The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

75 years of MSSU Sports

June 5, 2013

Several Missouri Southern athletes return as coaches

Four current Missouri Southern head coaches and two assistants also played part of their college careers for the Lions.

Men’s basketball coach Robert corn, baseball coach Bryce Darnell, soccer coach Alese Woolard and women’s cross country and track and field coach Patty Vavra all played for the Lions.

In addition, basketball assistant Ronnie Ressel and baseball assistant Nick Tuck played for their current bosses.

Those six coaches have combined for a total of 69 years as Lion coaches, and they have collected 16 MIAA championships.

Robert Corn

Corn, after beginning his college basketball career at Memphis State, came to Missouri Southern, and as a senior, he was a starter on the 1978 team that went 27-9 and reached the quarterfinals of the NAIA Tournament in Kansas City.

That team was the most successful in school history until Corn’s 1999-2000 squad went 30-3 and advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament in Louisville, Ky.

Corn became the Lions’ coach when the school moved to the NCAA Division II ranks in 1989.

The Lions have won 388 games in 24 seasons under Corn and claimed four MIAA championships — two in the regular season and two in the postseason tournament.

After graduating for Missouri Southern, Corn spent one year at Mountain Grove High School as head coach in boys basketball and assistant in football and track and field. He left to become an assistant at UAB under Gene Bartow, his first college coach.

Bryce Darnell

After one season at the University of Minnesota, Darnell transferred to Missouri Southern and was the catcher for three seasons (1994-96) for Warren Turner’s Lions.

Darnell batted .436 — sixth best in school history — in his first year with the Lions, and his .366 career average ranks No. 10 in school history.

He earned all-MIAA honors all three years, and he was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 40th round after his junior year and by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 58th round after his senior year. He played one season in the Diamondbacks’ organization before becoming a teacher and assistant baseball coach at Webb City High School.

He later became the Cardinals’ head coach and won two state championships during his eight-year tenure.

He succeeded Turner as the Lions’ coach, and the Lions have won 172 games in Darnell’s six seasons. This season the Lions captured the MIAA Postseason Tournament title in dramatic fashion — a three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning — and they tied the school record for longest game in the first round of the Central Regional when they dropped a 1-0, 14-inning decision to eventual national runner-up Minnesota State.

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75 years of MSSU Sports

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