Clarksville, Ark.-University of the Ozarks will name its baseball field in honor of former longtime coach and instructor Lonnie Qualls in a special dedication ceremony on Friday, March 18.
By Larry Isch, Director of Public Relations The ceremony to name Lonnie R. Qualls Field will begin at 1:30 p.m., just before the Eagles’ 2 p.m. game with Austin College. The public is invited to the ceremony and the game. “Very few people have had the impact on Ozarks that Lonnie Qualls has,” said Ozarks President Dr. Rick Niece. “As a student, athlete, alumnus, coach and faculty member, Lonnie has made a difference in thousands of lives. Currently, he seldom misses an athletic event on campus, and his support of our programs means a great deal to all of us. We are proud to honor him and his legacy in this manner. I can think of no one who is more deserving.” In the early 1950s, Qualls starred in three different sports at Ozarks, including football where he earned All-Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference honors for four years and Back of the Year in the conference in 1953. After graduating from the university, he went on to coach at Clarksville High School and led the Panther football team to an undefeated season in 1961. In 1962 Qualls was hired to coach football at Ozarks. He coached the football program from 1962 until the college dropped the sport in 1965. Over the next 30 years, Qualls coached baseball, tennis, cross country, soccer and bowling as well as taught in the physical education program. He was named NAIA District 17 Baseball Coach of the Year in 1976 and was elected to the Ozarks Sports Hall of Fame in 1990. He retired from Ozarks in 1995 after a 33-year career at the university. Qualls and his wife Levada are both 1955 graduates of Ozarks. “Coach Qualls has been and remains a very special part of athletics at Ozarks,” said Ozarks Director of Athletics Dave De Hart. “The dedication of our baseball field is a small recognition and honor in comparison to the many years of coaching and support he has given to Ozarks athletics and our community. He is a very valued and honored member of our athletic family.”