Park University has announced its sixth class of honorees for the Park Athletics Wall of Honor and Kansas Wesleyan Director of Athletics Steve Wilson has been for induction in the 2021 class.
The induction will be held on Saturday, January 8 in between Park’s basketball games against Mount Mercy University at the Breckon Sports Center at Park’s flagship campus in Parkville, Mo.
Wilson will be inducted along with former Pirate softball coach Amy Reif.
Steve Wilson — Athletics Administrator
The multifaceted Wilson is the prototypical small college administrator, who went above and beyond throughout his 12-year career with Park University.
Wilson began his career at Park as the sports information director where he set the groundwork for the Pirates utilization of social media when it was first in its early stages. Between 2009 and 2012, Park Athletics experienced the development of its own Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram accounts.
He was also the author behind the formation of the Pirates Sports Network, which became the one-stop for all Park Athletics live broadcasts. His commitment to Park University student-athletes drew national attention as he was selected as the 2013 NAIA Clarence “Ike” Pearson Award recipient. This is the highest award the NAIA grants annually to sports information directors, honoring outstanding contributions to the profession.
In 2013, besides earning a Master of Public Administration degree from Park, Wilson was promoted to assistant director of athletics for sports communications and became the women’s golf head coach. He spent four years at the helm of the women’s golf program, overseeing nine Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete awardees, three American Midwest Conference All-Conference honorees and one AMC Newcomer of the Year in that span. One player he coached, Makenzie Shivers, was a two-time College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-District Athlete (2016 and 2017) and CoSIDA Academic All-American in 2017. Shivers set Park’s individual single-season scoring record with a 79.1 stroke average during the 2016-17 year and the squad set a school record for team scoring average that same season, Wilson’s final as coach.
In spring 2017, Wilson’s role was elevated to associate director of athletics for media relations and compliance, where he added responsibility of administering eligibility and rules education for the University’s varsity and developmental (junior varsity) programs. He also played a role in the facility upgrades at Park, including the creation of a press box for Comfort Field, the home of the Pirates baseball team.
In August 2018, Wilson transitioned to become the inaugural athletic director at Park University’s Gilbert (Ariz.) Campus. He was tasked with building 15 athletic programs from scratch and was instrumental in the branding of the Buccaneers teams.
Wilson’s commitment to the Pirates and Buccaneers athletic programs is demonstrated in the words of one of his peers — “I worked closely with Steve, and I can honestly say that there is no one more proud of Park University than Steve Wilson.”
Since October 2019, Wilson has been the director of athletics at Kansas Wesleyan University in his hometown of Salina, Kan. In his two years leading the athletic programs at KWU, the Coyotes have won the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference Commissioner’s Cup in back-to-back years and five KCAC championships.
Amy Reif — Softball Head Coach
Reif was the chief contributor in Park University’s softball program history from 2006-15. In 10 seasons at the helm, she became Park softball’s all-time winningest head coach with a 268-169 record.
She initiated a winning culture while cultivating a family atmosphere within her teams. In her third season, Reif was named the Midwest Collegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year after guiding Park to its first MCAC regular season championship.
There were other program firsts under Reif’s leadership, including the Pirates’ first two NAIA national tournament appearances in 2009 and 2013. Both times, Park advanced to the NAIA Softball National Championship Opening Round.
The Pirates achieved its first-ever national ranking in 2013, as Park landed at No. 20 in the final NAIA Softball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll. The next year, Park set a new single-season record for victories with a 37-11 record, surpassing the previous wins record set in 2012 (33-16). From 2012 through 2014, Reif’s softball teams garnered three straight seasons of 30 or more wins.
Beyond wins and achievements, Reif is known for the profound effect she has on people. As one former student-athlete expressed, “Amy’s ability to build relationships with her student-athletes sets her apart from the rest…I always felt welcomed, cared for and challenged while at Park.”
A former colleague added, “She had the best softball mind I have ever been around. Her knowledge of the fundamentals combined with her feel for the game made Amy a great practice and game coach,” while also being “a great role model for young women in today’s world.”
Reif, a Kansas City, Kan., native, has since returned to her alma mater, Auburn University, where she has been the director of soccer operations for the Tigers women’s soccer program since 2018. Reif earned a bachelor’s degree from Auburn in 1998 and a master’s degree in 2000. She also served as a softball assistant coach at Auburn from 2000-04.
Started in 2015, Park University’s Athletics Wall of Honor includes 34 individuals/teams whose accomplishments have brought prestige and honor to the athletic department. All Wall of Honor nominees must be outstanding individuals with fine leadership qualities and must be held in high esteem by their colleagues, coaches and athletes.