Two of the most prolific scorers in Missouri State University basketball history headline a seven-member 2009 induction class into the Missouri State University Athletics Hall of Fame.
The 35th annual induction takes place the weekend of Feb. 6-7, 2009. It will be the first Missouri State induction class to be presented at JQH Arena.
Jackie Stiles (1997-2001) and Johnny Murdock (1991-1995) will headline the class. The staff members slated for induction are Associate Director of Athletics and Assistant Football Coach Bill O’Neill (1970-2008) and Assistant Director of Athletics and Sports Information Director Mark Stillwell (1972-2008), while the rest of the shrine class features baseball player Keith Champion (1978-1981), softball player Kate Madden (1993-1996) and swimmer Brianne McGuirk Calvert (1999-2003).
Capsules of the 2009 Missouri State Athletics Hall of Fame Induction Class:
Keith Champion was a four-year letterman and three-year starting catcher for the baseball Bears of coach Bill Rowe from 1978 to 1981 in a highly-successful era near the end of the Bears’ Division II days. Champion played on an NCAA Division II regional champion and World Series team in 1978 and NCAA regional participants in 1979 and 1980 as well as the Bears’ final MIAA championship team in 1979. Always a solid defensive receiver, Champion made remarkable strides at the plate as he taught himself to be a switch-hitter over his final two seasons and saw his batting average jump from .257 in 1979 to .339 in 1980 to .400 in 1981. A workhorse performer from Granite City, Ill., he was an MIAA all-conference first team selection his last two years and an ABCA Division II all-region first team honoree as a junior and senior. He signed as a catcher with the St. Louis Cardinals to begin a professional baseball career which is now nearing 30 years as a player, coach, manager and scout. He has worked for the Cardinals, San Diego Padres, Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox and will begin a new phase in his career in 2009 when he becomes a Special Assistant to the General Manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Kate Madden sparked the softball Bears with her glove, her arm, her bat and her legs for four seasons for coach Holly Hesse from 1993 to 1996. A native of Aurora, Colo., Madden was a pitcher-outfielder who saw her numbers improve throughout her career, capped by a brilliant senior season in which she helped lead Missouri State to an MVC tournament title and an appearance in the NCAA tournament. When Madden was a sophomore, the Bears went 38-13 in one of the best seasons in school history and they just missed an NCAA bid with a loss in the finals of the league tourney. Madden’s 1996 season saw her achieve the unique feat of winning the Most Valuable Player Award for both the MVC regular season race and the postseason conference tournament. Madden that year led the team and league in batting at .450 and set Missouri State season records in six offensive categories. She also posted a 15-9 pitching mark that year, and her 42 mound victories and 523 innings pitched both ranked third on MSU career lists at the time she graduated. She played professional softball for two years, and, after a successful college softball coaching career, Madden now works as a paralegal in Chicago, Ill.
Brianne McGuirk was one of the first dominant performers in a specialty event in the fledgling Bears’ women’s swimming and diving program as she competed in the breaststroke from 1999 to 2003 for coach Jack Steck. A native of El Paso, Texas, McGuirk is the first Missouri State women’s swimmer ever to win an individual event in conference competition as she collected a double at the Missouri Valley Conference meet her freshman season by winning both the 100-yard and 200-yard breaststroke races. That began a string of four straight years of all-conference honors for McGuirk as she was among the league’s top five in the 100-yard race every year and won the 200-yard event all four seasons. In addition, she swam the breaststroke leg on Bears’ medley relay teams in both regular season and conference competition. Steck’s Bears posted a 35-23 record in dual meet competition in McGuirk’s four seasons at MSU, and brought the school its first conference title in just the program’s fifth season, winning the MVC crown in 2003 when McGuirk was a senior co-captain. She finished with four school records and one Hammons Center pool mark. The mother of one-year old twin daughters, McGuirk works as an information technology specialist in Springfield.
Johnny Murdock was a four-year starter and letterman for the basketball Bears from 1991 to 1995, playing as a freshman for Coach Charlie Spoonhour and competing for Coach Mark Bernsen for three seasons. The Bears won what is still their only Missouri Valley Conference tourney title in 1991-92 and advanced to the NCAA tournament and a first-round loss to Michigan State to finish with a 23-8 record. The 1992-93 Bears were also 20-game winners and beat St. Joseph’s and Jackson State in the NIT before losing in the NIT quarterfinals at UAB. Murdock, from Wichita, Kan., led Missouri State in scoring each of his last three seasons and paced the Bears in steals and assists two years each. He gained all-Valley first team honors his last two years and is the only basketball player to gain Missouri State Coors Player of the Year honors three times in the 27-year history of the award. Murdock set a Missouri State career record with his 266 three-point field goals and his final career total of 1,834 points landed him in third place on the all-time Bears’ list, a single point behind Curtis Perry. Murdock lives in his hometown and works for the Wichita school district and also coaches youth basketball teams.
Bill O’Neill retired in the summer of 2008 after nearly 40 years on the Missouri State staff. He worked for 16 seasons as an assistant football coach on the staffs of head coaches Don Cross and Rich Johanningmeier. A native of Chicago and graduate of and former football player at Illinois State University, O’Neill was the Bears’ offensive line coach for six seasons, coached the defensive line 10 years and was defensive coordinator his last six seasons as the Bears won their final MIAA title in 1978 and made the transition to NCAA I-AA status in 1982. 19 of O’Neill’s charges earned all-conference recognition and four went on to professional football playing careers. O’Neill added the duties of an assistant director of athletics in 1976 and was promoted to associate director in 1991. In the administrative post, he had responsibilities for supervising sports, facilities, scheduling and working with a number of special events hosted by the University. O’Neill was honored in 2008 with the naming of the William J. O’Neill Endowed Athletic Scholarship and also the Bill O’Neill Golf Tournament in recogntion of his many years of service on behalf of Missouri State athletic lettermen alumni.
Jackie Stiles was a Lady Bears’ basketball starter for four straight NCAA tournament teams from 1997 to 2001 and led her teams in scoring four years in a row for coach Cheryl Burnett. A native of Claflin, Kan., Stiles led NCAA Division I scoring her last two years as she rewrote the Missouri State and MVC women’s basketball record books. Stiles averaged 20 points a game her freshman year, 25 a contest as a sophomore, 27 a game when she was a junior and 30 points a game her senior season. She graduated with the best four single season point totals in school history and her 3,393 career points remain the best total in Division I history nearly a decade after she finished. She was a four-year MVC all-conference first team selection, was named the MVC Player of the Year her last three seasons and was further honored by the league when the Jackie Stiles MVC Player of the Year Award was renamed in her honor in 2006. A consensus All-America who won a host of other honors over her final two seasons, she had her Missouri State jersey #10 retired in 2004 and was inducted into the MVC Hall of Fame in 2006. She was the Women’s National Basketball Association Rookie of the Year for the 2001 season and currently owns her own business in Wichita specializing in personal training, basketball camps and clinics, motivational speaking and sports broadcasting.
Mark Stillwell will retire at the end of December, 2008, after more than 36 years as the school’s first full-time Sports Information Director. A native Springfieldian and graduate of Drury University who became MSU SID in 1972, Stillwell guided the information and publications effort for MSU athletics through the Bears’ MIAA, Mid-Continent, Gateway and Missouri Valley Conference days and as the program moved from NCAA Division II to Division I status. He directed the information effort as MSU hosted NCAA competition in eight different sports. His primary Bears’ sport responsibilities were football and men’s basketball and he provided color commentary on basketball radio broadcasts for more than 20 years. Stillwell was honored with more than 60 publications and writing awards from CoSIDA and CASE. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from CoSIDA in 2008 and was also a 2008 inductee into the MVC Hall of Fame as winner of the Paul Morrison Award. Stillwell paralleled his Missouri State career with 28 years in the U.S. Navy, serving on active duty from 1967 to 1970 and retiring from the Navy Reserve in 1991 with the rank of Captain.