By Chanda Temple
Birmingham, Ala. – Emanuel Bell was dressed for battle when he entered the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex arena to coach the Wenonah High School Lady Dragons to victory in the state 5A basketball finals on Saturday, Feb. 28.
Forget jeans and Jordans. His combat attire was a pressed black suit, white bow tie and polished Stacy Adams.
Fans noticed Bell’s sharp look as soon as he stepped onto the court. And so did al.com, which has him listed as a contestant in its poll for the Best Dressed Basketball Coach in the Alabama high school basketball playoffs. Voting is open now through12 p.m. on Friday, March 6. Go here to vote.
The Lady Dragons are also in the running as Best Girls’ Basketball Team in a separate poll. Go here to vote.
Bell, who’s 60 years old and has been a coach for 21 years, said he’s honored by the recognition and hopes people will vote in both polls. Votes may be cast daily. Here’s a closer look at his dressing skills off the court.
What did you wear to the playoffs? He wore a brown suit, a gold and brown bow tie and a gold sweater vest with a coordinating pocket square for the semifinals on Feb. 26. He wore a black suit, a black shirt, a white pocket square and a black and white sweater vest on Feb. 28.
Where did you get your black suit and brown suit? “Both suits are from Cal’s Super Ego in Bessemer. And I got my black shirt and white bow tie from The Vault Clothing down on Fourth Avenue and Sixteenth Street North in the Civil Rights District. I got the black and white sweater vest from K&G. I bought the gold sweater vest and the brown and gold bow tie from Nu Wear in Western Hills Mall.”
Did you wear anything lucky for the finals? “For the last two years, my bow ties have been my lucky charms. That and God’s blessing.’’
Why did you dress up for the playoffs? “They have this (game) televised. I had one of the best dressed mothers in the school system for 30 years. She worked at A.G. Gaston. Her name is Maggie Bell. She always taught her boys to dress neat and speak well. It doesn’t matter your size. You know I’m a big boy. I put a crease in my jeans every day. Kids are looking at you. You want to represent yourself well. When I attended school at A.G. Gaston Middle School, I admired James Roberson, father of Birmingham Councilor Jay Roberson. Mr. Roberson was one of the best dressed men down at A.G. Gaston Middle School. All of the young men wanted to be like Mr. Roberson. He wore suits every day.”
Your team won the state title in 2014 and now this year. You also won in 2004. Do you all have a motto or saying? “It used to be ‘Hard Work Pays Off.’ But the one I adopted last year is ‘Discipline + Defense = Championships.’ ’’ (The team made it to the state finals in 2013 but lost by one point.)
How did you celebrate after your Feb. 28 win? We celebrated at Pappadeaux.
So you’ve won. Now will you rest? “We’ll have two weeks of rest and back to conditioning.”
Wow, you really don’t play around. “I’m just proud of my girls. We only have one senior and she has several scholarship offers. Last year, I had six seniors and they all went to college on scholarships. And that’s the stuff that makes you proud. I love the rings and things but the scholarships are even better. I appreciate my principal, Mrs. Regina Carr-Hope, for being very supportive and having my back on everything we try to do at Wenonah to move kids in the right direction. She has a motto: ‘Wenonah Dragons: Where Champions are Made.’ I also need to recognize my assistant coaches Byron Allen, Kenneth Lang and Tameka Dennis. You are only as good as the people around you. I’m proud of the Birmingham school system. I graduated from Wenonah.’’