Former Rolla High School standout Sophie Cox Stagner will never forget how her dad organized a youth travel soccer team – “We otherwise would never have been privy to this,” she said – or the positive influence of a couple of coaches. That’s how she became All-State and parlayed her success into a college scholarship.
Now her career is being remembered by the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, which will recognize Stagner 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. For tickets, call 417-889-3100.
“My parents could see the spark in my eye that soccer created for me – an ultimate passion and desire to do something, simply because I enjoyed it immeasurably,” Stagner said. She later added this of her time on club teams, “This is where I met my most influential mentors, and some of the best women and friends you could come across.”
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 former director of the Springfield-Greene County Park Board.
Stagner is among eight recipients of a Wynn Award, 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.
Stagner was a multiple All-State, All-District and All-Ozark Conference selection for Rolla High School girls soccer. She led the team to three consecutive district championships (2003, 2004, 2005), with the 2004 team reaching the state quarterfinals.
At the University of Tennessee-Martin, her 71 matches started are tied for ninth-most in program history. In 2009, when she was the team captain, Stagner made the Ohio Valley Conference All-Tournament team, Academic All-American and earned the first of two OVC Academic Awards. She graduated cum laude in both high school and college.
Her starting point was on youth travel teams organized by her dad, with Stanger and friends traveling all across central Missouri. That led to her being mentored by club coaches Denny Hearne and Scott McDoniel. McDoniel’s “Soccer is Life” motto had a positive effect.
“Along with the help and encouragement of my parents, siblings, and family,” Stagner said, “these men gave me the drive I keep in every facet of my life, my work ethic and determination.”
The other 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), 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) and Melissa Hoffmeister Sanders (Joplin High School/University of Arkansas tennis).
A sponsorship table of eight is $400 and includes associate sponsor recognition in the printed program and an autographed print. An individual ticket is $40, while a head table ticket is $100. Numerous other sponsorships, including congratulatory ads, also are available. Call the Hall of Fame at 417-889-3100.