By: Tom Ladd
Just before Christmas last month, I found myself thinking back to great times with a good friend of mine and perhaps the greatest athlete I’ve ever covered in Jackie Stiles. You see, on December 21st, social media reminded me of the birth date for Jackie, the 3rd leading scorer in women’s College Basketball and the All-time leading scorer in Missouri State history with 3,393 points. I won’t go into all of Jackie’s achievements, but she rewrote every scoring record at MSU, The Missouri Valley Conference and her home state of Kansas during her college and high school playing days. After leading her alma mater to the Final 4 her senior season, she ended up playing a couple of seasons in the WNBA and was named the rookie of the year before injuries ended her career prematurely. Even more importantly, Jackie and I spent a good deal of time together for six seasons traveling all over the country with the Lady Bears. She was an assistant coach on Kellie Harpers staff from 2013 – 2019, while I was the voice of the team on radio. While thoughts of her playing days are pleasant personally, this year, I was thinking more of a project that I have played a small part in and began wondering when it would be released. A couple of years ago, I was contacted by a gentleman named Brent Huff, a movie maker in California, who is making a documentary on Jackie and her career. Huff interviewed me as well as several others in this area like her former coach Cheryl Burnett and teammate and friend Carly Deer Stubblefield. While those interviews would be of interest in this area, it was the list of other celebrities that intrigued me. Huff lined up the likes of basketball icons Nancy Leiberman, Baylor coach Kim Mulkey and Jackie’s favorite player Cynthia Cooper for this project. He’s also hoping to visit with Roy Williams, Debbie Antonelli and journalist Joe Posnanski of the Kansas City Star. He has a wish list of other players and coaches that he’d like to visit including Becky Hammon, who is coaching in the NBA and played against the Lady Bears in the NCAA tournament. I had always hoped that someone would write a book or do a project like this on Jackie Stiles, a person and athlete that I find most intriguing for her unbelievable career and work ethic, but also for the amazing person she is. She comes from a great family and humble beginnings in Claflin Kansas and I always wanted someone to try and tap into “who Jackie really is”. I think it’ll be an amazing story. Brent has told me that he would like to premiere the documentary in Springfield when it’s complete. He said he did that once before at the Gillioz theatre and it well. I will let you know when it is released and we will have Brent on air on the Jock to let you know more about his project.