Steve Stipanovich is one of the most decorated basketball players our town has ever had. At De Smet, he won back-to-back state titles and was a part of a team that won 60 games in a row. He was recruited by almost every college basketball power in America. The most famous coaches in the country—Richard ‘Digger’ Phelps, Joe B. Hall, Norm Stewart—would come to Ballas Road every Wednesday just to watch Stipo practice. He went to Mizzou and won four Big 8 titles and 100 games. Stipanovich was the second pick in the 1983 NBA draft, and he enjoyed a successful 5-year NBA career. He had a triple-double one night against the Boston Celtics, and scored 30 one evening against Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
However, Steve is no longer the best athlete in the family. Kelli now has the honors. She’s a 21-year-old senior volleyball star at University of Arkansas. After an All-State career at Westminster Christian Academy, Kelli is competing in the outstanding Southeastern Conference. Kelli was named the Most Valuable Player in both the Wake Forest and Army tournaments. With each performance, she is moving up the ranks of Arkansas’ career list for kills and digs. She is a strong candidate to be named All-SEC. We caught up with her right after one of her practices.
MOST ENJOYABLE MOMENT EVER ON A VOLLEYBALL COURT: This may sound weird, but it would have to be in high school when we beat Villa to win the district. In college, you have some great rivalries, but you don‘t know everybody really well. In high school, we have been playing against those Villa girls for years.
FAVORITE PLACE TO PLAY: Florida. When you think of big-time college athletics, you think of Florida. You are playing against girls who are 6 foot 5. They always fill up their entire arena.
VOLLEYBALL DREAMS FOR YOU? I am trying to make that decision right now. Do I play oversees for a while, or do I coach in high school? I could also play in Puerto Rico. My coach has connections there.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE HAVING A FAMOUS FATHER? Whenever I have sports issues, I always call him. He has good insight into how to be an athlete.
WHAT IS IT LIKE GROWING UP WITH FOUR SISTERS AND ONE BROTHER? We get along great. We are all so spaced out in age. We have college kids, high school kids and grade school kids. I love having kids around. I love having a big family.
WERE ALL THE SACRIFICES WORTH IT TO BECOME A DIVISION ONE ATHLETE? I will tell you when I am done. You do miss out on a lot. However, the lessons I have learned have really helped. Things like managing time, playing with pressure in front of 5,000 people, perseverance, how to be tougher.
◆ Keep an eye on former CBC standout, Cory McArthy. He had a fine freshman season at CBC of Memphis and looks to be a full-time starter this season.
◆ If European professional basketball teams limit the number of Americans that they can have on their teams, should universities in the U.S. limit the number of scholarships given to foreign-born players.
◆The select baseball program called the Gamers, which has produced so many outstanding players, is just about to move into best indoor baseball facility in our town.
◆ Why would the state of Missouri make their high school boys play their golf in the spring when the weather stinks? Play it in the fall when the girls do.
◆ If Cliff Ice from Webster Groves is not the best football coach in our town, he’s in the top 5.