When senior point guard Joey Hall plays his last game for the Pea Ridge Blackhawks this spring, it will close out a successful run of Hall family athletes that started many years ago with the first of three Hall children who suited up for the black and white.
The Halls are the children of Kevin and Ronda Hall, neither of whom had any longtime ties to the area before settling here in the 1990s. Kevin, though a native of Calico Rock, lived in several places as the family traveled with the father's work. Kevin graduated from a high school in Colorado where he was a successful basketball player in his own right. But as Kevin recently remarked, "no matter where I lived, I was from Arkansas. That was home."
Ronda graduated from White Hall High School and then graduated from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. It was while she was living in Little Rock that she agreed to go on a blind date with Kevin, a date that later led to a marriage with both partners eventually working for the Walmart corporation. Ronda's initial employment was with Sam's Club in Bentonville.
Kevin got on with the WalMart management teams and worked in Utah and New York before transferring to live in northwest Arkansas. As Ronda's sister Angela Swaim was already in the area, the Hall's asked her where a good place to settle down might be. That's when Pea Ridge came into the picture.
The Halls visited the town, went to some games, and decided that they thought that Pea Ridge would be a good fit. Not only would it be a good fit for them professionally, it would also turn out to be a good fit for the three Hall children: Jessica (Class of 2009), Jacob (Class of 2013) and of course, Joey (Class of 2017).
The Halls threw themselves into working in youth programs, with the couple getting involved with the Pea Ridge Youth Competitive Basketball leagues. Ronda became the local league chairman, which meant lots of hours organizing teams, arranging for referees, and seeing that the home games had what they needed to carry on.
Both Halls would also work to organize traveling basketball teams that meant from 20 to 30 road games a year. Beginning with Jessica's sixth-grade season in 2002 through Joey's last year in 2011, the Halls devoted hundreds of hours to youth activities in Pea Ridge. Ronda would eventually get to use her business and computer training to be hired here as a middle school teacher.
Jessica was the first to be an official Blackhawk, playing for the junior 'Hawks in the fall of 2003. Jessica played on some of the best girls teams Pea Ridge has had, and she later took her talents to North Ark Community College in Harrison after graduating from Pea Ridge in 2009. After later transferring to and graduating from Arkansas Tech, she married Pea Ridge grad and former player Alex Kelly, whose parents were the original founders of the youth leagues.
Jacob is in his senior year at Oklahoma Wesleyan College in Oklahoma. An All-State athlete for the Blackhawks, Jacob's three years as a varsity 'Hawk helped his teammates have one of the best three-year runs ever at the the school. A member of the Dean's List, Jacob will graduate with a degree in accounting and has already landed a job with Conoco-Phillips in Bartlesville. Jacob's recent internship convinced the big corporation that he would be a good addition.
Now comes Joey in his final semester as a student and athlete at Pea Ridge. He has keyed the offense all season and has been a stalwart on defense. Though often the teams scoring leader, Joey has been a "team first" player, and with the unusual number of weapons that dot the Pea Ridge roster this year, he hasn't sweated his scoring average. As with the other players on the team, as long as the team wins, the individual scoring doesn't matter.
Joey was exposed to the game of basketball as soon as he could walk, hanging around the gym where his siblings were practicing, bouncing basketball around as a preschooler. When I used to have an art room in the old gym, Joey would often kind of wander in evenings when I was working there, taking some time to draw a bit for a time or make something. But, in a little while, he would be back on the gym floor. Joey had the kind of relationship with a basketball that most kids have with a teddy bear.
Next week will be the last week of the regular season with the playoffs looming on the horizon. He hopes they can match the feat pulled off by this year's football boys by playing their way into the state final in Hot Springs this March. They will play in the 4A-1 District tournament to be followed by the Regional and hopefully, the State Tournament.
Yelling for Joey from up in the stands will be as always, Ronda and Kevin along with sister Jessica and maternal grandmother Sandy Herzberg. For Joey's high school career, he could usually count on his sis, parents and grandmother to be there to support him and his teammates.
Joey is being recruited by University of the Ozarks as well as Baker University in Kansas. He has ideas of a degree in business and someday becoming a stock broker. But, for right now, he is a Pea Ridge Blackhawk and at best, he has 12 games left to play. The class of athletes he has played with and been a part of will go down as the highest achieving class of athletes the school has ever seen.
Since I have known him since he was 3 or 4, I have always been impressed with a good kid he has been and what a good man he is becoming. The great thing about that is that he fits right in on a squad of good kids who are also good students and good citizens. If the main point of interscholastic athletics is to produce students who will be positive additions to the world at large and who will making the places they later go, better places, then the Pea Ridge athletic program is one with few if any peers.
I got to wondering, with Joey graduating and all, where will the Halls and Jessica and Sandy be next year? I was assured that they will be where they always are, rooting for the home boys, the Pea Ridge Blackhawks.
4A Boys super six
Jan. 22, 2017
1. Baptist Prep^18-4
2. Pea Ridge^20-1
4. Batesville Southside^19-2
5. Cave City^18-2
MaxPreps Arkansas State 4A poll
Jan. 23, 2017
1. Baptist Prep^17-4^20.1^+0.7
2. Batesville Southside^18-2^17.2^-0.7
4. Pea Ridge^19-1^15.0^+1.0
5. Cave City^19-2^14.3^+0.6
8. Jonesboro Westside^14-6^11.6^+0.6
27. Prairie Grove^9-11^1.1 -0.5
32. Gentry^9-8^- 0.0^+1.0
4A North Region boys poll
2. Pea Ridge^20-1
9. West Fork^13-8
3A-4A-1 Boys conference*
Jan. 23, 2017
1. Pea Ridge^13-0
3. Prairie Grove^9-4
5. West Fork^7-6
9. Haas Hall^1-12
MaxPreps/CBS State 4A Girls Poll
Jan. 26, 2017
1. Central Arkansas^18-2^20.4^-1.0
5. Star City^17-2^16.8^unch
6. West Fork^21-0^16.7^+1.0
20. Pea Ridge^12-9^4.9^unch
29. Prairie Grove^6-12^0.4^-3.1
4A North Region Girls poll
1. West Fork^21-1
7. Pea Ridge^12-9
10. Prairie Grove^6-12
3A-4A-1 Girls conference
1. West Fork^13-0
4. Pea Ridge^9-5
5. Prairie Grove^6-7
9. Haas Hall^2-10
Editor's note: John McGee, an award-winning columnist, sports writer and art teacher at Pea Ridge elementary schools, writes a regular sports column for The Times. The opinions expressed are those of the author. He can be contacted through The Times at email@example.com.Sports on 02/01/2017
Print Headline: The Halls of fame -- the close of a successful run