Remembering and honoring a fellow teacher and former Lady Blackhawk mother, Lady Blackhawk head coach Heath Neal instituted the Talina McDonald Memorial Hustle Award for the first Pea Ridge Holiday Tournament.
One player from each team of all 12 games of the Pea Ridge Holiday Tournament was selected for one of two awards. Sponsor C.R. Crawford employees presented an MVP (most valuable player) award to a player of the winning team. A member of the Talina McDonald family presented a Talina McDonald Memorial Hustle award to a player from the opposing team.
"We wanted to honor our sponsor, C.R. Crawford, and do something for the kids," Neal said.
"Talina was a good friend of mine as a coworker and I had Kadense as a player," Neal said of the Talina McDonald Memorial Hustle award. "She (Talina) was in our team mom program. She always took care of me as a coach and was a phenomenal parent in our program. Obviously, wanted to do something and recognize her kids and Matt keep her memory alive and how special she was for us as a Lady Blackhawk program and as a community member for all she did for our school district."
Talina McDonald died Nov. 27, 2020, as a result of injuries sustained in a house fire Nov. 4, 2020. The family's home was destroyed. Mrs. McDonald was an employee of the school district.
"Talina McDonald was tragically taken from us way too soon in the fall of 2020. Her love for her family, community, school and the Blackhawks always poured out every day," according to the presentation read after the final game of the tournament. "Talina was an incredible co-worker, friend, wife and mother and in honor of her memory we would like to present our Memorial Hustle Award."
Neal said that even though the players from out of town may not fully understand the meaning of the Talina McDonald Memorial Hustle Award, community members did and it honored Talina McDonald's memory.
Matt McDonald: "It's nice. It's a real nice gesture for them to do that for us. It's good for the kids. Keep her memory."
"It's very nice of them, very respectful," Kadense McDonald said.
Over the three days of the tournament, presenters included Madison McDonald, Jayden Spillman, Noah McDonald, Tara Kennedy, Kadense McDonald and Matt McDonald.