For Donna Schuler, Friday was an unexpected chance to rehash some interview habits from her days as a volleyball coach.
More importantly though, the Truman High School Hall of Fame induction ceremony and the reception that followed refreshed plenty of pleasant memories.
Schuler was an assistant coach on the 1979 Truman volleyball team that won the state championship, the first Patriot girls team to win a state championship. She was honored at the induction – which has held at halftime of the varsity boys basketball game between Truman and Fort Osage – along with eight members of the team.
The head coach of the 1979 team, Chuck Harris, could not be present but viewed the ceremony via Skype.
“I just had so much fun,” Schuler said. “Some of the girls brought back their scrapbooks. Going through those brought back so many memories.”
Not that those memories, particularly the championship win over Hickman Mills, ever escaped.
“They never go away,” she said.
Six individuals also were honored: the late Dr. Keith Broughton, who volunteered his medical services on the Truman sidelines for many years; Eric Fryatt (Class of 1997), a state golf champion; Cindy (Van Iten) Grant (1992), the girls basketball career points leader with 1,606 who also became and All-American at Rockhurst University; Marcie (Esry) Johnson (1979), the only state girls tennis champion in school history; Randy Rice (1970), a football standout as a two-way lineman; and Dick Puhr, a longtime sports writer for The Examiner.
Harris, who could be seen by the crowd on a screen, was given a chance to speak to his players, some of whom went on to repeat as state champion in 1980.
“I remember that no one expect us thought we would win, and I remember how hard we worked to make that happen,” Harris said. “I’m so thankful to be associated with you all and associated with Coach Schuler.”
Players on the 1979 team included Johnna Meyer, Rene Holsten, Shelly Skoch, Lori Sievers, Mendy Chandler, Pat Justice, Cindy Durham, Angie Schumacher, Penny Waggener, Dixie Wescott and Debbie Matthews.
For Johnson, the induction was a chance to be in front of a crowd bigger than any she’s ever played for. Four knee surgeries and a rotator cuff procedure haven’t diminished Johnson’s love of playing tennis, as she’s competed in doubles play at United States Tennis Association events for a more than a dozen years, she said.
“I wouldn’t have missed it for anything,” said Johnson, who resides in Sarasota, Fla. “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for my parents.”
Broughton’s wife Betty and son Steve, himself a Truman Hall of Fame member, received his induction plaque.
“I think my dad was very deserving and valued,” Steve Broughton said. “Truman and the athletes meant a lot to him.
“The one thing for me, when I was coaching (at Truman), he was generous with this time and the kids. Whenever I had a player with a sprained ankle, he tried to give them treatment, get them out there as soon as possible.”
Steve said he remembers as a child tagging along with his father as the elder Broughton volunteered his services.
“His practice was in Blue Springs at the time, so he went to all sorts of Blue Springs stuff,” Steve said. “I really enjoyed going to that with him.”
Puhr first started covering Truman and other Eastern Jackson County schools in 1959. Friday’s ceremony and being inducted into the William Chrisman Hall of Fame this past fall have allowed him a chance to reflect on the numerous long-standing relationships he’s over the years through his work.
“Hard work, dedication and staying in the good health, that’s the key,” he said. “It’s a great feeling.”
Puhr apparently realized at a young age that his own athletic ability wasn’t going to take him far.
“If I can’t play,” he remembered thinking, “I want to write about it.”