Van Buren's Becky Goerig will be inducted into the hall of fame along with her teammates of back-to-back national titles.
The Arkansas Tech Golden Suns back in the early 1990s and was the only four-year college basketball teams from Arkansas to ever win back-to-back national championships.
Van Buren Freshman Academy coach Becky Goerig was a part of both teams and she, along with her teammates will be inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. A special induction banquet will be held Sept. 16 at John E. Tucker Coliseum in Russellville.
The lessons learned from playing at such a high level has helped Goerig as a coach.
“I learned how hard work pays off, and that you don’t always have to be the most talented or biggest team,” she said. “As long as you’re willing to out-work the competition. These are the lessons I try to instill in my players.
“Learning to push through adversity, both physically and mentally, has made me a stronger person.”
Joe Foley, the head coach during those two seasons, said time has increased his appreciation for what the teams accomplished.
“At the time those national championship teams were playing, I think all of us and the people from in and around Russellville who did such a great job of supporting us knew those teams were good,” said Foley, who was the head women’s basketball coach at Arkansas Tech from 1987-2003. “Now that some time has passed, I think everyone has a better appreciation of just how good they were.”
The 1991-92 Golden Suns finished the season 35-1 overall, including 29 consecutive wins to close the season. Their final 28 games were all by 12 or more points.
Tech won its five games in the 1992 NAIA National Tournament by an average margin of 24 points, including an 84-68 victory over Wayland Baptist College at Oman Arena in Jackson, Tenn.
The following season, Tech didn’t repeat as the Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference champions. The Golden Suns defeated UA-Monticello 70-64 in the 1993 NAIA District 17 championship game and earned a return trip to Jackson.
The Golden Suns faced a hometown crowd of Union University for the national championship. Carin Pinion made the game-winning layup with three seconds remaining to give Tech a 76-75 win.
Goerig said the layup was her favorite memory of the two seasons. She’s looking forward to seeing her former teammates at the banquet.
“I have kept in touch with a few of my teammates. With everyone so busy, it’s tough to keep in touch as much as I’d like,” said Goerig. “Social media has allowed me to keep up with a lot of them.”
Foley said the camaraderie among the players assisted in lifting the team to the second national title.
“After that first year, I really didn’t have to do a lot of explaining and things like that because they knew the team that well and played together that well,” said Foley. “We’ve probably had more talent on some teams, but maybe those other didn’t know the game as well or maybe they didn’t play together as well. That’s what makes you appreciate a team like that.”