Three former Nashville residents have been named to the Southern Arkansas University Sports Hall of Fame.
They include Billy Dawson, his brother Charlie Dawson and Rosemary Spigner Cloud.
The newest class will be formally inducted during a ceremony at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, October 18 in the Grand Hall of the Donald W. Reynolds Campus and Community Center. The class will also be publicly introduced at halftime of the October 19 Homecoming game against Southeastern Oklahoma State.
Billy Dawson grew up in south Arkansas when his father, Bill Dawson Sr., spent parts of his 33-year coaching/school administration career at Nashville, Magnolia and Smackover high schools.
After spending the 1988 campaign as the starting designated hitter for the University of Arkansas, Dawson transferred south to SAU for the 1989 season. That year, the Muleriders finished 33-23-1 and claimed Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference (AIC) and National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) District 17 Championships. Individually, Dawson was named an NAIA All-America selection to go along with NAIA All-Area V, NAIA All-District 17 and All-AIC honors as well.
That season, Dawson played and started all 57 games for Southern Arkansas and hit .423 (74-for-175) with 13 doubles, two triples and four homeruns, while compiling a slugging percentage of .589. His average in 1989 ranks as the 12th highest all-time in a single season for SAU Baseball. He drove in 45 runs and scored 38 more in addition to drawing 32 walks, swiping 17 bases and finishing the season with a .507 on-base percentage.
A 1991 graduate of SAU, Dawson moved into coaching following his playing career. After several stops at the high school and collegiate levels as an assistant and head football coach in both Arkansas and Louisiana, Dawson made his mark in the southwest corner of the Natural State as the former Mulerider led the Nashville Scrappers to the 2005 Class 3A State Title, back-to-back Class 4A State Titles in 2006 and 2007 and a 91-13 record overall in eight seasons as head coach. During that historic run, one of the best ever in Arkansas High School Football history, Nashville complied a 42-2 record, a 20-1 mark in conference play and won two conference championships as well.
From Nashville, Dawson went to Russellville where he turned around the Cyclone Football program which culminated in winning the 2016 Class 6A State Title; the school’s first in Arkansas’ modern era playoff system which began in 1968. He finished up his coaching career in Fayetteville as head coach of the Class 7A Purple Dogs where he posted a 16-8 record with state quarterfinal appearances in both 2017 and 2018.
In all, Dawson’s football coaching career spanned 27 years, including 21 years as a head coach with an overall record of 190-65 which included four state championships, seven conference championships and Dawson being named Coach of the Year 27 times by multiple organizations and publications, which includes him winning the Arkansas High School Coaches Association’s (AHSCA) Lowell Manning Award which is given to the top Arkansas high school coach among all sports in any given year.
Much like his older brother, Billy, Charlie Dawson enjoyed a very successful career as a Mulerider Baseball player. A two-time All-AIC and NAIA All-District 17 honoree as a catcher, Dawson’s collegiate career culminated in him being named an NAIA All-Southwest Region and NAIA All-America selection in 1994.
Prior to his graduation from SAU in 1996, Dawson was a part of back-to-back AIC and NAIA District 17 Championship teams as the team’s starting catcher. During that time the Muleriders posted a combined 81-30 record overall with a 44-6 mark in AIC play under legendary head coach and SAU Sports Hall of Famer Steve Goodheart (C/O 2008).
In his two seasons for the Muleriders, Dawson played in 102 games with 101 starts. In 338 at-bats, he delivered 139 hits which included 26 doubles, one triple, and 11 home runs. He totaled 106 RBI, scored 39 runs and finished with a career slugging percentage of .592 and an on-base percentage of .480.
Dawson’s career average of .411 (139-for-338) ranks as the fifth-highest mark in program history and is the second-best career average for a Mulerider hitter over the past 26 years.
Additionally, his career fielding percentage of .992 (388/391) is the sixth-highest all-time and third among catchers.
Following the 1994 season, Dawson signed a pro contract with Major League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves. His first professional season came with Atlanta’s rookie club, the Idaho Falls Braves of the Pioneer League. In 36 games, he hit .301 (40-for-133) with seven doubles, two triples, and five homeruns and finished with an OPS of .873. For his efforts, Dawson was tabbed as the team’s MVP and was named a Pioneer League All-Star.
The next year, Dawson joined Atlanta’s Single-A affiliate, the Macon Braves, of the South Atlantic League. While in Georgia, Dawson caught in 110 games and was named the club’s most popular player as voted on by the fans. During a 38-game stretch of the season, he recorded 30 hits, 19 runs and 13 RBI.
In 1996, Dawson spent spring training with the Braves and Expos, before signing with the Sioux City Explorers of the independent Northern League where he played in 18 games before retiring from professional baseball.
In 2000, Dawson returned to his alma mater and served as an assistant under Goodheart during the 2001 and 2002 seasons in which the Muleriders combined to win 81 games.
Currently, Dawson is the founder, CEO and Chairman of the Advisory Board for GeoSurfaces, a company which specializes in the design, development, construction and installation of high performing sports surfaces. To date, GeoSurfaces has designed, coordinated, managed and/or installed more than 50,000,000 square feet of artificial turf and more than 12,000 sports lighting fixtures.
Rosemary Spigner Cloud
Rosemary (Spigner) Cloud, a native of Nashville, Arkansas, came to Southern State College in 1974 on the heels of pioneer head coach Dr. Margaret Downing’s 1973-74 Arkansas Women’s Intercollegiate Sports Association (AWISA) title and quickly became an important part of a Riderette Basketball program that would claim the AWISA Championship in 1974-75 and 1975-76, while finishing as league runner-up in 1976-77 and 1977-78.
During one of the most successful stretches of Riderette Basketball, Spigner helped the program compile a 70-20 record overall which includes a 20-3 campaign in 1976-77; a program record for wins in a single-season 43 years later and only matched by the 1987-88 Riderette team.
Spigner finished her career as one of only three players in the Riderette’s AWISA Era to be named to multiple All-AWISA teams as she claimed the honors in 1975-76 and 1976-77.
In 91 career games, Spigner scored 981 points at 10.8 ppg which ranks 15th on the SAU Women’s All-Time Scoring List.
Even more impressive is that Spigner’s career points total ranks sixth all-time in the non-three point shooting era.
As a junior in 1976-77, Spigner became just the seventh player in program history to record a 300-point season; finishing with 329 points at 14.3 points per game and in that same campaign, she and SAU Sports Hall of Fame teammate Janet Cooper-Wood (C/O 2012) became just the second duo in school history to post 300-point scoring seasons in the same year.