Ask anyone associated with Conway athletics. The program is losing its right arm.
For that matter ... left arm, both legs, eyes, ears and a big part of the body.
Ask anyone associated with Conway High athletics for three decades about the heart and pulse of the program -- and almost to a person I would bet they would say Pam Neuhofel.
Neuhofel's last day as the athletic department's administrative assistant was Tuesday.
Administrative assistant is too bland and too common. Neuhofel was the bonding agent, she was electricity, she was efficiency. No athletic event has been held in the Conway school district the last three decades that Neuhofel has not played a large part in the organization, the promotion, the logistics and the execution -- and most of the time, all of the above.
She has even served as the late Bob Courtway's assistant on the Conway swim team in its early days and. for a couple of years after Courtway, she was the designated swim coach for Conway when a school district employee had to be head of a program.
When she began her duties, Conway was a much smaller school, with only a handful of sports (mostly male). There was no baseball, softball, soccer, wrestling or volleyball. When she started as an assistant under football coach Jerry Joe Harrison, she was also administrative assistant for the band.
"Then, they kept adding sports," she said. "They added so many sports that I said, 'I can't keep doing this.' And they got somebody else for band."
She started out with the typewriter as her primary instrument. Now, everything is computerized, which has allowed her to computerize records, data and forms.
And those forms -- eligibility to insurance to invoices to purchase orders to rosters to seating arrangements for season tickets -- she's handled millions of them.
"E-mail has really helped a lot," she said. "That has really helped in getting out information and announcements and getting registration for things like our golf tournament," she said. "It has really helped communication."
In her early days, with old-school phone systems, Conway officials used walkie-talkies to communicate with each other, with varied results.
"Now, everybody has cell phones and it's a whole lot easier," she said.
Just about every administrator and principal in the Conway school district for the past 30 years has worked closely with Neuhofel, many as head coaches or assistant coaches: Jerry Joe Harrison, Steve Fulmer, Herman Lasker, Jerry Whitmore, Ed Dow, Johnny Tyler, Steve Daniels, Carroll Bishop, Buzz Bolding to name a few. Several of them started their careers in the Conway system near when Pam did.
She's gone through four head football coaches (Harrison, Bolding, Kenny Smith and now Clint Ashcraft), which is amazing for a 30-year period. Even more astounding is she has only worked alongside two head basketball coaches for both boys and girls (Joe Graham and James Bates for boys and Bill Clements and Janet Taylor for girls).
"The big thing I remember is the changes, a lot of changes," she said. "We built the fieldhouse, then the areana (Wampus Cat arena) and now the turf, which I've just gotten on the front end. There were so many big projects, just a lot of projects.
"The good thing was being able to work with all the coaches. A lot of them went on to be successful in other jobs and as administrators. It was a great experience working with all of them. There's a lot of great memories there."
And to a person, they will probably tell you that Pam Neuhofel was one of the most organized people they have ever encountered. Remember Radar O'Reilly in the old M*A*S*H series? Neuhofel was that and more.
Whenever a form needed to be sent out or an annoucement to parents or an ad arranged for a program or there was a tournament to be arranged or money to be collected or a volunteer organization to be set up for any number of sports, Pam was usually connecting the dots, almost all of them.
She'll concede she never initially intended to stay 30 years at her post.
"But it's really gone by fast," she said. "So fast but a great experience."
So, what is she going to do now with all her spare moments? The Kansas native will hopes to spend more time with family and friends. Her daughter (Ashley) lives in Florida. "I hope to travel a bit," she said.
She'll quickly figure out what to do instead of her duties at Conway. The larger question is what Conway will do without the services of Pam Neuhofel?
Beth Fluesmeier will take her place.
But Neuhofel's phone will likely ring with a long of "how do you do this? or "where is that?" questions. If she wrote a manual for everything she did and learned, it would take volumes.
"I'm sure I'll be around at different events, but it will be nice to realize all the things I don't have to do or worry about or be there late at night taking care of," she said. "I'll probably be able to just enjoy the games without having to worry about what all needs to be done to set them up or what needs to be done afterwards or who needs to be doing what."
The Conway infrastructure will not crumble in Neuhofel's absence. But there will be times it will seem so.
(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 505-1235 or firstname.lastname@example.org)