Henderson State shortstop Bethany Allen was presented the Ben Hogan Award of Perseverance on Wednesday at the Ben Hogan Foundation Awards Ceremony in Fort Worth, Texas.
In honor of Ben Hogan's devotion to the game of golf and his determination to control his own destiny, Texas Health Ben Hogan and the Ben Hogan Foundation have come together to honor athletes with that same determination. The Ben Hogan Award of Perseverance recognizes students, in high school and college, who have overcome adversity or injury to return and excel in their respective sport.
Thanks to the generous support of community donors including Balfour Beatty, Dee J. Kelly Foundation, Frost Bank and Hillwood, the $10,000 Ben Hogan Award of Perseverance will be given to each athlete and then divided equally between the athlete and the athlete's school/university, each receiving $5,000. The athletes must use the award to fund his/her education.
Allen, this year's collegiate recipient, transferred from Weatherford Community College where she was an All-Conference and All-Region honoree.
During her sophomore year at Weatherford, Allen and a teammate collided in an effort to catch a fly ball. Allen laid in pain and was taken immediately to the hospital where she was first diagnosed with a concussion. For precautionary measures, a MRI was conducted where doctors found what was described as a "massive brain tumor".
"I had no idea how to react," said Allen. "People were confused that I wasn't crying and why I wasn't scared, but I wasn't because that is not how I am. I just wanted to find a way to fix it and get back on the field."
Allen was determined to get back on the field asking for permission on a daily basis to return to the team. She would often sneak in batting practice during workouts when coaches weren't watching.
As time went by, it was determined that Allen had Grade 3 brain cancer.
She went through radiation treatments for over six weeks every morning but it didn't stop her from playing the game she loved. Despite the early morning treatments, she was back on the field each afternoon.
"I don't believe in giving up and not going after your goals," said Allen. "I still believe you can do whatever you want to accomplish. If you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything."
Allen credits her late mother Robin for providing her the strength and perseverance to move forward every day.
"I lost my mom, my very best friend nearly three years ago," Allen said. "She suffered from an intense staph infection in her leg. She went through numerous surgeries in a year; I barely saw her. She was a fighter and that's where I got it from."
Since last August when she arrived to Henderson State, the junior from Mineral Springs, Texas traveled from Arkansas to Fort Worth for an MRI every month. She has gone through numerous tests and treatments, but through it all, she has remained positive and it has made a lasting impression on her Reddies teammates and coaches.
"Bethany has had a positive impact and has been as inspiration to this team," said HSU Head Coach Beth Jackson. "Bethany is an exceptional athlete with tons of ability and even more heart. With her heart and mindset, she will make her challenges seem not as big as they really are."
Allen has started 27 games this season for the Reddies despite sitting out for nearly six weeks from mid-February until the beginning of March.
In those 27 contests, Allen has compiled a .286 average to go along with four doubles and 12 runs batted in.
"My faith in God is how I am here today. And my mom is up there watching with him. He has her sitting next to him to help me get through everything," said Allen. "I wish she was here for this, but I know she knows and is proud of me."
"It is an honor to receive the prestigious Ben Hogan Award," Allen said. "I plan to use this scholarship to continue my education and earn my degree. I want to become a college coach and teach those what I have learned through the years and love the sport and have the same passion I have."