The Stephens Stars recently added Missouri Sports Hall of Famer Melinda Wrye-Washington to their coaching roster as the new Assistant Athletic Director. Let's get to know her a little better!

Introduce yourself, tell us your sports background, and how you got to Stephens College.  

I received my undergrad degree from the University of Missouri & Columbia College while playing intercollegiate volleyball. I got my master’s degree from William Woods University in Athletics Administration.  

I was a three sport all-state basketball, volleyball, and track athlete at Eldon, Missouri. After high school, I played volleyball at the University of Missouri from 1990-1994, while they were in the Big 8. I transferred after a coaching change to Columbia College while finishing my degree program.  

After graduation, I was hired immediately at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri where I was the head women’s volleyball coach, head women’s basketball coach, and senior women’s administrator. We won multiple conference championships, and I led the 1999 women’s volleyball team to be the first team in the history of the college (in any sport) to advance to an NCAA national playoff. I was hired at Columbia College as the women’s head volleyball coach in 2000. During those 19 years my teams were very successful:  

  • Two NAIA national championships 
  • 10 Final-Four appearances 
  • 19 consecutive trips to the national championships  
  • Appeared at the helm in the top 25 ratings in the NAIA each year 

I coached 36 All-Americans, 28 All-American Scholar Athletes, 3 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans, and 2 NAIA/AVCA National players of the year.  

I was also named the NAIA/AVCA National Coach of the Year in 2004 and 2015, as well as the National Tournament Coach of the Year in 2001 and 2015. I have been inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame three times. Once as an individual (athlete and coach) in 2019, and two more team inductions as a player and coach (Eldon Volleyball Program and Columbia College Volleyball Team).  

In 2018, I became the Head Volleyball Coach and Athletic Director at Eldon High School (my high school alma mater). I taught PE, coached, and was an AD for two years. I then became the Senior Director of Program (Sports) for Special Olympics in Missouri in 2021 and spent two years in that role supervising program staff in 6 offices across the state, providing a variety of Olympic style sports to individuals with intellectual disability. Throughout my coaching career, I gathered valuable experience in athletics and leadership.  

When an athletic administration position opened, I heard that Stephens was making a commitment to athletic excellence, and I seized the opportunity.  


Why Stephens?  

I love athletics and the small college atmosphere. Upon hearing about the commitment from the College to pursue excellence in their athletic programming I was intrigued.   


What are you looking forward to this year?  

I am looking forward to learning the rich history of Stephens College, witnessing the upcoming changes on campus, and getting to know the athletes and students.  


What is your motivation or inspiration to work in athletics?  

My inspiration to work in athletics has been my love of sports throughout my entire life.  I am a highly competitive and motivated individual, and I love the pursuit of excellence and success that follows persistent effort. 


Who is your favorite athlete and why?  

Michael Jordan – Michael's desire to win was unmatched.  With talent, work ethic, and competitive attitude he established himself as the GREATEST OF ALL TIME. 


Read more about Melinda. Learn more about Stephens College Athletics.

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