SPRINGFIELD — The Missouri Sports Hall of Fame honored former Missouri State University women’s basketball coach Cheryl Burnett as a Missouri Sports Legend during its second annual Women in Sports Luncheon presented by the Bee Payne-Stewart Foundation on Monday at the Ramada Oasis Convention Center.
Additionally, the Hall inducted the Lady Bears’ 1992 and 2001 Final Four teams as well as LPGA standout Cathy Reynolds of Springfield and Patti Phillips, the CEO of Kansas City-based National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators. A crowd of about 700 turned out, giving each honoree a standing ovation.
Jerald Andrews, President and Executive Director of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, led the ceremony a day after all honorees gathered at the Tower Club, where a dinner swas ponsored by Ed and Carol Pinegar and cocktail reception was sponsored by Hampton Inns of Springfield and Eric Steinert.
A bronze bust of Burnett will soon line the Legends Walkway, home to statues and other bronze likenesses of such Missouri greats as Stan Musial, Norm Stewart and Len Dawson.
Under Burnett, the Lady Bears compiled a 319-136 record in her 15 seasons. Missouri State posted winning seasons in her final 13 years, including nine seasons of 20 or more wins. Her teams also reached the postseason 11 times, including 10 trips to the NCAA Tournament. Her 1992 and 2001 teams remain the only Division I basketball teams in Missouri, men’s and women’s, to reach the Final Four.
The Lady Bears also won seven conference regular-season championships between 1990 and 2001 and five league tournament titles between 1991 and 2001. Attendance also rose from an average of 881 a game in her first year as head coach to an average of 8,431 a game in her final year. The 1993 team led the nation in attendance.
Lady Bears 1992 Final Four team
The then-Southwest Missouri State Lady Bears won 21 consecutive games en route to a school-record 31 victories and No. 4 ranking in the final USA Today Coaches Poll. Led by sophomore Melody Howard, the Lady Bears were a No. 8 seed in their region but beat Kansas, upset top-seeded Iowa at Iowa in the second round and also scored upsets of UCLA and Ole Miss in the Boulder regional before losing to Western Kentucky in the semifinals.
The team featured Karen Rapier (Jefferson City), Amy Nelson (Edwardsville, Ill.), Heidi Muller (Clarinda, Iowa), Charity Shira (Fair Grove), Secelia Winkfield (Blue Springs High School), Melody Howard (Marshfield), Tina Robbins (Joplin High School), Tonya Baucom (Pleasanton, Kan.), Angenette Sumrall (East St. Louis, Ill., Lincoln High School), Chrissy Ediger (Aurora), Julie Howard (Marshfield). Assistants were Lynnette Robinson (Annawan High School), Marla Douglass-Odom (Mountain Grove) and Jim Middleton (Nixa).
Lady Bears 2001 Final Four team
Led by senior guard Jackie Stiles, the NCAA all-time leading scorer, the Lady Bears won 29 games, second-most in program history. They opened the NCAA Tournament as a No. 5 seed in their region and then beat Toledo, fourth-seeded Rutgers at Rutgers, Duke and Washington to reach the Final Four. Their run ended in a semifinal loss to Purdue. Tara Mitchem’s 40 points rescued the team against Toledo after Stiles suffered a concussion.
The team consisted of Jackie Stiles (Claflin, Kan.), Melody Campbell (Claremore, Okla.), Carly Deer (Warrensburg), Tiny McMorris (Robbins, Ill., Eisenhower High School), Tara Mitchem (Springfield Glendale), Carolyn Weirick (Berea, Ohio), Dzenata Kadic (Rockford, Ill., Lutheran High School), Ann Cavey (Mechanicsville, Iowa, North Cedar High School), Kinga Kiss (Romania), Erica Vicente (Brazil), Erika Rante (Brazil), Stephanie Busbey (El Dorado Springs), Morgan Hohenberger (Cooper, Texas). Assistants were Robinson, Rapier and Scott Norris (Kickapoo).
A Springfield native, Reynolds played on the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour from 1978 to 1994. Her father, Sam, was a longtime golf pro at Hickory Hills Country Club in Springfield and taught Cathy the game. She and Springfield’s Payne Stewart became good friends and playing partners as well.
On the LPGA Tour from 1978 to 1994, Reynolds was one of the top players with Nancy Lopez in her era. She won the 1981 Golden Lights Championship by two strokes against Betsy King in Greenwich, Conn.
At age 15, Reynolds made history by becoming the youngest to qualify for a USGA Women’s Open. Reynolds, who won the 1974 Missouri State Women’s Golf Championship at age 16 and played two years at the University of Tulsa, earned her Tour card at age 19.
Patti Phillips’ career has been dedicated to spotlighting women’s athletics across the country. She is now in her fifth year as CEO of the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators, based in Kansas City. She previously enjoyed 11 successful years at Kansas City’s Women’s Intersport Network, a nonprofit dedicated to leadership development in girls and women through participation in athletics.
Under Phillips’ leadership, the NACWAA has seen double digit grown in membership and National Convention attendance while also increasing web traffic and social media presence by more than 100 percent. At WIN, she dramatically increased participation and funding. In addition, she has been an analyst for ESPN, Fox Sports Midwest, Sooner Sports and Metro Sports television broadcasts of collegiate women’s basketball and volleyball games.