By Bob Kelley, retired RLC Sports Information Director and 2012 Hall of Fame inductee
INA, Ill. (April 5, 2018) - Ronnie Henderson, Scott Wagner and Tracy (Hyatt) Steed have had something in common for a considerable length of time, it just did not become apparent until recently.
Henderson and Wagner were both athletic standouts for Mt. Vernon Township High School, but the former concluded his last basketball season for the Rams in 1970-71, while the latter wrapped up his prep baseball career in 1978.
Steed is not even from Illinois, although she has made it her home now. Tracy Hyatt grew up shooting hoops in Southern Indiana, departing with a Gibson Southern High School all-time record 1,289 points in 1986.
But here is the catch . . .
While continuing to star at the next level for Rend Lake College, the gap in their 16-year span narrowed by the fact all three were leaders on their respective Warrior and Lady Warrior teams which won more frequently than any of their predecessors.
On Saturday, April 21, their similarities will far outweigh any differences they might have. The trio will comprise the 19th Class scheduled for induction into the Rend Lake College Sports Hall of Fame. Ceremonies are scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Student Center on the Ina campus.
Depending on which is considered third among this elite contingent – last but certainly not least, if you please – he or she will become the 50th individual to be so honored since the Hall’s inception in 2000. Membership also includes 11 teams and four Track relay quartets.
The merits of each, in a nutshell . . .
• Henderson, who would later become a Correctional Officer at Big Muddy River Correctional Center, was the quiet “Enforcer” for Coach Jim Waugh’s RLC Warriors from 1971-73. Neither friend nor foe challenged the 6-foot-4 Forward/Strongman, a two-time All-Southern Illinois College Conference First-Team selection.
Thanks to his record 367 rebounds as a freshman and career mark of 604 (206 offensive and 378 defensive), the Warriors went 38-17, with a best-to-date slate of 20-6 and SICC crown (7-1) in his final season.
His career rebound standard stood for 23 years before it was overcome by National Junior College Athletic Association First-Team All-America and RLC Sports Hall-of-Famer Bryant Lowe; the single-season high mark of 367 was still standing long after that.
He averaged 14.4 points per game (417 total) and 12.7 rebounds as a rookie, when he also led at 75.6 percent from the charity stripe (101-132), then matched that 14.4 a year later (374 points in three fewer games), settled for 9.1 rpg while sharing the boards with 6-9 mate Roy Rieckenberg and 6-5 HOF predecessor Randy Lemay, with 2.3 assists per game.
• Wagner earned First-Team All-State recognition as a college freshman after hitting .373 (28-75) in Spring ’79.
All he did for an encore was up that average to a best-ever .450 (27-60) the following Fall and helped Coach Mike McClure’s ninth squad post his 250th win and gain a share of its third SICC championship. He was named All-SICC, along with infield teammates Doug Creel and Gary Denbo.
The 6-2, 195-pounder produced a team-record 60 runs batted in in as many games (41-19) and a record five home runs in the combined Fall/Spring ’79-80 campaign as a sophomore. The RBI total was 19 more than the previous high and 24 more than the team runner-up.
Overall, the sophomore batted .369 (65-176) with a .551 slugging percentage. The athletic, not-your-stereotypical backstop, also stole 21 bases and scored 51 runs as the ’79-80 Warriors set new standards for Wins, Batting Average (.295), Hits (490), Runs (407) and RBIs (336). Individually, he added All-Great Lakes and South All-Stars to his credits.
• Post-career recognition is nothing new for Hyatt-Steed, who is the Girls Basketball Coach at Carmi-White County High School. She is married to former Bulldog Tim Steed.
In 2011, she was named to the Indiana High School Basketball Silver Anniversary Team, one of 18 women to be so honored. Five years later, the Owensville native who led her prep team in scoring all four seasons was named a Charter Member in The Greater Evansville Basketball Hall of Fame, which “honors the Tri-State’s current and former high school, college and professional basketball standouts as well as coaches, administrators, officials and fans.” Fellow inductees in April 2016 included such Illinois notables as Coach Ron Felling, Jay Shidler and Marty Simmons of Lawrenceville and the McLeansboro Father-Son duo of Jerry and Brian Sloan.
Hyatt was the leading scorer both seasons for the winningest teams back-to-back in Lady Warrior annals – 26-5 in ’86-87 and 25-8 in ’87-88 under Waugh, who by then had requested a shift to the distaff side.
She left RLC as the No. 2 point-producer all-time for a program in its 11th year of existence. Her career total of 1,026 points puts the 5-10 forward in select company along with new HOF “teammates” Susie Woodward, Rebecca Harris, Cheryl Weis and Amanda Willoughby. The long-range shooter benefited greatly when the 3-point arc was introduced to the college game prior to her second Juco season.
Hyatt was a two-time All-Great Rivers Athletic Conference pick and All-Region XXIV as a sophomore, when she led the Lady Warriors in scoring 19 outings, 13 of those with 20-plus, with highs of 31 at Kaskaskia and 32 in a Danville Area Tournament championship win over the hosts. She averaged 17.8 ppg and 2.3 assists, but her rebound tally slipped to 3.4 with additional help from the 6-2 Weis. She hit .546 from the field, including 19 of her team’s total of 23 treys in Year One, and .838 from the charity stripe (67-80), No. 5 nationally.
As a newcomer sharing the spotlight with Soph Cynthia Wessel, she posted 15.7 ppg, 8.4 rpg and 3.2 steals/recoveries. She led the team in scoring nine times and rebounding 10, with 20-plus points in five games, including 30 at Shawnee and 32 (record 16 field goals) and 12 boards in a 70-69 regular-season finale verdict over Wabash Valley. She also had 17 rebounds in a rout of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods (Ind.).
Career stats for the 2018 RLC Sports HOF honoree – 16.8 ppg (51% FG, 70% FT) and 5.8 rpg.
The Hoosier native returned to complete her playing career with the University of Evansville Purple Aces, where she was the Midwestern Collegiate College Newcomer of the Year and set a record with 65 3-pointers in 1990-91, a year after giving birth to her first child.
Other two-year contributors to 51 Lady Warrior victories were frontliners Karen Poninski, a standout in her own right, and Becky Orrick Artis and the backcourt duo of Carol Ray and Stephanie Sides.
In the 20-win Warrior campaign in 1972-73, Henderson & Co. started 8-0, then came out on top in 10 of the last 11 before dropping its second post-season outing. The record-setters broke the 90-point bar on 13 occasions and yet still managed to establish a defensive record-low yield at 72.2 ppg as well. The first and last of those six setbacks were by two points.
The two teams powered by Henderson and offensive leader Sonny Wyatt established six Game and 11 Season records while scoring 80-plus points in two-thirds of their games. Exciting to watch? In a wild display against Lockyear Business College out of Evansville, Ind., Waugh’s Warriors set records for Field Goal Attempts (107) as well as Rebounds (75).
Wyatt, who finished his career with 896 points compared to the 791 for Henderson, and the towering Rieckenberg joined the “Enforcer” on the ’72-73 All-SICC First Team.
Henderson would go on to average 17 ppg and 10 rebounds as a junior transfer and 11 ppg / 7 rpg as a senior for the Marion Titans. Marion College changed its name in 1988 to Indiana Wesleyan University and recently captured the 2018 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Division II Men’s Basketball Championship for the third time in the last five years.
The HOF Gang of 50 Individuals includes former teammates Lemay, a two-sport star for the Warriors, and Brad Weathers, who was inducted in 2013 for his accomplishments as an Alumni Coach, plus Waugh and Assistant Coach Mike McClure, former Baseball Head Coach who was one of four HOF Charter Members in 2000. Yet another teammate, Ron Smith, was named RLC Foundation “Alumnus of the Year” in 2011.
Wagner capped his freshman season in a Wrigley Field All-Star appearance alongside two RLC sophomore teammates he highly respected, Pitcher Randall Shively and Infielder Mike O’Rear.
Also worth noting: Wagner’s 69 bases-on-balls and six triples during a career in which he hit .371 after a slow start in Fall ’78; by comparison, he struck out just 34 times in approximately 400 total plate appearances. Four of those triples came as a first-year player and helped the ’78-79 squad set another record with 22 in all.
Career totals for teams that were a composite 68-43 included a .335 batting average (109-325), 80 runs scored, 82 RBIs, a .492 slugging percentage thanks to 31 extra-base hits and a .452 on-base percentage aided by all those walks thanks to a keen eye and, no doubt, several intentional passes.
It was a star-studded cast he headed.
All-SICC picks Wagner, Creel and Denbo shared the cover of the ’79-80 Warrior Baseball Brochure.
Creel, on the merits of his basketball credentials, and Coach McClure comprised half of the Charter Members Class of 2000 for the RLC Sports Hall of Fame. Denbo, who boasted a Warrior record 67 hits in ’79-80, would go on to become Derek Jeter’s career-long hitting mentor and is his sidekick today as the Vice President of Player Development and Scouting for the Major League Baseball Miami Marlins.
Another catching prospect at the same time, Steve Brown, spent most of his Warrior career at first base due to the presence of Wagner. Brown would set a record for doubles as a sophomore and signed to play at University of South Florida-Tampa for MLB Hall-of-Famer Robin Roberts. Two-sport performer Mark Schwitz set RLC records with his 1.60 ERA and 33 consecutive free throws made before playing at Indiana Central; he joined Tracy (Hyatt) Steed as an original member of The Greater Evansville Basketball Hall of Fame.
Wagner signed with Jacksonville (Ala.) State University, where he was joined by basketball recruit / longtime teammate Creel, but left after one semester.
All three of the inductees will be honored during the 19th annual Sports Hall of Fame Ceremony beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 21 in the Student Center on the Ina campus. The RLC Sports Hall of Fame is located in the lobby area of the Aquatics Center, which also serves as the entrance to Waugh Gymnasium.
Reservations are required for the 2018 Induction Banquet by contacting the RLC Athletic Department at (618) 437-5321, Ext. 1250, or email to .