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Hall of Fame
NJCAA Region XVI

Click on names below to view photos and profiles:

Fred Pohlman | Robert Sechrest | Celeste Knierim | L. William "Bill" Miller | Harold Oetting | Gene Bess | Lowell "Cotton" Fitzsimmons | Jo Ellen Stringer | Tom Henke | Marke Buerhle | Jeff Karl | Randy Albrecht | Maurice John | Gene "Pete" Sorber | Albert Pujols | Robert "Sonny" Parker | Ric Lessman | Bill Barton | Clay Johnson III | Pat McBride | Tim Gray | Trish Kissiar-Knight | Nickardo Blake |


Fred Pohlman, Metropolitan Community Colleges - Penn Valley
Fred Pohlman      Basketball Coach Fred Pohlman, born in Natoma Kansas, graduated from Fort Hays State College in 1950. From there he moved on to the University of Missouri, where he received his master's degree in 1956, interrupted by four years in the United States Navy. Pohlman's coaching career began in Vandalia, Missouri in September of 1956, where he coached baseball, basketball and track. From Vandalia, he moved to coaching at various high schools in Kansas City Missouri, and in 1967 he was hired to start the Penn Valley Community College basketball program. Thirty-two years later, Pohlman has established an impressive record with over 600 wins and no sign of stopping. When asked about retirement by a Kansas City reporter, Pohlman responded, "Why would I retire? I have the greatest job there is. I get to coach the game I love." Coach Pohlman's teams have won 6 Regional titles out of the last seven years, placing 2nd, 3rd and 5th in the nation. After two personal wins over cancer, a 67-year-old Pohlman took his underdog team to the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II tournament and won the title in 1996. His teams have been to the national tournament five out of the last seven years. Although  no longer coaching, his current wins total over 600.  Fred was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 1999.  Additional Profile Information

Special appreciation to the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame from which some information about Fred Pohlman was obtained.

Robert Sechrest, Mineral Area College
 
Bob Sechrest Robert "Bob" Sechrest's coaching career began with four years at Van Buren High School and a record of 81-41. After a 26-5 year at Thayer, Sechrest coached at Flat River High School for six years before spending 24 years at Mineral Area College where he compiled a 465-273 record.  Bob was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 1990.

During halftime ceremonies of the January 2002 Mineral Area-Three Rivers basketball game, former MAC basketball coach Bob Sechrest returned to center court to be recognized for his commitment to Mineral Area College.  MAC Trustees' President Chip Peterson honored Bob Sechrest and his family by announcing the MAC Field House would be renamed the Robert Sechrest, Sr. Field House, noting special tribute to Coach Sechrest for his leadership and accomplishments on and off the basketball court.  His list of achievements include seven nationally ranked teams, four NBA players and numerous four-year transfers, three-time NJCAA Region 16 Coach of the Year, Director of Region 16 for 16 years, NCAA Basketball Rules Committee, Player Selection Committee for Pan American Games and Olympics, assistant coach of the U. S. gold medal team in the 1979 Mexico City Games, and named to the NJCAA Hall of Fame.  He also was an assistant basketball coach with the NJCAA all-star team in Brazil and Argentina.
Celeste Knierim, St. Louis Community College - Meramec
Celeste Knierim      At the time of her induction into the NJCAA Region 16 Hall of Fame in 2007, Celeste Knierim was the winningest softball coach in the history of the National Junior College Athletic Association.  She was selected by her coaching peers as Region 16 Coach of the Year 12 times between 1985 and 2004.  Her Meramec teams were Region 16 champions 16 times between 1978 and 2004 and advanced to the NJCAA national tournament on 15 occasions during those years.  Amazingly, her teams were conference champions 25 times between 1978 and 2004.  Coach Knierim produced 45 NJCAA All American student-athletes.  She has held numerous offices in the NJCAA Softball Coaches Association, including the presidency.  She is a member of five Halls of Fame (NJCAA Region 16 Hall of Fame - 2007; St. Louis Amateur Softball Association Hall of Fame - 2004; National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame - 2003; St. Louis Community College-Meramec Athletic Department Hall of Fame - 2002; and National Junior College Athletic Association Hall of Fame - 1999).
     Celeste served St. Louis Community College-Meramec as Associate Professor of Physical Education from 1974 until her retirement in 2003.  She established the softball team in 1975 and served as head coach until retirement.  She also served various terms as head volleyball coach, head basketball coach, head field hockey coach, and intramurals director.
     Celeste was recognized in 2004 by Sports Illustrated ("Faces in the Crowd") for 1000 softball victories.  Celeste is an extraordinarily accomplished professional who is known nationally and internationally for her outstanding work. 
L. William "Bill" Miller, St. Louis Community College - Florissant Valley
Bill Miller      While at the St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley, L. William "Bill" Miller developed the prototype program of Athletics and Physical Education on St. Louis Community College's three campuses that remained intact years following his retirement in 1994.  The program has offered over 18 NJCAA-affiliated sports, 40 Physical Education courses, and enabled more than 2000 student-athletes to transfer to four-year programs.  Bill served as Flo Valley's Head Track & Cross Country Coach (1966-1973) and Director of Athletics (1966-1994), and he assumed chairmanship of the Physical Education department for several years prior to retirement.  Prior to joining the Flo Valley staff, Bill served as Athletics Director, Track & Field coach, swimming coach, and physical education/drivers education teacher at Beaumont and Northwest High Schools in St. Louis.  He led teams to eight Missouri State Championships in Track & Cross Country competition.
     In 1966, at age 38, Bill became the youngest inductee into the Greater St. Louis Coaches Hall of Fame.  In 1974, he became a charter inductee into the Missouri Track and Field Hall of Fame.  He has also been inducted into the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics Hall of Fame, the National Association of Two Year Colleges Athletic Association Hall of Fame, the NJCAA Track and Field Hall of Fame, and the NJCAA Region 16 Hall of Fame.
     Bill is especially proud of striking a hole-in-one at Prairies of Cahokia Golf Course on June 2, 2007, and the championship he and son Jeff won at the World Amateur "Corey Lemke Father & Son Golf Tournament" in August 2007 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Harold Oetting, Jefferson College
Harold Oetting       Harold Oetting graduated from St. Charles (Missouri) High School in 1958 and subsequently earned a bachelor's degree from Appalachian State University and a master's degree from the University of Central Missouri.  He was employed at Jefferson College in Hillsboro, Missouri, for 36 years (1966 - 2002).  He started the college baseball program and served as Head Baseball Coach from 1967 - 1969.  He also served as the Assistant Basketball Coach during the same period.  He was Jefferson's first Athletic Director.  He was inducted into the Jefferson College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007 and the Jefferson College Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.
     Harold helped organize the Midwest Community College Athletic Conference and served as President or Vice President from 1972 - 2002.  He chaired or served on numerous committees, including the Executive Committee, at the national level with the National Junior College Athletic Association.  He served NJCAA Region 16 as Assistant Director or Director from 1972 - 2006.  He was named NACDA Athletic Director of the Year in 2001-2002 and was selected as Outstanding Educator of the Year by American Colleges and Universities.  He also received the NJCAA Service Award.
     Harold served his community of Festus actively with the City Council, School Board, Little League Baseball Program, Police Personnel Board, Chamber of Commerce, and more.  He served a four-year term as Mayor of Festus and was named Citizen of the Year in 1997.
     Harold officiated high school football, basketball, baseball and volleyball for more than 40 years.  He officiated junior college and college basketball for 31 years.  His expertise was at such a level that he was chosen to officiate the NJCAA National Championship Tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas, in 1988 and 1989.
     Harold Oetting is known widely a "Gentleman's Gentleman."  His contributions to Jefferson College, NJCAA, NJCAA Region 16, Festus, Missouri, and humanity are enormous.
Gene Bess, Three Rivers Community College
Gene Bess  Gene Bess began coaching the men's basketball team at Three Rivers Community College in 1971.  The Raiders have one of the best winning traditions in junior college basketball.  In the fall of 2010, Coach Bess entered his 41st season at Three Rivers with a career record of 1114-290. He led the Raiders to two national championships in 1979 and 1992.  The Raiders won the NJCAA Region 16 tournament twenty times and also won the MCCAC (previously known as the MJCAC) championship 29 times during his tenure.  He was recognized as NJCAA National Coach of the Year twice, Region 16 Coach of the Year 21 times, and MCCAC Conference Coach of the Year 19 times. He is a member of the Poplar Bluff Sports Hall of Fame, Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Missouri Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame, and NJCAA Hall of Fame.  At Three Rivers, Gene teaches Lifetime Wellness, Basketball Coaching Techniques, History and Principles of Physical Education, and Varsity Basketball.    Gene and his wife, Nelda have two children, Janell Hartmann and Brian, who is the Raiders assistant coach, and four grandchildren, Taylor Hartmann, Kolby Bess, Kiley Bess, and Bryelle Hartmann.  The biography entitled: 'Gene Bess - College Basketball's Winningest Coach' is available at www.genebess.com (NJCAA Region 16 Hall of Fame - February 2011) 
Lowell "Cotton" Fitzsimmons, Moberly Area Community College
Lowell "Cotton" Fitzsimmons 

Cotton's playing days began at Bowling Green High (Mo.) where he was named All-State at guard as a junior and senior. He then played at Hannibal-LaGrange Junior College (Mo.), averaging 25.5 points in 1952-53 on his way to JUCO All-American honors. He played the next three seasons at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, averaging 13.3 points.  He began his coaching career in 1958 at Moberly Junior College (Mo.). In nine seasons, he amassed a 223-59 (.791) record, including a 31-2 mark in 1966-67. His teams won JUCO titles in 1966 and 1967 and he was named Coach of the Year following each of those seasons. He then moved to Kansas State as an assistant to Fred "Tex" Winter and took over as head coach in 1968. Named Big Eight Coach of the Year in 1970, he led the Wildcats to the Big Eight Championship and into the NCAA Tournament regional semifinals. During his storied 21-year NBA coaching career that began in 1970, Cotton compiled a record of 832-775 (.518), finishing his career sixth on the NBA all-time victory list. A two-time NBA Coach of the Year (1979 with Kansas City and 1989 with Phoenix), Cotton left the sidelines following the 1991-92 season after guiding Phoenix to four straight 50-plus win seasons and two trips to the Western Conference Finals (1989, '90).  He was considered one of the NBA's most respected teachers and colorful personalities.  Cotton was inducted into the Missouri Basketball Hall of Fame in 1988, the National Junior College Hall of Fame in 1985, and the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 1981. In 1995 he was named NAIA Alumnus of the Year.  (NJCAA Region 16 Hall of Fame - February 2011)

Jo Ellen Stringer, Jefferson College
Jo Ellen Stringer 

Jo Ellen Stringer served as head women's volleyball coach at Jefferson College for 33 years.  She followed that legendary career with service as full-time Director of Athletics for two years.  Under her remarkable leadership, Jefferson College developed one of the strongest and most recognized volleyball programs in the nation. With over 1,100 career wins, Jo Ellen Stringer developed a winning tradition that is unparalleled by any other coach, player or team in the history of the National Junior College Athletic Association. Her teams won 27 conference titles and 19 regional championships while having appeared in 21 NJCAA national championships, more than any other team or coach in the entire country, with 13 finishes in the top eight.  In recognition of her leadership and dedication, Stringer was named the 2006 MCCAC Coach of the Year--the 16th time she was recognized with the coaching honor. She has also been named District 12 Coach of the Year 16 times. In 2000 she received the Robert L. Lindsay Meritorious Service Award from USA Volleyball, was featured in AVCA Coach's Journal, and was selected for HERS/NACWAA Institute for Administrative Advancement.  She is the recipient of additional awards too numerous to count.  Stringer is a lifelong resident of Jefferson County and a graduate of DeSoto High School. She received her associate's degree from Jefferson College and both her bachelor's and master's degrees from Southeast Missouri State University. Jo Ellen and her husband, Bob, reside in Hillsboro.  (NJCAA Region 16 Hall of Fame - February 2011)

Tom Henke, East Central College
Tom Henke  Tom Henke, born in Kansas City, Missouri, played baseball for East Central College under Coach Tom Dill in 1978 and 1979.  Henke was a 1979 NJCAA Honorable Mention All-American while playing for the Rebels.

Henke was drafted by the Seattle Mariners and didn't sign his first contract.  He was then again drafted by the Chicago Cubs and didn't sign again.  Finally, he signed with the Texas Rangers in 1980.

After signing with the Rangers and appearing in different stints in the minor leagues with the
Tulsa Drillers and Oklahoma City, Henke would was picked up by Toronto Blue Jays. In 1992, Henke was a member of the World Series Champion Blue Jays. Tom finished his career with the St. Louis Cardinals after a return to the Rangers. Over a 14 year span Henke was named to the MLB All-Star team twice: 1987 and 1995.  In his last season in the major leagues in 1995, he was named the Rolaids Relief Man of the Year Award. In 2011, Henke was named to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame Tom married his college girlfriend, Kathy (Swoboda) Henke and resides in Taos, Missouri with his family.
Mark Buerhle, Jefferson College
Mark Buerhle   

A graduate of Francis Howell High School in St. Charles County, MO., Mark Buerhle was named an NJCAA All-American his sophomore season after posting a 7-0 record his freshman year and 8-4 record his sophomore year.

 While playing for Jefferson College Mark was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 38th round of the draft and was assigned to the Burlington Bees. Mark was then called up to the Chicago White Sox where he pitched for 11 seasons.  He was named to the MLB All-Star team four times.  He pitched a no hitter in 2007 and was awarded the 2009 and 2012 Gold Glove Award for his defensive prowess. Mark won the 2005 World Series with the White Sox along with former Jefferson College pitcher Cliff Politte.  Buehrle signed a four-year deal for $58 million dollars with the Miami Marlins in 2012.

Mark resides in St. Charles, Mo with his family.
Jeff Karl, St. Louis Community College - Meramec
Jeff Karl   

Jeff Karl retired from St. Louis Community College Meramec with the most all-time wins for NJCAA women's junior college soccer in 2010. He posted a 330-139-38 overall record. His Meramec Warriors won the 1991 & 1992 NJCAA National Championships. Coach Karl finished his career with sixteen Region 16 titles and had 38 All-Americans over the span of 28 years.

Karl was twice named NJCAA Coach of the Year in 1991 & 1992. He led the Warriors to nine top 10 finishes in the NJCAA tournament during his tenure.

He posted a string of 22 consecutive winning seasons. During the past 28 years, Karl has led Meramec to 10 national tournaments. Meramec finished fifth in 1985, 1986 and 2002; fourth in 2000; third in 1987, 1996 and 2001; and second in 1998. Karl was named the NJCAA Coach of the Year in 1991 and 1992. He was NSCAA Coach of the Year for the same years. Between 1991 and 1993, Karl led the Magic to 35 straight victories, an NJCAA record. He has coached 33 NJCAA All-Americans and placed 80 players at four-year colleges and universities. Karl's 319 wins currently rank him first among NJCAA coaches. In addition to his coaching duties, Karl teaches language arts to seventh and eighth graders at Assumption Grade School. He holds a bachelor's degree in secondary education with a minor in English, social studies, philosophy and theology from Rockhurst College. He earned his master's degree in communications from Webster University in 1992.

Randy Albrecht, St. Louis Community College - Meramec
Randy Albrecht   

Randy Albrecht has served as the St. Louis Community College at Meramec coach for 34 years and currently is the combined campus St. Louis Community College coach.  He started his career in 1977 and has amassed a 691- 429 record while at the helm of the Warriors/Magic/Archers. Coach Albrecht was named to the STLCC-Meramec Hall of Fame in 2003, the Missouri Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2004, and NJCAA Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.  Coach Albrecht was named the Region 16 DII Basketball Coach of the Year eleven times, Missouri Athletic Club Coach of the Year nine times and Midwest Community College Athletic Conference Coach of the Year five times. His teams have made nine trips to the NJCAA National Tournament.

Albrecht led the Warriors to an NJCAA National Runner-Up finish in 1989.  He has coached multiple NJCAA Academic and Athletic All-Americans. He has also placed numerous players at four-year colleges and universities with basketball scholarships.

Albrecht holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and a Master of Education Administration from St. Louis University. He coordinates the Meramec Holiday Festival High School Basketball Tournament and the Missouri State High School Activities Association sectional tournament games played at Meramec each year. In addition he serves as the Region XVI Division II chairperson and is a member of the Missouri Basketball Coaches' Association Board of Directors.
Maurice John, Moberly Area Community College
Maurice John 

Maurice John was the men's basketball coach at Moberly from 1946- 1958. During his tenure at the helm of the Greyhounds, Coach John's teams won seven Region 16 Titles and made nine trips to the NJCAA National Tournament.  The Greyhounds captured two National Championships in back to back years 1954 and 1955. The team finished 3rd in 1956 and had four other top ten finishes at the NJCAA Tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas. He finished with 280-79-7 record at Moberly.

After his career at Moberly Coach John was hired at Drake University and remained in the position from 1958 to 1971. While coaching the Bulldogs, Coach John's team won the Missouri Valley Conference in 1964, 1969, 1970 and he was named Missouri Valley Coach of the Year in 1964, 1968, 1969 and 1970. He was named the Basketball Writers National Coach of the Year in 1969. After his stint at Drake, Coach John finished his coaching career with three seasons at Iowa State from 1971-1974.

Gene "Pete" Sorber, St. Louis Community Colleges - Florissant Valley
Gene "Pete" Sorber

St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley hired a gem, when one legendary coach, Harry Keough left Florissant Valley to take over the men's soccer program at St. Louis University in 1967 and recommended Pete Sorber for the job.  In short time, the Florissant Valley Norsemen became a national power under the tutelage of Coach Sorber. A very laidback, caring individual Sorber, did a fantastic job identifying talent and guiding young men on and off the playing field.

In thirty years at Florissant Valley, Coach Sorber's teams compiled a 415-85-22 record.  The creation of a dynasty was an understatement when came to the most dominant program in NJCAA men's soccer history, the Norsemen won 10 NJCAA National Championships, won eighteen Region 16 titles, finished runners-up twice in the national tournament and Sorber was named NJCAA National Coach of the Year five times. Over the stretch run of Sorber's coaching career, the Norseman had 72 NJCAA All-Americans, many of whom went on to four year college programs and played professionally in the NASL, MISL or NPSL.

 Coach Sorber never had a team or a player he didn't want to help become better as a collective group or individual. Sorber was quoted as saying in an interview with the NJCAA Review, "I can't name just one special player or special team because that would leave out all the others."  This philosophy has proven itself time and time again, as many of his former players have gone on to coach all levels of soccer.

Sorber and his wife Marlene's only son Mike attended St. Louis University and had a stellar playing and coaching career, as he was a member of the U.S. Men's National Team during the 1994 World Cup, played in the MLS and also was an assistant coach with the U.S. Men's National Team. 
Albert Pujols, Metropolitan Community Colleges - Maple Woods
Albert Pujols

Arguably, the most accomplished professional athlete ever to come out of Region 16, the Dominican born, Kansas City area high school player, Albert Pujols is one of the greatest NJCAA athletes of all time. After graduating early from Fort Osage High School, Albert Pujols played the spring season for the MCC- Maple Woods Monarchs under Coach Marty Kilgore. 

During his season at MCC-Maple Woods Albert was named an NJCAA All-American as his team won the Region 16 Championship. His 1999 statistics were as follows: 56 games played, 193 at bats, .466 batting average, 45 singles, 18 doubles, 5 triples, 22 home runs and 76 RBI. This was only the beginning of a magnificent hitting career as he was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 13th round.

As a St. Louis Cardinal, Pujols quickly ascended the ranks and made the big league club after only one season in the minor leagues. Pujols was named 2001 National League Rookie of the Year. Shortly after his rookie season, he started compiling more awards and records. The St. Louis Cardinals won the pennant three times and the World Series in 2006 and 2011 with Pujols in the line-up.  During his tenure with the Cardinals, Pujols was named to the All-Star game nine times, National League Silver Slugger six times and National League MVP 2005, 2008, 2009. He was also named the Major League Baseball Player of the Year and National League Outstanding Player in 2003,2008, 2009. Pujols was the first player in baseball history to boast a batting average above .300, hit 30+ home runs, drive in 100+ RBI and score over 100 runs in each of his first five major league seasons.

Pujols signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Angels, the season after winning a second World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011. He and his family now reside in California.

He started the Pujols Family Foundation in 2005, which is dedicated to the love, care and development of people with Down Syndrome. He also continually reaches out to impoverished families in his native, Dominican Republic.

Robert "Sonny" Parker, Mineral Area College
Robert "Sonny" Parker 

Growing up in Chicago, Sonny Parker was named to All-City, All-State and All-Public League while playing for Farragut High School. Recruited by Mineral Area College's legendary Coach Bob Sechrest, Sonny blossomed at the NJCAA level for the Cardinals. He was twice named to the NJCAA All-American team while he also garnered honors as Midwest Junior College Athletic Conference and NJCAA Region 16 Player of the year in 1973-74.  Parker is the all-time leading scorer for Mineral Area College and was named the NJCAA Hall of Fame. 

After his tenure at Mineral Area College, Parker continued his collegiate playing career at Texas A & M University. During his career at Texas A&M, Parker was a star, leading the Aggies to two Southwest Conference titles. He was named 1st Team All-Southwest Conference during the two years and the team reached the NCAA Tournament his junior year.  Parker was the Southwestern Conference Player of the Year in 1975 and the team MVP. He was also inducted into the Texas A & M Athletics Hall of Fame.

Parker was drafted 17th overall by the Golden State Warriors in 1976. His best season was in 1978-1979 when he hit .519 field goal percentage and averaged 15 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists per game with 144 steals and 33 blocks.  He had a six year career in the NBA, with averages of 9.9 points per game, 4.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.

Parker and his wife have seven children. Their youngest son, Jabari, just signed a letter of intent to play basketball for Duke University.  Parker started the Sonny Parker Youth Foundation in Chicago to help inner-city students.

Ric Lessmann, St. Louis Community Colleges - Meramec
Ric Lessman 

If there is anyone in St. Louis who could be given the title, "Mr. College Baseball" it would be Ric Lessmann, who spent 27 years as the skipper of the St. Louis Community College Meramec Warriors.  His teams recorded a 963-318 record while he was at the helm of a very successful program.  Lessmann won the 1974 NJCAA National Championship and was the 1974 NJCAA Coach of the Year. During his tenure at Meramec his teams won fourteen Region 16 Titles and sixteen Midwest Community College Athletic Conference Titles. He has also been named to the NJCAA Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 1991.

A number of players from his squad over the years were drafted and made it into Major League Baseball. After leaving Meramec, Lessmann took his craft to one of his alma maters and was the head coach of the Washington University baseball program for 17 years.  He compiled a 396-231-1 record with the Bears and is the all-time winningest coach as well.  The Bears also had success in the post season under Lessmann, as the team made three NCAA tournament appearances from 2005-2007. 

As a collegiate head coach in the NJCAA and NCAA for 45 years, Lessmann compiled a 1,365-556-1 record with a .711 winning percentage.  Lessmann currently is the assistant baseball coach for pitchers at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.  He was inducted into the St. Louis Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992.

Bill Barton, State Fair Community College
Bill Barton 

Coach Bill Barton compiled more than 600 victories during his 35-year tenure at SFCC. He led three teams to the Region XVI Championships and led the Roadrunners to a pair of NJCAA National Tournaments.  The first was during the 1971-72 season. SFCC finished that season with a 22-15 record. He led SFCC back to the National Tournament during the 1975-76 season, finishing with a 31-6 record.  Coach Barton earned Region XVI Coach of the Year honors for both seasons.

Coach Barton coached 39 student-athletes who earned All-Region XVI honors and five student-athletes who earned NJCAA All-American honors during his time at SFCC. Many of the student-athletes Barton coached went on to continue their academic and athletic careers at four year colleges and universities.

Coach Barton was inducted into the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1991. In 2010 he was inducted into the NJCAA Men's Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame and the SFCC Roadrunner Athletics Hall of Fame.

Clay Johnson III, MCC-Penn Valley
Clay Johnson Photo

Clay Johnson III was born in Yazoo City, Mississippi, but has made Kansas City, Missouri his home since he was young. While attending Kansas City Manual High School, Johnson was named the top prep player in the Kansas City area and was presented the James A. Direana Award.

Johnson was a two-time NJCAA All-American selection while playing for the MCC-Penn Valley Scouts from 1974-76. He still stands in the top ten in the NJCAA record book for rebounds in a season and rebounds for a career. After his career in the NJCAA, Johnson started two seasons for the University of Missouri Tigers as a guard. He was named to the All-Big Eight men’s basketball team his senior season.  He was the leading scorer for the Mizzou Tigers in the 1977-78 season with 515 total points and 17.2 average points per game.

His professional career took him to a number of stops in the CBA and NBA. Originally drafted by the Portland Trailblazers he started playing professionally in the CBA with the Utah Pros and Hawaii Volcanos from 1979-1982 and then played in the NBA for three seasons. Johnson played on the 1982 NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers team with superstar teammates Kareem Abdul Jabar and Magic Johnson.  Another NBA season was spent playing for the Seattle Supersonics. Johnson finished his professional career playing for the Kansas City Sizzlers.

Since his professional career, Johnson has resided in the Kansas City area and has started the Clay Johnson Foundation which focuses on youth mentorship. Clay and his wife Vedia have four children.

Pat McBride, STLCC - Meramec/Forest Park
Pat McBride Photo

After completing a soccer playing career filled with high accolades at the collegiate and professional levels, Pat McBride completed two stretches of coaching men’s soccer in Region 16 for two St. Louis Community College campuses. Being named to a hall of fame is nothing new for McBride, whose list includes St. Louis University, St. Louis Soccer, St. Louis Sports, NJCAA Soccer and U.S. Soccer Halls of Fame.

McBride was a two time NCAA All-American player for St. Louis University during the years of 1963-1965. During his tenure at SLU, the team captured two NCAA DI National Championships. After college McBride played professionally for the St. Louis Stars 1967-1976 of the NASL and made five appearances for the U.S .Men’s National Team from 1969-1972. During his professional playing career, he also served as an assistant coach at Southern Illinois University- Edwardsville under legendary coach Bob Guelker, who was McBride’s coach at SLU.

In 1976 at the helm of the St. Louis Community College-Meramec Warriors, McBride led the team to the NJCAA National Championship and was named NJCAA Coach of the Year. Shortly thereafter, McBride applied his coaching trade in the professional ranks as he coached the St. Louis Steamers and Kansas City Comets in the MISL from 1979-1988.

He returned back to St. Louis Community College-Forest Park as the head men’s soccer coach from 1988-2007. He built a top ranked NJCAA power with the Highlanders. McBride’s Forest Park teams won Region 16 titles in 1992, 1994, 1995 and 1996 and made NJCAA National Tournament appearances in 1995 and 1996. During this span, thirteen Forest Park men’s soccer players were named NJCAA All-Americans including Steve Ralston who had a long career in the MLS and made appearances with U.S. National Team.

Tim Gray, Mineral Area College
 Tim Gray Photo

A successful collegiate athletic, coaching and administrative career in NJCAA Region 16 is region first marked by long time Mineral Area College basketball coach and athletic director, Tim Gray.   

 

Gray’s college basketball playing career began in NJCAA Region 16 as he was a starter for Jefferson College in Hillsboro, MO. After two seasons with records of 25-6 and 23-7 with the Vikings, Tim transferred to Friends University in Wichita, Kansas. Gray was twice named the  KCAC Player of the Year as well as collecting honors as the Most Valuable Player on Friends University men’s basketball team in 1981and 1982.

 

Upon completion of his bachelor’s degree, Gray took over as varsity assistant coach at Friends University for the next two seasons. After winning back to back junior varsity KCAC conference champions, he joined the coaching staff at Mineral Area College in 1984 under legendary coach Bob Sechrest. When Sechrest retired from basketball in 1985, Tim became the second head basketball coach in Mineral Area College history and the youngest collegiate head coach in the country at that time.

 

After leading the Cardinals to five MCCAC Championships and one Region 16 title, he retired from coaching in 2004 with a head coaching record of 421-196. Gray served as athletic director at Mineral Area College from 2004-2011. 
Trish Kissiar-Knight, Missouri State University-West Plains
Trish Knight Photo  Inducted while still in her prime coaching years, Trish Kissiar-Knight had already established herself as a legend in women's high school and college volleyball.  In 16 years of coaching at Missouri State University-West Plains, Trish was named Coach of the Year in NJCAA Region 16 twelve times.  Her Grizzly team was nationally ranked for twelve consecutive years, won the NJCAA Region 16 championship ten consecutive years, advanced to the NJCAA National Volleyball Tournament ten consecutive years, and advanced to the national championship match in 2002 and 2003.

Her overall collegiate coaching record at Missouri State-West Plains was 676-170-2, a winning margin of 80 percent.  Her overall NJCAA Region 16 record was 204-24 (89 percent winning margin).  She produced 79 All-Region selections, 25 NJCAA All-Americans (including three, two-time first-team All-Americans) and eight NJCAA Academic All-Americans, three of whom were Distinguished Academic All-Americans.  She also produced 16 NJCAA All-Tournament Team selections and four NJCAA Academic Team selections.

While her total accomplishments are far too numerous to mention in this format, it is especially significant to note that Trish has now been inducted into five Halls of Fame:  1) Missouri State University Hall of Fame (as a student-athlete); 2) NJCAA Volleyball Coaches Hall of Fame; 3) Missouri Sports Hall of Fame; 4) Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Athletics Hall of Fame; and now, 5) NJCAA Region 16 Hall of Fame.

According to Dr. Herb Lunday, the Dean of Student Services and Director of Athletics to whom Trish reported for 16 years at Missouri State-West Plains, "Trish Knight brings to the table an amazing package of energy, stamina, volleyball knowledge, coaching saavy and personal courage.  She is an extraordinary lady."   
Nickardo Blake, East Central College
Nickardo Blake Photo 

Nickardo Blake was twice named an NJCAA All-American while starting as the center defender for the East Central College Falcons in 2008 and 2009. In 2008, Blake’s East Central College Falcon team made it to the Region 16 Final and lost the game 1-0. The game was later deemed a forfeit and the 17-5-1 Falcons were named NJCAA Region 16 Champions. Blake was twice named 1st Team All-Conference, 1st Team All-Region, NJCAA All-American and team MVP.  As Blake graduated from East Central College, he started two years at the University of Connecticut. The Huskies’ soccer program was the NCAA #1 team throughout most of the two years Blake was a starter and the team won the Big East Championship in 2011.

Upon graduation from the University of Connecticut, Blake was drafted into the MLS by the Toronto FC. His first professional season was spent with the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers of the NASL. He then was invited to the MLS Real Salt Lake pre-season camp in 2013 and 2014. Blake was also called up to play on the Jamaican U-20 National Team for games played in the United States while he played at UConn.