Ouachita Baptist University will induct three former athletes, a former coach, and the 1969-70 women’s basketball team into the Ouachita Athletic Hall of Fame on Oct. 19. An evening banquet is planned to honor the inductees with Rex Nelson, voice of the football Tigers for 30 years, emceeing the event.
Individuals being inducted include former golfer Mike Branson; Luther Guinn, a former two-sport athlete in football and track; former men’s basketball player Donald Ray Williams; and Coach Tona Wright, longtime volleyball and women’s tennis coach. The 1969-70 women’s basketball team will be recognized not only for their outstanding achievements and winning record as a team, but also for what was the beginning of a great tradition in women’s basketball.
“Ouachita Baptist University and the Ouachita Athletic Hall of Fame are very proud to recognize and honor these individuals and team for their accomplishments,” said David Sharp, OBU Director of Athletics. They are all very deserving and we look forward to making it a special evening for them.”
The 1969-70 women’s basketball team, known in those days as the Tigerettes, burst onto the scene in the late 1960s. Coached by Ouachita Athletic Hall of Fame member Carolyn Moffat, the Tigerettes recorded a 22-3 regular season record and competed in the AAU national Championship in the spring of 1970 where they were runner-up to Wayland Baptist College. Led by three AAU All-America players, the team also was the first to play 5 on 5 and use a 30-second shot clock.
Mike Branson, a native of DeQueen, was an All-State high school golfer. As a Tiger, he was instrumental in leading the Tigers to three straight AIC Golf Championships and NAIA District 17 Championships from 1977-79. As a result, Branson earned All-AIC and NAIA All-America honors along with receiving the Ouachita Outstanding Golf Student-Athlete Award each of those three years.
Luther Guinn, a native of Arkadelphia, earned All-State recognition in both football and track. As a Tiger, he continued his excellence in both sports, earning All-AIC honors for football in 1973 and 1974, and track in 1973, 1974 and 1975. He was a recipient of The Ouachitonian Leadership Award and inducted into the Arkansas Track and Field Hall of Fame in 2011.
Donald Ray Williams, also a native of Arkadelphia, earned All-Conference and All-State honors while playing only one year of high school basketball. While playing for the Tigers, he earned All-AIC and All-NAIA District 17 honors for three consecutive years in 1976-78. Williams also was recognized with NAIA Honorable Mention All-America honors.
Tona Wright, also a native of Arkadelphia, joined the faculty and staff of Ouachita in 1971. She was charged with developing the first varsity women’s volleyball program at Ouachita and was one of the state’s leading members in organizing women’s sports at the collegiate level with the inception of the Arkansas Women’s Intercollegiate Sports Association. During her 24-year tenure as head coach, she led the Tigerettes to three AIC Championships, two NAIA District 17 Championships, and two NAIA Bi-District championships. Wright also was head women’s tennis coach, and her teams won four AIC Championships with several individual champions during her 21 years of coaching tennis. She was named NAIA District 17 Volleyball Coach of the Year on three occasions, Women’s Tennis Coach of the Year on two occasions, and AIC Coach of the Year in both volleyball and tennis.
The induction banquet will be held Friday, Oct. 19, at 6 p.m. in Walker Conference Center on Ouachita’s campus. Tickets are $25 each and are available by contacting David Sharp at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 870-230-2272.