The 2017 induction class into the Springfield Area Sports Hall of Fame includes five individuals whose competitive, coaching and administrative accomplishments extend over a myriad of sports and several decades of achievement in Springfield and beyond.
The 2017 class was announced Tuesday in a luncheon at the O’Reilly Family Event Center at Drury University and includes five-sport Missouri State star and team handball Olympian Mary Phyl Dwight, Republic High and Drury Lady Panther standout Amanda Newton Plotner, long-time Springfield News-Leader sportswriter Lyndal Scranton, the late professional bowling great and bowling businessman Sean Swanson and former high school and college basketball coach George Wilson.
The new inductees will be enshrined during the SASHOF annual induction banquet on Tuesday, Sept. 19, at the Oasis Convention Center in North Springfield.
The Springfield Area Sports Hall of Fame was founded in 1985 by Bonus Frost to honor those individuals from Springfield or with a Springfield connection whose accomplishments merit consideration for the shrine. This is the 31st SASHOF induction class and will bring the total membership of the hall to 125 people.
Selections are made by the 30-member SASHOF Board of Directors which meets monthly to plan the year’s activities.
SASHOF is a not-for-profit organization and the proceeds from annual induction banquets are made available to local youth groups for the purchase of sports equipment. Since its establishment, SASHOF has provided some $300,000.00 to some two dozen local youth groups and organizations.
Profiles of the 2017 Springfield Area Sports Hall of Fame induction class:
Mary Phyl Dwight
Mary Phyl Dwight was a versatile and accomplished five-sport star at Missouri State University from 1970 to 1974. In basketball, Dwight was a guard on two Missouri Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women state title teams; in volleyball, she was setter for Bears’ AIAW national tournament teams; in track and field, she competed as a middle distance runner and heptathlete; in softball, she played center field on a Missouri State AIAW national tourney runner-up club; and in cross country she captured an AIAW individual 12th-place finish at the national meet. A native of Raytown, Missouri, Dwight was awarded the 1974 Missouri State Andrew J. McDonald Achievment Award as the top graduating student-athlete with a major in health and physical education. She was active in the sport of team handball for the United States Olympic team at the 1984 summer games in Los Angeles as the USA squad captured the Silver Medal in the event. Her play on the American team took her all over the world from 1975 to 1984 at various levels of competition. Dwight returned to the Missouri State campus in 1985 and spent one season coaching the softball Bears. She earned a master’s degree from Kansas State University and then turned her coaching career to volleyball. She was the head volleyball coach at Kansas State from 1975 to 1978; and was head coach of the Iowa Hawkeyes from 1980 to 1982. Dwight was inducted into the Missouri State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1981. She then worked with the team handball development program for both the Olympics and Special Olympics. Dwight was the U.S. Olympic Committee representative to IOC International Olympic Academy in Olympia, Greece, in 1986. Since 1996 she was been an associate professor of physical education at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Amanda Newton Plotner
Amanda Newton Plotner was a prep three-sport star during her four years at Republic High School, earning all-state selection in track and volleyball in addition to basketball. She was then the scoring and rebounding backbone in four seasons of the fledgling Drury University program as the Lady Panthers exploded onto the college cage scene with an amazing run of success. Playing for Lady Panthers’ coach Nyla Milleson from 2002 to 2006, Newton has been the most decorated Lady Panther in the still-young history of the DU program. Newton was a three-time All-America selection, winning awards from Kodak, the NCAA Bulletin and Daktronics. She was also given two-time Academic All-America honors by the College Sports Information Directors of America/ESPN the Magazine with second team honors as a senior and first team as a junior. At Drury, Newton played on NCAA Division II tournament teams all four of her Lady Panther campaigns and that run was highlighted by Drury’s national runner-up finish in 2004. Drury also reached the Division II Sweet 16 in 2003 and 2006, the NCAA second round in 2005, and the Lady Panthers were an amazing 122-12 in the four years Newton was in the program. She is Drury’s all-time career scoring leader and second leading career rebounder, and is the only Lady Panther cager ever to have her Drury jersey retired. A perennial all-conference and academic all-conference selection in the Great Lakes Valley Conference and the Heartland Conference, she won the 2006 Richard F. Scharf Paragon Award, emblematic of the GLVC’s top student-athlete as a senior; and also received the Heartland Conference Female Student-Athlete of the Year in 2004. After her Drury career, Newton has returned to her prep alma mater and is now a coach and teacher at Republic High.
Lyndal Scranton was a Springfield News-Leader sportswriter from 1979 until he retired in 2015 and enjoyed a 36-year run of coverage in which his wide-ranging interests and abilities included staffing events from the Major League Baseball World Series to Missouri State University sports to bowling, horse racing and auto racing. Scranton was the primary beat writer for MSU men’s sports from 1989 until his retirement from the News-Leader, and added women’s sports coverage when necessitated by staffing needs. A Springfield native and 1978 Central High School graduate, Scranton actually wrote his first News-Leader story about Springfield’s high school basketball teams when he was still at CHS. Scranton was hired as a sports clerk in 1979 by the legendary sports editor Marty Eddlemon at a time when Scranton was attending Missouri State. He covered all seven games of the 1982 World Series as a part-timer as the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Milwaukee Brewers. He was hired full-time by the paper shortly thereafter and went on to cover just about everything over the years – high school sports, bowling, golf and auto racing. He was News-Leader assistant sports editor from 1985 to 1992. He covered every NCAA tournament game the basketball Bears played in the Division I era. Highlights were the 1999 NCAA Sweet 16 run in basketball and the 2003 NCAA College World Series in baseball. He was inducted into the Ozarks Area Racers Foundation Hall of Fame in 2016 in the Pioneer Category. He became public relations director for Lucas Oil Speedway and a contributing writer for several auto racing publications, including Dirt Late Model Magazine and RacinDirt.com. Scranton was also a league bowler in Springfield for some 30 years with a 200 average and one perfect game to his credit.
Sean Swanson was a long-time Springfield bowling professional and an icon in the local bowling community for decades. He was the winner of 19 Professional Bowlers Association regional championships, and was runner-up in the 1998 Oregon Open in his lone full season competing on the PBA tour. Swanson captured two Brunswick World Team Challenge Grand Championships, and he collected countless victories across the Midwest. He was well-known throughout the professional circuit, especially in the Midwest and South, and condolences poured in on Swanson’s Facebook page when word of his death spread in May of 2015. Swanson bowled so many perfect games over the years he lost track of the number. Since being diagnosed in 2012, Swanson actively raised money for cancer awareness through Cox Health Foundation in Springfield. He accumulated $234,203 in career PBA Tour earnings. He won the championship of the 1994 Super Hoinke in Cincinnati, which carried a $100,000 winning prize for pros and was considered a major for “amateur” bowlers (non-PBA Tour). He was a member of the World Team Challenge champions in 1993 and 1995. Swanson fitted and drilled thousands of bowling balls for Ozarks bowlers over the years as owner/operator of the pro shop in Springfield’s Battlefield Lanes. He gave countless bowling tips and pointers, all for free, to anyone who asked. Swanson’s wife, Angela, along with son Kaleb and daughter Tori, carry on Sean’s legacy with his “Strike Out Sarcoma” work with the Cox Health Foundation. Many of Swanson’s friends in pro bowling also continue to wear the yellow and blue wristbands Sean tirelessly distributed, those colors associated with the “Strike Out Sarcoma” cause.”
George Wilson put together an amazing southwest Missouri basketball coaching career with a tenure spanning several decades and many different coaching experiences. He logged 31 seasons as a high school boys’ coach and compiled a 559-284 record. That run included 11 seasons as coach of the Willard High Tigers. He also coached four years at Fair Play, one year at Osceola, two years at Carrollton, six years at Walnut Grove, four years at Camdenton and three years at Mt. Vernon and his prep teams won nine league and 13 district championships and reached one state final four. In 1997 he moved into the college ranks. Wilson became the women’s coach at College of the Ozarks and guided Lady Bobcats basketball for 16 seasons. He retired from C of O in 2013 with a 447-89 record and he logged over 1,000 total career coaching victories for his combined high school and college years. Wilson was inducted into the Missouri Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame 1992 and in 2017 received the MBCA Gary Filbert Lifetime Achievement Award; the organization’s highest honor. He has also been inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame, the College of the Ozarks Hall of Fame and in 2008 was selected for the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame. Wilson was the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference (MCAC) Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year 10 times. He won 13 MCAC women’s basketball regular-season titles and 15 women’s basketball conference tournament titles. The College of Ozarks women’s basketball team was the NAIA National Championship runner-up four times in his C of O tenure. After retiring, Coach Wilson continued to promote the game of basketball by co-authoring (along with Robert Vestal) the book In the Beginning; a recap of the Missouri state basketball championships history