Monticello, AR (Wesley Carnicle) – The University of Arkansas at Monticello Sports Hall of Fame will welcome two new individual members, and a pair of teams, in an induction ceremony to be conducted at a later date. UAM will add football standouts Kevin Kraft and John Tatum, along with the 2010 UAM Softball Team and the 1985-86 UAM Men’s Basketball Team. The UAM Hall of Fame will also recognize Spirit Award Honorees, Gay and Grant Pace.
The Class of 2020 includes:
Kevin Kraft – (Graduating Class of 2000)
John Tatum – (Graduating Class of 1981)
2010 UAM Softball Team
1985-86 UAM Men’s Basketball Team
2020 UAM Spirit Award Honorees:
Gay and Grant Pace
Kraft played football for the Weevils from 1997-2000 as UAM’s kicker. Upon graduation in 2000, he was the all-time leading scorer and held 18 out of 21 kicking records. Kraft is still the all-time leader in field goals attempted (51), field goals made (37), field goal percentage (.725), extra points attempted (105), extra points made (100) and is second in kick scoring (205). He is fourth on UAM’s all-time list in total points scored. Along with his accolades on the field, He served as the Treasury of the Student Government Association for the 1998-99 school year.
After graduating from UAM, Kraft received his MBA from the University of Central Arkansas and became partner at a firm in Maumelle, Arkansas, and served his community there for 15 years. He is now a successful small business owner in Guthrie, Oklahoma and is one of the highest producing State Farm agents in his territory. Kraft volunteers with the local YMCA and has won the award for Volunteer of the Year. He also earned an award for Small Business of the Year in his town. Continuing to give back to his community, Kraft serves on the boards of the YMCA, Rotary and the local Chamber of Commerce. He has coached soccer and has a passion for sharing his love of sports with the youth of today.
Tatum played football for the Weevils from 1976-81. After suffering an injury his first year on campus, he returned and immediately made an impact as one of the best defensive ends in the conference. A player with great speed and talent, opponents were fearful of running the ball to Tatum’s side of the field. Perhaps one of his most impressive plays, was against UAM rival, Southern Arkansas University during the 1978 season. One of the few times a team decided to run a ball on John’s side of the field did not go well, as he forced a fumble, recovered it and brought 98 yards back for a touchdown.
Tatum made a change his senior year in 1979 to anchor the defense as the team’s middle linebacker. His tough play and awareness helped lead the Boll Weevils to the 1979 AIC Championship. For his individual efforts, he was All-AIC and First Team NAIA All-District 17. He was named the 1979 UAM Football Black Athlete of the Year, The UAM Black Athlete of the Year in 1980 and the 1981 Outstanding Academic Achievement Award Recipient. John was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys, but an unfortunate health matter prohibited him from playing.
Tatum was the second African American to graduate from UAM’s School of Forestry and has had an incredible professional career at International Paper.
2010 UAM Softball Team
The 2010 UAM Softball Team is one of the most highly decorated teams in UAM history. A team full of tremendous talent, this Blossom roster went on to be NCAA South Regional Finalists and ending the year ranked 11th in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association’s Top-25 Poll. They were also Gulf South West Champions and ended the 2010 campaign with a 55-13 overall record.
The Team had a tremendous amount of individual accolades as well. They were led by All-Americans Becca Tipton, Kayla Jackson, Emilee Hobbs and Sarah Hayslip.
Their head coach, the legendary Alvy Early was named GSC West Division Coach of the Decade and 2010 Coach of the Year, while Tipton, Hobbs, Jackson, Hayslip, Jennifer Hickman and Faith Lund all earned All-GSC West honors.
That year, the Blossoms broke several single-season records that still hold today including at-bats (1,935), runs scored (454), hits (683), doubles (126), RBI (409), on-base pct. (.412), most wins (55), most complete games (48) and most innings pitched (453.0). Along with their record-breaking 55 total wins. They also had their longest win streak in school history with 19 and the fewest conference losses ever with five.
Members of the 2010 roster include (alphabetical): Katie Bowman, Chasity Desselle, Jessica Dickey, Bethany Falcon, Sarah Hayslip, Jennifer Hickman, Emilie Hobbs, Kayla Jackson, Faith Lund, Amanda Nordberg, Randa Perry, Maggie Sands, Kayla Temple, Becca Tipton, Kendra White, Meagan Wilson and Haleigh Winnon.
1985-86 UAM Men’s Basketball Team
Another one of UAM’s best teams in school history, the 1985-86 UAM Men’s Basketball Team remains a memorable squad. Finishing the season with a 26-10 overall record and a 15-5 conference mark, the Boll Weevils made a historic run, ending the year as NAIA National Runners-Up. The Weevils 26 wins still remain the most in a single season for UAM.
The Boll Weevils had also earned NAIA District 17 Champions winning 13 of their last 14 games on the year. They defeated Henderson State and Hendrix early in the District 17 Tournament and had to face Scottie Pippen and Central Arkansas in the Championship, which turned out to be an overtime thriller, with UAM winning, 55-51.
From there, the Weevils continued a historic run in the National Tournament defeating Briar Cliff, Wayland Baptist, the College of Charleston and a team led by Dennis Rodman in Southeastern Oklahoma to get to the Finals against David Lipscomb. The run did come to an end against Lipscomb as the Weevils fell, 67-54.
The 1985-86 squad was led by head coach Gary Sharpe, who is fourth on UAM’s all-time list in coaching victories with (103). On the roster were John Bridges, Ikie Corbin, Bruce Davis, Herbert Harris, Larry Holmes, Derwin Jackson, Scotty Polk, Daran Reeves, George Washington, and Ricky Wray.
Spirit Award Honorees
Gay and Grant Pace are this year’s recipients of the UAM Spirit Award. The Pace’s are regulars at all UAM athletic events. Gay is a long-time UAM employee and currently serves as the Director of Procurement Services while Grant co-owns Regions Forest Services, LLP and Weevil Fan Rentals in Monticello with Gay.
Gay and Grant have been attending games since the early 1980’s and have tailgated since the first official tailgate at UAM. They love to tailgate, feed the teams, staff and coaches. For them, UAM is home. Gay started college at Northeast Louisiana University, but eventually game home to UAM, while Grant attended UAM and worked in the Forestry Department under Dr. Boris Zeide. They take pride in the fact that they have established relationships with students, their families and coaches that extend past their UAM years.
The Pace’s are frequent attendees at UAM events and championships to this day, making their way across the Great American Conference for many years. Traveling to games in the State of Arkansas and beyond has become second nature for them.