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Valley manager Jonah Nolen signs full scholarship with Wallace State

Jonah Nolen has spent the past couple of years behind the scenes at Valley High School. The senior has worked as a manager for several teams in his high school career, working late nights before going home to finish his schoolwork.

His hard work behind the scenes paid off, as Nolen signed a full scholarship with Wallace State to be the school’s baseball manager. With his scholarship, he will also be able to work with the UAB football team in the fall.

“It’s a really big honor,” Nolen said. “I’m going to do the best I can at it. I’m going to try to study hard.”

Nolen originally started as a player on the football team but decided playing wasn’t for him. Instead of quitting the team, he went to then-head coach Buster Daniel asking to be the team’s manager.

After being the football manager, Nolen quickly moved on to basketball.

“He is unbelievable. Him and his parents are unbelievable,” head basketball coach Marshon Harper said. “He helps set up everything that I need set up. I don’t even need to be in the gym, and he’ll have the gym set up, chairs out, washing jerseys helping clean up the gym. As a head coach, that takes a lot off of me, and he says ‘coach I don’t mind doing it.’ If I try to help him do it, he’s ‘I got it, coach.’ I’m proud of you and congratulations. That’s a big step in your life.”

Nolen added to his experience this year, as he started working with the Rams’ baseball team.

“Over the course of the last several years, Jonah has been a blessing to the athletic programs here at Valley,” head baseball coach and assistant football coach Patrick Shivers said. “This is his first year helping me with baseball. Just from his help this year, the amount of work he does behind the scenes goes unnoticed by a lot, but he makes every head coach’s job so much easier, not having to worry about loading water coolers, getting equipment set up, cleaning things up or getting things ready for the day. That’s just huge for our athletic programs to have a guy as dedicated as he has been to this program.”

While the nights can be long for the athletes and coaches on the teams, Nolen works just as long if not longer some days. After every game he works, Nolen makes sure the uniforms are clean, the gym or locker rooms are taken care of and the coaches have everything they need before heading home for the night.

“It’s been hard. I’ve had some late nights, getting [back to the school] about 1 a.m., not leaving until about 3 a.m., making sure that everything is washed, locker room is cleaned up and make sure the coach is good before you leave,” Nolen said. “You have to do the best that you can.”

Nolen said his favorite sport to be a manager for has been the basketball team.

Nolen will follow in the footsteps of former Lanett manager Cameron Reed, who is now a manager for the Chicago Bears.

“Coach Harper and so many individuals reached out to me about Jonah. I started out just like Jonah,” Reed said. “It is awesome to see something like this in our community. Oftentimes, managers and support staff get overlooked, but they are the main people behind the scenes that get the job done.”

Not only does Nolen help the coaches and players on an almost daily basis, but he also helps make the jobs and lives of the Valley High School staff easier as well.

“When he makes life easier for the coaches, he makes life easier for us also,” Valley High School Principal Dr. Sherry Ashe said. “It goes even beyond that because anything that we ask Jonah to do, he does it in a heartbeat. He’s always cheerful and happy about it. It is clear that he got his work ethic from his parents. Jonah, thank you for everything that you’ve done here at Valley High School. What he has done has been incredible.”