At a special event on Sept. 14, former UCA athletes were immortalized for their outstanding college careers .
At the Centennial Valley Events Center, the UCA Sports Hall of Fame gained new seven members. The inductees were also acknowledged on the stripes of Estes Stadium prior to UCA’s battle with Abilene Christian University.
The Hall of Fame class included NAIA All-American track athlete Byron Bailey, three-year football letterman winner Woodrow Cummings, the single-season leader in tackles for a loss Carl Harris, two-time All-Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference football player Richard McCauley, the most decorated volleyball player in UCA history Chole Smith, three year letterwinner in both football and track Jim Tarkington and NAIA All-American in outdoor and indoor track Patrick Woodson.
Along with being an All-American, Bailey was also a four-time All-Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference award winner and competed in the NAIA National Championship on UCA’s 1,600-meter relay team.
“This is something that doesn't just happen,” Bailey said. “It comes through dedication to the craft. It’s unexpected, but it’s a lot of fun man; I’ll tell you that. It’s better than Christmas.”
Inductees into the Hall of Fame are selected by a committee of 12 members. After being nominated, players are ranked on a point system that considers the amount of years a player participated and if they graduated, but mostly the variety and number of accolades they obtain.
This is the 19th class of Hall of Fame athletes at UCA and is becoming tougher to become a part of. Each class used to induct 10-12 players each year, but have cut that number to 7-9 since 2010.
“We have so many great athletes and former players in the history of UCA and the tradition is so vast here,” UCA Athletic Director Brad Teague said. “It’s amazing each year that we can turn out really great Hall of Fame classes.We always have great student athletes that keep coming through so there’ll always be a big pool of great UCA Bears.”
One of the standouts in this year’s class was Chole Smith. During her time as a Sugar Bear, she was a three-time Southland Conference Player of the Year and also a three-time Southland Student Athlete of the Year.
Smith is the only student athlete in SLC history to hold these titles.
“I started playing volleyball when I was sixteen and everything was kind of a whirlwind,” Smith said. “I was actually a swimmer first and never even thought I’d be a collegiate athlete. Then all of the sudden, I’m a freshman and I’m starting and then I’m getting player of the year.”
Despite the awards she collected throughout her career, Smith found the most satisfaction in the experiences she had with her teammates.
“Every time I got something it was so humbling and I was so grateful for it. I was just excited to be along for the ride with my team,” Smith said.
“My junior year we went 16-0 and I had amazing teammates. Getting the awards and everything doesn’t mean anything without my teammates. I had some of the best setters and defenders in the league and to be able to play with them for four years is really special, and I’ll always appreciate it.”