Wynn Award: Tara Bailes of Springfield Catholic & Missouri State soccer

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After those grueling days on the soccer fields in her youth and teenage years, Tara Bailes could always count on family to lift her spirits. Her mom would be there for a hug. Her dad would lend a good ear. Her sisters would help her train.

Talk about a great formula for success, both at Springfield Catholic High School and Missouri State University.

“My parents and sisters made so many sacrifices for me and my many soccer-related commitments,” Bailes said. “I cannot begin to count the miles or weekends that were dedicated to travel for soccer tournaments or practices in St. Louis. I attribute any success I have had in my athletic career to my family’s constant support and unwavering commitment to helping me achieve my goals.”

Now her career is being remembered by the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, which will recognize Bailes 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, and 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.

Tara Bailes-1

Bailes is among 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.

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Bailes was a four-time, First Team All-State selection, All-Region, All-District and All-Ozarks Conference at Springfield Catholic. She was the All-Region Offensive Player of the Year in 2006 and the All-Region Player of the Year as a junior and senior. Upon graduation, she held school records for points in both a season (99) and career (263), plus goals in a career (100). She also was second in career assists (63).

Along the way, she led Catholic to four state quarterfinal appearances and was selected to the Southwest Missouri All-Star team. At Missouri State, Bailes started every match in her final two seasons, 2010 and 2011. There, she received the Missouri Valley Conference Commissioners Academic Excellence Award and made the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Scholar All-Region Team. Bailes also was the women’s soccer representative on the Missouri State Student-Athlete Advisory Committee before graduating summa cum laude in 2012. She later earned a law degree from the University of Missouri and is an attorney at law at Spencer Fane law firm in Springfield.

Tara @ Drury Game

Fortunately for her, the running theme of Bailes’ success was tremendous family support. She is the daughter of JoAnne and Scott Bailes.

“My parents, sisters (Alli and Mandy) and grandparents were and are my biggest supporters,” Bailes said. “Soccer was a lot more fun with two sisters who would go outside to practice with me. Big games were a lot less nerve-racking knowing my mom would be ready to give me a hug afterward – win or lose. My mom was always that smiling face on the sideline that could make you feel better even after a tough loss. She had a way of putting things into perspective, which was a blessing for me and my athletic career.”

Her dad pitched 12 seasons in the big leagues covering the 1980s and 1990s and is a Missouri Sports Hall of Fame inductee.

“I was lucky enough to have a professional athlete as a father, mentor and No. 1 fan,” Bailes said. “Sports were a part of my life from day one because of my dad, and he was always the first person I looked for after games and the first person I called after practices. He had competed at the highest level, so his advice meant everything to me. He taught me the importance of working hard when no one is watching, holding myself to high standards and challenging myself to be better every single day – lessons that have stuck with me since my time as a student-athlete.”

Other than Bailes, the other Wynn Award recipients will be 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).