Coaching college softball was not in Wendy Spratt’s 20-year plan. Or in any plan for that matter. No, Spratt had much bigger ideas about her career. But as John Lennon once sang, “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.”

Originally Spratt, the longtime Columbia College softball head coach, wanted to be the CEO of a major corporation. After she graduated from Columbia College and entered the work force, Spratt was putting her plan into action when the coaching bug – and a stubborn boss – led her down a life-altering path.

Twenty-nine years and nearly 1,000 victories later, the college athletics world is grateful for Spratt’s change of heart. Her dedication and success make the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame proudly inducted her as a member of its Class of 2022.

“I am truly honored to be inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame,” Spratt said. “Thank you so much to the selection committee for choosing me to be inducted with this elite class of inductees. I was very surprised when I received the call telling me that I was going to be inducted. It still feels surreal.”

After graduating from Columbia College with a degree in Business Administration following an All-American playing career, Spratt was on the corporate fast-track, participating in a manager trainee program for a Fortune 500 company in Florida. One year into the program, Spratt continued to play with the St. Louis Classics, flying every weekend from Tallahassee for games, and eventually received an invitation to play for the U.S. National Softball Team.

But when a chance to compete in the Olympic Festival was too much for her boss to allow, Spratt had a choice: softball or CEO.

“I chose softball and soon after took the job as an assistant coach at Yale,” Spratt said.

The chance to coach at an Ivy League school was too good to turn down.

“Coaching at Yale was an incredible experience, and I learned a great deal from several coaches there,” she said.

Soon, a bigger opportunity would arise, and once again, Spratt had to make another choice.

Longtime Columbia College head coach Chuck Bobbitt was set to retire, and Spratt suddenly had a new goal.

“I wanted to be the one who carried on the legacy that he had built at CC,” Spratt said. “Coming ‘home’ to be the head softball coach Columbia College when I was 26 years old was a blessing.”

In 28 seasons, Spratt has guided the Cougars to 988 wins, a total which ranks second all-time in NAIA history. Under her direction, the Cougars have won 13 regular-season conference titles, 14 tournament championships, and five Region V crowns. Overall, Columbia College has made 17 NAIA College World Series appearances under Spratt.

While few coaches are successful, or stick around long enough, to compile 1,000 career victories, the impending milestone means something more to Spratt.

“I have been able to bring a lot of people together and build lasting relationships with my staff, players and coaching peers,” Spratt said. “(1,000 wins) will mean even more because I’ll be able to achieve all of the victories while coaching at Columbia College. There are many staff members and student-athletes who are the reason that I have had so much success over the years. I am so grateful to all of them for helping build an incredible tradition of excellence.”

One of her biggest moments came in 2018, when the Cougars reached the finals of the NAIA national championship but lost after playing through a series of lengthy delays and long nights all week.

“After a month went by, I realized how amazing it was to play in the championship game,” Spratt said. “We played the same team to open our season the very next year and beat them. We had been preparing to face them for a long time.”

In a day when college coaches are about as loyal as politicians, Spratt is an anomaly. She’s been at her alma mater for 29 years and never really thought about leaving.

“The administration at Columbia College is top notch,” she said. “They have blessed me with the tools I need to be successful and supported me along the way. I love the championship culture of our athletic department. All our teams expect to win their conference championship and compete in the national tournament. Columbia College feels like home to me. Everyone on campus is gracious, kind, and helpful. It is definitely a family atmosphere.”

Corporate leadership’s loss was Columbia College’s gain.