On the eve of the first Homecoming to be hosted at the Jennie Jaynes Activity Complex and Tiger Stadium, Tiger faithful and Smith-Cotton alumni from across the area and state are planning to return to their alma mater.
Perhaps no one is more excited to be a part of the Homecoming activities than the 2015 S-C Distinguished Alumni, Kim Anderson.
Anderson, the Men’s Head Basketball Coach at the University of Missouri-Columbia, is a 1973 graduate of S-C.
“It truly is a great honor to be named the distinguished alumni at S-C,” Anderson said by phone Wednesday morning. “When you think of the history of Smith Cotton and all of the remarkable individuals who have gone to the school and those who worked there, it really is humbling.”
Anderson is described by many as a very unassuming individual, but his accomplishments as a student athlete and coach speak volumes.
Anderson graduated from Missouri with bachelors and master’s degrees in 1979 and 1981 in education.
Named an Academic All-Big Eight selection in 1975 and 1977, Anderson has always recognized the importance of receiving an education.
“My dad taught for years and my mom worked in the district as well,” Anderson said. “Over the years, since I began my coaching career I have always considered myself a teacher.
“I work with so many young men from all walks of life and one of the most important things I try to stress to them is that they will always have a chance to be successful if they have an education,” Anderson added. “They can have a great mind and great potential, but varying things can happen in a life; their education will remain with them though.”
Anderson said the common thread that all individuals have is the opportunity to get an education.
“I truly believe you can always tell a person who has an education from those who don’t,” Anderson said. “I don’t know if it’s possible to achieve your dreams without it.”
As a student, Anderson first attended school at Broadway Elementary when he was in first grade and spent his final years in grade school at Heber Hunt Elementary.
Anderson commented that even as a young man he was goal-oriented, but when he began playing basketball in junior high and then high school he did not think many of his successes would become realities.
“When I started playing basketball I had some incredible coaches who worked with me,” Anderson said. “With their help and encouragement, I thought at some point in time, I might be pretty good at the sport.”
Anderson played his collegiate ball at MU for legendary coach Norm Stewart.
During his four-year career at Columbia, he helped the Tigers in 1976 win their first Big Eight title the following year he was named Big Eight player of the year.
Anderson averaged 18.3 points and 7.9 rebounds per game during his senior year in college. He finished his career at MU with 1,289 points, ranking him 24th in the program’s history.
Selected by the Portland Trailblazers in the second round of the NBA Draft, he played a combined three years in the NBA and Europe before returning as an assistant coach at MU in 1982.
His dream job was always to be named the head coach at MU and after working at Baylor University for six years, he returned to MU for an additional eight years as an assistant to Stewart before he took one final job before the dream became a reality.
Anderson spent 12 seasons at the University of Central Missouri-Warrensburg. He is one of the Top 10 winningest coaches in Division II history, and he holds the record at the university as the all-time winningest coach in the program’s history with a record of 274-95.
He resigned from UCM after leading the Mules to the 2014 National title.
When asked about his memories as a player and student at Smith-Cotton, Anderson mentioned going to the state playoffs his senior year.
“We took third in state that year,” Anderson said. “Really when I think about it there are so many names and memories that flash into my mind; I remember the things like the janitors and the ladies who worked in the cafeteria, things like how good the fish sticks were…
“I think about all the people who donate so much time and effort and dedication to the community,” he added. “It has always been a very caring and giving community.”
Anderson gave an example of the support he has been given: in April, the MU Tiger Caravan came to Sedalia, and more than 400 supporters came to the presentation.
“It really moved me to see all of the people who came to the Caravan and spoke to me,” Anderson said. “People have been really good and supportive throughout my career and Melissa (Anderson’s wife) and I appreciate it so much.”
Anderson, his wife, father Keith, and sister Kathy will be on hand for the Distinguished Alumni Ceremony at the Heckart Center for the Performing Arts at Smith-Cotton at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.
“I am extremely proud to be a graduate of S-C,” Anderson commented. “Believe me, time has flown since I graduated, but Sedalia will always be my home.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484.