With the TWU Athletics Hall of Fame inducting its 35th and 36th members along with its first Team of Distinction on Saturday night at Hubbard Hall, success has become more than a ordinary effect in the lives of those athletes that are paving the way for the new crop of women’s athletics.
The class of 2012 was themed with softball success stories as Jami Ingram, Teresa Flores and the 1978-79 national title team all shared the appreciation for their tenure at TWU and the confidence it gave them moving forward in their lives.
Aside from the numerous accolades she earned from her time as a catcher from 2002-03, Ingram also earned her bachelor’s degree in kinesiology in 2003 and her master’s degree in sports administration in 2005 from TWU.
Using her experience as a player and an assistant coach for the Pioneers, Ingram returned to Blinn College, where she played before coming to TWU, and has been an assistant to her former coach, Rick Church, the past seven seasons.
Ingram credits what she learned during her time at TWU for her current success at Blinn as well as the rest of her career.
“The program here, the teachers, everyone I’ve had contact with has helped me grow as a person, a coach, a teacher and as a mentor,” Ingram said. “I was so blessed to be part of the academic and kinesiology program. I can say that I truly use what I learn every day, and I don’t think everybody can say that. Isn’t that why you go to school, to learn to do what you’re going to do when you grow up?”
Earning her bachelor’s degree in adaptive physical education with a minor in special education in 2005 at TWU, the former shortstop Flores has also continued down the coaching route as she currently coaches softball at Calallen High School in Corpus Christi. Like several other TWU softball players, Flores credits former coach Dianne Baker, who was also inducted into the TWU Hall of Fame in 1995, among others for her inspiration and accomplishments.
“Being inducted into the hall of fame is truly and honor,” said Flores, who played at TWU from 2001-04. “I am truly grateful for what this university has done for me. I have them to thank for the person I am today, having such a great mentor like coach Baker and seeing how much of an impact on people’s lives. If I could have just one tenth of what she has done in her career, then I will have made a difference.”
The Hall of Fame Committee introduced the Team of Distinction as a new designation for which a team must show evidence of exceptional accomplishments at or above the conference level, including advancement to regional or national competition, regional or national titles, school records or undefeated seasons.
The 1978-79 TWU softball team claimed the AIAW National Championship at a time when women were still making their presence felt in the athletic arena, especially in Texas.
Dubbed the team’s “workhorse,” Missy Mapes played 71 regular-season games as both an infielder and catcher during the Pioneers’ championship run. She also has used her development as an athlete to drive her inner ambitions and credits the team’s success for her continued educational career as well.
“It gave me the confidence to get my doctorate in education,” Mapes said. “If you look around at the team, many of them are business owners. One is a military hero. There are firefighters, police and teachers. That is extremely unique, and we are very excited to have gone through the team environment with winning and losing.”
With the current Pioneers softball team as a modern-day symbol for women’s athletic success, Ingram says women athletes’ unique position as role models provides more than just recognition.
“Women need role models,” Ingram said. “Athletics gives so much self-confidence for women, and I’m so glad I got to be a part of something that allowed me to grow and have that confidence to do whatever I set my mind to. Being a part of a university that does that for women, there is no limit to how much you can grow. I try to say that to my athletes now because they were such valuable lessons for me.”
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.