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Pitts-Delph Awards: Recipients climb backs of others

Posted: January 20, 2014 - 6:37pm
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Joe Mosby, longtime outdoor writer and sports reporter for the Arkansas Gazette and the Log Cabin Democrat, accepted the Joe B. McGee Award for meritorious service to Conway on Sunday.

It was special.

McGee, also a longtime sports reporter and editor of the Log Cabin, hired Mosby in 1952, launching much-decorated career of more than 60 years in the newspaper business that included induction into the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame and the Arkansas Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame.

“It would be inaccurate to say that Joe B. McGee taught me the journalism business; Joe threw me in the water and I had to learn how to swim,” Mosby said.

Sink or swim.

That set the tone at Central Baptist College’s Mabee Center for various recognitions at the Conway Athletic Awards Commission’s annual awards luncheon.

In an emotional talk, University of Central Arkansas baseball coach Allen Gum, who led the Bears to a record season, a Southland Conference tournament championship and a surge into an NCAA regional final said, “I got here on the backs of other people.”

Gum was presented the Marvin Delph Award for Sportsman of the Year in 2013.

Gum said that growing up in athletics “the only thing I had going for me in baseball was I was left-handed and had a big smile.”

He said a high school coach in Bentonville, Manuel “Red” Washington, turned his life around because “he was the first person in my life that I saw Jesus Christ in him.”

Hendrix’s Elizabeth Krug earned the Delph Award for Sportswoman of the Year. She won the NCAA Division III heptathlon title becoming the only athlete in the history of the event to come back from 100 points down to win the championship on the final event. A senior, she has already broken 57 school records, some her own, solidly establishing herself as one of the best athletes in school history.

Krug noted that her first track meet in high school was “an absolute train wreck.” She hit the upright standard on her first high jump, missed the pit completely and landed on an electrical box nearby. She had a bad landing on the pole vault and ended up with a bloody lip, delaying the event. She pulled a hamstring in the long jump.

“I didn’t think track was for me but I had a coach who would not let me not compete,” she said.

Last year, when she fell immediately behind in the NCAA heptathlon after a weak high jump, Hendrix coach Patrick MacDonald never quit encouraging her that there was still a chance of possibly getting on the medal stand and possibly winning.

“He kept me going,” she said. “Even when we argued, he let me do my thing, then he came back and showed my how to correct my mistakes.”

The pre-med student who is a biology major said she also had the encouragement of her family, including three siblings. “I consider it a a great career to be half the person they are,” she said.

Henry Hawk, who was presented the Elijah Pitts career achievement award, distinguished himself as a star football player and later as a world class masters runner who has run 50 marathons and set a world record in the 800 meters in 60-64 age division in the national Senior Olympics.

Hawk noted it “it takes a whole lot of people to get you there,” but he said his career turned around in the fifth and sixth grade when he encountered Raymond Bright, the late and legendary Conway and UCA coach.

“Coach Bright knew I hated school,” Hawk said. “So, in the sixth grade, he made me the manager of Conway’s athletic teams. I’d wake up in the morning and coach Bright would be sitting with my Dad talking bird hunting. He knew if he didn’t take me under his wing, I wouldn’t have stayed in school. If it hadn’t been for him, I’d be working at Virco gluing things back together.”

Hawk, age 76, is still gluing things together in a sense.

He helps senior citizens with exercise techniques and his extended that expertise to parapalegics and quadripalegics, working individually to help expand their mobility.

“You can buy millions of dollars of exercise equipment,” he said. “I go into the bedroom with a parapalegic with a 5-pound weight and a long rope.”

The award winners were selected by the awards commission, composed of athletic officials and media representatives in Conway.

Also recognized were eighth-graders from Conway public and private schools with Marvin Delph Student-Athlete Awards. They were Maridia Harper, Megan Solberg, Zach Freedle and Michael George Jr., Conway Blue; Casey Ott, Mae Roach, Joe Thomas and Logan White, Conway White; Lindsey Witting and Spencer Pope, St. Joseph; Kendra Lea and Aaron Martin, Conway Christian.

Those award winners were chosen by teachers and coaches at the respective schools.

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