For former Centralia varsity softball coach Jill Angell, 2016 may have been the most recent time that she led the Lady Panthers to a state championship, but her tenure atop the Lady Panthers progam was far from being a one-hit wonder.
In fact, from 1999-2017 the Centralia varsity girls were one of the best softball programs in the state on the basis that it also won back-to-back titles in 2011-13. It was far from clear this was going to be Angell's destiny, though. That's because after spending 1983-89 coaching at Centralia Middle School, she then stepped away until 1994 to be a stay at home mom. But then, on May 25 of that year, not only did she come back, but she did so as the varsity coach.
"It was an afternoon in which, I believe, there were about five different people they inducted. They put together a short video on each inductee and then after each video we each had the opportunity to soeak for a couple of minutes," Angell said. "They had the people who had come to support us specifically stand so you could recognize who came for who."
Also being inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame that very same day were several other individuals. This includes Ozark High School Baseball coach Mike Essick, the Ozark High School Baseball program and late Glendale High School coach Howard Bell. The St. Louis Browns and former St. Louis Cardinal Rick Ankiel were inducted, as well.
"I sat beside Rick Ankiel. That was cool. I visited with him a little bit. That was really neat. He was way big time," Angell said. "This is given as a 'me' award but I see it as a 'we' award. My family, my school family, the administration and the kids who played for me, I think everybody had a part in it. I don't think it was a me thing. When it was my turn to talk I also spoke about some memories from the state tournament and there were four girls there, and ast least one from each of the championships."
In her time atop the Lady Tigers program, Angell and team also reached the quarterfinals five times, won 11 district titles and eight Clarence Cannon Conference championships. Centralia won 82 of the 89 games it played during those initial three seasons.
"I didn't feel like this was something I earned alone. I felt like the kids who have played for me and the parents who have supported us and the assistant coaches. My personal opinion is that it takes a community, not a single person," said Angell. "To be able to share this award with everyone is an honor I've been looking forward to."
When Angell first got the call from the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, she wanted it to be true so she didn't tell the individual who called that she thought it was a prank, but that's exactly where her first instinct took her to. From there she began searching the persons name and checking out the organizations website until she was able to privately verify things.
"As my husband walked in the door he confirmed for me that this was real and that Gerald from the MSHF had called him to get my phone number and that he would also be sending me an e-mail," Angell said. " When I checked my computer I really did have an e-mail, so this was something I was totally blindsided by. I didn't have any inkling. I had no expectations what-so-ever, and that probably made it a little more special. This was not something I felt like I had earned or deserved."
During her time in college Angell studied to be a physical education major and a coach at Central Missouri. Prior to that she graduated from Meadville High School in 1979, where she played softball.