Times Staff Report
Emanuel Bell, the legendary Wenonah High School girls’ basketball coach, has died. Mr. Bell was 64. He was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in August 2016 and battled valiantly just like the teams he led to four straight 5A state titles.
“I was saddened to hear of the passing of Wenonah High School girls’ basketball coaching legend Emanuel Bell,” said Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin in a statement. “Coach Bell cared about his players on and off the court. He made sure they took time to do their homework when they were away from the classroom, and he showed them how far teamwork could take them to victory and beyond.
“His students went on to secure state basketball championships and several college scholarships. While at Wenonah, he was known as a “dynasty maker,’’ coaching the girls’ varsity basketball team to four, straight 5A state wins – from 2014 to 2017.”
Woodfin also said, “In 2017, Coach Bell led the team to a 5A victory while battling lung cancer. He was a champion on the court and off, facing challenges and achievements with a smile. He set a standard of excellence that we should all try to replicate. I will always remember his motto as he fought lung cancer: “Faith, Not Fear.’’ It was an honor to know him.
The Alabama High School Athletic Association also issued the following statement from its executive director, Steve Savarese:
“Our AHSAA family of member schools has lost a special person in Coach Emanuel Bell. His love for teaching and coaching was only surpassed for his love of his players. He had an impact on all who knew him. We are all very fortunate that he chose to teach and coach at Wenonah High School.
“His legacy will live on in the hearts and soul of those he helped mold into outstanding adults. Our hearts and prayers go out to Coach Bell’s family, his team, his school and all who loved him.
“He fought a valiant fight and now I can only imagine that he is organizing a team and coaching in heaven tonight. Yes, I am sure with his contagious smile that he is working the crowd and hugging everyone in sight. Heaven has a new angel and we have lasting memories of Coach Bell. His life of service is one we should all emulate. He will be missed by us all.”