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Photo courtesy of University of Tennessee athletics

Photo courtesy of University of Tennessee athletics

I usually wear my black and gold on Friday to show my Harding support.

But tomorrow I will wear orange and hope you will too.

As you are probably aware, legendary Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt died Tuesday from Alzheimer’s disease at 64. She will be honored tomorrow by wearing orange wherever you are.

Of course I didn’t know her, but my family did spot her on the beach at Seacrest in Florida several years ago while on an evening stroll. She was hard to miss with her tall figure in her blue swimsuit with orange stripe walking her dog by the water. We debated whether to speak but respected her privacy.

I am not a big sports fan, but I do know this remarkable woman did more to advance women’s athletics than any other. As I read her tributes, I am most impressed not with her tremendous basketball coaching skills but that she was an even better coach in the game of life.

I will wear my orange proudly for Pat. Her humility would prevent her from expecting that.

Tom Buterbaugh, editor.designer

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At Thursday night’s men’s and women’s basketball games, the graduating Bisons and Lady Bison will be recognized for their dedication and skills. Here’s what some had to say about their time on the team.

Kaylee Wiedower, senior accounting major and guard from Russellville, Arkansas

Favorite part about being on the team: All of the relationships that are made. I have made lifelong friendships with my teammates from my freshman year to my senior year. I would trust these girls with my life. All of us have gone through so much together — good and bad — that has brought us closer together. There is just something about suffering together that brings people closer. I also have developed relationships with faculty and people in the community who are just huge Lady Bison fans, and they definitely take care of us. I have been extremely blessed to be a part of such a great community that supports our team so much.
Favorite memory: Definitely when we won the conference tournament in Bartlesville [Oklahoma] last year and advanced to the NCAA tournament. It was such a great feeling to see all of our hard work pay off. In those moments you realize that all of the long, hard practices and early morning track workouts were worth it.
Advice or encouragement she would give the team: Enjoy it while you can because it goes by so fast. It is hard to believe that I’m almost done with basketball; it seems like yesterday I was just a freshman. I would also tell them not to take this experience for granted. Not everyone gets the opportunity to play college basketball, and they should take full advantage of this.

Antoine Burrell, senior finance major and forward from The Colony, Texas

Favorite part about being on the team: Winning the conference tournament my sophomore year and going to the NCAA tournament.
Favorite memory:
Climbing Pinnacle for the first time and just hanging out at the lake with the team
Advice or encouragement he would give the team: Your time here goes by so fast. You blink, and your college experience is over. Make the most of every practice, and live in the moment because it is limited.

Dawson Yates, senior health and kinesiology major and guard from Valley Springs, Arkansas

Favorite part about being on the team: Being surrounded by lifelong friends and coached by Christian role models. I have been blessed with an opportunity to grow as a young man through the accountability of my teammates and the daily examples and expectations that the coaches uphold for themselves and for us on and off the court.
Favorite memory: When Coach [Jeff Morgan] got his 400th win. The locker room was so hyped that he and Gib [Jacob Gibson] chest bumped. It was a surreal moment.
Advice or encouragement he would give the team: Basketball has been a light throughout our lives, so extend this instrument we have been given to everyone we come in contact with. Continue to love the process and cherish each moment. These temporary trials and tribulations we face will help us strive and succeed throughout the rest of this life. You will always be in my heart.

Blake McNair, senior health and kinesiology major and guard from Harrison, Arkansas

Favorite part about being on the team: The relationships that I have built over the past five years. The one thing that will always remain with me and I’ll cherish most are the friendships I have made.
Favorite memory: Winning the Great American Conference Tournament Championship back in the 2013-14 season. Hopefully we can add more memories in this year’s tournament.
Advice or encouragement he would give the team: Enjoy every single moment you have together playing the game that you love. Before you know it, you will be seniors, too, and will wonder where the time has gone.

— Jennifer Hannigan, copy editor/writer

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With the basketball season well underway, the Rhodes-Reaves Field House continues to be one of the best destinations in college basketball.

On Tuesday, Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Information Scott Goode did his monthly Great American Conference update on Little Rock-based 103.7 The Buzz’s Drive Time Sports Show. While on air, host Randy Rainwater commented on the amazing atmosphere at the University’s basketball games to co-host Marcus Elliot.

“He asked Marcus if he had ever been [to Harding] and told him, ‘You have to go!’” Goode said. “Then Randy said, ‘We’re kind of doing this on the fly, but how about we do our show from the Rhodes Field House on Thursday?’”

The 4-7 p.m. radio show will have a firsthand look at the renovations the field house is currently undergoing as well as the Lady Bison’s game versus Southern Arkansas University, which starts at 5:30 p.m. The men’s team will play at 7:30 p.m.

“They’re going to be high atop the field house, actually, on the visitor end on a little platform we used to use for a camera,” Goode said. “It’ll be fun to have them here.”

You can listen to the show at 1037TheBuzz.com.

Jennifer Hannigan, copy editor/writer

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I’ve grown up watching football all my life. I’ve been to many football games, including high school, Harding, my home state team, and NFL and indoor arena games. I like football, and I like watching football. Watching it from the sideline is a whole different experience, and I know that now after spending last Saturday’s home game on the sideline for a magazine assignment.

You might be thinking, “Duh, it’s different,” but you have to understand that I have been completely oblivious to the magnitude of the exploding excitement that erupts from a hundred helmeted, padded giants when something incredible on the field happens. After Harding scored the first touchdown in the beginning of the second quarter, I quickly began clapping. My clapping was like a soft whisper in the wind compared to the helmet slapping, cleat stomping and bison roaring that took place simultaneously.

I had many notable experiences, which included somehow exiting the field at half time in the midst of the visiting team (which I thought had to be some sort of horrible bad luck charm I had then just put on the team) and constantly finding myself accidentally in the middle of the hiker as he practiced hiking the ball to the kicker/punter. But I think the most incredible experience was getting to hear what players and coaches were saying to each other in between drives.

For my magazine story, one of the athletic trainers I’m featuring told me that the coaches’ theme or moto for the team is “honor God.” What I witnessed was constant positivity and encouragement from players to each other. And I know they weren’t doing it because someone was watching. (I couldn’t be seen. Trust me. I’m almost six feet tall, and these guys towered over me). They were doing it because they strive to honor God and lift each other up. Win or lose, the bison football team is a team I’m proud to call my alma mater’s. But just in case you were wondering, they did win this weekend in an exciting fourth-quarter comeback and beat Northwestern Oklahoma State University 42-30.

Hannah Owens, director of news services

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Welcome to Harding sign.04-25-13-1008696Even though it is extremely hot right now in Searcy, summer is about to be over.

How do I know? Student teachers are back as they begin in-service today in many districts.

Football managers also are back, and athletic trainers begin tomorrow preparing for the fall seasons.

The football team reports Friday and holds their first practice Saturday. Volleyball, soccer and cheerleaders move in this weekend as do resident assistants and the band.

The third session of Stampede is Wednesday, the 19th, and dorms officially open the following day for Student Impact.

Harding is about to get crazy busy welcoming freshmen and returning students to campus. It is always a fun and exciting time as anticipation becomes reality for freshmen, and returning students enthusiastically arrive back. A relatively quiet campus over the summer becomes a beehive of activity and back to the way it should be.

Even though I will miss the dog days of summer, welcome fall semester. Especially welcome to 1,250 freshmen and transfers, the newest members of the Harding family. We are so glad you are here.

Tom Buterbaugh, editor/designer

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Eight Bison football players including Donatella Luckett (above) and Romo Westbrook (below) went through the drills March 20 for professional football scouts, including representatives from the Saint Louis Rams, the San Fransico 49ers and the Canadian Football League. The Harding athletes were trying to impress the scouts to enhance their status in the pro football draft or their chances for free agent contracts. Luckett had participated in the 2015 NFL Combine and was looking to improve his 40-yard time.

03202015 Pro Day WestbrookDavid Crouch, director of public relations

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03-18-2015-7240 Every coach who has ever recruited has searched for that one special class to come along and change everything. I was lucky because for me that class was my first. A class like The Triumvirate — defined as a group of three people who share a position of power — of 2011 comes along once upon a program. I know this because history tells me so. Sure other great players have come before them, and great players are sure to follow, but only one class gets to be the first — the first to radically transform culture; the first to break the glass ceiling; the first to get the Rowdies to show up at 5:30 p.m.; the first to win a championship, be ranked in the Top 10, and make the NCAA Tournament; the first to come back the next year and do it all again; the first to be ranked in the top 25 for 435 consecutive days; and the first to win three rings, bring home five trophies, cut down three nets, and hang five banners. They are history makers. The Triumvirate came in to make a difference together, and they‘ve done just that. When their final season began, the theme was Legacy. Posters were made. A video was produced. (Watch Legacy video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8swRpk2O-5Q) Expectations were raised. The team, led by these three seniors, delivered. They delivered in the form of a back-to-back GAC regular season title, the program’s first ever GAC Tournament Championship, 23 wins, and a return trip to March Madness. They wanted to leave a legacy to be proud of. With a combined 2,919 points, 2,000 rebounds, 729 assists, 312 steals, 319 starts, and an 89-30 record, their legacy is complete. Tabitha HaneyTabitha Haney was the first of the fabled trio to commit to be a Lady Bison, and she has been a rock for the program throughout her career — a constant presence of grit, determination and burning desire to win. Tab was a ferocious competitor but often flew under the radar due to her willingness to make the extra pass and sacrifice for the good of the team. Yet she still finished fifth all-time in threes, sixth all-time in minutes played, and sixth all-time in starts with 87. Tab was the glue and a crucial ingredient of the championship core. Simply put, Tab is a winner. Montana LewisMontana Lewis was our “Iron Mon,” a relentless warrior who, every game of her career, played multiple offensive positions and guarded the opposition’s best scorer. She started 113 consecutive games (second all-time) and played more minutes than anyone to ever wear a Lady Bison jersey while making double zero an iconic number at Harding. She finished fourth all-time in offensive rebounds, seventh all-time in defensive rebounds, and 12th all-time in scoring. For four years, Mon was the heartbeat of the program. She also was its voice as she was able to relate to any teammate, all the while carrying herself with a grace and class that was respected by all. Arielle SaundersArielle Saunders has been the cornerstone from her first day on campus. Unwavering in her consistency, she earned an immediate starting spot as the center of the offense and the anchor of the defense, going on to start a program-record 119 games. Physically, A was seemingly invincible, never missing a start, never out with injury, and never missing time on the track. (Including running a 6:00 minute mile all 4 years, with a personal best 5:52.) Mentally, she was above reproach. From hitting game-winning free throws to a perfect 4.0 GPA that helped her earn First Team Academic All-American, A was the epitome of mental toughness. Her numbers have been astounding. She holds every Harding blocked shot record, is the all-time leader in double-doubles with 44, all-time leader in both offensive and defensive rebounds, second all-time in minutes played, and eighth all-time in both scoring and assists. Above all, she knew that being a Lady Bison was about more than her impressive stat line. (Link to Arielle’s reflections on her career https://medium.com/@asaunders32/forever-a-bison-d81ba0717de) The TriumvirateTab, Mon and A are the foundation. They stayed the course and steadied the ship in difficult times. They led the way great leaders lead with love, strength and resolve. It was a pleasure to recruit them, a joy to watch them grow through the years, and an absolute honor to coach them. I can assure you that as great as they were on the floor, they’ve always been far better off of it. As individuals, their accolades are impressive, but what has catapulted this group into legendary status is the sum of their parts. Their greatest glory lies in the winning. They put Lady Bison basketball on the national map and took it to unprecedented heights. (GAC Championship highlight link: http://goo.gl/BfVzqH ). The Triumvirate never settled. They never bought into the idea of a glass ceiling and always pushed for new levels of greatness. At the end of their journey, they landed in the stars. This is their legacy.

David Walker, assistant women’s basketball coach

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While it is definitely not any warmer this Friday than last, the black ice that caused campus to close last Friday is gone, and there is a full slate of activities on tap this weekend.

Photo by Abby Tran

Photo by Abby Tran

Tonight and tomorrow an original adaptation of The Scarlet Letter, a novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne, will be presented by the theatre department in the Ulrey Performing Arts Center at 7 p.m.

Hopefully temperatures will rise tomorrow as the Color for a Cause run will be held at 9 a.m. with proceeds going toward the renovation of a safe house for girls under 18 who have been rescued from human trafficking. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. at the intramural fields.

The ball fields also will be busy tomorrow with the Bisons taking on St. Cloud University in a doubleheader beginning at noon at Jerry Moore Field. The Lady Bison softball team will have a doubleheader against Southeastern Oklahoma State, also beginning at noon. Dress warmly as highs are to be in the low 40s. Both teams also will play at noon Sunday weather permitting.

Saturday evening Rhodes Field House will host the final home basketball games of the season with the Lady Bisons playing at 5:30 p.m. and the Bisons at 7:30 p.m., both against Ouachita Baptist University. The Rhodes Rowdies tweeted, “Tomorrow is a BLACKOUT game for Senior Night! Last home game of the season… Let’s make it a 4-hour party, starting at 5:30!”

Tom Buterbaugh, editor/designer

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02-07-15-30344This past Saturday was a wonderfully mild although windy day and was absolutely perfect for a Bison baseball double-header. The Bisons split the games on Saturday winning the first game in extra innings and losing the second game by one run. Here are the game stories and all the stats for Dr. Ganus and the rest of you numbers people. Enjoy the photos, but if you get a chance, you should come out and see the Bisons play in person, which in my opinion is the only way to really enjoy baseball.

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Jeff Montgomery, photographer

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Saturday evening’s Lady Bison basketball game against Southern Arkansas University was designated a “pink out” with the team wearing pink uniforms and the cheerleaders in pink and black.

This year there was an additional color with teal bisons on the players’ uniforms in honor of former Lady Bison Kendra Bailey who lost her battle with ovarian cancer in 2011 at the age of 28.

Watching the game, I somehow missed another neat aspect of the night, which I discovered looking through photos from the game while working on a brochure yesterday.

The referees had pink whistles. I don’t know their origin, but I had to smile seeing referees with pink whistles. Even the officials got into the spirit of the fight against cancer and added another touch to a great evening at the Rhodes.

By the way, the 16-3 Lady Bisons won the contest 72-61 and are ranked No. 20 in the latest USA Today Sports Division II Top 25 Coaches’ Poll.

Tom Buterbaugh, editor/designer

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