Mater Dei Graduate Named to the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame – Herald Pubs

Posted: January 29, 2021 at 7:54 pm

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Shelly Ethridges intense focus during her players practices and games was legendary.

By Daniel L. Chamness

(Editors Note: Reprinted with the permission of the Trenton Sun) Shelly Ethridge has given over 75 percent of her life to the sport of womens basketball. And even though she was recently named to the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, the St. Louis Community College Administrator is not done giving. Not even close.

Recently, Ethridge was named to the Hall of Fame and retired from coaching. She had been a high school or college coach for a total of 28 years and if you add her high school and college playing time, she had been involved in girls/womens basketball for a total of 36 years.

It is a tremendous honor to be selected to the the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, said Ethridge. I look at this honor as not only for me, but for the members of my staff and for all the young ladies that have played basketball for me throughout all the years. When I left coaching, it was the perfect time for me to walk way. It was time for me to enjoy more time with my family, to enjoy the game as a spectator and try what life is like without being up all night thinking of game plans, drills and plays.

At St. Louis Community College, she posted a record of 204-90. Along with that winning percentage of 69.4 percent, came STLCC win number 200 and career win number 500. Both of those milestones came on February 2, 2017. She guided the Lady Archers to a six National Junior College Athletic Association Division II Region XVI Titles in her 10 years at the school. Her 2016-2017 team was arguably the best of her coaching career as they would finish fifth in the country and the Ethridge-coached team earned the B.J. Graber Sportsmanship Award. The 1985 Mater Dei graduate and former New Baden resident also supported cancer research during her coaching career as she would have an annual Cancer Benefit Game. She also supported cancer research in other ways.

Individually, a total of 11 STLCC athletes reached the individual pinnacle, being named a NJCAA Division II All-American. Of the athletes that played for her in those 10 years, 60 would find their way to a four-year school and another womens basketball team with a chance to complete a four-year career.

She started her coaching career at Belleville Area College, now known as Southwestern Illinois College with a 109-45 record. It would be her only Illinois coaching stop. Before turning 30 years old, she would take the reigns of the University of Missouri-St. Louis. The former Mater Dei and Eastern Illinois University player, who took over a program that was 5-22 during the 1996-97 season, guided them to a 14-12 mark in her first season.

She would post a winning record four of her six years at the NCAA Division II program. In the Great Lakes Valley Conference, she would post a .500 or better record in three of the seasons. The best effort of the six year period, both overall and in the league, was during the 1999-2000 season, when they were 19-11 overall and 14-6 in the GLVC. Ethridge would finish the six-year stint with an overall mark of 84-80.

When you are around Shelly, you simply aspire to be better and work hard, said Melanie Marcy, who was an assistant for Ethridge at UMSL, Whitfield, STLCC and was a player for Ethridge at UMSL. She constantly gives it her all. Her passion and commitment are two of her personality traits that jump out immediately. She has been an extremely positive influence in my life and in the lives of many.

At the high school level, she would coach at Whitfield High School in St. Louis and proved herself equally adept at coaching at that level, compiling 108 victories against 36 defeats.

After coaching at the high school level for a few years, I really respect what high school coaches are able to do with the hand they are dealt, said Ethridge. As a college coach, I got to select the hand I am dealt. It was a total different dynamic than high school. My years at the high school level were extremely important and a learning moment for me as well as the athletes that I was coaching. I have always loved the college game as it is like putting together a puzzle. You want to recruit players that share your attitude, enthusiasm, love for the game and work ethic. That is the first step.

Overall, the 5-foot-7 Ethridge finished with a career coaching record of 505-251 in her 28 years at the helm of the various teams. She coached 10 women to All-American status. In the classroom, 14 of her athletes were named All-Americans on the academic level. She made national tournament appearances a total of four times on the NJCAA level and once at the NCAA Division II level. Those efforts led to her being named Coach of the Year a total of eight times in her career.

When I started coaching, I knew it was something I loved and it is all I wanted to do, said the former NCAA Division I player. I was taught to give everything I had when I committed to something. It sounds simple, but the combination of the love of the game, hard work and kids of good character, most of the time good things will happen.

As a player, she was one of the players that helped start the Mater Dei Knights Girls Basketball Program in 1982. Ethridge along with Trenton native Barb Perkes and Lebanon product Stacy Frierdichs, formed a Knight Threesome that liked each other and played together so well that all three were recruited and were teammates at Eastern Illinois University as well.

Shelly has and always has had a brilliant basketball mind, said Perkes. She has a fierce determination to win and motivates her players to give 110 percent on the court. She does it the right way. Not only that, everyone loves being around Shelly. I have known her for 40 years and that has not changed about her.

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January 29th, 2021 at 7:54 pm

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