Friday, July 12, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Coach earns high honor

Leader sportswriter

Longtime Jacksonville High School softball coach Tanya Ganey was recently inducted into the Arkansas Women’s Softball Hall of Fame after more than three decades of dedication to the sport.

Ganey spent 37 years in the Pulaski County School District as a teacher and coach before retiring in late June of 2011. She coached basketball, volleyball, track and softball during her tenure, but her involvement at nearly every position in the sport of softball in the state of Arkansas was what made her a standout for consideration for the prestigious Women’s Softball Hall of Fame.

“I’m very humbled and appreciative of the award,” said Ganey. “I was shocked and excited and humbled. You know, it was just a lot of emotions. On one hand I thought I don’t deserve this because there were too many people that were involved in this. It wasn’t necessarily what I did, but what other people had done to help me receive that award.”

Ganey said she was on the road for an extended vacation when she received the news that she was going to be nominated for the award. She is currently out of state to spend time with family and was unable to be present for the award ceremony.

But Justine Gladden, a former player and assistant under Ganey, was pleased to accept the award on Ganey’s behalf.

Hayes LeMay, who’s been involved in Arkansas softball for 37 years, got to know Ganey when she was the Amateur Softball Association District 9 Commissioner. District 9 covers the Cabot and Jacksonville area.

“She was with ASA and I worked with her for years putting together tournaments,” LeMay said of Ganey. “I worked with her very closely because of my involvement with ASA. She’s just a class act. I was never involved with her coaching, but I’ve had several girls play for me that played for Tanya, and they loved her to death. I’ve always heard good things about her.”

LeMay went on to say that Ganey was also a good umpire and commissioner during her time with ASA. As far as the induction itself, LeMay said that Ganey probably should’ve been inducted sooner, but that it’s a very difficult process to even get a nomination.

“To get into the Hall of Fame, you really would’ve had to have done something to be in it,” LeMay said. “Longevity – I mean, when I got her full softball resume, I knew a lot of it, but there was a lot that I didn’t know. She played, she coached softball, she coached volleyball, and she coached basketball, in Jacksonville primarily.

“That’s what I know about Tanya. I’ve just always respected her. I was in a lot of touchy situations with her with all these kids playing ball. I was always amazed at how well she handled everything like a lady with class. I just think a lot of her.”

Even though Ganey put in decades of time to the sport and the kids involved, she says she still misses being involved. She made the tough decision to retire after suffering a heart attack on Jan. 24, 2011, which she said was the reason for the decision.

“I knew then it was time to leave,” Ganey said, “but I miss it. I miss it every day. I miss helping people. I miss helping young people. I miss teaching them the ways of life they learn through athletics and in the classroom, but God has another plan for me and I’m moving along with it.”

The Arkansas Women’s Softball Hall of Fame was established in 1991 and has an estimated 120 members, according to LeMay. Ganey was one of three inductees for the 2013 class.