Hendrix folks, many of them good Methodists that they are, apparently had the right connections from above this weekend.
The college is hosting both the Southern Athletic Association softball tournament and track and field championships. Those are being contested during the two best back-to-back weather days of the year.
Brilliant sun. Rich blue, non-anthracite sky. The only blemish was an occasional white jet tail far above the playing area.
The Warriors’ softball stadium took on a brilliance with lush, green grass against a wooded backdrop in the outfield.
Temperatures were in the 80s with little humidity.
For spectating, it was a good hammock day on the opening day.
In the past two decades, Conway has had very few big track meets. Now, the city will have two NCAA-qualifier track meets in three weeks. Hendrix has the SAA championships this weekend and the University of Central Arkansas will host the Southland Conference championships May 15-17.
Hendrix will apparently get two wonderful days for its competitions. Then, it gets stormy.
Because of the threat of severe weather Sunday, the softball tournament, which was supposed to end Sunday afternoon, has been changed to a two-day event. The championship round will begin Saturday night. One game Friday was shifted to UCA’s Farris Field.
BUSY ATHLETIC DIRECTOR
Amy Weaver, Hendrix’s athletic director, was moving at a fast pace Friday.
She not only is coaching her softball team in the tournament but she’s overseeing the entire event.
It takes a lot of people to put on a track meet.
With help. Lots of it. All available staff is multi-tasking and spouses and community volunteers are there for “other duties as assigned.”
“It takes the whole staff (except for those who are in competitions in other states) working together to pull this off,” she said.
Members of the Hendrix football coaching staff, among other things, are serving as the grounds crew for the softball tournament. Natalie Shock, UCA’s associate athletic director and Senior Women’s Administrator and a former softball coach for the Bears, is lending a hand to the softball tournament.
It’s been a cooperative effort between Hendrix and UCA. In addition to providing a field at the last minute for softball, the hammer throw is being contested at the Bill Stepphens Complex.
Weaver was not shy about getting her hands dirty. Minutes after the Warriors upset Rhodes in the first game of the softball tournament, she went to a storage room, grabbed a bag of dirt and got on her hands and knees in helping the football coaches prep the field for the next game.
Buck Buchanan, Hendrix’s football coach, had his players moved out of their locker room at the Sturgis Center over the weekend to turn it over to Weaver’s softball team.
The players cleaned out their lockers, placed nametags of the softball players on the lockers and even hung the uniforms in place.
“I doubt there is any football coach in the country who would have done that for softball,” Weaver said. “When they saw it, our players were stoked.”
PAST TIME ACTIVITY
As she watched the softball game, one Rhodes fan pulled out a bag and began to crossstitch. It put another meaning to the phrase, “stick to your knitting.”
FOR THE KIDS
Each SAA school has chosen to affiliate with a nearby children’s hospital for charity work. When each school sponsors a championship event, donations are collected for the nearby hospital.
This weekend, Hendrix athletes are taking donations at the gate for Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Recently, a group of Hendrix athletes visited ACH in Little Rock to play with the patients and encourage then in their struggles.
Not only is the weather Chamber of Commerce perfect for the Hendrix championships, so is the price. Admission is free to all events.
(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 501-505-1235 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @dmaclcd)