Years ago, Susan Bouldin would ride her bike 45 minutes from her family’s Webster County dairy farm into Marshfield to play volleyball, back at a time when the sport’s future was uncertain.
And yet she kept churning, turning her passion into a coaching career, and eventually collided with her future husband, Wayne, a volleyball aficionado building a coaching resume himself. Call them a tag team for Title IX.
“The goal was to make kids better,” Susan said. “I don’t know if we were looking at the big picture.”
Nevertheless, the Kreklow’s impact on volleyball is enormous. Not only did they raise the sport’s profile – particularly at NAIA Columbia College in the 1990s and, since 2000, at the University of Missouri – but their efforts created opportunities for hundreds of women student-athletes.
Thus, the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame is proud to induct the Kreklows into the Class of 2016. The couple has turned the rare double feat of creating success at the budget-conscious NAIA level and as well as at an NCAA Division I Power 5 school.
The induction is part of the Women’s Sports Luncheon presented by the Bee Payne-Stewart Foundation, set for 11 a.m. March 23 at University Plaza Convention Center in downtown Springfield. (See ticket information is below.)
And all this after those early years in coaching when they were the “chauffer” by driving team vans and packing weekend lunches in coolers. Never did they dream their teams one day would jet-set through their schedule.
The Kreklows have led Mizzou to 12 NCAA Tournaments in the past 16 seasons, reaching one Elite Eight, two Sweet 16s and enjoying 14 winning seasons. Susan was head coach from 2000 to 2004 and was the Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year in 2000 before the couple switched coaching titles in 2005.
Mizzou’s 2013 team won the Southeastern Conference championship – the program’s first conference title – by sweeping through the regular season at 34-0. Wayne was named the SEC Coach of the Year and the Southeast Region Coach of the Year. The team set a combined 10 school and national records, including a school-record 35 wins.
At Columbia College, the Kreklows were the co-head coaches of the men’s and women’s volleyball teams. The women’s team reached the NAIA Tournament six times and won back-to-back national championships in 1998 and 1999, combining to post an 85-0 record.
Between 1997 and 1999, the Kreklows won multiple national volleyball Coach of the Year awards.
“Susan brings tremendous energy, drive and organization skills,” Wayne said. “We work well together because we believe that the most important thing is the success of the team, not who gets the credit.”
Their paths crossed in the early 1990s on the club volleyball circuit.
By then, Susan was into her second decade of coaching. She played volleyball at the University of Central Missouri before finishing at Missouri State University, graduating in 1984. Her journey initially led to St. Clair High School, and later to Columbia College in 1990. She later founded the Columbia Juniors Volleyball Club and the Columbia Developmental Volleyball Leagues.
Susan also has served as a member of the USA Volleyball Board of Directors as the NAIA representative and was president-elect of the NAIA National Coaches Association.
Wayne was an All-American basketball player at Drake University and a member of the Boston Celtics’ NBA championship team in 1980-1981. But he also played club volleyball at Drake, and found his way into coaching before joining then-Mizzou coach Craig Sherman from 1989 to 1994. Wayne moved to Columbia College at that point.
Because both Kreklows played D-I, their collective recruiting eye was already sharp. “The international kids we had (at Columbia) were highly skilled and would have been Division I without a doubt,” Wayne said.
More so, they could play the role of motherly or fatherly figure.
“For us, we were just fortunate to be in the right places,” Susan said. “(Athletic directors) gave us resources to recruit nationally and all over the world.”
All of which led to memorable moments. The ’99 national champs beat No. 2 and host Fresno Pacific, despite losing the first game – the Cougars’ first loss in more than year.
At Mizzou, the team drew almost 7,300 in a Top 10 home matchup against tradition-rich Nebraska in 2006, and then drew 8,000 for their first SEC title match, against Mississippi State. Mizzou’s 2013 team secured the No. 4 seed of the NCAA Tournament.
“We’ve been incredibly lucky and blessed to have been surrounded by so many great people over the years,” Susan said. “We love what we do and have been fortunate enough to feel like we’ve never really worked a day in our lives.”
Women’s Sports Luncheon presented by the Bee Payne-Stewart Foundation
When: 11 a.m. March 23
Where: University Plaza Convention Center, Springfield
Inductees: College of the Ozarks’ Dora Quinn Arney Meikle, Drury University’s Barbara Cowherd, Mizzou volleyball coaches Wayne and Susan Kreklow and the 1975 Licking High School volleyball team that won the first volleyball state tournament.
Wynn Awards: Missouri State field hockey standout Marjorie (DeMarino) Bankovich; Camdenton High School soccer standout Monique (Willcut) Begley; Springfield Catholic High School hurdles champion Angie (Bullock) Homeyer; Monett High School basketball and track standout Angela (Beckett) Johnson; Springfield angler Julie Martin; Lebanon High School/Mizzou golfer Kerry (Speaker) North; and Jamie Vest, a cross country standout from Stoutland and Missouri State University.
Tickets: An individual ticket is $40. A head table ticket is $100. A table of eight is $400 and includes associate sponsor recognition in the printed program. Sponsorships also are available. Call the Hall of Fame at 417-889-3100.