Izzie Antony gathers NWA community to remember brother

TONTITOWN — In the halls of Ozark Catholic Academy, senior Isabella “Izzie” Antony is known for her athleticism, leadership, commitment to her community and resilience. 

She demonstrated all of these qualities when she spearheaded the Noah Antony Memorial Run in March, a senior capstone project that not only honored her late brother but brought her community together.

The 5K race, held in Tontitown, drew more than 300 registrants and raised more than $10,500. Proceeds from the race support scholarships and financial aid for OCA students. Her capstone project, she said, honored her brother, who died in 2017, in a meaningful way by celebrating his life and passion for cross-country running.

“Looking back and seeing how supportive people were, makes me want the race to continue,” she said. “It was definitely bigger than me. I was going through a lot of emotions, and that weekend helped me connect with Noah’s memory in my own way.”

Equally important to Antony in these past four years has been her spiritual growth. OCA’s emphasis on daily Mass and its nurturing environment allowed Antony, daughter of Paul and Susan Antony and niece of Father John Antony of Immaculate Conception Church in Fort Smith, to deepen her faith. She has been a member of the St. Raphael’s youth group in Springdale where her mom serves as a youth group leader and her family have been parishioners for 27 years. 

Antony also found a niche in competitive athletics. She participated in basketball, volleyball and track, achieving All-Conference and All-State honors. Her exceptional performance in volleyball earned her a spot as MVP for four consecutive years and an All-Star game nomination set to be played in June. Additionally, Antony was also a significant contributor to the girls' track team, achieving its first 1A State Championship title this spring.

Kevin Dickinson, Antony's basketball coach of 10 years, commended her versatility and leadership on and off the court. 

“Isabella can flip the switch both ways from laughing and joking to locking in on a game,” he said. “Her competitive spirit and natural athleticism set her apart as a leader.”

In her four years at OCA, Antony has also been an active member of the National Honor Society, served as house president and led fundraising efforts for local charities, including the Children’s Safety Center and the American Heart Association. 

“Isabella has a holistic approach to her education in that she doesn’t simply want to excel academically but strives even more so to push herself and others toward success in all areas of life,” said Payton Bryant, OCA’s academic counselor.

Antony said she feels what she gained with a Catholic education has given her a great foundation. 

“Since coming to OCA, I have a greater understanding of my faith,” she said, “OCA also helped me to go deeper and has helped me know how I want to grow in my own life.”

She said she hopes to continue this spiritual journey at college, planning to stay involved with St. Thomas Aquinas University Parish at the University of Arkansas where she plans to study psychology and pre-law. She dreams of becoming a child advocacy lawyer. 

"My biggest takeaway since freshman year is ‘know thyself'," she said. "OCA has given me such a great foundation to grow on."

Alesia Schaefer

Alesia Schaefer has been a Arkansas Catholic reporter and columnist from Northwest Arkansas for more than 10 years. A member of St. Vincent de Paul Church in Rogers, she works as admissions director and cross country coach at Ozark Catholic Academy in Tontitown.

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