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
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
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.
Oetting, Jefferson College
|| 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 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
(NJCAA Region 16 Hall of Fame -
Lowell "Cotton" Fitzsimmons,
Moberly Area Community College
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
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.
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.
(NJCAA Region 16 Hall of Fame - February 2011)
Jo Ellen Stringer, Jefferson College
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
She is the recipient of additional awards too numerous to
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, 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
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
twice: 1987 and 1995.
In his last season in the major leagues in 1995, he was
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
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.
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 -
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 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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.