Local fans recognized at NEA Tournament
Mrs. Mary Lou Deaton, Manila:
Mary Lou Deaton of Manila has been a basketball fan for over 60 years. Before becoming one of the most well-known fans in Northeast Arkansas, she was a basketball player during her senior high days at Cardwell, Mo., graduating in 1949.
She likes to tell her children and grandchildren she played basketball for three years and never shot the ball. She was a guard in the days when girls played half court. Only the forwards got to shoot and it was up to the guards to stop their opponents from shooting and get the ball back across the half court line.
Following her high school basketball career, she became the number one die hard Manila Lion fan as she cheered on her five sons throughout their elementary, junior high and senior high careers. She also cheered for grandsons and the teams her sons coached.
Mrs. Deaton was among the supporting fans, coaches, players and officials chosen to be honored during the finals of the 2014 NEA Tournament ending Wednesday night.
She called it an honor to be chosen. She received a plaque for her contribution to the NEA Tournament. Through the years she has been on hand cheering for her children and grandchildren. The roles reversed on Wednesday night as she had her six children, five grandchildren, four of her six great-grandchildren, and other friends and relatives on hand to cheer for her.
Her days of the NEA Tournament go back to the Indian Field House Days before the Convocation Center was constructed at ASU in 1987.
Coach Brogdon, one of the coaches at the award ceremony, said he remembered Mrs. Deaton's husband, Paul Deaton, bringing a basket of apples each year to the NEA Tournament hospitality lounge. The coaches who attended tournaments at the Manila Lions gymnasium will remember the apple pies made by Mrs. Deaton and brought to the hospitality rooms through the years. Her pies were always a hit at the tournaments.
There is no way to count the basketball games Mrs. Deaton has attended. During the season she is in the bleachers somewhere four to five nights a week.
Her children are Michael who graduated in 1968 (retired coach and teacher); daughter Carol who graduated in 1971 (retired special education teacher); Randy who graduated in 1976 (former coach); David Joe who graduated in 1979 (employed at Hytrol and a former referee); Keith who graduated in 1982 (employed at American Greetings); and John who graduated in 1990 and coaches at Manila.
She also has a grandson, Aaron Deaton, who coaches at Nettleton Junior High.
All total she has five sons who played basketball, two grandsons who played, three sons who coached, one son who refereed many years, a grandson now coaching, and she has managed to support all of them and the younger ones coming up.
Mrs. Deaton and her traveling partner, daughter Carol, have clocked many miles following the Manila games and the other schools where her sons and grandsons coach which makes up 11 different schools.
She has been going to the NEA Tournament as far back as she can remember. She has been to numerous invitational tournaments, district, regional and state tournaments. When her son Randy coached at Stuttgart they won a state tournament.
"I plan to keep going as long as I can," Mrs. Deaton said.
She attends all of the Manila games, boys and girls, and gets to Nettleton to watch her grandson's team every chance she gets, goes to different tournament games and never misses the NEA.
She is also a Cardinal baseball fan, but that is another story and another season.
Mrs. Dena Campbell, Jonesboro
Dena Campbell and her husband, the late Joe Mac Campbell, were among those recognized as Friends of the NEA at the last night of the NEA Tournament, Dec. 31, at the Arkansas State University Convocation Center.
Joe Mac Campbell passed away in November. He and Mrs. Campbell have been attending the NEA Tournaments since the 1960s bringing their support to their children, grandchildren, great-granddaughter and teams their sons have coached.
They are the parents of four children, who all played basketball at Westside High School. Their children are Buster Campbell (1971 graduate of Westside and 39 year boys basketball coach at Caraway/Riverside); Keith Campbell (former coach at Tyronza and EPC and now with Jonesboro Auto Auction); Benny Campbell (who also played basketball at Westside High School and is with Jonesboro Auto Auction); and their youngest child and only daughter, Kerri Felts (who owns Interior Designs Plus, and following her brothers basketball shoes, played in the NEA Tournaments during her high school years.)
In addition to their children, the Campbells also have watched three granddaughters, two grandsons and a great-granddaughter play in the NEA Tournaments. Their great-granddaughter graduated in May.
There is more to come as Mrs. Campbell has a grandson in the eighth grade at Westside who, like most of the family, is a basketball player. Mrs. Campbell has been a loyal fan of the NEA for almost 50 years.
She has had the privilege of watching her family through the years as they have received numerous awards for their sports. She has been there for three NEA title wins by teams her son coached. Buster's Caraway Tigers won the NEA Tournament in 1980 and Riverside teams won back to back NEA titles in 2005-2006 and 2006-2007.
Gaylon Taylor, Buffalo Island Central Superintendent and former basketball coach, said the Friends of the NEA began four or five years ago as a way to honor those who have supported the tournament through the years. Honorees selected include coaches, officials, former players and fans who have been a part of the tournament's success through the years.
Others, along with Mr. and Mrs. Campbell and Mary Lou Deaton, honored at the 68th annual NEA Invitational Tournament are: Lyndsey Hawkins Taylor, Jim Isbell, Rick Wilson, Carol Williams and Linda Holloway Allison.
Tim Hawkins accepted for his daughter, Lyndsey, a former Valley View player who is battling cancer. Taylor said she was a great player. Linda Holloway Allison was also a great player from Westside. She played in the first NEA Tournament and scored over 50 points against Hoxie. She played at the University of Memphis before returning to Arkansas State. Rick Wilson, retired coach with 36 years, coached at Rivercrest. One of his teams earned a state championship and also four consecutive NEA titles. Jim Isbell is well known and coached in Arkansas and Missouri. He coached at Nettleton and Rector. Carl Williams is a well known official who was inducted into the Arkansas Hall of Fame in 2014.