Lady Buc Janna Magette
By Wayne Wood
Back during a late January afternoon of 1994, I was riding with Coach Bob Finley to Hewitt-Trussville for a girls basketball game. Our Berry High School Lady Bucs Basketball Varsity Team was scheduled to play the Lady Huskies. Coach Finley was head coach of the Lady Bucs and I was traveling with him to do the scorebook.
For about 30 minutes, it afforded us the opportunity to privately discuss football and girls basketball. One of the questions he asked me was if there were any promising girl basketball prospects coming up the next year from Simmons Middle School. One of the first names I mentioned was that of Janna Magette.
During the summer of 1994, Berry High School was transforming into becoming the new Hoover High School and Janna’s class would be the first freshmen group on campus. She looked forward to playing under the legendary Coach Finley who had gained a deserved reputation of being an excellent girls basketball coach as well as a great head football coach. Janna worked hard that summer during the Lady Bucs team camp in preparation for the upcoming season.
Unfortunately, Coach Finley died on July 31–just days before the new school was to begin classes. Janna and her classmates were going to be deprived of having the opportunity to play under the great coach. However, Finley’s brother-in-law, Ron Jones, took over the coaching duties along with his son Eddie. Ron had helped assist with the girls for several years although he was a full-time airlines pilot professionally.
The 1994-1995 girls basketball season opened sadly enough with the absence of Coach Finley but the Lady Bucs put together an excellent season with 9th grader Janna starting at point guard. They won the Northeast Regional at Jacksonville State to advance to the Final Four at the BJCC in Birmingham. However, they lost in the semi-finals to Daphne.
Janna went on to have an excellent career at Hoover. She was a great all-around player. On offense, she was a deadly shooter from the outside as a right-hander. Janna set school records for scoring and this was just before the 3-point shot was legalized by the AHSAA so it would’ve much higher. She had a neat technique with her free throws in that she’d put her left hand behind her back and shoot with her perfectly balanced right hand. Most games she would hit 90-100% at the free throw line.
Janna was also a great softball player as a fielder & batter and the Bucs won the 6-A state title in both her junior & senior seasons of 1997 & 1998. Her senior basketball season ended sadly in the first round of the Southeast Regionals at Troy University losing to Prattville.
Among her many athletic & high academic honors, Janna won one of the most prestigious honors which the Hoover City School System had begun in 1996. This is the Bob Finley Character Award recognized as one of the top achievements by a Hoover senior student. Though she never played for Bob Finley, this award was just as gratifying as anything she accomplished & probably more so.
After graduation, Janna attended Davidson College (20 miles above Charlotte, N.C.) on a full scholarship. She started at guard all four seasons and by her career’s end had acquired top school records for season & career in points scored, assists & steals on defense. Besides being a great team leader, Janna also acquired high academic honors for both team and all-conference recognition and finished with a degree in religion in 2002.
She went into women’s college coaching as an assistant doing a variety of duties both athletically & academically. Her first job was at Francis Marion University in South Carolina from 2002-2004. From 2004-2007, she assisted at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte becoming well acquainted with head coach Amanda Butler. When Coach Butler got the head women’s position at the University of Florida in Gainesville in 2007, she kept Janna on her staff doing a variety of assisting duties a director of basketball operations. If you viewed an SEC women’s basketball game on TV involving Florida during this time, you would’ve likely seen Janna sitting calmly with a clipboard in her hands offering advice ever so often. Sort of the quiet, brains behind the operation type of coach.
While at the University of Florida, she obtained her master degree in Sports Management in 2010 and in April of 2015 obtained her doctorate in Leadership Development from the University of Florida’s Department of Agricultural Education & Communication.
Janna eventually got out of coaching in 2013 to become the Executive Director of Girls Place, Inc. This is a grassroots non-profit organizational program that focuses on introducing girls to their passion & preparing them to pursue that passion. Janna believes that leadership is not a list of set traits but rather it should be developed & enhanced in each individual through practice & reflection. She believes leadership is about bringing all of yourself to everything you do. This program is based in Gainesville where she still lives.
Janna’s parents (Mr. & Mrs. Jimmy Magette) still live in the Hoover area. She has two younger brothers, Jay & Josh. Josh also played college basketball as a point guard at the University of Alabama/Huntsville and later played professionally.
Janna Magette is certainly a Hoover High Lady Buc who has accomplished a lot since her graduation and the most important has been implementing great character traits into those she comes in contact with be it past, present & future. Janna is truly a Buccaneer Legend.