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Illinois State Volleyball Coach to be Enshrined in Missouri Sports Hall of Fame

Written by on March 23, 2019

NORMAL – Illinois State University athletics has announced that Volleyball coach Leah Johnson and her former college teammates at Missouri State will be enshrined into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame. The enshrinement will take place during the organization’s women’s sports luncheon in Springfield, Missouri on March 27th. Coach Johnson says her journey to Missouri State was unique.

“I think every athlete has a different story. I needed someone to take a chance on me, I was from a small town, nobody had really seen me, I didn’t have a lot opportunity coming out of high school. Melissa Stokes, who is still currently the head coach there, coached me a little bit in club and some clinics and stuff and had offered me the opportunity to play. Oddly enough the first time around, I declined. I didn’t realize at the time that’s what I wanted and I went to a different school and ended up transferring back to Missouri State. Not only did Melissa give me my first opportunity but really my second opportunity and I will forever be grateful for that.”

Johnson was a four-year player at Missouri State from 2000-2003. In her freshman year, she helped the Bears to their first 20-win season under Coach Stokes. Johnson, who also served as captain would go on to lead the Bears to four-straight seasons with 20 or more wins and a Missouri Valley Conference Title in 2003. She also ranks among Missouri State’s all time and single-season digs leader. In 2008, Johnson returned to Missouri State as an assistant coach, helping guide the team to an MVC Tournament Title, NCAA berth in 2008 and a combined 44-23 record in her two seasons on the sidelines. 

“It’s very important to me in that I was apart of something bigger than myself,” said Johnson. “Every person being inducted had a role in that success and in that storied program. It means a lot, we put a lot of heart into the program. The Missouri Sports Hall of Fame is a pretty special group and I appreciate the committee for loving and accepting Missouri State volleyball and allowing me to be apart of that.”

Nick Imparo contributed to this story.QT Places Error: the selected post type doesn't exists or is not active in the plugin settings.

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