When she was a freshman in high school, Marjorie (DeMarino) Bankovich kicked the tires on switching sports from field hockey to soccer. However, the field hockey coach at her high school intercepted her in the hallway and talked her out of it. Bankovich is glad she did, for she went on to enjoy great success collegiately, especially at Missouri State University.
Now her career is being remembered by the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame. The Hall will recognize Bankovich with a Wynn Award during its third annual Women’s Sports Luncheon presented by the Bee Payne-Stewart Foundation, set for 11 a.m. March 23 at University Plaza Convention Center in Springfield. For tickets, call 417-889-3100.
“(Karen Drake) was the new coach, and I believe it was her first year of teaching out of college,” Bankovich said. “She was passionate about the sport, and I am so glad I stayed with field hockey. Plus, I got to play with my sister, who was a senior.”
The Women’s Sports Luncheon features the induction of College of the Ozarks’ Dora Quinn Arney Meikle, Drury University’s Barbara Cowherd, University of Missouri volleyball coaches Wayne and Susan Kreklow and the Licking High School volleyball team that won the first volleyball state championship in 1975.
Bankovich is among seven recipients for the inaugural Wynn Awards, named in honor of Dr. Mary Jo Wynn, the pioneer of women’s athletics at Missouri State University. The awards are presented to former high school, college and pro athletes for their contributions in athletics.
Bankovich worked her way into becoming one of the top field hockey players in Missouri State University history. She was named the Southwest Missouri State Outstanding Female Athlete for the 1987-1988 school year. Playing for coach Rhonda Ridinger, Bankovich led a turnaround in 1987 when the team finished 18-4 following a 7-9-3 season.
Bankovich was named to the All-Midwest Region team that season and was a two-time selection to the all-tournament team at the Midwest Independents Tournament, the Bears’ only league affiliation.
Her path to Springfield began a couple of years earlier while Bankovich played halfback on the 1984 Mitchell College team that won the New England and the national junior college field hockey championships.
“I have been very blessed to have great coaches who were passionate about the sport. Along with being great coaches, they were wonderful people,” Bankovich said. “My coach at Mitchell College, Fran Pinhey, was knowledgeable about the game, and she brought out the best in you. I remember one game Mrs. Pinhey took me out – I guess I wasn’t playing well enough – and said, ‘Can you get that ball?’ and I said, ‘Yes,’ and she said, ‘Then go out there and do it.’ That’s all she had to say.”
It was Pinhey who introduced Bankovich to then-Southwest Missouri State by writing a wonderful recommendation letter to Ridinger. As Bankovich described her future coach, Ridinger was not only interested in her players as players but as people and only wanted what was best for them. The two continue to be a friend today.
“God gave me the talents I have and He put wonderful people in my path to help me succeed,” Bankovich said. “I have many memories with teammates and coaches.”
The Wynn Award recipients are: 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.
An individual ticket is $40, and 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.