Monett raises the curtain on a new Hall of Fame class

The Monett school district will induct five new members into the Athletics Hall of Fame in September.

The Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2022 inductees include Jack Fox (athlete), Martin Essary (athlete), Alexia Johnson (athlete), Melinda (Cox) Meredith (athlete), Dave Beckett (contributor), and Burl Fowler (coach).

This is the second Athletics Hall of Fame in the history of Monett schools. In 2019, Daryl Bradley, athletic director, and Michael Calhoun, assistant athletic director, formed a plan to start the Hall, which aims to recognize and honor athletes, coaches, and contributors. Once the Monett School Board approved the Monett Athletics Hall of Fame, a committee of school officials and community members was established.

According to a press release, the Monett school district is honored and thrilled to recognize the individuals for the prestigious honor.

Martin Essary Essary graduated in the

Essary graduated in the Monett Class of 1977. He was a high school four-time letterman in wrestling. In 1974, Essary claimed Monett’s first individual state championship and finished 4th as a team.

He was also Monett’s first three-time State Champion; 1975 at 98 pounds, 1976 at 105 pounds, and 1977 at 105 pounds.

He hit a career record of 91-8-1 and was part of the 1977 third place State Team in Class A.

“Goals are great to strive for, but friends will help you succeed in sports and in life,” Essary said.

Jack Fox

Fox graduated from Monett in the Class of 1951. He lettered in football and basketball all four years of high school. Fox was also a tennis player and a distinguished athlete.

During his senior year, he won the Big 8 Singles Championship. His team was also one of three high school teams to be undefeated (10-0) conference championship, including wins over Springfield and Jefferson City. At the end of his senior year, Fox was selected as a High School All-American. He was also invited to a High School All-American game in Oklahoma.

Fox attended the University of Missouri from 1951-1955. He played football and started in his first game as a freshman. Later, he started games in all four years, playing both ways as a halfback and defensive back. At the end of his college career, he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Upon careful consideration, he decided to join the military and become a fighter pilot.

Upon returning to Monett after serving in the military, Fox later started the first Monett Pee-Wee Football team and directed it for several years. He was an instrumental member of the Monett School Board in 1968 when the Burl Fowler football stadium was approved and built. He recently served on the committee to raise funds to place artificial turf on Burl Fowler Stadium. He and his wife made a generous donation towards this effort.

Fox believes that sports created many life-changing opportunities that he wouldn’t have had if it weren’t for those programs, coaches, and teammates, which turned into lifelong friends.

“I would like to thank the selection committee as well as the people who nominated me,” he said. “Very gratifying to be awarded this honor.”

Alexia Johnson

Johnson graduated in the Monett Class of 1994. Shortly after she started high school, she immediately signed up to play volleyball, basketball and track. She continued playing these three sports until her senior year.

In volleyball, Johnson earned three athletic letters, two All-Conference titles, one district title, and one All-State designation.

In basketball, she earned three athletic letters, three All-Conference honors, two district titles and one All-State honor.

In track, she earned three athletic letters, a Conference discus title, a District Champ title, and second place in the state for shot put.

After graduating from Monett, she went to Rockhurst University and played volleyball and basketball.

“It is a great honor and a privilege to be inducted into the 2022 Athletics Hall of Fame,” Johnson said. “The memories created during my time spent as a Cub will forever be ingrained in my mind.”

Melinda (Cox) Meredith Meredith is a Monett alum

Meredith is a Monett alumnus who graduated in the Class of 1990. She was a four-year letterman in both basketball and volleyball, earning All-Conference title and All-District honors, and she was the first Monett volleyball All-State player.

Meredith holds several records in both sports. Her team accomplishments include a conference title, district title, and fourth-place finish at state.

“I am humbled and honored to be inducted into the 2022 Monett Athletics Hall of Fame,” she said. “Each sport I participated in was a team sport, and I graciously share this honor with my amazing teammates and coaches. Representing the Monett Lady Cubs athletic programs has always been a privilege. I am grateful for this honor.”

Dave Beckett

Beckett graduated from Monett in the Class of 1970. His broadcasting career as a color analyst for Monett High School sporting events spans over five decades.

He began broadcasting for Monett in 1983. His early highlights included being behind the microphone at the Hearnes Center in Columbia broadcasting the Monett Lady Cubs basketball games at Show Me Showdown in 1984, 1985, and 1986.

Beckett was also a color analyst on the radio when Monett resumed playing baseball in the spring of 1988 and the start of the girl’s softball program in 1998. Beckett has been a color analyst with play-by-play broadcaster Mike McClure since 1985. When McClure Broadcasting, LLC was started in 2009, Beckett remained with his longtime broadcasting partner.

His recent broadcasting highlights include the 2016 football season when the Cubs won their third state title in school history, and the following year the Monett softball program won their first state title in school history in October 2017. Beckett was also a Monett School Board member for 13 years, proudly serving the school district of his alma mater.

“The Monett R-1 School District has always been a special place for me,” he said. “I am honored to be nominated and inducted into the Monett Athletics Hall of Fame.”

Burl Fowler

Fowler was Monett’s head football, track and wrestling coach from 1967-1974. During his tenure at Monett, the 1971 football team won the Big 10 Conference Championship and Class 2A State Football Championship with a perfect 12-0 undefeated season.

The Monett Football team improved immensely under his leadership. In the decade that preceded Fowler’s arrival at Monett, the Cubs posted a 33-62-8 mark and only had two winning seasons. During Fowler’s eight-year reign, Monett went 59-22, winning 72.8 percent of their games, including the

1971 State title, cruising to a 37-8 victory over South Shelby.

Fowler understood the importance of multiple sports participation and made it a requirement for his athletes. He saw the need to bring in new athletic programs to Monett. He convinced the Monett administration at the time to start the wrestling program in Monett.

Fowler was inducted into the Missouri Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in February 1999. His son, Doug Fowler, will be receiving the Monett Athletics Hall of Fame plaque and ring in his father’s name.

The Hall of Fame Class of 2022 will be recognized with a celebratory dinner in the fall. The inductees will receive a plaque and a ring for their accomplishments during halftime at the Monett home football game on Sept. 23.

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