The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

February 13, 2014

MSSU's Lipira headed to hall

Pat Lipira, whose 897 victories are more than any other coach in Missouri Southern history, is going into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.

Lipira is one of four women who will be honored in the hall of fame’s first Women in Sports Luncheon on April 24 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Ramada Plaza Hotel and Oasis Convention Center in Springfield. Tickets are $40 for the luncheon, which is presented by The Bea Payne-Stewart Foundation.

Lipira, a graduate of St. Joseph Central High School and Northwest Missouri State compiled a 632-275 record as the Lions’ softball coach from 1982-2000. The Lions won four District 16 titles in the school’s last eight years in the NAIA, and the success continued when the Lions joined the MIAA and NCAA Division II.

During those first 11 seasons in the MIAA, Lipira’s teams won four conference championships, two regional titles and the NCAA Division II championship in 1992.

Lipira also was the Lions’ volleyball coach from 1981-87, compiling a 265-90-11 record. In those seven seasons the Lions finished in the top three in the Central States Intercollegiate Conference standings, including a league championship in 1984.

Today Lipira is interim vice president of academic affairs at Missouri Southern, a position she compares to coaching.

“Instead of shortstop and left field, it’s faculty and a staff,” Lipira said in an interview last year. “It’s still a team. We have faculty, staff, administration, students, and everybody has a role. Our goal is the same: We want Missouri Southern to be a great place to go to school and work.

“To me, it’s just like coaching. We have to pull together. Everybody has to do their part.”

Dr. Mary Jo Wynn, longtime coach and administrator at Southwest Missouri State, will be named the first female Missouri Sports Legend. She retired in 1998 after 41 years at SMS (now Missouri State University). She is already a hall of fame member.

Wynn organized women’s athletics competition in volleyball and tennis in 1958. She also coached swimming and track and helped make SMS a dominant member of the Gateway Athletic Conference and Missouri Valley Conference.

Wynn’s bronze bust will be unveiled at the luncheon and later be on permanent display along the newly expanded Legends Walkway on the north side of the hall.

Joining Lipira as hall inductees are volleyball coach Teri Clemens and sports writer Mechelle Voepel.

Clemens was 529-77 and guided Washington University in St. Louis to seven NCAA Division III national championships in 14 years. Clemens coached the Bears to the school’s first NCAA title in 1989, and they won six straight NCAA crowns from 1991 to 1996, Clemens’ 1992 squad (40-0) is the only undefeated champion in Division III history. Clemens’ teams won 11 of the first 12 University Athletic Association championships and posted a 136-1 conference record.

Voepel has covered women’s basketball since 1984, when she began her journalism career at the University of Missouri. She joined ESPN.com in 1996 as a women’s college and pro basketball writer, and since has also covered both the Summer and Winter Olympics, the Women’s World Cup soccer tournament and several pro golf majors.

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