Wynn Award: Mount Vernon & Drury standout Tonya Choate McCall

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Tonya Choate McCall enjoys telling this story from her younger days on a golf course – long before she starred at Mount Vernon High School and Drury University. Even she cannot help but laugh about it.

“I still remember to this day when my dad and I were practicing chipping and, on the fifth shot, I chipped in,” McCall said. “My mom started clapping and got excited. Without missing a beat, my dad said, ‘Well, it only took her five times.’”

In all seriousness, McCall’s dedication to the game turned into tremendous success.

Now her career is being remembered by the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, which will recognize McCall 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 the University Plaza Hotel & 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.

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McCall 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.

At Mount Vernon High School, McCall was a state medalist her senior year. She also won district titles as a junior and senior, when she was one of two girls in the U.S. to participate in the Bogey Golfer International program that toured Europe.

At Drury University from 2005 to 2007, she became a three-time All-American, a three-time conference champion and the 2006 Player of the Year. In fact, she won 12 tournaments and had 19 Top 10 finishes before transferring to the University of Nevada-Las Vegas for her final season. McCall, who also won the Missouri Amateur in 2005 and 2006, earned conditional status on the Ladies European Tour in 2010. She went on to compete on the Cactus Tour, with four top 10 finishes in 2013, and won the 2014 Shriners Golf Classic.

That same year, she competed on Big Break Florida on the Golf Channel. McCall also has earned four Top 10 finishes on the Suncoast Series and fourth- and 20th-place finishes on the Canadian Women’s Tour, where she was 15th on the money list.

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“If it wasn’t for my dad’s passion for golf, I would have never been introduced to the game,” McCall said. “My parents dedicated so much to see Mitch (her brother) and I embrace golf. They are total opposites, which gave us a perfect balance in golf and in life.”

The Mount Vernon community and Drury University deserve much credit in furthering McCall’s career. McCall joined the high school program in its second year of existence, and the community rallied around it financially. Leon Faucett also allowed golfers to use his driving range.

“Our high school program wasn’t a funded sport,” McCall said. “The Mount Vernon golf community came together to raise money to create the opportunity for us to have a shot. We went on to win districts and state. Leah Clark, our high school coach, donated her time and she always knew how to make us laugh.”

McCall raised the profile of Drury golf, which was in its second year when she accepted a scholarship in 2004.

“Lisa Tinkler was our head coach and was another motivating factor in my golf career,” McCall said. “With the support of Dr. Edsel Matthews, Lisa was able to recruit a great first-year class and most were local to the Ozarks. She had an enthusiasm for the game and a devotion to see our team succeed both in golf and in life.”

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), 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).