FAYETTEVILLE — JoBeth Mathis and Genee Carter have been selected as the inaugural Razorback Inspiring Individuals honorees, the University of Arkansas Athletic Department announced today.
The newly created award program honors two Arkansas residents who have made a difference in the lives of girls and women in sport. Mathis and Carter will be honored in connection with the National Girls and Women in Sport Day celebration at the women’s basketball game against Vanderbilt, Sunday, Jan. 31.
“We are proud to honor two outstanding individuals who have served as inspiration to others in our state through athletics,” Arkansas Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Jeff Long said. “Whether in their role as a coach or a loyal fan, JoBeth and Genee have made a difference in each of their respective communities. We are pleased to honor them as the inaugural Razorback Inspiring Individuals.”
Mathis is this year’s selection for the Courage Award, presented to a person who has overcome tremendous obstacles to make a comeback in life and sports. Mathis demonstrated the ability to redefine barriers despite physical or mental challenges through their participation in sports.
Members of the University of Arkansas Athletic Department as well as local community members selected the inaugural Inspiring Individuals.
Mathis is the volleyball coach at Jonesboro High School. She led her team to the semifinals of the Arkansas State Tournament while being treated for a neo-plastic cancerous tumor on her pancreas. Mathis was diagnosed mid-season but remained with the team while receiving treatment.
Mathis was nominated by David Daniels, director of athletics at Jonesboro High.
“I believe JoBeth Mathis deserves this award for fighting through this devastating personal news and continuing to lead our volleyball team to an outstanding finish,” Daniels wrote in his nomination. “Her resolve and persistence will always be remembered by her team. To me, this was the ultimate in a display of courage.”
Carter is honored with the Spirit Award. The Spirit Award seeks to honor individuals who personify the “true spirit” of sport not as a participant, but as a supporter, promoter or advocate of girls’ and women’s sports and fitness.
Carter is a Pocahontas, Ark., native who has been a loyal and long-time supporter of the Lady Redskin softball and basketball teams. She was called the “spirit of the game” and it was noted that her “enthusiasm is contagious” by Suzanne Chester in her nomination.
“During Genee’s sisters’ high school basketball career, she traveled with the Lady Redskins to every game and sat directly behind the team keeping her own set of stats,” Chester wrote. “From the beginning buzzer of the game until the ending buzzer of the game, Genee cheered for her team every second. She made signs, waved rally rags and dressed in her faithful Redskin attire. She has never been named player of the game or all-conference but Genee is recognized at every Lady Redskin softball and basketball game as the spirit of the game as she proudly cheers for “her” girls.”
NGWSD began in 1987 as a day to celebrate and remember Olympic volleyball player Flo Hyman for both her athletic accomplishments as well as her tireless work to assure equality for women in sports. NGWSD has evolved into an annual event with celebrations across the country.