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AREA ATHLETICS: Four more into the hall

Marshall M Club inducts 2019 class for Tiger Athletic HOF

Photo by Sam Thiel From (L to R): Diane Cady (Dawn Sullivan’s mother who accepted the award on her behalf), John Nefstead, Jackie (Clark) Cummings and Kelly (Clark) Jones pose with their Hall of Fame plaques after being inducted into the Marshall Tiger M Club Athletic Hall of Fame on Saturday.

MARSHALL — The newest class of the Marshall Tiger M Club Hall of Fame was officially enshrined on Saturday evening at the Red Baron Arena and Expo, with Dawn (Cady) Sullivan, John Nefstead, Jackie (Clark) Cummings and Kelly (Clark) Jones representing the latest inductees.

Sullivan graduated from Marshall High School in 1996, where she was a two-sport athlete in volleyball and basketball and received the 1996 Kaiser Award recognizing the female athlete of the year. On the basketball court, Sullivan earned All-Conference honors and helped her team win the Southwest Conference in 1995 as well as being recognized as an Academic All-State team member in 1996. In volleyball, she was on the All-Conference team four times and was an All-State selection and Academic All-State team member after her senior season. She would go on to play volleyball at Kansas State University and was a All-Big 12 selection and an All-American in 1999 and was the 2000 state of Kansas NCAA Woman of the Year.

While she was unable to attend the ceremony due to her current job as the head volleyball coach at UNLV in Las Vegas, she shared a quick video thanking her family, friends, coaches and teammates and brought up the importance of cultivating relationships.

“I want to thank my incredible family for instilling the values of hard work, dedication and the deep, deep belief that anything is possible. I want to thank my coaches, my teammates and my friends for allowing me to be just who I am,” Sullivan said. “I remember one of my fondest memories in high school was my freshman year and we stayed after practice just for me to hit a slide. I was this young, full of energy kid that didn’t know a whole lot about volleyball and these seniors just took me in and they were there for me. I know in reality it wasn’t about teaching me a slide, it was teaching about a team, about relationships and about figuring out my passions and going after it and learning how to instill this in others. It really shaped a huge part of my life.”

Nefstead graduated from MHS in 1963, where he competed in basketball, football and baseball. On the court, Nefstead was a key contributor on the 1963 state championship basketball team, which was the first team title in school history and landed him on the All-tournament team. On the gridiron, he helped lead the Tigers to a combined record of 14-0-2 in his junior and senior seasons and was a member of the WCCO All-State football team in his final year.

Nefstead went on to play football at Augustana University where he was a four-time letter winner.

In his speech, Nefstead said he was blessed to be around some amazing people and was able to create some special memories during his time at MHS.

“I just really appreciate the opportunity to be here and I feel blessed because of that. I played with some wonderful, wonderful talented people. We were as good as we were because we weren’t going to be beat. I almost forgot to mention that there was one division, there were 437 school districts and only one was going to come out on top. We played some small ones on the way and played some very big ones. Anoka in the semfinals, Cloquet in the finals and I still lose my breath a little bit with that one. We were really blessed with that,” Nefstead said. “Post-that club, in football we were awfully good. When I was a junior we had a club that I think could have competed with anybody in Minnesota for certain. We persevered and had an excellent club.”

The ceremony also saw a little history be made with its first sibling induction as Jackie (Clark) Cummings and Kelly (Clark) Jones were enshrined together. Cummings graduated from MHS in 1982, where she was a Kaiser Award winner and a three-sport athlete in track, volleyball and basketball. On the track, she guided the Tigers to three straight Southwest Conference championships and a pair of Region 2AA championships. On the basketball court, Cummings helped Marshall win another three conference titles in a row and helped the Tigers advance to the Region Championship in 1981 and was an All-Conference team member in her senior season. As a member of the volleyball team, she was a two-time All-Conference selection as well as an All-State selection in 1981. Cummings led the Tigers to three consecutive state tournaments in ’79, ’80 and ’81, in which they went a combined 68-11 and never lost a Southwest Conference match.

Cummings went on to play volleyball at Missouri, where she helped them finish in the top four teams of the Big 8 conference three straight years and win more than 70 matches.

In her speech, Cummings was thankful for her teammates and coaches that were by her side and applauded Marshall for its continuation of a unique support and respect of its athletes.

“This experience here is unique. I have lived in Missouri and in Texas and what happens here in Marshall is remarkable. My teammates were everything. As a volleyball player, I was a hitter; I can’t doing anything without my defense and my setter. I wish they were here with me today because everything I did came from them. Any success we had on the court came as a team and I almost feel guilty taking credit for it because without them, there’s nothing that could have happened,” Cummings said. “My coaches, there is something about the dedication and the time that those coaches put in for all of my teams that says how much they are committed to the female athletes of Marshall. I never felt that the female athletes were not respected as much as the men and to me that really meant a lot. They taught me to seek excellence always and they pushed me in all of my sports to do that.”

“You expect a lot from your athletes but you give 110% back to them, every single time. Every time I come back to visit, it’s a community that supports their athletes. That doesn’t happen everywhere and it’s unique here. It’s no doubt that we have the records that were reported earlier,” Cummings added. “It is a community that knows how to show their athletes the respect and the pride that they deserve and it just raises everyone to a whole new level. This community is going to continue to thrive and I know that because this community comes together around all of your athletes, so you’re going to see a lot of great things continue to come.”

Jones graduated from MHS in 1991, where she was a Kaiser Award winner and participated in volleyball, basketball and track. As a member of the basketball team, she was an All-Conference team member in her junior and senior seasons and lead the team in points and rebounds in her final year. On the volleyball court, Jones was a three-time All-Conference team member and helped the Tigers go 80-14 in three years and reach the 1990 state tournament where they won the consolation championship. She was also an All-State selection and played in the Minnesota Volleyball Coaches All-Star game after her senior season.

Jones then went on to play volleyball at Missouri State, where she helped the Bears win two Missouri Valley Conference Championships and advance to the NCAA tournament and was an Academic All-Conference selection.

During her speech, Jones used a slideshow that presented her upbringing and memories as a player, coach and parent and talked about how sports bring a lot of unique opportunities and have taught her a lot of lessons that helped prepare her for any challenges that life presents.

“All of the people that have inspired me showed me how to work. It was so simple; work with purpose, set goals, mix in some fun and good things will happen. But with sports, the highs are often met with the lows. Playing a college sports is both demanding and rewarding. At the same time, I was challenged both physically and mentally beyond what I was capable of,” Jones said. “As I reflect back on college volleyball, I realize how navigating through those highs and lows really prepared me for the challenges of life ahead. High school sports, though, are uniquely different or at least for me it was. The opportunities to compete and grow all four years surrounded by the same families, friends and community cannot be replicated. It has been an amazing experience for me to be back in Marshall and now see my children have those opportunities.”

Jones continued, “The opportunities that sports can bring to all kids is amazing. I’m so fortunate to be a part of that as an athlete, coach and parent. We all know that the world doesn’t revolve around sports and life brings us many challenges and adventures and along the way, there are more important things than winning and losing a game. But I firmly believe that for me, being in the right place at the right time and the lessons I learned through sports have helped me navigate through anything that life throws my way.”

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