Har Bell Heritage Hero Administrator - Sandra Sorbo
At any level of sport, a program will fail without a coach. Someone has to be the driving force, to pour in the long hours, to give all of themselves for the good of the program. For the early part of the women’s athletics history at Evangel College, Sandra Sorbo was the driving force. She was the one person mainly responsible for beginning the women’s athletic programs at Evangel. Serving as coordinator and coach for every women’s sport might seem like a steep hill for some, but Sorbo wanted it because she felt the students deserved it.
Sandra Sorbo got her start half way around the world at the Kodaikanal School in South India. She came to Evangel in 1965 as an associate professor of physical education. After graduating from Southwest Missouri State in 1966, majoring in physical education, she received her master’s degree in education/physical education from the University of Missouri-Columbia. While finishing her master’s degree in 1966, she became Evangel’s women’s tennis coach. As each program was added, she took on the coaching duties as well as maintaining her role as coordinator of women’s athletics. Volleyball, softball, and track followed in 1967 and basketball was added in 1968. Field hockey had a one-year stint in 1969-1970. She served as softball coach until 1971, track coach until ‘72, and tennis coach until ‘74. Add to that eleven years at the helm for basketball, sixteen for volleyball, and eighteen as coordinator, which translates into a lot of time to collect memories. One she’s particularly proud of is the 1981 volleyball team. The MAIAW (Missouri Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women) III State Champion with a match record of 40-10-3, the ladies qualified for the national region 6 tournament in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Things were tough starting out. “They had to want to compete,” Sorbo says, “because when we started we bought our own meals, uniforms, and I would pay for transportation. I would buy tackle tweed material for numbers. We would take several cars and go.” Sorbo says she got started in coaching to provide women the opportunity to continue and improve their sport skills and to have an opportunity to use those skills in a organized, recognized format. While she no longer coaches at Evangel, she says that it’s still exciting because of the improvement in the skill level of women and the increased fan interest in women’s sports. She currently teaches and chairs physical education at Evangel, and enjoys being a “full-time, semi-informed spectator,”as well as instructing first aid and CPR and speaking to groups on her travel experiences. For her work in establishing women’s sports at Evangel, Big Sports honors Sandra Sorbo as this month’s Heritage Hero.