Cougar Volleyball Program to be Inducted Into MO Sports Hall of Fame
COLUMBIA - A total of fifteen inductees, one high school program and one college program will be inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in ceremonies on Sunday, January 29th, 2012, at the University Plaza Hotel & Convention Center in Springfield, Missouri.
The Columbia College Cougar volleyball program is the first volleyball program to be inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame. In 1983 the Columbia volleyball program took the court for the first time in intercollegiate action. Since the start the Cougars have posted a record of 1,077-252 in 29 seasons, placing them second in the NAIA in program wins. Columbia has also celebrated 57 NAIA All-American recipients, 27 NAIA Scholar-Athletes and three NAIA/AVCA Players of the Year during that time.
From 1998 to 2001, the Cougar volleyball team amassed an overall record of 167 wins and only two losses. They participated in four straight NAIA National Volleyball Championship matches, winning three National Titles. During that time, they set an NAIA record by winning 102 consecutive matches dating from August 28, 1998 until September 22, 2000. The Cougars from those teams also boasted a 504-27 set record. Additionally, Columbia College holds the record for consecutive home court wins, winning 126 straight matches from 1994 to 2003.
"We are extremely excited to have our volleyball program inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame," said Columbia College Athletic Director Bob Burchard. "The Columbia Cougar Volleyball program has set a special standard of excellence. Our student-athletes and coaches have excelled at national championship levels and built an intercollegiate athletic program that consistently attracts success oriented student-athletes who are persons of exceptional character. It truly is an amazing tribute to Columbia College, our athletic department, Melinda Wrye-Washington, Susan and Wayne Kreklow, and all the students who have worked so hard to represent our institution through the sport of volleyball."
These records spanned across two main coaching staffs in Wayne & Susan Kreklow (1990-1999) and Melinda Wrye-Washington (2000-present). Susan Kreklow began coaching in 1990 and was joined by her husband in 1994 as co-head coach.
"This is a great honor for Susan and me," stated Wayne Kreklow. "Being part of an athletic program that is being inducted into a prestigious organization like the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, alongside so many truly great coaches and athletes, is really special."
During the Kreklow era the team won nine straight conference tournament titles and appeared at six NAIA National Tournaments, winning the crown in 1998 and 1999. Both championship teams had perfect 45-0 and 40-0 records, respectively.
"We have been very fortunate to have had so many great players and wonderful people involved in the Columbia College volleyball program over the years," said Kreklow. "Columbia College is truly a special place and we expect this type of success to continue there for years to come!"
The Kreklow's were named NAIA Coaches of the Year in 1998 and 1999 and coached two NAIA/AVCA National Players of the Year in Yang Zhe (1997 & 1998) and Deng Yang (1999), boasting a 456-86 (.841) in their 10 seasons.
"Susan and I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to everyone at Columbia College for providing us the opportunity to achieve at this level, especially Bob Burchard and Dr. Donald Ruthenburg, who gave us our first opportunity to coach at the collegiate level and the support that Dr. Terry Smith and Dr. Gerald Brouder provided in later years. It was their vision, trust and support that laid the groundwork for all of the successes that came later in the volleyball program. The experiences and lessons learned while at Columbia College helped shape our coaching philosophy and have had a tremendous impact on our success here at the University of Missouri. We could not be more proud of this honor for all involved in the Columbia College community!"
Following the departure of the Kreklow's, Melinda Wrye-Washington returned to Columbia in a coaching capacity after playing her senior season for the Cougars in 1994. Wrye-Washington earned Player of the Year honors in the American Midwest Conference and NAIA First Team All-American honors in 1994. She transferred her on-court success to the sidelines and picked up right where the Kreklow's left off, guiding the Cougars to a runner-up finish at the National Championships in 2000 and leading them to a 38-0 record and the national crown in 2001. For her efforts she was named National Coach of the year.
"Columbia provided me with the opportunity to pursue the sport I love and earn a valuable degree from a top notch institution," stated Washington. "Coming back to Columbia to coach in 2000 was a blessing; I have found a place to flourish in my profession while being provided the means to recruit quality student-athletes. The institution gives me the academic and athletic support which has enabled me to produce competitive and well balanced academically motivated volleyball teams. In this time I have also been able to raise my two children in a great environment and it has allowed me to be mom as well as coach."
This season Wrye-Washington guided the Cougars to their 18th consecutive NAIA National Championships appearance, finishing third. The Cougars posted a perfect 16-0 record in regular season conference play, pushing yet another NAIA record to the extreme with 138 consecutive regular season conference victories, dating back to 2002. Melinda became the winningest volleyball coach in Columbia history with a 475 victories following the 2011 season. She also ranks first in the NAIA with a 89 percent winning percentage.
"Being inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame is a great honor to all of the student-athletes, support staff, and coaches who have been active in this athletic program," said Wrye-Washington. "I am proud to be a Columbia Cougar and feel very honored and thankful to the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame for including our program."
The Enshrinement events will kick-off with a reception on Sunday, January 29th, 2012, at the Hall of Fame from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM The Enshrinement Ceremonies will get underway at 4:00 PM with a reception at the University Plaza Hotel & Convention Center, with the banquet immediately afterwards. All festivities will conclude around 8:00 PM.