Sixth annual SpectacUALR supreme success

October 20-26, 2014

On Thursday, Oct. 9, Jack Stephens Center saw a large turnout in support of the Trojan Athletic Foundation. The event included a silent auction, live auction, and honored Betty Jo Stephens, a trailblazer in women’s athletics at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. 

All proceeds were in support of current student-athletes. This year’s co-chairs were Dana Kleine and Larry Golden. 

Golden, a former swimmer for the Trojans, was especially excited to see Stephens honored. “This year’s Honoree is very dear to my heart. I met Betty Jo Stephens when I was a student athlete at UALR. She has been a pioneer for women’s athletics at UALR and has been a friend and mentor to countless athletes over the years. Her mark on the lives she has touched is special to each of us that has had the privilege to know her,” he said. 

After playing tennis for Little Rock Junior College during the 1950-51 season, Stephens returned to her alma mater  in 1967 as a physical education teacher. The junior college had expanded to become the four-year Little Rock University.

She was the first coach of the UALR women’s basketball program, leading the team from 1969 to ‘73. As the only female in the athletic department, Stephens was also a tennis coach, swimming coach, and volleyball coach.

Eventually she was named the women’s coordinator of the Athletic Department and became associate professor of physical education at UALR.

The Betty Jo Stephens Women’s Athletic Fund – which supports women’s athletic scholarships on campus – still bears her name. 

Stephens graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with a bachelor’s degree and then earned a master’s degree from Missouri before returning to UALR. She is also a member of the Trojan Lettermen’s Association.

In the past, SpectacUALR has helped raise money for improvements to UALR athletic facilities such as recent overhauls to the fieldhouse weight room. In addition, scholarships in both the baseball and soccer programs are now fully funded because of funds raised through SpectacUALR.

Golden believes that this is made possible through alumni giving. He said, “Like so many athletes before and since, athletics opened a door to allow me to pursue a college education. I did not realize when I was a student athlete how important the supporters of UALR were in enabling me to swim and study. … I would encourage any former UALR student athletes to get involved in any way they can. They will be helping to shape the future of the current students.” 

For ways to get involved visit: http://www.ualrtrojans.com/

Source: UALR Communications