Har Bell Heritage Hero Coach - Roy Green
Green... Set the Standard for Prep Success in Springfield
Roy Green, 558 coaching victories and just 186 losses. His career numbers as a Springfield head basketball coach may never be matched again.
When Green's tenure as the coach of the Kickapoo Chiefs ended during this year's district championship loss to Branson, it closed out a remarkable run on the city's south side. For 26 seasons, one of the longest ever for a local prep coach, Green guided his Kickapoo teams to, without question, one of the premiere programs in all of Missouri.
Mixed into that victory total that began at Kickapoo in the 1983-84 season were seventeen campaigns where his teams won twenty or more games, that led in part to a pair of state championships (2002-03, 30-1 overall; 2005-06, 28-4 overall) along with a third place state finish, a couple of quarterfinal appearances, and enough conference and district championship titles to fill a couple of trophy cases.
Always blessed with some of the top talent in the city, Green, who coached at Miller and Willow Springs high schools prior to coming into the Springfield system, was noted for finding ways to use that talent properly.
While his teams of late were high energy, offensive-scoring machines, there are those who remember the days when Green, in search of a victory, was known to take the "air out of the ball" and post a few ugly wins. It wasn't uncommon for Kickapoo scores to show up on the sports page the morning after a game with neither team having reached 20 points. But...it still was usually Kickapoo's name in the win column.
In the years that Kickapoo's victory onslaught continued to dominate the Springfield basketball scene, there would occasionally be a challenge or two offered up, but Green's style of play, coupled with the constant influx of talent to the program, which kept the Chiefs on top.
Roy Green's first season with the Chiefs they posted an overall mark of 9-18. There was never a losing season after that. They'll be talking for many years to come of how the "green" mixed so well with the "brown and gold" at Kickapoo for more than a quarter of a century.
BIG SPORTS salutes the run Roy Green posted with the Chiefs and recognizes him as our Har Bell Heritage Hero.
Har Bell Heritage Hero Administrator - Jimmy Wright
There are certain “fixtures” in the world of sports that we come to expect to see when we attend athletic contests.
Brett Favre for all of those seasons at Green Bay would be one. Joe Paterno coaching for more than half a century at Penn State would be another.
A little closer to home, a “fixture” that fans of sporting events at Missouri State University have come to expect over the years is that of Jimmy Wright sitting in his familiar spot at the officials table during university games.
For nearly thirty years Wright’s been a key part of keeping the games going at MSU, serving in various capacities as a member of the administrative team that work scoreboards and shot clocks for
A native of East Lansing, Michigan, Wright came to the MSU staff in 1980 in the role of equipment technician in the school’s Department of Health and Physical Education. His duties in the job included overseeing and providing equipment for all physical education classes, as well as managing the men’s physical education facility at McDonald Arena on campus.
Over the years he’s become however, the face of athletics in so many ways, primarily in the role that the public most often sees him in, that being his game day activities.
You could safely say that Jimmy Wright has had his “finger” on the pulse of MSU sports, or at least on their sports clocks longer than any other person, ever.
His commitment to his job and his dedication to Missouri State have not gone unnoticed. The Missouri Valley Conference announced in December that Wright will be honored this coming March as the 2009 recipient of the Paul Morrison Award, which is presented annually to honor individuals who have made significant contributions to their respective league-member institutions, The Valley or collegiate athletics in general.
In making the announcement, MVC Commissioner Doug Elgin said of Wright, “he has been a tremendous ambassador for not only Missouri State University, but the Missouri Valley Conference as well. It’s hard to imagine a league event at MSU without Jimmy’s involvement.”
A 1979 graduate of Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, Wright will be honored on Friday, March 6 during the Presidents Hall of Fame Brunch at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis during the Missouri Valley Conference men’s basketball tournament.
Big Sports salutes Jimmy Wright as well and recognizes him as our Har-Bell Heritage Hero.
Har Bell Heritage Hero Coach - Aundrae Curtis
Article from September/October 2008 Issue of Big Sports
Now and Then, Always a Crusader....
For Curtis that championship was the culmination of almost forty years of dedication and support of athletics at the University.
A native of McCroy, Arkansas, Curtis first came to then Evangel College in 1962 following two seasons at Southern Baptist College in Arkansas, where as a sophomore he was the team’s leading scorer. Injuries kept him from playing his junior year at Evangel, but during his senior season of ’64-‘65 he made up for that lost year, as he scored 533 points to lead the Crusaders, including a 43 point effort that still ranks as one of the top ten single game performances ever in school history.
Upon graduation Curtis was named head coach of the Crusaders in 1965 and served in that capacity until 1970 when he took a brief break from coaching to enter private business. In 1972 he returned to the helm and continued as head coach for another ten season. Curtis coached the Crusaders in a total of 407 games during his total of 15 seasons, and although he finished with an overall record of 170-238, he was responsible for laying that groundwork of strong Evangel teams that were to follow in the seasons to come.
From 1974-81 Curtis served double duties at the school, as in addition to head basketball coach, he was also athletic director. But his various roles within the athletics system at Evangel were not limited to just those two jobs. He was coach of the women’s tennis team at Evangel for four years (1983-86), and was the school’s baseball coach during two stints (1965 and 1967-69).
Among the final accomplishments during his tenure as athletic director was to oversee the addition of football to the sports scene at the school in 1978.
Now retired from any official duties with Evangel, Curtis still remains one of the University’s most steadfast followers and supporters. His four decades of loyalty to Evangel is a constant reminder to many of what it really means to remain “true to your school.”
Big Sports salutes Aundrae Curtis as our Har Bell Heritage Hero. His dedication to Evangel University is unequaled.
Har Bell Heritage Hero Coach - Cindy Sue Thompson Grassi
Article from September/October 2008 Issue of Big Sports
By Mike Edwards
It has been said that all too often the good die young. Many good people have been called by God way too soon, but He has His reasons. Cindy Sue Thompson Grassi has a special place in heaven as she touched many lives in her short time on Earth. Cindy graduated from Logan-Rogersville in 1973, earned her teaching degree from SMSU, then her master’s in physical education from Drury. She returned to her alma mater to teach and coach.
At the time of her death, she was living in St. Louis and teaching at UMSL, but was preparing to return to her home here in the Ozarks. She was an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan, often traveling to watch them on the road. This year, she and close friend Sandy Wacker, a former teaching associate at Mark Twain Elementary in the St. Louis area, went to Philadelphia to watch the Cardinals play the Phillies. Following the game, they went for a jog and were struck by a drunk driver.
Cindy died two days later in a Philadelphia hospital. Even with her early departure from this life at only 53 years of age, she left her mark and will not soon be forgotten. “Coach Thompson meant a great deal to me, especially in high school,” writes former student Eva Gassenberger/Reese. “She was my favorite coach, always smiling, always respectful of my decisions, even when they were wrong.”
She taught PE and coached track for many years, but she also loved helping with the special education kids at LR, something that was very special to her. Following a stellar career in college as a track and field star, and even named to the Missouri State Sports Hall of Fame, her accolades paled in comparison to her love for others. That’s how so many of her friends, students, and loved ones remember Cindy.
“She was just a great person,” said long-time friend and teaching associate Margaret Carroll. “She did her student teaching here in Rogersville and was hired as an elementary PE teacher the following year. She worked so well with the kids and they just loved her.”
Even at 53, Cindy leaves an important legacy behind. “‘Always have fun!’ She was able to make teaching physical education fun,” said Carroll. That reminds all of us that life can still be fun no matter what we’re doing. Teaching was her passion, but it was also what she did for fun, along with cheering on her Cardinals. “She was a great person, plain and simple! She will be missed but never forgotten!”
Update on Sandy Wacker: In writing this tribute, everyone asked how Sandy was doing following this tragedy. She is continuing to improve in a rehabilitation center in the St. Louis area from her serious injuries. For information as to her progress, the family has set up a website at www.prayersforsandy.com .
Har Bell Heritage Hero Coach - Nolan McCaulley
Article from July/August 2008 Issue of Big Sports
McCaulley's Dedication Keep the Games Alive
Then again, folks don’t often like to praise those that wear the striped shirts, so maybe some would simply say...legend among officials.
For more than forty-five years McCaulley has been patrolling the hardwoods, sidelines and base paths in southwest Missouri, calling games from one season into the next. Football, baseball, basketball and of late, soccer have been the sports where he’s logged countless hours with whistle in hand. It would be impossible to calculate the total number of high school and college sporting events McCaulley has presided over, but it most certainly would total into the thousands.
Among his more outstanding accomplishments as an official was a run of thirty-nine years calling the Nixa High School Basketball Tournament and a thirty-six year streak as a lead official working the annual Blue and Gold Basketball Tournament. He was active in both until just a couple of years ago.
While the majority of sports fans recognize and acknowledge him primarily from the many football and basketball venues, it’s his work each summer with one particular baseball event that draws our attention at this time.
The 2008 Springfield American Legion Holiday Baseball Tournament is slated to run from July 2-6 at various ballparks in and around Springfield.
The Holiday Tournament which over the years has seen the likes of Albert Pujols, Jason Isringhausen, Bill Mueller and Brian McRae grace the local fields had become less and less of a tournament the Legion teams in the Midwest felt obligated to participate in. McCaulley admits that even headed into this summer’s tournament there was some question as to the overall future of the event. But he says the infusion of new supporters, both administratively and from the coaching side have given the tournament new live and there’s every reason to believe it’s coming back as strong as ever. In fact there’s speculation that some of the St. Louis and Kansas City area teams that in recent years elected to bypass the tournament could be returning as soon as next summer.
The fact that the Holiday Tournament even has a chance to survive and live on is a direct credit to McCaulley’s dedication during the past quarter century. While he also serves as the area’s Legion baseball commissioner, his commitment to keeping the Holiday Tournament alive as director each summer is reason to celebrate.
For more than forty-five years he’s stepped on the fields and in the gyms of the Ozarks and for twenty-five years he’s kept a summer tradition going as well. Big Sports salutes Nolan McCaulley as our Heritage Hero and says “thanks” for not letting this one slip away.