Aleah Hayes enjoyed a lot of winning during her playing days at Ozark High School and later at Columbia College. Even better, she took mental notes from her coaches in Ozark’s Becky Justis, Texas Tech’s Trish Knight and Columbia College’s Melinda Washington.
“I learned a great deal about the game of volleyball but, more importantly, they taught me how athletics and team sports provide opportunities to grow as an individual, as there are valuable life lessons taught each day in volleyball,” Hayes said. “I learned with teamwork, determination and hard work, a team can and will achieve any goal they share in common.”
Now her career is being remembered by the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, which will recognize Hayes with a Wynn Award during its Women’s Sports Luncheon presented by the Bee Payne-Stewart Foundation. The luncheon is at 11 a.m. March 30 at University Plaza Convention Center in Springfield. A sponsorship table of eight is $400 while an individual ticket is $40 and a head table ticket is $100. For tickets, or congratulatory ads in the printed program, call the Hall of Fame at 417-889-3100.
The luncheon features the induction of the All American Red Heads Basketball Program, former Missouri Southern State University Athletic Director Sallie Beard, two basketball coaches – Evangel University’s Leon Neal and the University of Missouri’s Dr. Joann Rutherford – as well as former Lockwood High School volleyball coach Cheryl Shores. The Hall of Fame also will bestow the President’s Award on Jodie Adams, the longtime leader of the Springfield-Greene County Park Board.
Hayes is among the eight recipients for the Wynn Awards, named in honor of Dr. Mary Jo Wynn, the pioneer of women’s athletics at Missouri State University, a 1999 Missouri Sports Hall of Fame inductee and 2014 Missouri Sports Legend. The awards are presented to former high school, college and pro athletes for their contributions in athletics.
Hayes was a two-time All-State selection and two-time All-District first team in the mid-2000s for Ozark High School, where she was team captain her senior year. She was a three-time Southwest Missouri All-Region team pick and was Ozark’s MVP two years. Overall, she was a four-year starting varsity setter and part of the 2007 district championship team, finishing as the school record holder in aces in a match (11), season assists (724), career assists (2,076) and career aces (120).
She went on to Texas Tech University and finished her final two seasons at Columbia College. There, she was an NAIA All-American and two-time All-Midwest Conference selection, plus helped the program to three national tournaments in three seasons as an assistant coach, including its 2015 national championship. She is now an assistant at Evangel University.
One of Hayes’ strongest influences was her mom, Joanna, a former coach.
“She has revealed the importance of coaching with integrity while still being a successful and competitive coach,” Hayes said. “Also, she has demonstrated what it looks like to have a goal and how to work hard with determination to achieve the goal. Her passion and work ethic are contagious and I can’t help but strive to be like her and do all of the amazing things she has done so far in her coaching career.”
The Wynn Award recipients will be Tara Bailes (Springfield Catholic High School/Missouri State soccer), Teresa Baird Beshore (Springfield Catholic High School/University of Tulsa tennis & basketball), Chelsea Taylor Corp (Sarcoxie High School/Missouri State-West Plains volleyball), Aleah Hayes (Ozark High School/Texas Tech University/Columbia College volleyball), Tonya Choate McCall (Mount Vernon High School/Drury University/Cactus Tour golf), Amanda Newton Plotner (Republic High School/Drury University basketball), Melissa Hoffmeister Sanders (Joplin High School/University of Arkansas tennis) and Sophie Cox Stagner (Rolla High School/University of Tennessee-Martin soccer).