Dr. Margaret Downing was honored in a special ceremony on October 20 following SAU Football’s Homecoming win and preceding the handing out of championship rings to the Lady Mulerider Softball team.
Alumni, Mulerider Softball fans, and former players and friends of Downing packed the stands at Dawson Field inside the Mulerider Softball Complex and watched as SAU President Dr. Trey Berry revealed a sign donning the new name of the facility as Dawson Field at the Dr. Margaret Downing Softball Complex.
“I am not sure that there is a more fitting way to pay tribute to the success of women’s athletics at Southern Arkansas University than by naming our softball complex after someone that has meant so much to women’s athletics,” noted Steve Browning, director of athletics.
The dedication of the Mulerider Softball Complex in honor of Dr. Downing comes after funds were raised by the Margaret Downing Society, which also enabled the infield playing surface at Dawson Field to be reconstructed with artificial turf from Geo-Surfaces.
Downing, a pioneer for the advancement of SAU women’s athletics, spent 18-plus years as a coach of the then-Riderettes in basketball, golf, softball, swimming, volleyball and track and field. In a coaching career that began in 1965, Downing captured six conference championships and two conference co-championships in women’s basketball in addition to a conference championship in volleyball in 1974.
In October of 2003, Downing became an inaugural member of the SAU Sports Hall of Fame. Sixteen years prior, Downing was inducted into the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Hall of Fame. For the past three years, the top female athlete at SAU has been awarded the Dr. Margaret Downing Female Athlete of the Year award.
In addition to this recognition, a scholarship endowment has been started honoring Dr. Downing and benefiting women’s athletics. For more information, contact the Division of Advancement at (870) 235-4078.