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Gaining her 800th NCAA career victory the same year she announced her retirement, Rhesa Sumrell has enjoyed a long-standing reputation for teams that not only play well on the field but are outstanding in the classroom.
The head softball coach emerita came to Central Missouri in 1987, and compiled a 614-359 win-loss record on her way to becoming the most successful Jennies softball coach in university history. Her overall coaching record of 822-527 also made her one of the winningest coaches in the history of NCAA Division II softball.
Under Sumrell’s direction, the Jennies won four MIAA titles- 1988, 1994, 1995 and 1997- and two regional crowns, taking the team to national fourth-place finished in 1989 and 1994. The Jennies made the national tournament seven times during her tenure.
Originally from Chattanooga, Tenn., Sumrell received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro. She coached on the high school level in her home state before moving on to Missouri Western State College in St. Joseph in 1975 to serve as women’s head basketball and softball coach, and assistant athletic director. She became head softball coach at University of Missouri-Columbia in 1987, and then accepted a post as head softball coach and assistant volleyball coach at CMSU.
Her team and coaching accolades are numerous and include Wilson/MIAA Coach of the Year honors and induction into Missouri Western’s Athletic Hall of Fame and the NAIA Volleyball Hall of Fame. Her 1989, 1994 and 1996 softball teams were inducted into the CMSU Athletic Hall of Fame.