Dr. Warren “Skip” MacDonald is looking to spice up the Crossett and Hamburg rivalry in honor of the late Dr. James Rankin.
Dr. Rankin, who died in December, practiced medicine in Ashley County for 51 years. He retired from the Ashley County Medical Center in January 2016.
Nancy Rankin, the doctor’s wife, said that Macdonald — the orthopedic surgeon at ACMC — reached out to her at the beginning of this year.
“He wrote me a letter right after J.D. passed,” Nancy said. “He said he had heard a lot of good things about him and he wanted to do something special.”
Nancy said that her husband was very supportive of Ashley County sports and the students in the community, and that he did the physicals for the athletes and went to every game.
“If someone was hurt, he would run out on the field before the ambulance could get there,” Nancy said.
Crossett Superintendent of Schools Gary Williams said the idea that Macdonald had was to award a trophy each year to the Ashley County school with the best sports program.
A news release from ACMC said the award was created in honor of Rankin to recognize the long standing rivalry between the Crossett Eagles and the Hamburg Lions.
The release said that points will be awarded to the victorious teams in each head-to-head varsity sport. Points will be accumulated throughout all sports seasons of the school year, with the final points being tallied in May. The trophy will go to to the Ashley County high school with the highest number of wins.
MacDonald said he’s lived in communities with rivalries, and he has always wanted to sponsor an award like this.
“I wanted to find a way that every athlete, no matter the sport, could contribute to the points,” MacDonald said. “I want every team to feel like they are apart of earning the award.”
The award makes sure no sport is overlooked.
“He wanted to highlight all of the student athletes,” Williams said. “This isn’t just about football.”
Ashley County Medical Center Marketing Director Caitlin Martin said a trophy case will be installed somewhere in the hospital and the trophy will be on display. The trophy is already at the hospital with blank plates that will be engraved in May once the winning school is announced.
The Crossett and Hamburg superintendents, Nancy Rankin and her son, Stan Rankin, met at the hospital to view the trophy.
Both surviving Rankins in attendance said they were honored that Macdonald is naming this award in honor of Dr. Rankin.
Williams said the award could encourage others to serve their community as Dr. Rankin did. Williams said the length of time and commitment that Dr. Rankin gave to Ashley County should inspire others to invest their time in Ashley County also.
Williams said that MacDonald is involved in both the Hamburg and Crossett schools, working with students who are interested in sports medicine. He also oversees the health of the school athletes.
“He is very involved,” Hamburg Superintendent of Schools Tracy Streeter said. “He’s actually trained our students to be more aware of injuries and what causes them.”
The superintendents said they believe that this new award will definitely motivate the students and add new spice to the Crossett Hamburg rivalry.
“The competition has been there between the two districts,” Williams said. “This just adds a new twist to it.”