Garner. ❖

Photos by Dee Moore

Shades of Coral and Bright Pink

Mary Elizabeth and Anna Catherine Roberson.

David and Anna Hufham with Margaret and Cal Dodson.

Willis, Melissa, Mary Inzer and Cobb Hagen.

Amanda, Lizzie, Don, Victoria, Vicki and Kathryn Carmichael.

Adele and Courtenay Bloodworth.

Thornton, Sarah and Laura Hydinger.

Creagh, Sally, Caroline and Alfred Goings.

Naomi, Naomi and Wade Cunningham.

16 • Thursday, June 17, 2021


Journal photos by Jordan Wald


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All things environmental were celebrated as the Southern Environmental Center hosted the annual Darter Festival at Avondale Brewery on May 23. The afternoon included a lineup of live music, beer, food and familyfriendly fun to support the educational programs hosted by the center at Turkey Creek Nature Preserve. The event is named for the darter fish. Three endangered varieties of darters make their homes in Turkey Creek, including the vermilion, watercress and rush darters. Turkey Creek also is the only place on earth that is home to the vermilion darter. The event included a celebration of a new pavilion built this spring through a partnership between Alabama’s Forever Wild Program and the Freshwater Land Trust. The new multipurpose teaching pavilion will be comanaged by the Southern Environmental Center and will be able to accommodate more than 100 school children at one time. Musical acts included A.J. Beavers, Dead Fingers, and Early James and the

Journal photo by Jordan Wald

Darter Festival Celebrates Turkey Creek With Special Beer and Entertainment

Southern Environmental Center Junior Board members, front, from left: Will Harris, Janell Carr, Mary Keith, Elizabeth Sturgeon and Brooke Wright. Back: Sam McCoy, Alana Reynolds, Claire Ike, Cory Brewster and Cameron Canavera.

Latest. Food was provided by Avondale Burger Company and Little London Kitchen. Avondale also revealed its seasonal Darter Ale for the first time. Birmingham preschoolers from W.J. Christian K-8 took to the stage and performed a special dance to music played by the Birmingham-

Southern College band, the “Darter Boogie.” In addition, raffles offered up chances to win a variety of local Birmingham goodies. The Mobile Museum Van from Auburn University’s Natural History Museum also was present. ❖

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18 • Thursday, June 17, 2021










Photos by Dee Moore

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The inaugural Camellia Court presentation was held May 2 at Birmingham Botanical Gardens. The presentees were dressed in Kentucky Derby-style hats and dresses of their choice in the camellia colors of white and various pinks. The Camellia Court is a service organization that gives 17- and 18-year-old girls experience in assuming civic responsibilities. The court will serve throughout the year as hostesses in their community while participating in civic and cultural events. Through their volunteer efforts, court members will gain knowledge about and give back to their community. Proceeds will be donated to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, and a camellia tree will be planted in the Camellia Gardens in honor of the Camellia Court of 2021. The inaugural members are:  Campbell Alice Anderson, Anne Thomas Baird, Berkley Kate Barnett, Ellie McRae Benck, Katherine Wade Bradford, Mary Gaston Brown, Riley Elizabeth

Brown, Sally Patton Bussian, Sarah Patton Butler, Katherine Hilda Caine, Abigail Kirkland Clark, Ryann Patricia Clark, Mary Evelyn Coleman, Mary McLemore Coppedge, Catherine Elizabeth Corley, Elizabeth Anne Wilkinson Crommelin, Sarah Margaret Currie, Claire Elizabeth Dennis, Victoria Dickinson, Helen Kathryn Dorough, Jane Ryland Elliott, Mary Douglass Evans, Celie Cross Field, Lilla Caldwell Flake. Reilly Wilkerson Forbes, Lillian Sue Gilbert, Kathryn Noel Gorman, Catherine Anne Gray, Lillian Brannock Griffith, Francis Eleanor Hagan, Mary Winston Parker Hendry, Caroline Elizabeth Herron, Hannah Tate Hollis, Anna Claire Howland, Katherine Tracy Jeffcoat, Mary-Linder Johnson, Virginia Warner Johnson, Mary Carlisle Jones, Ella Elizabeth Kampakis, Molly Montgomery Keller, Hannah Faith Kelley, Sidney Kicklighter, Evelyn Austin King, Lillian Walden Knott, Mary Caroline Kracke, Elizabeth Linton Lambert. Megan Andress Lee, Elizabeth Laurie Frances Mandell, Anna Raines Manley, Anna Marie Martin, Abigail Stewart Maziarz, Mary Ashley Meadows, Hannah Messer, Anne Neal Moore, Ella Grace Perry, Sarah Bibb Petznick, Lillian Neal Pitman, Jessica Lee Randolph, Margaret McPhearson Reaves, Lelia Stokes Ritter, Addie Simms Roberson, Summer Jane Robinett, Olivia Kerr Robinson, Margaret Addison Ross, Sarah Kathryn Sanders, Caroline Ellen Savage, Grayson Elizabeth Scott, Bennett Ann Shaw, Olivia Ann Sproule, Evelyn Frances Stutts, Helen Dade Walthall, Ann Clair Tinsley Walton, Lindsay Kathryn Whatley, Kendall Elizabeth Whatley, Emma Kathryn Williams, Ellison Sims Wilson and Ila Danielle Worthen. ❖


Thursday, June 17, 2021 • 19


Rehab Reality...

Journal photos by Jordan Wald

by Judy Butler

From left, Ivey Wade, Trent Lowery and Megan Poston.

Lindsey Stinson, Gabe Burch, Morgan Canty, Christian Hawkins, Amber Fuller, Emanuel Butler and Charity Penn.

Ki Shin and Sarah Rawls. Josephine Lowery, Deanna Owen, Kyle Smith, Courtney Heath, Brittany Sturdivant and Barry Smith.

Supporting College Careers Sixth Annual Wild West Round-Up Raises Funds for Local Scholars

The College Choice Foundation was shooting for a night to remember when it hosted its annual Wild West Round-Up June 13 to raise funds for its mission and celebrate its scholars. The Homewood-based nonprofit seeks to provide scholarships as well as support throughout college careers for high-achieving students from disadvantaged, under-resourced backgrounds. Hosted at Good People Brewing Company, the event provided an opportunity to meet foundation scholars, win and bid on prizes and dance to music by The Onlys. ❖

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Went on Vacation, Came Home on Probation Every year families look forward to going to the beach for the fourth of July. Unfortunately all too often it ends in tragedy or at best legal problems. What happened to the day that the worse thing that happened might be sunburn? Times are different now. There’s too much glamour in drinking and/or chilling out. There’s confusion about the legality of marijuana and booze on the beach. The rules are different now. For whatever reason it seems the ‘get away’ increases the desire to not just ‘get away’ from home, but to take a break from the day to day life at home. Those with addiction tend to increase their addiction practices; after all they’re on vacation. Parents lead by example and many times we receive calls from their children, which happens often during the summer when the true colors of addiction are revealed. Granted parents might be ‘functioning alcoholics’, but without the structure of home and a routine many times the addiction is revealed. Likewise don’t assume that your child is exempt from this because he or she doesn’t behave this way at home. It may be innocent fun at first, but it can quickly turn to a situation out of control. If you or someone you know goes on vacation and comes home on probation know that we can help. We’re court approved and are experienced in dealing with legal issues. If you or someone you know falls into the trap of addiction or legal issues resulting from drug and/or alcohol use know that there is a better place to get help. Call us any time.

20 • Thursday, June 17, 2021


Bring the Funk


From left, Ben Willingham, Brooke Morro and Trent England.

The fifth annual Funky Food Truck Festival took over Cahaba Brewing Company on June 12, providing an afternoon of great food from some of the area’s best food trucks. Annually hosted by AIDS Alabama, the event raises funds for the organization’s mission to help people with HIV/AIDS live healthy, independent lives and boost awareness to prevent the spread of HIV. Throughout the afternoon, guests relaxed on the patio, sipping Cahaba beers and shopped local artisans and pop-up shops on-site. Participating food trucks included NOLA Ice, Rendezvous, Corazon Mexican Food, Aww Shucks, Eugene’s Hot Chicken, Ruscelli’s and Cousin’s Maine Lobster. ❖

Journal photos by Jordan Wald

AIDS Alabama Hosts Annual Funky Food Truck Festival

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In Praise of Small Weddings Lauren Theiss and Frank Gleason Downsized to Family Gathering at Honeywood Valley

By Emily Williams-Robertshaw


oth Lauren Theiss and Frank Gleason were raised in Birmingham, she in Vestavia Hills and he in Mountain Brook. Both Lauren and Frank followed in the footsteps of their fathers as medical professionals working at UAB. The couple didn’t meet during their youth or in the halls of the hospital but, instead, at Inisfree Pub in Lakeview. They met at a seemingly inopportune time. The two began dating while Frank was in his final year of medical school. Luckily, he matched at UAB, where he has continued into his surgical residency.

Lauren Theiss and Frank Gleason were married at St. Francis Xavier, and the entire family made their way out to Honeywood for the reception.

raged on. “Given that a large percentage of our friends and family are in the medical profession, the fact that we would have to downsize seemed pretty inevitable,” she said. Adding to the injury, The Theodore closed. “Before the Theodore reopened, we signed a contract with Cahaba Brewing Company for the same big reception,” Lauren said. “Come August, we decided we needed to pivot.” With the couple looking to drastically downsize the ceremony, their caterer, Thomas Cox with Table and Time, suggested they look into Honeywood Valley in Sterrett. “It’s a lodge on a private lake,” Lauren said. “It sleeps about 13 people, but it also can be used as a wedding venue.” It was a complete divergence from the original plan but a welcome one.

Photos by Rebecca Long

Birthed from the chaos of planning and replanning was a wedding experience more special than she imagined.

A year later, it was Lauren’s turn to graduate to her own residency in surgery. “Luckily, I matched with UAB,” Lauren said. After four years together, Frank found a way to surprise Lauren when he asked her to marry him lakeside in November of 2019. “He’s just not a planner at all,” Lauren said. “But he planned a weekend at his family’s lakehouse. He had my whole family and his whole family there and he made a whole itinerary.” Shortly after they were engaged, the couple set a date for the wedding, Dec. 19, 2020. The plans were for a classic pre-pandemic celebration. A Catholic Mass at St. Francis Xavier would be followed by a large reception at The Theodore accommodating 350 of their family and friends. As if planning a wedding around two busy surgical residency schedules wasn’t enough, a global health crisis came knocking at the door. “It was a roller coaster, for sure,” Lauren said. While they stuck to their guns for a time, luck was not on the world’s side as COVID-19

Their first dance would be held in the rustic 100-year-old Amish barn, and then they would retreat to the lodge overlooking Lake Lomah. “We ended up just doing immediate family, so 13 people,” she said. Both Lauren’s brother and sister got COVID19 around Thanksgiving. They recovered with ease while quarantined. “I was so stressed for the two weeks leading up to the wedding,” she said. If one of their family members had to quarantine, the wedding could go on, but if Lauren or Frank became sick, the entire plan would be void. “Frank was on a busy service at work,” Lauren said, which added to her worries. Lauren was called in to get her first COVID19 vaccine just three days before the wedding. “Our families were so lucky, one, that we were healthy and fortunate enough to be able to do that during such a stressful time for so many people,” Lauren said. “Also, that this was totally normal and a blast.”

A Family Retreat

Frank’s parents hosted the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding at Golden Age in Mountain Brook Village. “That’s a place that is very special to us,

Please turn to page 24

22 • Thursday, June 17, 2021



Birmingham Museum of Art The Birmingham Museum of Art is an elegant and modern venue, suited to host any wedding event, such as engagement parties, bridal luncheons, teas and showers down to the ceremony and or reception. “If you choose the Museum for your wedding, you can utilize all of our public spaces – Oscars Café, with the dramatic spiral staircase; the Eighth Ave. Lobby, which has the colorful blown glass art created by Dale Chihuly  adorning the wall; and the multi-level Charles Ireland Sculpture Garden outside,” said Special Events Manager Jestina Howard, above. “ You can have the Museum art galleries open for your guests to tour and we only book one private event after 5:00pm when we close to the public. So, you and your guests will have the entire Museum to yourselves,” Howard added. Howard’s Wedding Planning Tips “One: Consider hiring a wedding planner or coordinator. They can make the process of plan-

ning your wedding stress free. Planners handle all of the details from beginning to end such as logistics, event design, contract negotiations, booking vendors and the day-of execution of your event. Coordinators handle some day-of logistics, but on a shorter timeline. They usually begin helping you prepare a week or month before the wedding and function as your day- of point person.” “Two: Think about the three most important aspects you want for your special day.  Are those aspects the food, specialty drinks, decor or entertainment, etc.? Prioritize the three things and stick to them.” “Three: Decide on your wedding style/theme is it traditional, contemporary or rustic? Focus on this so you stay aligned with your complete event vision.” Birmingham Museum of Art is located at 2000 Rev. Abraham Woods Jr. Blvd., 205-2542681 or email plananevent@artsbma.org

Bromberg’s Through seven generations as a family owned and operated business, Bromberg’s has remained Alabama’s favorite destination for wedding gifts and registries. To celebrate 185 years of business, Bromberg’s will be giving away a bridal luncheon to one lucky registered bride! Joining the celebration are longtime business partners and community friends. The luncheon will be held at and catered by Olexa’s Cafe in Mountain Brook Village, a charming local favorite for decadent cakes and food. Juliska, Bromberg’s partner of 20 years, will beautifully set the table with china and glassware and supply the bridesmaid gifts. Sought after florist Mary Cox Brown of Marigold Designs and stationer Jennifer Hunt of Dogwood Hill will be lending their expertise in floral arrangements and custom invitations, menus, and place cards. Photography by Arden Ward Upton of Arden Photography will be included, and the luncheon will be featured in the 2022 wedding issue of Mountain

Brook Magazine. Each detail will be carefully considered to ensure a memorable day to kick off a wedding celebration! Couples tying the knot this year can enter to win the bridesmaids’ luncheon by registering for Juliska at Bromberg’s, the best-selling giftware line. Handmade dinnerware, gifts for the home, and mouth-blown glassware in numerous patterns offer everyday luxury. Picking out a few decorative items or creating a Juliska-filled registry will automatically enter the couple into the giveaway. The experts at Bromberg’s locations in Mountain Brook and at The Summit are available to guide couples in creating a registry, or brides can register from the comfort of their home online at BrombergsBride.com. For more information about the bridal luncheon giveaway, please visit: brombergs.com/ juliska-registry-event/.

There is an art to creating the perfect wedding. Let us be your canvas.

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Image courtesy Eric & Jamie Photography

Weddings at the Birmingham Museum of Art

Mountain Brook • Friday, June 18th • 11 am to 3 pm The Summit • Saturday, June 19th • 11 am to 3 pm



Thursday, June 17, 2021 • 23


Our aim is to serve people the best cake they have ever had, while also giving them a presentation that is absolutely unique and beautiful.

Whether it is a diamond engagement ring, anniversary earrings or a special piece for your day, JB & CO can help you collect your heirloom.

Daughters Baking

“We are a boutique cake bakery that specializes in the ‘naked’ style of cakes,” said owner Mallory Webb, above. “Our offerings include cakes for weddings and larger events, as well as miniature portions of cake for individuals and smaller gatherings. We also will offer our signature granola and crunches, as well as various other products, once we open our storefront location in Mountain Brook Village in mid-July.” Mallory said they are known in the wedding industry for their signature “naked” style of cakes (where the cakes do not have any icing on the side, and the various colorful layers are visible to the audience), and their unique spin on classic flavors - often with visible and vibrant colors that catches peoples’ eyes and is typically out of the norm for weddings. These cakes are available as large tiered wedding cakes, or as single tiered cakes. “We also work with brides up until their big day with phone consultations, wedding sample tasting packages, and gathering as much information as possible in order to help their wedding day be what they

have always dreamed of.” “Our aim is to serve people the best cake they have ever had, while also giving them a presentation that is absolutely unique and beautiful. Our wedding department strives to serve our customers with excellence, respect, and care - going above and beyond to make their wedding day experience perfect and seamless,” Mallory said. “We recommend couples to inquire with us as early as possible, in order to secure their wedding date with us. We also strongly encourage couples to enjoy one of our wedding cake tasting packages - so that they get to try our different flavor options! “We are so thankful for the support of loyal customers. Since we’ve operated out of a commercial kitchen, we were able to continue providing cakes for customers with our online ordering and drive-up delivery method,” Mallory said.

Daughters Baking, 2812 Cahaba Road Mountain Brook Village.


JB & CO is a jewelry boutique by Private Jeweler John Bromberg. His boutique honors a return to an old-world artisan approach to fine jewelry. In an industry that is increasingly focused on mass production, JB & CO chooses to focus on the unique, with specialties that include bridal, custom and estate jewelry. At a time when individual service is of the utmost importance, Bromberg personally works with his clients to select or create just the right piece for the occasion, always adhering to their style and budget. Whether it is a diamond engagement ring, a micro-mosaic necklace or a special piece for your day, JB & CO can help you collect your heirloom. His selection of jewelry comes from destinations far and wide, from the finest houses such as Buccellati, Bulgari, and Tiffany, as well as designers Jean Schlumberger, Elizabeth Locke, Katy Briscoe and Ippolita. In addition, he has a select collection of coveted watches from Cartier, Patek

Philippe and Rolex. Private Jeweler, John Bromberg provides his customers privacy and anonymity in his work. He is a sixth-generation trained jeweler with memberships to the prestigious Diamond Dealers’ Club of New York and The American Society of Jewelry Historians. John Bromberg’s longstanding relationships offer the unique opportunity for his clients to purchase fine jewelry at an exceptional value. For the full JB & CO experience, we recommend making an appointment. “Collect with us,” said Bromberg. JB & Co. is located at 1 Office Park Cir., Ste. 201, Mountain Brook, AL 35223. 205-4780455. Website: www.JBandCoJewelry.com Instagram: @ JBandCoJewelryMountainBrookAL Facebook: JBandCoJewelry



Grand Opening July 29th Mountain Brook Village next to Bromberg's


One Office Park circle, Suite 201 MOuntain BrOOk, al 35223 205.478.0455 • JohnBromberg@JBandCoJewelry.com www.JBandCoJewelry.com

24 • Thursday, June 17, 2021



Attic Antiques

Share Your Good News!

We are working hard to open the shop full time after storm damage. We are open by chance. Come by and see if we are in!

To have our wedding & engagement forms sent to you, call 205823-9646 osr email: editorial@otmj.com

5620 Cahaba Valley Road

Photos by Rebecca Long






PHONE: 205-823-9646

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The first dance was held in the rustic 100-year-old Amish barn at Honeywood Valley in Sterrett. From page 21

because we go there all the time,” Lauren added. The following day, they had their full Mass at 2 p.m. at St. Francis Xavier, and the entire family made their way out to Honeywood. “We went to the barn to have our first dance and then we all went down to the lodge to have a catered meal,” Lauren said. The group also tuned in to watch the Crimson Tide beat the Florida Gators, Lauren added, “as one does when the SEC Championship is on your wedding day.” What may have been most special was the family time spent at the lodge. All 13 in attendance stayed at the retreat for two nights. Birthed from the chaos of planning and replanning was a wedding experience more special than she imagined. “I had never been to a small wedding,” she said. “One of my best friends from college did something like this pre-COVID. She just didn’t want to have a big ceremony and just did a small family weekend and a large reception later. “As we were deciding to do this, I talked to her and she said, ‘You’re going to appreciate this so much more.’ And she was right,” she said. “I remember thinking on the day of the wedding … while I was getting ready, in our original plan, I wouldn’t have seen Frank until 5 o’clock,” she said. “I would have spent the whole day apart from him.” By downsizing the event, the couple had the opportunity to not only spend time with their own families one on one, but each other’s. Lauren attributes that success, in part, to their families already having a strong connection. Lauren’s father, Dr. Steven Theiss, and Frank’s father, Dr. Brian Gleason, met through a basketball league at UAB well before the couple knew each other. “As a medical student, I actually

worked with Frank’s dad,” Lauren laughed. It made for not only a fun vacation but a relaxing one. Lauren noted that her wedding vendors’ willingness to adapt to the ever-changing plans was another great relief. “I was really nervous to tell everybody about this decision we had made to basically postpone our big reception, and I knew that the wedding industry was really suffering,” she said. “I just didn’t want that to be harmful to any of our vendors, but not a single vendor gave us any pushback.” She worked with Engaged Wedding Library in Homewood, which helped the couple and their families plan and replan every facet. “We’re so lucky to have that resource in Birmingham,” she said. “(Sidney Nomberg), who we worked

with the most, was actually the one who told me that The Theodore had closed. “They helped us with our small event even though they didn’t have to.” After returning from Honeywood Valley, the couple went on a short honeymoon to a resort in the Great Smoky Mountains. “We were only there for about three nights because Christmas was the weekend after our wedding,” Lauren said. The couple plans to take a larger wedding trip sometime in the next year or so. Now that Lauren and Frank had their small ceremony, they are moving forward with the big celebration this November at Cahaba Brewing Company. “I’m excited for our reception and I’m glad that we did it the way we did,” she said.

Vestavia Hills Students Earn Top Slots in Heal Recipe Challenge

For the second year, students in local schools were challenged through the Heal Initiative to create health and delicious recipes and compete in the “Recipe Grand Championship.” The first championship took place on the last day before pandemic shutdowns set in last year, according to a Heal statement. More than 400 students in schools across Jefferson County took part in local competitions for creating recipes for healthy and delicious snacks that are nutrientdense and have a moderate or low amount of fat, sugar and sodium. Family and consumer sciences teachers in select schools used the Heal curriculum in their classroom instruction and then culminated the unit with a recipe challenge. Local winners represented their schools in the championship. This year’s winner was Louis Pizitz Middle School’s Whitney Hufnagle, who won first place for

her dish, fruit pizza. Fellow Pizitz student Jada Powell earned second with an almond butter parfait. In addition to creating a snack, students created a video explaining the nutritional value of their recipe. Judging was based on a combination of the student presentation, the taste of the snack and, of course, the health benefit of the dish. The mission of the Heal Initiative, sponsored by Conduent, is to measurably improve residents’ health and reverse the epidemic of obesity and chronic diseases through evidence-based fitness, nutrition and healthy lifestyle curricula delivered in schools. Heal is in use in more than 170 schools in 55 school systems across the state, involving about 34,000 students and 300 professional educators. The program’s reach extends to 1.8 million people through weekly education programming that airs on APT and through health-related events.

MB Schools Donates Child-Sized Masks to Children’s of Alabama

Photo courtesy Mountain Brook City Schools

Mountain Brook Schools recently donated more than 2,000 white cloth masks it had left over at the end of the school year to Children’s of Alabama. “We really wanted to find someone that could use them and benefit from having them,” schools Director of Administrative Services Lisa Beckham said. The child-sized masks are white to allow patients to draw on them and customize them to their own personalities, as MBS students did during the year. “I think it adds a fun element to it,” Beckham said. “Especially in that environment, children can add some personalization to their situation.” It’s not Mountain Brook Schools’ first donation of pandemic supplies. It partnered with local groups beginning early in the pandemic to identify supplies. “We’re very appreciative of the donation and willingness Mountain Brook has to provide these for us,” said Adam Kelley, manager of corporate communications and marketing at Children’s.

MBS Director of Administrative Services Lisa Beckham presented more than 2,000 masks to Children’s of Alabama. From left, Stan Royer, supply chain contracts manager at Children’s; Jamie Dabal, vice president of operations for Children’s; and Beckham.

Thursday, June 17, 2021 • 25



Photo courtesy Mountain Brook City Schools


Mountain Brook High School cheerleaders swept the competition during a recent cheer camp at Great Wolf Lodge in Lagrange, Georgia. “I love it because it’s our opportunity to compete,” Martin said. “The rest of the year we’re all about the other teams. We’re all about support. But this week is special because we get to go head to head with other teams from neighboring areas and states.” All 12 seniors on the squad also were named All American, the equivalent of All-Stars, Coach Shane Martin said. During the week of competition, the squad won the camp dance; cheer; gameday, which includes band dance, sideline chants and cheers; and the coveted banana award, which is given to the most spirited team in the camp each year.

Homewood and Mountain Brook Among Schools Recognized for Number of Certified Teachers The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards recently released names of National Board Accomplished Districts, a list that included Homewood City Schools and Mountain Brook City Schools. The program’s aim is to recognize school districts across the country that work to promote student learning through accomplished teaching. It recognized 79 districts in which 20% or more of their teachers have achieved National Board certification. Homewood and Mountain Brook were among four Alabama school systems recognized. The accomplished districts came from 10 states: Alabama, California, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Washington. The National Board Accomplished District program launched in 2019. That year it included 81 districts. “High quality teaching is the most important in-school factor impacting student learning,” said Peggy Brookins, president and CEO of the National Board. “The districts that meet the threshold to be included in the National Board Accomplished District program understand the value of quality teaching and support teachers to be their best. We encourage state and district leaders to support National Board certification because NBCTs have a measurable impact on student learning. Every student deserves the best possible teacher.”   Districts will be recognized with an award for the district office and celebrations for the NBCTs in those districts.

Prince of Peace’s Patrick Francis Werszner Scholarship Awarded Prince of Peace Catholic School eighth grade student Emerson Schneider received the 2021 Patrick Francis Werszner memorial scholarship at the school’s eighth grade graduation ceremony on May 21, 2021. The honor includes a partial scholarship to John Carroll Catholic High School, renewable for three years. The Prince of Peace Knights of Columbus established the scholarship six years ago to honor Patrick Francis Werszner, who passed away at the age

of 19. He was a 2010 graduate of Prince of Peace Catholic School and a 2014 graduate of John Carroll Catholic High School. At the time of his death, he Emerson Schneider was a student at UAB, a member of the POP Knights of Columbus Council 11537 and a parishioner at Prince of Peace and St. Stephen the Martyr Catholic Chapel. Emerson is the daughter of Toby and Julie Schneider of Hoover




26 • Thursday, June 17, 2021



By Rubin E. Grant

Oak Mountain’s Shaver Plans to Play Basketball for North Carolina other Tar Heel coaches. He also met football coach Mack Brown during his visit. “Coach Davis is a great guy with a lot of energy,” Shaver said. “He’s a family guy and a friendly guy, but I

hope he coaches me hard.” Shaver also got a chance to play some pick-up games with some of the North Carolina players. “He played well,” Oak Mountain coach Chris Love said. “After that, he decided to commit right then and there.” Love said Shaver is the most highprofile recruit he’s ever coached. “In my 30 years coaching as an assistant and a head coach, I’ve never had a player to go to such a high-profile school as North Carolina,” Love said. “It’s exciting. I’m glad it worked out for him.” As a junior last season, Shaver helped the Eagles win their first state basketball championship, averaging 14.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.9

blocks a game as Oak Mountain captured the Class 7A crown. He was selected to the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Class 7A second team all-state. Shaver had planned recruiting visits to other schools, including Kansas, Purdue and Virginia Tech, but canceled those plans. “There will be no more visits,” he said. “Recruitment is closed and I’m 100% committed.”

Preparing for His Chance

As a junior last season, Shaver helped the Eagles win their first state basketball championship, averaging 14.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.9 blocks a game as Oak Mountain captured the Class 7A crown.

Journal photo by Jordan Wald

Will Shaver had planned to wait until his birthday in September to announce where he was going to play college basketball. But the 6-foot-11 center from Oak Mountain High School couldn’t wait that long, especially since his dream school, North Carolina, offered him a scholarship. So, on the second day of a twoday visit to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Shaver committed to the Tar Heels on June 2, which just happened to be his dad, Chris Shaver’s, birthday. “It’s been my dream school since I was a little kid,” Shaver said. “Growing up, on a Tuesday night I would see North Carolina on TV playing Virginia, Miami and Duke. It captivated me as a kid and made me want to play for them. “I never thought I’d be in a position to play basketball there. They had been recruiting me for six or seven months and offered me three weeks ago. When I stepped on campus, I knew right away it was a special place. At the end of my visit, I knew it was the place for me.” Chris Shaver was thrilled with his son’s decision. The older Shaver played basketball at BirminghamSouthern College and is a member of the school’s sports hall of fame. “Since I was his first coach, I’m very proud,” Chris Shaver said. “He’s gone from the YMCA hardwood to the Smith Center in Chapel Hill. It feels humbling.” Will Shaver became the first recruit of new North Carolina head coach Hubert Davis, who succeeded the legendary Roy Williams. Williams retired at the end of last season. During his visit, Shaver had lunch with Davis at his home and with the


Oak Mountain’s Will Shaver became the first recruit of new North Carolina head coach Hubert Davis, who succeeded the legendary Roy Williams. Williams retired at the end of last season.

Shaver won’t attend Oak Mountain for his senior season. He plans to enroll in a prep school. “I honestly think it’s the best option and makes the most sense,” Shaver said. “I will get to play against the best competition.” He and his parents have talked to IMG Academy, the prestigious prep school in Bradenton, Florida, among others. “We thought prep school was our next best play,” Chris Shaver said. “We’re fortunate we left Oak Mountain with coach Love’s blessing. We wanted to find a spot where Will could continue to develop. “We talked to IMG, but we haven’t finalized anything. We’re waiting to see what develops.” Love believes Will Shaver will flourish at North Carolina. “One of the main things is he lost 40 or 50 pounds before last season and became more agile and more athletic and he moved his feet a lot better. He can score at all three levels, in the post, mid-range and three-point range, and he proved he can guard players on the perimeter. “His game has really grown since he came to Oak Mountain. Plus, he loves it. He’s a gym rat. On the night he got back from North Carolina he texted me, asking me when he could get in the gym.”

Indians Springs’ Nabors Selected Gatorade Boys Soccer Player of the Year

Photo courtesy Indian Springs School

By Rubin E. Grant

Jackson Nabors scored a state-best 53 goals and had 23 assists this past season, leading Indian Springs to the Class 4A-5A state championship.

Jackson Nabors was on the road, driving down the Pacific Coast from Seattle to Los Angeles with a buddy last Friday when he received a text message from his parents at 6:30 a.m. PDT, asking him to call them. It wasn’t an emergency or anything, they just had some good news to share with him. They told him he had been selected the 2020-21 Gatorade Alabama Boys Soccer Player of the Year, becoming the third Gatorade Alabama Boys Soccer Player of the Year to be chosen from Indian Springs School. “That’s exciting,” Nabors said during a phone interview on his road trip. “I’m trying to keep my cool and stay humble.” The 6-foot-8, 180-pound junior forward scored a state-best 53 goals and had 23 assists this past season, leading Indian Springs (24-2-1) to

the Class 4A-5A state championship. Nabors was a first team Super AllState and first team All-Metro selection. He also was named MVP of the Class 4A-5A state tournament. Nabors’ productive season came after he changed positions, moving from defender to striker at the behest of Indian Springs coach Rik Tozzi. “I was skeptical at first,” Nabors said. “I had never played up top before. He put me up there and early on everything fell into place.” John Carroll coach Hunter Wolfe noted Nabors’ athleticism. “Nabors stands out because he’s 6-7 (actually 6-8), but he’s just a great player,” Wolfe said in the Gatorade press release. “He’s great in the air, he’s got great touch, he’s good with both feet. He gets hacked and fouled all the time, but he scored against everybody.” The Gatorade award recognizes not only outstanding athletic excel-

lence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. Nabors has served on Birmingham’s Youth Philanthropy Council and has volunteered locally on behalf of food banks, Christmas toy drives and an Urban Service Camp empowerment week in association with Birmingham YouthServe. He has maintained a 3.69 GPA in the classroom. Nabors is the fifth consecutive Over the Mountain boys soccer player to earn the Gatorade award for Alabama, joining Vestavia Hills’ Tony Shaw (2019-20), Briarwood’s Logan Frost (2018-19), Spain Park’s Brooks Rice (2017-18) and Oak Mountain’s Kennedy Davis (201617). Nabors is now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Boys Soccer Player of the Year award, to be announced later this month.

‘Nabors stands out because he’s 6-7 (actually 6-8), but he’s just a great player. He’s great in the air, he’s got great touch, he’s good with both feet. He gets hacked and fouled all the time, but he scored against everybody.’ JOHN CARROLL COACH HUNTER WOLFE


Thursday, June 17, 2021 • 27



From page 28

From page 28

Coach of the Year

Moseley was voted the OTM 2021 Coach of the Year, but he believes the honor should be shared with his assistants, Ehren Wassermann, Chris Coons and Kevin Butler. “Any award I receive is because of my staff,” Moseley said. “Those guys are incredible and they deserve some recognition. It’s a group effort, not a single guy. I couldn’t do anything without those guys.”

Hoover’s Adam Moseley was voted the OTM 2021 Coach of the Year, but he believes the honor should be shared with his assistants, Ehren Wassermann, Chris Coons and Kevin Butler.

2021 All-OTM Baseball Team FIRST BASE: Connor Short, Hoover Jackson Harris, Vestavia Hills

CATCHER: Lucas Steele, Hoover Trent Thompson, Spain Park

SECOND BASE: R.J. Hamilton, Hoover Wes Helms, Briarwood

PITCHERS: Eli Copenhaver, Spain Park Matt Hawsey, Hoover Brode Susce, Homewood Carter Tyus, Vestavia Hills Connor Adams, Oak Mountain

THIRD BASE: Davis Gillespie, Oak Mountain Cade Carr, Hoover SHORTSTOP: Conner Eberhardt, Spain Park John Hall, Homewood J.T. Weisberg, John Carroll Catholic OUTFIELD: Maddox Macrory, Oak Mountain Joseph Sullivan, Vestavia Hills Sean Agsalud, Hoover Gabe Young, Mountain Brook Pierce Hannah, Vestavia Hills Luke Harris, John Carroll Catholic

DESIGNATED HITTER: Tyler Waugh, Briarwood Braxton Wexler, Mountain Brook PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Lucas Steele, Hoover COACH OF THE YEAR: Adam Moseley, Hoover All OTM team members selected by voting from Over the Mountain high school baseball coaches.

2021 All-OTM Softball Team FIRST BASE: Sarah Katona, Oak Mountain Chloe Brittain, Spain Park

CATCHER: Gwynnie Hornibrook, Vestavia Hills Campbell Hecklinski, Hoover

SECOND BASE: Chloe Hontzas, Mountain Brook Riley Sullivan, Oak Mountain THIRD BASE: Katie Flannery, Spain Park Hunter Dunn, Homewood

PITCHERS: Annabella Widra, Spain Park Tait Davidson, Vestavia Hills Brookelyn Cannon, Hoover Charity Bibbs, Vestavia Hills Macey Ogle, John Carroll Catholic Lacy Marty, Oak Mountain

SHORTSTOP: Lydia Coleman, Spain Park Bella Foran, Hoover

DESIGNATED HITTER: Abi Allarde, John Carroll Catholic Edith Kaplan, Mountain Brook

OUTFIELD: Dawn Autry, Oak Mountain Jakaria Byrd, Homewood Mallory Ogle, John Carroll Catholic Gracie Hillman, Hoover Emma Hawkins, Spain Park Hannah Christian, Hoover

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Annabelle Widra, Spain Park

have four more years with that Spain Park across my chest.” On Sunday night, Widra was named the 2021 Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Miss Softball. Widra is the 18th Miss Softball and first Spain Park player to earn the honor. “This really means a lot to me,” Widra said of the Miss Softball award. “It’s just an incredible honor.” She also has been selected to the ASWA Super All-State team and has been named to the ASWA All-State Team every year since eighth grade, although no team was selected in 2020 because the pandemic. She was chosen the ASWA 2021 Class 7A Player of the Year. Spain Park coach C.J. Urse Hawkins had high praise for Widra. “Annabelle is an extraordinary softball player,” Urse Hawkins said. “Her work ethic, competitiveness and talent is at an elite level and had a huge impact on our program for six years.” Widra gets somewhat emotional when she talks about her high school career ending. “I knew the time would come,” she said. “At the beginning of the season, I told myself ‘This is it.’ I wouldn’t trade the six years I had for the world. I am glad I played all six years at Spain Park. I have been able to grow not only as a player but as a person under coach ‘C.J.’ Urse Hawkins.” The only thing Widra didn’t do was win a state championship. Spain Park was eliminated in the Class 7A, Area 6 tournament this season, finishing with a 35-7 record. “It’s a disappointment, but when I look back, I see all the great things we did,” she said. “As a seventh grader we made it to the state championship and I was a part of that. We got two red (runner-up) trophies, so that’s good. “It would have been great if we could have finished (the 2020 season). I think a blue (championship) map would have come out of that, but it wasn’t meant to be.” Last fall, Widra signed with the University of Michigan, one of the premier college programs in the country. She credited Michigan head coach

Carol Hutchins and the Wolverines’ coaching staff for making her feel at home during her visit. “Michigan is an incredible place and the atmosphere is fun and exciting,” Widra said. “I love the staff and I feel going there is the best decision I could have made.” When she signed, Widra was the nation’s No. 8-ranked recruit and sixthranked infielder, according to Extra Inning Softball. She will become the first Michigan softball player from Alabama. “She’s very highly regarded, especially by us, and she’s versatile, athletic and fast,” Hutchins said. “I also think she’s a legitimate D-I pitcher. She’s an impact player, without a doubt, and we’re excited for her to come in and make an impact.” Urse Hawkins believes Widra will continue to thrive at the next level. “Michigan is getting an awesome student-athlete,” Urse Hawkins said. “I can’t wait to watch her on ESPN. She’s extremely versatile and will be truly missed here at Spain Park.” Last week, Widra was selected to play in the Premier Girls Fastpitch AllAmerican Game at 6:30 p.m. on July 31 in Irvine, California. Widra is the only Alabama player among the 40 girls chosen for the East-West contest of 20-team players. The All-American game will be televised by ESPNU. “I am truly honored to be selected,” Widra said. “To be a player from Alabama and be part of it is amazing.”

Coach of the Year

Vestavia Hills’ Lissa Walker was voted 2021 OTM Coach of the Year after leading the Rebels to their first state tournament appearance since 2016 and a 27-22 record. “It was a good season with a lot of peaks and valleys,” Walker said. “There were some tough spots, but the girls hung in there. “We played in a really tough area, and we struggled the whole season with teams in our area (7A, Area 6), but to make it out of area and into the regional was a confidence booster.” Walker was appreciative of being chosen coach of the year. “It’s always a great honor because there are so many good coaches in our area,” she said. “And it’s a great surprise.”

Photo special to the Journal

by Over the Mountain coaches. “That’s awesome,” Steele said. “It’s definitely the best season I’ve had so far in my high school career.” The Bucs started the season 3-9 before turning things around. Their remarkable playoff run included series victories over No. 6 Bob Jones, No. 1 Hewitt-Trussville and No. 3 Florence before falling in three games in the championship series against No. 4 Auburn. Hoover lost the deciding game 7-6, leaving the bases loaded in the final inning. “When we started the season nobody thought we’d make it that far,” Steele said. “We came up short, but it was a good run.” Moseley praised Steele for his leadership throughout the season. “He’s a switch-hitting catcher with lots of power and an incredible leader,” Moseley said. “He plays with incredible energy. He had to catch in every game or almost every game, which was big for us. “He’s an absolute joy to coach and he’s a team first guy. He wants his teammates to be successful just as much as he wants to be successful.” Steele has been a catcher since he was 9 or 10 years old. His dad, Brett Steele, who played at Birmingham-Southern College, put him behind the plate and Lucas Steele immediately took to the position. “What I like about it is you’re involved in every play and you get to see the whole field, and you have a chance to lead the team,” Steele said. Steele always has been a switchhitter. “Ever since I picked up a bat,” he said. “I always thought I had raw power right-handed, but I was quicker to the ball left-handed.” Steele will get a chance to play at the next level. He already has committed to Samford. “My dad always said if I played college ball it would be good to end up at Samford,” Steele said. “Samford has a good program. I was looking at some other schools, but (Samford) coach (Casey) Dunn called me and made me an offer. Then when I went to actually visit the school, I knew it was the place for me.”

Journal photo by Marvin Gentry


COACH OF THE YEAR: Lissa Walker, Vestavia Hills All OTM team members selected by voting from Over the Mountain high school softball coaches.

Vestavia Hills’ Lissa Walker was voted 2021 OTM Coach of the Year after leading the Rebels to their first state tournament appearance since 2016 and a 27-22 record.

Oak Mountain’s Shaver Plans to Play Basketball for North Carolina Page 26.


Nerves of

Big-Game Performances Earn Hoover Catcher Baseball Player of the Year Honor


By Rubin E. Grant

Journal photo by Marvin Gentry


ucas Steele enjoys playing in big games. In fact, the bigger the stakes, the better he plays. So, it’s not a surprise that as Hoover made its remarkable run in the Class 7A state baseball playoffs, Steele, a junior catcher, was the driving force. “He likes big moments,” Hoover baseball coach Adam Moseley said. “He was struggling a little before area play, but MEET THE 2021 late in area play he turned ALL-OTM BASEBALL it on. When he started to TEAM ON PAGE 27 play well, we started to play better.” Steele said the playoffs is when his motor kicks into overdrive. “It’s the adrenaline because all the games matter,” Steele said. “I have always performed better in bigger games.” Steele finished the season with a .310 batting average, 21 extra-base hits, including 10 doubles and eight home runs in 43 games played, and 32 runs batted in. He had a .497 on-base percentage and 1.152 OPS while leading Hoover to 27-22 record and a runner-up finish in Class 7A. For his performance, Steele was selected the 2021 OTM Baseball Player of the Year in voting

Lucas Steele

See STEELE, page 27



Journal file photo by Marvin Gentry

Indians Springs’ Nabors Selected Gatorade Boys Soccer Player of the Year Page 26.

Annabelle Widra

Widra Caps Outstanding Spain Park Career With Another Player of the Year Award By Rubin E. Grant


nnabelle Widra and Spain Park softball have been synonymous for the past six years, ever since she joined the Jaguars as a seventh grader. The seemingly forever journey ended last month when Widra graduated, but what a journey it was as she became the most highly recognized player in the history of the Spain Park program. Widra capped off her brilliant career this spring by posting a 20-5 record with two saves, a 1.20 ERA and 239 strikeouts in the pitching circle. She tossed three perfect games and had three no-hitters and 11 shutouts. Opponents batted .139 against her as she allowed only 21 earned runs, 63 hits and 12 walks in 123 innings. She finished with 1,183 career strikeouts. Playing shortstop and second base when not pitching, Widra hit a careerhigh 15 home runs while batting .490. She led the team with 47 runs batted in and had 32 stolen bases in 35 attempts. For her performance, Widra was

voted the 2021 OTM Softball Player of the Year in balloting by Over the Mountain coaches. It’s the third time Widra has received the honor. She was the 2018 OTM Player of the Year as a freshman and shared the 2019 honor with former Spain Park teammate Maddie Majors as a sophomore. No All-OTM team or player of the year was selected in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. She also has been selected to the Alabama Sports Writers Association All-State Team MEET THE 2021 every year since ALL-OTM SOFTBALL she was in TEAM ON PAGE 27 eighth grade, except when no team was selected in 2020. She was chosen the ASWA 2021 Class 7A Player of the Year. “It’s always nice to be recognized for all the hard work I’ve put in,” Widra said. “I challenged myself to be better from the mental side of the game this season and I just took the season to enjoy it. I had a blast with everything. I told some of my younger teammates I would do anything to

See WIDRA, page 27

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