The People's Tribune

Clopton Grad Named To Coaching Hall Of Fame

Nothing good comes easily and never stop learning.
Those principles have guided Steve Frank for almost 40 years as a successful basketball player and coach. The 1985 Clopton High School graduate recently was inducted into the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame – a fitting tribute to a career that will soon be scaled back a bit.
“This was such a special feeling as a coach to receive such an honor, solidifying all the long hours and mentally draining days you put in as a coach,” said Frank, who turns 52 this year. “I have coached for 28 years, and have enjoyed and loved every moment of it. The relationships you build along the way are priceless, and getting to watch young people grow and become successful young adults I have taught and coached are why I love my job.”
Great start
Frank’s talent was apparent from the moment he picked up a ball.
But he also showed a lot of smarts in absorbing the lessons of those around him. His father, Bob, was a winning Clopton coach, and his mother, Linda, was the rock he could count on.
“My father was a no-nonsense person,” Frank recalls. “It was all about working hard and never being complacent. There was always something to work on to keep getting better. My parents were my backbone and helped lay the cornerstones not only in coaching, but how to be a good father and husband. They taught me hard work, to treat everyone with respect and always remain humble.”
Bob Frank said his son knew the value of hard work early on.
“He started driving a hay truck when he was too little to reach the pedals,” Bob said. “He steered on his knees in the seat and would slide under the steering wheel to push the clutch and brake. Then, he would jump back up to see to steer. He continued baling and hauling hay to help with his college expenses.”
Linda Frank admires her son for his unselfishness, faith, fortitude and compassion.
“As a toddler, he fought for his life as he battled through encephalitis,” she said. “Then, he met the struggles of ‘growing up,’ of school and came to the aid of his grandparents, his sister and his parents through many challenges of life. In the midst of his responsibilities, he could always be counted on to be beside whoever needed him. I’m thankful that Steve has been blessed with many people who have had a loving, positive influence in his life, and that he has had opportunities to share that with many others. As a mother, I am so thankful to see him living his life as a loving, respected husband, father, son and brother, along with selflessly giving so much of himself for others.”
Frank had the fortune to play for legendary Clopton basketball guru Dale Miller, who was inducted into Hall of Fame in 2014. The Hawks finished second in the state in 1983 and 1984, and took third in 1985.
“As a player, Steve was the nucleus of our teams in 1984 and 1985,” Miller recalls. “Almost as important to our success as his talent was his outstanding work ethic and dedication to the game. He made all of his teammates better. As a coach, the past four years at Strafford speak for itseslf. You can’t write a better story”
Miller is particularly impressed with Frank’s “ability to teach the value of hard work and dedication to the game” while instilling a sense of honor.
“It is easy to display good sportsmanship and teamwork when you always win,” he said. “Not all teams do that! Steve was humble; he gave his team all the credit. He respected his opponents and set the example for great sportsmanship for his teams, school and community.”
The state tournaments were a big deal for a small, rural school such as Clopton. Frank says Miller “was an inspiration for me, and I modeled a lot of my coaching philosophy after him.” The memories will “last a lifetime, and I would use these years playing on these great teams as a basis in my coaching career.”
Frank spent two years playing for Steve Tapmeyer at East Central Community College in Union before finishing at College of the Ozarks in Branson under Al Waller, who retired in 2015 after working at the college for 37 years.
“Coach Waller had a huge influence on me and my coaching career,” he said. “I served as his student assistant for two years as I finished up my classes. During this time, I really grew and matured in my philosophy and mindset.”
Though he played for the Bobcats only two years, Frank finished fifth overall in rebounding and sixth in all-time scoring. He still has the highest shooting percentage for a season at 69 percent and is second in free throw percentage at 88 percent. An induction into the College of the Ozarks Hall of Fame came in 2007.
Silex and beyond
The first nine years of Frank’s coaching career were with boys’ teams at Hollister and Silex.
He guided the Owls to the Lincoln County school’s first boys district championship. In 1999, Frank switched gears and began coaching girls at Conway High School. He also did a stint at Seymour before arriving at Strafford, a town of more than 2,300 residents along Interstate 44 just outside of Springfield.
The Lady Indians won four consecutive state Class 3 championships from 2016 to 2019. Frank and his wife, Mona, got to watch their twin daughters, Hayley and Kayley, as part of those teams.
“Being able to experience and share these last four years with my kids and to win four straight state championships with them at my side was a Dad’s dream,” he said. “I would not trade the time spent with my daughters for the world. They have compiled a 129-3 career record over their four years in high school, and we are on a current state record winning streak of 115 games straight to this point. They have finished the last two seasons ranked in the top 25 in the Nation USA Team Polls, finishing this year at 13th in the nation in the final poll. That makes you very proud as a father and coach.”
Frank’s overall career record is 533 wins and 179 losses. Other accolades include coaching 14 collegiate players, a two-time Gatorade Player of the Year, a three-time Max Preps All American, a Wendy’s Missouri Heisman Player of the Year, 14 district championships, 61 all-district players and 12 all-state players. He was named Missouri Class 3 Coach of the Year in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019, and received the National Federation of State High School Associations 2017-2018 Midwest Section Coach of the Year covering six states.
“Since he started coaching, I’ve observed his work ethic grow stronger as he has spent many extra hours beyond practicing and preparing his team by watching films, games and opponents, then developing strategies to meet the challenges,” Bob Frank said. “Steve always seems to know and take care of whatever needs to be done on and off the court. His success has resulted from hard work and perseverance, and many long days beyond regular hours doing all he felt able to do to be successful.”
The honors are appreciated, but Frank finds his greatest pleasure in passing along the fundamentals of the game.
“Other than losing, the toughest thing about coaching is getting the kids to understand the short window of time they have to be the best they can possibly be in sports and school,” he said. “At a young age, many get caught up in things that keep them from excelling and meeting their full potential. It’s always years later when they realize the opportunity they had and always come back and say ‘Coach, you were so right. I wish I would have listened to you then.’”
The gratification of knowing he has passed along the traits of discipline, tenacity and teamwork in making a difference is a reward in itself.
“Besides winning, this is one of the most satisfying things as a coach you can get,” Frank said. “It reinforces everything you teach and stand for as a coach.”
Frank plans to continue teaching and coaching fall and spring sports at Strafford. But he’s hanging up his basketball coach’s whistle to watch his girls play college ball. Hayley is going to the University of Missouri and is already talking about a coaching career. Kayley will attend her Dad’s alma mater, College of the Ozarks, but is undecided on a major.
“I’m looking forward to watching them as they move forward into the next phase of life,” he said.
As the ball bounces
Once the girls graduate, Frank is leaving his options open.
Given his winning record, that’s something which should strike fear into every other coach across Missouri.
“I will re-evaluate my situation and decide if I want to go back into coaching basketball again or retire all together,” Frank said. “Whatever the case may be, I have had a great career and worked with a lot of great people. I couldn’t have had a more fulfilling career.”
Note: Others from Clopton in the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame include Ed Lindsay (2006), Ryan Shaw (2017) and Bob Wilhoit (1993).

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