Courtesy: UMKC Athletics/MSH Photography
Hall of Fame Spotlight - Mary Michalski
Courtesy:UMKC Athletics
Release:01/19/2013

By David Boyce

On Jan. 7, 1984, the Oklahoma State women's basketball team walked into the old Swinney Recreation Gymnasium to practice for the UMKC Pizza Hut/Booster Classic.

At the time, UMKC was firmly entrenched in the NAIA with no thoughts of moving to NCAA Division I. But the women's basketball program didn't shy away from competing against Big 8 schools.

During the 1982-83 season, the Kangaroos went 30-4 and earlier in the 1983-84 season, UMKC went on the road and beat Nebraska 81-79 in overtime.

A tiny gymnasium that had the classic look of the 1950s weren't going to slow these Kangaroos down.

However, it was a bit of a basketball culture shock when Oklahoma State came to Swinney.  It is one of the funniest memories Mary Michalski has of her time playing with UMKC.

"I remember the girls from the other team walking in and going this is where we practice, where do we play?" Michalski said. "And we said here. The best part about it is we beat them.

"We were all laughing that I guess it is not the facility that makes the team. That is a great memory I have."

The Kangaroos beat Oklahoma State 64-58. UMKC won a lot during the time Michalski played for the Kangaroos. UMKC went 26-4 in Michalski's final season.

Michalski was one reason the Kangaroos has so much success. Nearly 30 years later, her name still remains on several all-time lists that covers the NAIA and NCAA Division I era.

Her career scoring average of 15.2 ranks third and she is the eighth best rebounder ever at UMKC, pulling down 524 boards.

Those stats earned her many honors such as first team NAIA All-District 16 in the 1983-84 season. She also made the NAIA National Tournament All-Tournament team in 1983.

Twenty-nine years after UMKC beat Oklahoma State, Michalski received one more honor for her play. She received a call telling her she was now a member of the UMKC Athletic Hall of Fame. She will be inducted on January 25th with seven other individuals and a team.

"I'm extremely honored," Michalski said. "It caught me by surprise. It has been a few years, obviously, since I played there.

"When I got the phone call, I was taken by surprise. I graduated in 1985 so it has been a while. It really says something that you want to put something out there to show where the program was at and the people that were the foundation and the building blocks for it.

"I think it is phenomenal."

Michalski is like most former student-athletes when they recall their days playing athletics. The individual numbers and honors rarely come up.

"I remember enjoying myself on campus, my teammates, good camaraderie, a great fan base," she said.

"I think playing on any kind of a team sport really teaches you how to interact with people and be a part of team, knowing you don't have to do it all yourself. You have other people who support you and you support them as well.

"I built lasting friendships that I have to this day from that time at the University."

Michalski left UMKC with a Bachelors degree in Education.

For the last 17 years, Michalski has worked at Saint Luke's Hospital on the Plaza in radiology.

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