Sometimes, even the grandest plans can turn out to be bigger than you anticipated.

That’s part of the legacy of Charlie Burri, the “Godfather” of Missouri Western State University athletics. A former coach, Burri was tapped to start the Missouri Western program back in 1967. He had little more to work with other than his dreams.

“There was no stadium or fieldhouse at the school when I became athletic director,” Burri said. “As a new college, were not yet affiliated with any conference. It was almost as hard to put a schedule together as it was a team.”

But Burri pushed forward, dreaming of better days. His vision helped lay the foundation for the modern-day version of Missouri Western athletics, which currently includes serving as the training camp home of the Kansas City Chiefs. The construction of Spratt Memorial Stadium where the Chiefs train, and the building of the Looney Complex for basketball and volleyball are a significant part of his legacy and among the many reasons why the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame proudly inducted Burri with the Class of 2023.

Burri knew that for Missouri Western Athletics to move forward, facilities were important. But even as Spratt Memorial Stadium was being constructed in 1979, he couldn’t conceive of what it’s become today.

“At the time we assembled our football field we were playing over at Noyes Field,” Burri said. “I helped secure local and state funding to build Spratt. At that time, never in my wildest dreams could I have envisioned the Chiefs making their training camp home at Missouri Western. It brings me great pride to see them come to town and how much of a positive impact they have on the St. Joseph and Missouri Western communities.”

But it wasn’t just football. The Looney Complex became not only the home of Griffons basketball and volleyball but was a home-away-from home of sorts for the NBA’s Kansas City Kings.

On the fundraising side, Burri created the Gold Coat Club for Missouri Western, a booster club modeled after the Chiefs Red Coat Club. He also created the Missouri Western Athletic Hall of Fame, of which he is a charter member. He served as chairman of the Hall of Fame committee until 2012.

On the field, the Griffons found success under Burri’s direction. Softball won a national championship, the men’s golf team made several national tournament appearances, and the football program earned multiple bowl victories.

Burri retired in 1984 but has remained a supporter of the Griffons athletic department. He has been inducted into the National Association of College Directors of Athletics (NACDA) Hall of Fame and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Hall of Fame. A St. Joseph native, Burri graduated from Christian Brothers High School (now Bishop LeBlond), St. Joseph Junior College and Northwest Missouri State.

At the age of 92, Burri still gets a kick out of seeing what he accomplished. The school renamed the street in front of Spratt Memorial Stadium ‘Charlie Burri Drive’ in recent years.

“I have my kids drive me through the campus almost every time they come up to visit,” he said. “I remember fighting hard to get the approval to even build the campus there when it was only empty land. It brings me great joy to see how much it’s grown and how beautiful it is. I love showing my grandkids Charlie Burri Drive.”

Burri knows that life lessons can be found in what he accomplished at Missouri Western. Over the years, he tried to impart those lessons on to his children and grandchildren.

“I taught them to never lose sight of their dreams,” he said. “There will be lots of obstacles in the way. You have to keep fighting. You have to put in the work to succeed.”

With all of those accomplishments under his belt and his legacy clearly secure, what does Burri think about being inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame?

“I was shocked to get the call,” he said. “At 92, I’m glad I’m still alive for it.”

Burri had several people make significant impacts on his career and his life.

“Bob Alcorn, a former coach at St. Joseph Junior College was an important person for me,” Burri said. “He’s also a great friend. Cotton Fitzsimmons (MSHOF 1981), who coached the Kansas City Kings, was another. Several colleagues contributed to my success, but none were more important than my late wife, Patti. She was my biggest cheerleader.”