Four All-Americans in three different sports and an Arkansas high school coaching legend have been selected for induction to the University of Arkansas at Monticello Sports Hall of Fame.
Softball All-American Kayla Jackson, football All-Americans Tommy Graf and Melvin Patrick, basketball All-American Carolyn Boatman, and the late Dave Williams, one of the most successful high school football coaches in the state’s history, comprise the Hall of Fame’s class of 2017.
Becky Phillips, long-time faculty athletic representative, and her husband, Keith, will receive the Boll Weevil Spirit Award for their support of the university’s intercollegiate athletics program.
The class of 2017 will be inducted at a banquet October 19 at 6 p.m. in the John F. Gibson University Center. Tickets are $40 and may be purchased by calling the Department of Athletics at (870) 460-1058. Rex Nelson, senior editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, will serve as master of ceremonies for the 11th consecutive year.
Jackson is the youngest inductee, selected in her first year of eligibility. A pitcher and first baseman, Jackson was a three-time National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-American, the Gulf South Conference West Division Freshman of the Year (2009), GSC West Player of the Year (2011), and was chosen to the GSC All-Decade Team for 2001-10. When UAM switched to the Great American Conference in 2012, Jackson was named the GAC Female Athlete of the Year while leading the Cotton Blossoms to the conference championship.
Her career pitching record of 114-31 included an earned run average of 1.19, 44 shutouts, 686 strikeouts and seven no-hitters. She holds the UAM career record for base hits with 290 and posted a single-season record .527 on-base percentage in 2011.
“Kayla was probably the single most dominant player we’ve had,” said UAM softball coach Alvy Early. “When she was pitching, we expected to win, and when she wasn’t, she had a knack for getting the big hit when we needed it.”
Like Jackson, Tommy Graf has the distinction of earning all-conference honors in two different conferences. A talented, pass-catching tight end, Graf earned first-team All-Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference honors as a junior in 1994 and was named an NAIA Honorable Mention All-American. After sitting out the ’95 season with an injury, he returned in ’96 and was named first team All-Gulf South Conference as well as Second Team All-American by Don Hansen’s Football Gazette.
Graf lettered four seasons (1992-94, 96) and finished his career as UAM’s all-time receiving leader for tight ends with 125 receptions for 1,550 yards and 14 touchdowns. He saved his best for last, catching 66 passes for 683 yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior.
“Tommy Graf was a quarterback’s dream,” said Bryan Trucks, who quarterbacked the Boll Weevils from 1990 to 1993. “I knew if I got in trouble all I needed to do was put the ball within six feet of Tommy and he’d catch it. I never saw him drop a catchable ball.”
Melvin Patrick was virtually unblockable as a 250-pound defensive tackle in 1983. Patrick became the first athlete in school history in any sport to earn first team All-America honors when he was named an NAIA First Team All-American. A two-year starter, Patrick set records while posting numbers usually reserved for edge pass rushers.
In 1983, Patrick set a single-season record that still stands when he sacked opposing quarterbacks 16 times and finished the season with a combined 25 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. For his career, Patrick recorded 19 sacks and 28 tackles for losses. In addition to his All-America honors, Patrick was a first team All-AIC selection.
Carolyn Boatman was a two-time All-American as a high scoring center for the Cotton Blossoms basketball team. She was an NAIA Second Team All-American as a junior in 1992 and an honorable mention selection as a senior in ’93. Boatman was also a two-time First Team All-AIC selection and still ranks among UAM’s all-time leaders in scoring and rebounding, with career averages of 19.6 points and 9.6 rebounds a game.
“Carolyn was a tremendous low post player,” said Early, who coached the UAM women’s basketball team from 1979 to 2000. “When she caught the ball on the low block, she was almost impossible to stop. She was a consistent force, night in and night out.”
Boatman ranks sixth in career scoring average, ninth in career scoring (1,309 points), sixth in single season scoring (736 points), and scored a career-best 40 points vs. Henderson State. During Boatman’s career, she led the Blossoms to the 1993 AIC championship (the last in conference history) and a berth in the NAIA National Tournament.
The late Dave Williams played football for the legendary Red Parker at Arkansas A&M in the early 1960s, but it was high school coaching where he left his mark. A 2017 inductee to the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, Mr. Williams served as head football coach and athletics director at Pocahontas High School from 1981 to 2013.
He was 2AA Coach of the Year in 1988, 1990, 1998 and 2000, 3AA Coach of the Year in 1993, 2AAA Coach of the Year in 2003, 2004 and 2005, and the 3AAA Coach of the Year and K8 Coaches Super Team Coach of the Year in 2006. Along the way, he led Pocahontas to 17 state playoff appearances and nine conference championships.
Proving his versatility as a coach and educator, Mr. Williams won five conference championships in track and field and was named the 2007 Pocahontas Teacher of the Year. In 2000, the Pocahontas athletic facility was named the Marcus Van Camp/George David Williams Athletic Complex.
Mr. Williams is also a member of the Arkansas High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame and the Van Buren Hall of Fame.
Keith and Becky Phillips are this year’s recipients of the Boll Weevil Spirit Award. The Phillips’ are regulars at all UAM athletic events. Becky Phillips is an assistant professor in the School of Business and serves as UAM’s faculty athletics representative to the Great American Conference and NCAA. Keith Phillips is the purchasing and shipping manager for Maxwell Hardwood Flooring of Monticello.
“Whether it’s Keith cooking for fans at football tailgates or Becky taking an active role in the UAM Sports Association, we can always count on their support,” said John Harvey, director of athletics. “We don’t have any more loyal fans or supporters.”
For more information or to purchase tickets, which will cost $40, to the UAM Sports Hall of Fame event, contact the UAM Athletics Department at 870-460-1058.