by Ed Beach
The 25th annual Drury University Sports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place in the Findlay Student Center on Saturday, January 11, 2020. This year’s class of inductees includes three former standout student-athletes, a long-time coach and administrator, and one individual in the category of Lifetime Achievement for their years and accomplishments in athletics. The class includes Katrina (Choate) Clark (Women’s Golf), Agnieszka Ostrowska (Women’s Swimming/Diving) and Nick Thimesch (Baseball), Barb Cowherd, now retired from Drury after 38 years in the Drury athletic department where she served as a coach and athletic administrator, and Mark Stillwell, a 1967 graduate of Drury, served 40 years in the sports information profession and was one of the most respected and honored SIDs in the nation.
Katrina (Choate) Clark
Katrina (Choate) Clark came to Drury from Rockwood Summit High School in the St. Louis area in the fall of 2007. She played four years for the Panthers under head coach Lisa Tinkler and was a four-year letterman. Her senior year she earned NCAA-II Second Team All-America honors and was the Great Lakes Valley Conference medalist tying the tournament record for the lowest two-round total (143). Katrina, who also earned NCGA All-America honors and All-Midwest Region honors her junior year, made the NCAA-II National Tournament field three times. She was a two-time GLVC Scholar-Athlete of the Year and was the 2011 recipient of the Dr. Edsel Matthews Award, a recognition that is annually given to the top Drury female student-athlete. Katrina was the medalist at numerous tournaments over her career. She earned her undergraduate degree from Drury on December 11, 2011, and her Master’s in Education Curriculum Instruction from Drury in 2015.
Agnieszka Ostrowska came to Drury from Rawicz, Poland where she was a nationally-renowned swimmer for the Polish Junior and Senior National teams. “Aggie” played a critical role in leading the Panthers to the NCAA-II National Championships in 2013 and 2014. An honor student, Aggie scored 158.5 points at the national meets in her two years at Drury (2013 and 2014). Her senior year she broke numerous school and national records, highlighted by her national record-breaking 200 Breaststroke (2:11.45) along with a pair of national record-breaking relays. She was Drury’s Most Valuable Swimmer that year. In her two years at Drury, Aggie was a three-time NCAA-II National Champion and a 12-time All-American. Aggie, who was the Great Lakes Valley Conference Swimmer of the Year in 2014 when she first set the national record in the 200 Breast, now lives in her native country.
Nick Thimesch enjoyed one of the most outstanding baseball careers in Panther history. He was the program’s first-ever NCAA-II All-American, earning Daktronics First Team All-American honors. The May 2014 graduate was the GLVC Player of the Year and was the fourth Drury student-athlete to claim the GLVC’s prestigious Paragon Award. A defensive ace in the outfield, Nick finished his career as Drury’s all-time leader in five categories: career batting average (.377), all-time hits (314), runs scored (198), stolen bases (77) and career at-bats (832). A native of Marshalltown, Iowa, his success on the field may only have been surpassed by his performance in the classroom. Nick is now a resident family medicine physician in Omaha after completing medical school in Kirksville, Missouri. A Biology/Chemistry major, Nick graduated from Drury with a 3.7 grade point average.
After nearly 40 years of service to Drury University, Associate Athletics Director & Senior Woman Administrator Barbara Cowherd retired on May 31, 2019. Barb started her career at Drury as the head volleyball coach in 1980 and guided the program until 1999, compiling a record of 487-354-17. Named the NAIA District 16 Coach of the Year in 1988 following their 43-11 season, Barb led the volleyball program from the AIAW to the NAIA in 1981, and then to the NCAA-II level in 1994. She is the all-time leader at Drury in career volleyball wins. Barb also served four years as head women’s tennis coach (1981-84). In 1999, Barb became the Assistant Athletics Director and Senior Woman Administrator, then was elevated to Associate Athletics Director in 2003. Barb was instrumental in the start of the Lady Panthers basketball program that launched in the 2000-2001 season and helped sustain its national prominence since its inception. Over her career, Barb helped Drury’s athletics program grow its women’s sports from just two teams to 11 NCAA-II programs.
Mark Stillwell is one of the nation’s most respected individuals in the college sports information profession. An English major and a 1967 graduate of Drury, Mark served several years as the Panthers SID before taking a similar position in 1972 at what is now Missouri State University. After more than 36 years as the Bears first full-time Sports Information Director, he retired in December of 2008. A native Springfieldian, Mark guided the information and publications effort for MSU athletics through the Bears’ MIAA, Mid-Continent, Gateway, and Missouri Valley Conference days and as the program moved from NCAA Division II to Division I status. Mark was honored with more than 60 publications and writing awards from CoSIDA and CASE. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from CoSIDA in 2008 and this past spring was inducted into the CoSIDA Hall of Fame (Class of 2019), one of several Halls of Fame to which he has been inducted. Mark also served 28 years in the U.S. Navy, serving on active duty from 1967 to 1970 and retiring from the Navy Reserve in 1991 with the rank of Captain.
The Drury Sports Hall of Fame was established on June 8, 1995, by then Drury President Dr. John E. Moore, Jr. and the late Dr. Bruce Harger, Director of Athletics. It blended with what was originally the Drury Basketball Hall of Fame, which was started in 1969. The 10 original basketball Hall of Fame members were joined at the first All Sports Hall of Fame Class of 1995. Gail Fredrick was the first member of the Drury Basketball Hall of Fame, inducted in 1969.