Halls add pair of legends

By Donna Stephens Originally Published July 7, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated July 5, 2013 at 10:49 a.m.
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— Buzz Bolding of Conway and Charlie Sorrels of Atkins will join elite company on Friday.

The two residents of the River Valley & Ozark Edition coverage area will be among those honored at the Arkansas High School Coaches Association/Arkansas Officials Association/Arkansas High School Athletic Administrators Hall of Fame banquet at the Hot Springs Convention Center.

Bolding is one of three selected for the athletic administrators honor. Sorrels will join his father in the coaches’ Hall of Fame, along with five other inductees.

“This is not just me,” said Sorrels, 59, who stepped down as Atkins football coach following the 2009 season to focus on his other full-time job, athletic director. “It’s an award for our whole school, our athletes and assistant coaches.

“I’ll be the recipient and hope I had something to do with it, but it’s a whole lot more than just me.”

Bolding, who grew up in Searcy and walked on to the Arkansas State Teachers College football team in the mid-1960s, coached at Blytheville, Little Rock McClellan, Cabot and Magnolia before settling in for his career at Conway. He became head football coach and athletic director in 1984.

In 1990, he gave up coaching duties to concentrate on athletic administration. During his tenure, he oversaw construction of the Wampus Cat Fieldhouse and the new basketball arena (later christened the Buzz Bolding Arena), the renovation of John McConnell Stadium, improvements to the baseball and softball facilities, and the addition of several sports, among other accomplishments.

“This means a lot to us,” Bolding said. “I always tried being really involved in our association. If I knew on the front end what was going on around the state, I could help the Conway Public Schools, so that kept me abreast of everything going on with [the Arkansas Activities Association].”

He served the AHSAA as program chair for two years, treasurer for seven, vice president for two, president for two and as a liaison between the AHSAA and the AAA’s board of directors.

“I don’t know that there’s anybody around more deserving to go in the athletic directors’ Hall of Fame,” Sorrels said. “I think Buzz has been one of the top ADs in the state for a long period of time. I don’t know of anybody more efficient and who can get things done and has all the people skills that he has. I just think he’s an outstanding AD.”

Since his retirement in 2010, Bolding and his wife, Carol, have traveled, cheered on their football-coaching sons Bobby (at Pine Bluff) and Brad (at North Little Rock) and spent more time with their four grandchildren. When reached to talk about the Hall of Fame induction, Bolding was playing in the Wampus Cat golf tournament. He does some work at The Greens at Nutters Chapel in Conway and serves on several committees, including the one that helped bring the AHSCA All-Star activities back to Conway this year.

Joining Bolding in the 2013 class will be Atwood “Buddy” Bell of Jonesboro and Richard “Dick” Hays of Ashdown.

In 24 years at the helm of his alma mater, Atkins, Sorrels put up a record of 176-95-1. He passed his father, Carl (a 2007 posthumous induction into the AHSCA Hall of Fame), with his 145th win in 2004. Sorrels’ teams made the playoffs 19 times and won eight conference championships. He was a member of the executive committee of the AHSCA and the Arkansas High School Football Coaches Association, a past president of the AHSCA and a three-time Arkansas High School All-Star coach.

“Charlie comes from a long line of athletic administrators and coaches, so he’s what we call good people in athletics,” Bolding said. “He does his job, does it well and is there when you need him for advice. One thing that makes him good is he’s about kids. He makes decisions that are good for all kids, not just one or two.”

Sorrels, who just completed his third year as full-time AD, said he still misses parts of coaching.

“The competitive part of it, the Friday nights — game night is special,” he said. “I miss that part, and the competitiveness in me — preparing for a ballgame, breaking down film,

getting ready for an opponent — I do miss that.

“But this has given me a lot of time to spend with the other sports. In 2011, our softball team won the state championship, and I was able from the time they got to the regional all the way through the final to be at every game and travel with them. That kind of stuff is hard to do when you’re trying to keep up with a football team.”

His induction, which he called “pretty awesome,” will mark the first father-son pair in the AHSCA Hall of Fame.

“Growing up a coach’s son, a lot of these guys in there were friends of my dad’s, and I was around them at a young age and looked up to a lot of his coaching friends,” he said. “So to now be in there with a number of them is pretty exciting.”

Like with Bolding, Sorrels’ induction will be a family affair. He will celebrate his 40th anniversary with his wife, Connie, whom he called “the perfect coach’s wife,” in July. Their daughters Jill and Katie and his brothers Joe and Bill have also been heavily involved in his coaching career over the years, from filming games to manning P.A. duties.

As a senior at Atkins, Sorrels threw for almost 2,000 yards to lead the Red Devils to a state championship under his father. Sorrels graduated from Arkansas Tech and coached at Atkins and Morrilton before returning to his alma mater for good.

He took the Red Devils to the state playoffs for 11 consecutive years starting in 1988; several teams reached the quarterfinals. Over the years, he coached about every sport Atkins offered except baseball.

“I just feel so blessed,” he said. “A lot of the honors and awards I’ve gotten have taken place because of other people. I’m blessed to have had a really good run of athletes. You don’t win that many games or those championships without good athletes.

“I’ve worked with outstanding coaches. This wouldn’t have happened without all of them, and that’s what makes this so special.”

He said he has been humbled since word came of the impending honor.

“I don’t consider myself to be on the same level as some of the people in there,” he said. “I’m very appreciative of the opportunity I’ve had here at Atkins. The administrators and the town here support athletics so well.”

Joining Sorrels in the 2013 class of the Arkansas High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame will be Gus Malzahn, Springdale football; Glenda Patterson, Jonesboro Westside volleyball; Ron Rippy, Ozark basketball; Gene Simmons, Murfreesboro track; and Herbert Williams, Brinkley basketball.

Those to be inducted into the Arkansas Officials Association Hall of Fame include Bill Breazeale of Fayetteville, football; Clint Cornett of Prairie Grove, football; Duane Cousins of Benton, football; August Hensiek of Stuttgart, football; Gordon Hornaday of Fordyce, basketball; and Ellis “Scooter” Register of Little Rock, basketball.

Tickets to the Hall of Fame banquet are $35. Visit www.ahsaa.org for more information.

None Donna Stephens can be reached at .

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