Featured photo: Husband Ken Stephens (left) and wife Donna Stephens (right) attend the Arkansas Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame induction. Sportswriter Donna Stephens and sportscaster Rex Nelson were inducted into the Hall of Fame on Saturday, July 9 (image via Facebook).
UCA journalism professor Donna Stephens was recently inducted into the Arkansas Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame.
From 1984 to 1991, Stephens was a sportswriter for the Arkansas Gazette.
“When I started in the mid-1980s, there weren’t many women writing sports, especially in Arkansas. In fact, I was just the third female sports writer at the Arkansas Gazette, so I had to prove myself a little more than my male colleagues did. I’m living proof that hard work and passion can make all the difference,” she said.
Stephens has produced a couple of documentaries and continues to be a freelance writer for multiple publications.
She said it is good to keep her skills sharp and to maintain a presence in the field. She said she is able to use those contacts for her students.
“I couldn’t believe it when I got the call that I had been selected. I can think of so many others who are more deserving, but I was thrilled to accept such an honor,” she said. “It is very humbling to join this group, most of whom I grew up reading and following.”
She said she enjoys all of the assignments she receives but sports is where she started and what she still enjoys writing the most.
Students appreciate Stephens using her experience in her teaching.
“She is already an amazing professor, and has some amazing stories to share with her students that give us an insight to what life will be like as a journalist after we graduate,” senior Chandler Watkins said. “She is so modest in telling us her stories as well. She is so humble for such an accomplished individual. We already receive real world experience as well in her classes.”
Stephens said working at the Arkansas Gazette was a life-changer.
“It was a job I adored and was lucky to have. Through it, I met my husband. Because of it, I am teaching at UCA. Because of my Gazette colleague Dr. David Davies, I did my Ph.D. and published a book. I certainly wouldn’t be in the Sportscasters/Sportswriters Hall of Fame without it,” she said.
Stephens has worked with many coaches and athletes. She said she has built her reputation on those professional relationships.
“Because of sports, I have met hundreds of athletes and coaches, made great friends and a few enemies and found my place in the world. Thirty-two years later, that is one of the great blessings of my life,” she said.