Arkansas Track and Field Hall of Fame
The Arkansas Track and Field Hall of Fame (ATFHF), which began honoring athletes in 1995, is dedicated to recognizing Arkansans whose performances and contributions have distinguished them in the world of track and field. Its stated mission is to “honor and recognize persons who have made significant contributions to the sports of track and field and cross country in the state of Arkansas; and recognize and encourage Arkansas high school track athletes who have excelled in performance and /or academics.”
While the first class was inducted in 1995, the idea of establishing such a hall had been in the works for some time. Led by Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) track and field coach Bob Gravett, who is generally recognized as the driving force in making the hall a reality, the organization was founded in 1992 with the writing of a set of by-laws and the establishment of a nine-member board of directors. The original board was made up of Harry Denson, U. S. Grant, Bob Gravett, George Jones, Guy Kochel, Karl Koonce, Ted Lloyd, Bobby Richardson, and Jim Mack Sawyer. Gravett served as the first president. Over the years, the Board of Directors expanded to twenty-one members who guide the organization’s daily business. The board’s responsibilities include the distribution of ballots and biographical information for each individual who is named on the master list of nominees to the membership. The annual inductees are chosen by the hall membership voting from the list, with the final confirmation being made by the board. There is also a senior list with the same procedures for nominees seventy years and older. The board makes the selection from that list. Nominations for both lists are solicited from the ATFHF membership. All current members are eligible to submit nominations for the master list or the senior list (those seventy and over). Nominations must include a biography featuring the nominee’s track accomplishments and/or contributions to the sport.
The hall traditionally has its induction banquet the first Friday in June, with the event serving as an annual celebration of Arkansas track and field. Over the years, Olympians, outstanding coaches, and track officials have been celebrated. In addition, the annual banquet also recognizes and furthers the sport’s future by including and honoring some of the state’s top high school performers from that year.
The inaugural group of inductees in 1995 was heavy on Olympic stars and featured medalists such as pole vaulter Earl Bell, 400-meter runner Williams Carr, and hurdler Clyde Scott. Olympic medalists such as hurdler Thomas Hill and triple jumpers Al Joyner and Mike Conley Sr. headlined the 1996, 1997, and 1998 classes, respectively.
For additional information:
Arkansas Track and Field Hall of Fame. https://www.angelfire.com/ar/atca/hallfame.html (accessed January 25, 2023).
William H. Pruden III
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