A packed crowd gathered at Lyon College to celebrate the newest members of its Athletic Hall of Fame during a banquet and induction ceremony held on Saturday, Nov. 23, in Edwards Commons.
The Lyon College 2019 Class included Aubrey Bell, ’72; John Harvey, ’01; Steven Wright, ’07; and Maribeth (Waters) Richards, ’09; each who had traveled from places near and far to accept the honor.
Arkansas State Representative Stuart Smith, ’82, presided over the event, which included a reception, entertainment, and dinner. Dr. W. Joseph King, president of Lyon College, welcomed the honorees.
“It’s nice because not only do we get to honor the new inductees, but also those that come before them,” King said, adding, “(There’s a) tradition of excellence here at Lyon College.”
Bell expressed his gratitude for his parents, sharecroppers who had a hard life, but instilled in him a “dogged determination” to keep going. He also thanked a fellow athlete who taught him “to do what was right and not just what was popular,” as well as his wife, a cancer survivor and successful businesswoman in her own right.
“Lyon College gave me the tools to use in my business life,” he said. “The things that I learned here, and the friendships that I made, and the ones I have today–I owe that to the college.”
Harvey said he had never heard of Lyon College as a high schooler in Lufkin, Texas, but was struck by a letter he received from the coach, the only handwritten one he got from several that were sent.
He added that Coach Kirk Kelley, former Lyon College Athletic Director and Head Baseball Coach (1992-09), provided strength during difficult times and was also instrumental in guiding Harvey during his own 19-year career as a college coach.
“Those years between 18 and 22, especially being seven hours from home, are crucial years for developing habits and figuring out who you are,” Harvey said. “So it certainly helped having a coach like him . . . He’s been such an important man in my life.”
Wright acknowledged the tears his family shed upon first learning of his induction, as he also described the impact of the motto–Improvise, Adapt, Overcome– he first picked up at Lyon College and which has carried him through the years, in good times and bad.
“Remember your training,” he said. “That’s what I learned from that . . . passion was something we practiced daily.”
Wright said that he put everything he had into baseball, training as if his life depended on it. Interestingly, today his current occupation as a counter-terrorism police officer does require him to train as if his life depends upon it, he said.
“This is where I learned how to truly be a leader. Where I went from a young man just training and trying to prepare myself to get through college, into a man who is prepared to get through life.”
The last award was delivered to Richards, who stated her pride at having the opportunity to be inducted with other distinguished members of the 2019 Hall of Fame. Richards said that as a high schooler, her father impressed upon her that “winning doesn’t define success,” and it was a lesson she carried into her first year at the college.
“Not always winning was always hard for me,” she said. Nonetheless, Richards said she learned how to be truly grateful for the gifts of being a collegiate athlete.
“Sometimes we take all the opportunities, but we don’t always realize how lucky we are to be student-athletes,” she said. “Although being a student-athlete is hard, you’ll learn so much and be given opportunities other students aren’t going to receive.”
Richards also pointed to another lesson she learned as a student-athlete: Success is not measured by what is gained, but by that which is left behind.
Today more than half of Lyon College students participate in one of 18 collegiate sports programs, stemming from just four that existed in 1965 when former coach Fred Wann first arrived on campus.
More about the inductees:
Aubrey Bell, ’72, was a member of the Scots baseball team from 1971-72, helping greatly improve their record in just the second year after baseball returned to campus. He served as a team leader and as the everyday centerfielder while he batted .327, the seventh-best mark in the Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference. He was also a charter member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. Bell graduated with a B.A. in economics and supported Lyon through his business, Charleston Winsupply Company, where he has been president and board chair for 35 years. His company donated the plumbing fixtures and supplies for remodeling all the campus apartments, the new baseball facility, and the new wrestling facility. Bell lives in Charleston, S.C., with his wife, Terri.
John Harvey, ’01, was a four-year starter at second base for the Lyon College baseball team from 1998-01. A career .310 hitter, Harvey ranks eighth in program history for career hits (179). During his senior season, Harvey collected 70 hits, scored 50 runs, and drove in 43. He batted .359 during the 2001 season. He graduated with a B.A. in psychology and began his coaching career as an assistant at Itawamba Community College. He then served as assistant baseball coach at Henderson State University in 2003-04 before being promoted to head coach, ultimately leading the Reddies to three 30-win seasons and a combined total of 20 all-conference honorees. In 2004, he earned a master’s degree in sports administration from HSU. He ranks third all-time at HSU in wins. Harvey became head baseball coach at the University of Arkansas at Monticello in 2010. The UAM Weevils are 257-181, including a 222-129 mark over the last seven seasons with four NCAA regional trips and four consecutive Great American Conference championships. Harvey recorded his 400th overall victory in 2019 and heads into the 2020 season with an overall record of 411-329. He and his wife, Jaime (Bedard) Harvey, ’01, have two sons, Brooks and Brock.
Steven Wright, ’07, was a two-year letter winner for the Lyon College baseball team during the 2005 and 2006 seasons, etching his name in the record book in multiple categories during his playing career. He ranks third all-time for total bases in a single season (143), total hits in a single season (88), first and third for runs scored in a single season (77 and 65) and first in doubles in a single season (27). In 2005, he earned Second Team All-TranSouth honors. In 2006, he earned NAIA All-American honorable mention as well as First-Team All-Region XI and First-Team All-TransSouth accolades. He was also named a Scholar Athlete at Lyon for maintaining a GPA of 3.0 and higher. Wright graduated with a B.S. in business management and a minor in finance. After graduation, he began an eight-season professional minor league baseball career, during which he was named team captain three times and twice named to the All-League team. He remained active in teaching and coaching baseball during his off seasons. After retiring from baseball, he began a career in law enforcement in Las Vegas, N.V., becoming the lead tactical liaison for his unit, training and teaching law enforcement officers from all over the world in firearms, defensive tactics, and crisis negotiations. Wright is active in his church and community, organizing and running multiple sports camps and clinics for athletes of all ages and coaches.
Maribeth (Waters) Richards, ’09, was a four-year letter winner for the Lyon College women’s basketball team from 2005-09. She ranks sixth all-time in scoring with 1,421 points and third in career rebounds with 718. She was named to the All-Freshman Team in 2005, earned TranSouth Conference Scholar-Athlete honors 2007-09, and was the recipient of the Lyon College Winnie Marable Award for top female athlete in 2009. She graduated from Lyon with a B.A. in English and secondary education and earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from Arkansas State University. Her career in education led her to Lake Hamilton School District, where she currently serves as oral communications teacher, junior high basketball coach, and boys/girls tennis coach. While at Lyon, she met her future husband, Garry Richards, ’11, (baseball ’07-11). A member of the Crossgate Church in Hot Springs, she and Garry have two sons, Dawson, 4, and Hayes, 2.
The 2019 Athletic Hall of Fame selection committee included: Chair Larry Rogers; Past Chair Ronnie Brogdon, ’70; Julie Church, ’04; Jasper “Doc” Freeman, ’55; Terry Garner; Jim Haney, ’68; Jim Hansen, ’76; Ryland Kieffer, ’98; Elbert Lindsey, ’76; David Parker, ’74; Jennifer (Walls) Payton, ’98; Peter Smith, ’07; Jim Summers, ’96; Tracy Stewart-Lange, ’86; and Fred Wann, ’59.
The following are ex-officio members of the selection committee: Director of Athletics Kevin Jenkins, ’86; Athletic Administrative Assistant Megan Bryant; and Director of Alumni Engagement Cindy Barber, ’85.