Competition runs in the family
KINGDOM CITY - Sophie and Lindsay Cunningham are usually the ones performing in the spotlight. This time around, however, it was their mother and aunt's moment to shine.
Paula Cunningham and Stacey Hoffman were inducted into the first annual North Callaway High School Hall of Fame class Friday night as a result of their athletic achievements. Although the stage may not have been as big as the one Sophie and Lindsay play basketball on, Cunningham and Hoffman said walking on their high school's court to receive the honor was a great feeling.
"It was very fun to be here and walk in front of my friends and family and also get the award with my sister," P. Cunningham said. "Just to look around and see the gym and realize how much time we had spent playing games and practices on the very floor we were walking on. It was very nice."
"It was a really nice honor," Hoffman said. "It's been many years since I've been back. In fact, I graduated in 1987 and I think I've been back one time. After going to Mizzou and then moving to the Kansas City area, I just haven't been back but it was very much an honor to get the email saying I was inducted in that first year along with Paula. It's been a lot of fun to see a lot of old faces."
Sophie Cunningham, a freshman guard on the Missouri Tigers, said seeing her mother and aunt be recognized at their old stomping grounds was an incredible thing to witness.
"For them to have the glory they deserve tonight, I think that's awesome because they are good athletes," S. Cunningham said. "They've inspired me and Lindsay ever since we were really little."
Paula and Stacey did receive a lot of praise, but Sophie said that doesn't mean there isn't some bragging rights to be fought for within the family.
"They came in and they were like 'You guys are on hold it's our night tonight,'" S. Cunningham said. "'We get all the fame.'"
The family's competitive streak, however, doesn't appear to get in the way of respecting each other's work.
"She [Paula] has a killer mentality when she used to play sports," S. Cunningham said. I mean you see at our games she still has that mentality, but she's a really supportive and loving mom, and Lindsay and I couldn't have asked for anyone better."
Paula said that mentality came from her high school track coach.
"I threw the shot put, and to get height my coach, Coach Marshall, would make me throw the shot put up over the goal post, and so I remember throwing that shot put over the goalpost like a million times," P. Cunningham said. "It was a good memory."
When asked if being inducted into the school's Hall of Fame sent a message to their kids, Paula and Stacey were not afraid to throw a playful jab.
"I think it tells them that we were pretty good athletes too, not just them," P. Cunningham said. "I think it shows that if you work hard and do your best, it will mean something to you for the rest of your life. You have to make the most of the moment that you're in and later I think there will be times where you look back and appreciate those times."
"I think the key message for my sons who are both 10 and 12 is they really don't realize I played sports and that I was pretty good at sports," Hoffman said. "It's like 'See Mom was pretty decent in different sports playing basketball, track, and softball. But no it's an acknowledgment by the high school of the hard work a lot of us put into it and representing your high school back in the day. It means a lot to get this award."
Paula and Stacey both said the North Callaway community means everything to them.
"This is our home so it means everything," P. Cunningham said. "My parents live not too far away where we grew up near Williamsburg on a farm, and we spend a lot of time here at the school and we know a lot of families and friends and still keep in touch with a lot of people."
"It's still everything," Hoffman said. "I think I had a little over 100 kids in my graduating class and we were all close. Everybody knew each other, and I think we still stay in touch with a lot of people from high school and have good friends. Even though you move on to other things in life, college and careers, there's still a lot back here to come back to."
The family can argue about who was better at a certain sport, but there was no time for argument on this night. Only time for recognizing a job well done.