Inductee spotlight: Volleyball coach Lori Hanaway

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When hired for her first volleyball coaching job, she wasn’t much older than her high school players and, while a 22-year-old coach might have seen it as a stepping stone to another school or as a way to transition to basketball, that wasn’t the case.

Not for Lori Hanaway. In much the same way life finds you, well, coaching volleyball found her. She spent 20 years on her first job.

“Starting out as a coach so young, you really have to put all your energy into it,” Hanaway said. “I just fell in love with it and never looked back.”

All these years later, Hanaway is the second-winningest volleyball coach in Missouri high school history and has led eight teams to state championships, all the while mentoring young athletes. Which is why the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame is proud to induct Hanaway with the Class of 2017, which is part of the Enshrinement in Independence presented by Great Southern Bank and set for Sunday, November 12. (For tickets, call 417-889-3100 & see information below.)

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Through the 2017 season, Hanaway had amassed 749 victories in 27 seasons, the first 20 at O’Hara, which won seven state championships (2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010). She then guided St. Teresa’s Academy to a 2006 state title.

Along the way, Hanaway took Lee’s Summit West to two state runner-up finishes in her five seasons there and, after briefly stepping away from the sport in 2016, Hanaway returned to coaching this season at Lee’s Summit High School.

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This from a coach who even won a state volleyball championship as a high school player, at Independence’s William Chrisman High School in 1983.

“I really think with coaching high school girls – and teaching – you start with personal relationships,” Hanaway said of the secret to her success. “You have to let kids know they are important as a player and as a person. When I was younger, I thought, ‘What an awesome responsibility this is.’ Then when I had my own kids, I realized it even more.”

The daughter of Ed and Rixie Adams, Hanaway had grown up in a sports family in Independence and was fortunate to have several coaching mentors in her teenage years.

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Among them was Billie Wilson, the William Chrisman volleyball coach, as well as middle school basketball coach Ron Jones and high school basketball coaches Bill Jonas and Steve Davidson.

“(Wilson) just did things the right way,” Hanaway said. “You wanted to be part of the volleyball team.”

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“(Jonas’) emphasis was on defense and doing things a specific way – hustle and grittiness. I remember being a good player because of what he taught me,” Hanaway added. “With Jonas and Davidson, I learned that if we were going to be competitive, it was about practice. It’s a misnomer that, if you are talented, you are going to be good. You have to work hard.”

Hanaway played two years at Graceland College in Iowa and, after graduation, landed at O’Hara, which had been a state contender. Several of her teams in the 1990s reached the Final Four before the early 2000s saw O’Hara win it all.

“O’Hara was always a solid sports community,” Hanaway said. “I wasn’t walking into something where I had to build from the ground up.”

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Along the way, the sport rose in popularity thanks to three changes – the high school game moving to rally scoring format, the installation of a libero and club volleyball.

In rally scoring, each team now could score on offense or defense in order win a set, now worth 25 points, up 10 points from traditional sets. A libero, a defensive specialist, was added to line-ups and club volleyball created year-round opportunities.

All of which benefitted Kansas City schools, and especially Hanaway, who continually challenged herself. Her teams won six consecutive state titles from 2005 to 2010, with the 2006 title at St. Teresa’s Academy followed by four more after returning to O’Hara.

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Hanaway nearly won it several times at Lee’s Summit West, and all eyes in Kansas City volleyball are now on Lee’s Summit High School.

“I’ve always been around a great circle of people in volleyball,” Hanaway said. “That’s what motivates me.”

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So does family. For years, fans of her teams would see husband Dan walk into the gym pushing strollers – first with Lindsey, then Nick and Abby.

She coached Lindsey’s teams at O’Hara (the 2007-2010 state title teams) and took 2016 off in order to watch Abby play.

“What a great way for my kids to grow up,” Hanaway said. “And, wow, what a great job I have.”

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Enshrinement in Independence presented by Great Southern Bank

When: Sunday, November 12 — Noon reception, 1 p.m. dinner followed by the program

Where: Stoney Creek Hotel & Conference Center, 18011 Bass Pro Dr. in Independence, 64055

Inductees: Kansas City Chiefs nose tackle Bill Maas, Kansas City Royals third baseman Kevin Seitzer, St. Joseph Benton and University of Missouri tight end Martin Rucker, former big-leaguer Bob Dernier, sports medicine expert Dr. Jon Browne, former Missouri Valley College and 1960s Boston Patriots star Ron Hall, longtime high school volleyball coach Lori Hanaway, longtime television sports director Frank Boal, Raytown High School swim coach Jim Aziere, former Mizzou Tigers quarterback Phillip Snowden, Platte County High School football coach Chip Sherman, Mizzou supporter Don Walsworth, former Paseo Academy basketball coach Willie Bowie, William Jewell track and field coach Darrel Gourley, retired Smithville High School girls basketball coach Diana Tingler, the Oak Grove High School Wrestling Program and wrestling coach Bob Glasgow as well as Northwest Missouri State University’s 1998 and 1999 national championship football teams.

President’s Award: Kansas City businessman James Roberts

Tables & tickets: Sponsorship tables of 10 are $1,500 and include an autograph print and recognition in the printed program. An individual ticket is $150 and includes a set of trading cards of all inductees. Numerous other sponsorships also are available, including congratulatory ads and trading card recognition.

Call the MSHOF: 417-889-3100