Branson grad, Iraq War veteran to receive Wynn Award

Amanda Hoenes, a 1999 Branson High School graduate who served three tours in the Iraq War, will be honored by the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame at the upcoming Women’s Sports Luncheon presented by the Bee Payne-Stewart Foundation.

Hoenes paddled 3,300 miles on a “start to sea” expedition on the Missouri River to the Gulf of Mexico through most of 2021 and early 2022. For her efforts, she will be recognized with a Wynn Award during the luncheon, set for 11 a.m. on Wednesday, April 20 at the Oasis Hotel & Convention Center in Springfield.

The Wynn Awards are named in honor of the late Dr. Mary Jo Wynn, the pioneer of women’s athletics at Missouri State University. Wynn was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 1999 and honored as a Missouri Sports Legend in 2014. The awards recognize former high school, college and Olympic athletes who made positive impacts on women’s sports, or those who contributed to the advancement of women’s sports in the Show-Me State.

The Wynn Award’s other recipients will be volleyball’s Neely Burkhart (Joplin High School/Missouri Southern State University), Olympic shot putter and former University of Missouri track & field assistant coach Teri Steer Cantwell, volleyball’s Julie O’Dell Griffith (Logan-Rogersville High School/Evangel University), swimming’s Chelsea Dirks-Ham (Missouri State University), volleyball’s Kim Flieg Peters (Festus High School/Missouri State University) and golf’s Brianna Broderick Portmann (Richmond High School/University of Michigan).

A Marine who served three tours in the Iraq War, 1999 Branson High School graduate Amanda Hoenes solo paddled 3,300 miles on a “start to sea” expedition on the Missouri River to the Gulf of Mexico in 2021. She began at the river’s headwaters near Three Forks, Mont., in July and reached the Gulf of Mexico in January 2022.

With her rescue dog, Hank, along for the trip, Hoenes paddled through Montana, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Missouri and traveled by all the other states the rivers touch. Hoenes reached Pierre, S.D., on Sept. 15 and, on Oct. 3, exited Lewis & Clark Lake on the South Dakota and Nebraska stateline after battling strong winds for three days on the lake. She reached Kansas City two weeks later, crossed under the Missouri River bridge at Jefferson City a few days afterward and reached the end of the Missouri River on Oct. 31.

A softball player and track athlete at Branson, Hoenes joined the United States Marine Corps in January 2001 and was a helicopter crew chief and aerial gunner. She earned a 2003 Bronze Star with a V, for valor, and was the 2004 Junior Enlisted Woman of the Year (West Coast). After her tours in Iraq, she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Colorado State University and worked a decade in information technology (IT).

Her honor will come on a day when the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame inducts golf’s Judy Rankin, Missouri State all-around athlete Joanie French, Branson Parks & Recreation Center Director Cindy Shook, the Kansas City Royals’ Linda Smith, volleyball coach Stephanie Bates, and Neosho High School cross country and track & field coach Harry Lineberry. Lineberry’s two most memorable state squads, Neosho Girls Cross Country’s 1983 and 1984 State Championship Teams, also will be enshrined along with Glendale High School Girls Tennis’ 1975 State Championship Team and Eldon High School Volleyball’s 1986-1993 Era. The director of Champion Athletes of the Ozarks, Susan Miles, will be bestowed the President’s Award.

A sponsorship table of eight is $400 and includes a gameday poster autographed by individual inductees, as well as recognition in the printed program and at the table. A head table ticket is $100 and includes the same perks. An individual ticket is $50, or $60 at the door. Numerous sponsorships also are available, including congratulatory ads and associate sponsorships. Call 417-889-3100.