Linda ‘Mavis’ (Davis) Gilley was a force to be reckoned with during her days on the basketball court in the late 1970s at Southern Baptist College (now Williams Baptist University).
During her career, she became the first women’s basketball player from Southern Baptist College to earn NJCAA Region II All-Region Team honors and was one of just three players from the state of Arkansas to earn the distinction in 1980. Gilley was also an all-conference selection in each of her two seasons at SBC.
During the 1979-1980 season Gilley had multiple standout performances, but none more impressive than the night she scored a career-high 42 points against ASU-Beebe to help Southern Baptist College to victory over their in-state foe. Her performance still stands as the school’s record for most points scored in a game during its junior college days.
“I know those two years at SBC were only a small part of my life, but it had such an impact on me for the rest of my life,” Gilley said. “I will always treasure those years the most because those years molded me into the person I am today. All the lifelong friendships and especially a huge thank you to Coach Jerry Ann Winters, for believing in me and giving me a chance of a lifetime.”
After graduating from SBC Gilley continued her playing career at the University of Central Arkansas and helped the Sugar Bears win their first Arkansas Women’s Intercollegiate Sports Association State title in 1981-1982.
She graduated from UCA in 1982 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education and went to work for the Cave City school district where she would spend the next 25 years of her life.
“I was torn about staying in the classroom, or pursuing a degree in Physical Education,” Gilley said. “I followed my heart and went back to get my degree in Physical Education because being an athlete all my life, I knew the importance of being physically active.”
Her years in the regular classroom helped her encourage healthy habits when she made the transition to a physical education teacher. Her tips and techniques helped students manage everyday stress and stay active and motivated.
Outside of the classroom, Gilley volunteered for the American Red Cross as an instructor teaching CPR/AED and first aid. She also became involved in grant writing and helped the Cave City school district receive the Safe Route to School grant to promote walking and bicycling to school and to increase physical safety among students.
After 30 years of teaching, Gilley retired in 2013 and resides in Batesville with her husband Darrell.
WBU is a private, Christian university in Walnut Ridge, Ark.