UAM Hall announces Class of ’17
Some decisions in life are what are called “no-brainers.” Such a conclusion has been reached by those who vote on the University of Arkansas at Monticello Sports Hall of Fame.
In one of the best classes in recent memory, four All-Americans in three different sports and an Arkansas high school coaching legend have been selected for induction to the UAM Sports Hall.
Softball All-American Kayla Jackson, football All-Americans Tommy Graf and Melvin Patrick, women’s 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 Class of 2017.
The new class will be inducted at a banquet at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 19 in the John F. Gibson University Center during Homecoming week festivities. Tickets are $40 and may be purchased by calling the Department of Athletics at 870-460-1058.
In another “no-brainer” decision, Becky Phillips, the longtime UAM Faculty Athletic Representative, and her husband Keith will receive the Boll Weevil Spirit Award for their support of the university’s intercollegiate athletics program.
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 in 2009, the GSC West Player of the Year in 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 both the regular-season and tournament conference championships.
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 22-year UAM softball coach Alvy Early, himself a member of the UAM Sports Hall. “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, 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 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Honorable Mention All-American. After sitting out the 1995 season with an injury, he returned in 1996 and was named first-team All-GSC 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 1990-93. “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.”
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; he finished that 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.
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 1993. 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. She scored 1,309 points wearing Kelly Green and White, which ranks her 10th in UAM women basketball’s 1,000-point club.
“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.”
Other than her scoring rank at UAM, Boatman ranks sixth in career scoring average, sixth in single-season scoring (736 points) and scored a career-best 40 points against Henderson State University. 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.
Williams played football for the legendary Jimmy “Red” Parker at Arkansas A&M College 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, Williams served as head football coach and athletics director at Pocahontas High School from 1981 to 2013.
He was Class 2A, District 2 Coach of the Year in 1988, 1990, 1998 and 2000, 3-2A Coach of the Year in 1993, 2-3A Coach of the Year in 2003, 2004 and 2005 and the 3-3A Coach of the Year in 2006. He was also the 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, 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.
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 regulars at all UAM athletic events. Becky Phillips is an assistant professor in the School of Business along with serving as UAM’s FAR to the GAC 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,” UAM Director of Athletics John Harvey said. “We don’t have any more loyal fans or supporters.”