2010 Joplin Area Sports Hall class includes Corn

The 2010 class of the Joplin Area Sports Hall of Fame will include one of Missouri Southern’s own.

The Joplin Sports Authority announced last Wednesday that men’s basketball Head Coach Robert Corn is to be inducted into the hall alongside the Parkwood High School Bears 1980 football team, including Joplin product Jeff Tupper who played collegiately for the Oklahoma University Sooners, winning a National Championship there before being drafted into the NFL. Also to be honored is former women’s basketball star at Joplin High School, Treva Christian.

“It’s a big honor and it’s one I’m very appreciative of and I’m very humbled to receive,” Corn said.  “Anytime something like this happens, there’s a lot of people who’ve had a huge impact on making it develop and making it happen and obviously my family has been a big part of it.

“I’ve had some very good assistant coaches who have had a very big part it, some really good players which obviously had a big impact.

“I’ve been fortunate that I’ve had some really good mentors in my life that have had a huge impact on it and the Lionbackers have always been very supportive of what we’re trying to do here.”

Corn has now been at the helm of Missouri Southern’s men’s basketball program for 21 years, all after graduating as a Lion in 1978.

Corn was a player in the program for the last two years of his college career before beginning his coaching career. 

In his two decade-plus tenure at Southern, Corn has led the Lions to 17 berths in the MIAA Championship Tournament, including a current string of 12 straight.

Corn has won 327 games in his career, good for an average of almost 16 wins per season.

Tupper, a defensive lineman in his career, is widely considered as one of the top athletes to come out of the Joplin area.

As is common for young athletes, his dream was to reach the NFL and have a career as a professional football player. After winning an Orange Bowl as a Sooner, Tupper played for the Kansas City Chiefs as well as the Denver Broncos is his career.

His most notable memory of playing football comes from his days as a Bronco.

“I was actually with the Broncos when Jacob [his oldest son] was born,” he said. “And I flew back for his birth and then flew back to Denver for a Monday night game against the [Oakland] Raiders and ended up being the defensive player of the game for the Broncos and winning the game ball so this is right there with them [his career achievements] there’s no question about it because this is a recognition of a group of people in Joplin that, a lot of those guys on that committee and a lot of those people on that committee experienced that timeframe.

“Some of them may have been younger, some may have been older, but there was such excitement in Joplin at that time for that team and what we were in the midst of accomplishing.”

Part of the accomplishment was a string of 25 games in which Parkwood’s defense allowed only four teams to score against them, shutting out 21 teams in the process between the 1979 and 1980 seasons.

Corn said while he is honored with his induction, he has no plans on retiring from the game he loves anytime soon.

“The fire is still burning,” he said. “And as long as that fire is still burning and as long as you still have fun doing what you do you want to continue doing it as long as you can.”

The induction ceremony for the 2010 class will be held on May 14 at Granny Shaeffer’s. Persons interested may contact the Joplin Sports Authority at (417) 625-1006, tickets will be sold for $15 each.