Former Eastern Illinois basketball and softball star Nancy Kassebaum will add another Hall of Fame honor to her athletic career as she will be inducted into the St. Louis tonight (May 16).
Kassebaum was an EIU All-American selection in basketball and softball in the early 1980s. Her women’s basketball number No. 13 retired after graduating as a school career leader.
Below is the article on Kassebaum as part of his induction into the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame – St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame website
Nancy Kassebaum Metcalf is the daughter of Ralph (who died in 1999) and Carole Kassebaum. Nancy grew up playing sports with her brothers (Andy, Danny and David), many cousins and neighborhood friends, in her hometown of Belleville, Illinois. Kassebaum’s backyard, driveway or garage provided most of the early grooming of skill and competitiveness, with Mom and Dad taking center stage. In this small garage for one car, the KBA (Kassebaum Basketball Association) began. Radio station WIBV received occasional calls with match results.
The East Belleville ball diamonds and playgrounds continued to provide the practice grounds for its development. The competition included his older brother Andy’s friends and teammates. Andy was very proud of his sister and took her everywhere when the situation allowed. Many sodas were won in the Belleville Area College (now SWIC) intramural gymnasium when Andy and Nancy were challenging anyone to a 2-on-2 basketball game.
At Belleville East HS, Nancy earned 9 letters in sports: basketball (4), tennis (3), track and field (1), softball (1). Nancy’s freshman year was the first year of the basketball program at BTHSE, and her senior year was the first year of the softball program. Forty years later, she still holds 3 records in the Lancer basketball record books: most shots scored in a season (252), most shots scored in a single game (21) and most points in a single game (45). Additionally, Nancy is in 2nd place in career points scored (1,342)
Never having played tennis in his life, the late coach Bill Duhadway saw Nancy in a physical education class and turned her into a player who went to state competing in doubles her junior and senior years. . Additionally, at age 15, Kassebaum was introduced to the Whiz Kids softball team, led by George Renner III. This team became legendary, traveling all over the country, dominating their competition most of the time. Nancy played for the Whiz Kids for 16 years.
Nancy has received approximately 80 college solicitations for her athletic talents. Eastern Illinois University has earned his trust. Nancy’s four-year career in basketball and softball is marked by numerous records, many of which still stand. In basketball, his 683 career assists and 479 steals are still school records. His all-time high of 1,807 basketball points during his career from 1980 to 1983 was only broken in 2009. Deanna D’Abbraccio, former EIU head softball coach/assistant basketball coach, boasted, “To say that Nancy Kassebaum was an exceptional student-athlete at Eastern Illinois University is an understatement. No athlete has had a greater impact on a women’s track and field program than Nancy. His athletic and academic sense is celebrated in honors and awards. It was a pleasure to see her play on the ground, make double plays and shoot jump shots! Humble, calm, intelligent, intense and competitive, Nancy was the ultimate teammate who made everyone around her better, including her coaches. One in a million!”
In 1990, Kassebaum was the first female athlete inducted into the EIU Hall of Fame. In 1995, a statue was commissioned by the late Dr. Glenn Williams and Joan Williams of Nancy recognizing the values, commitment, excellence and integrity Nancy demonstrated as a student- athlete at the EIU. Her No. 13 jersey was retired in 2005 and she is recognized as one of the 10 most impactful female athletes in EIU athletics.
Honored as a 3-time Academic All-American, Kassebaum’s success in the classroom is her greatest achievement. As a graduate assistant for the EIU women’s basketball team, she helped student-athletes develop strategies and techniques to stay disciplined and focused, both on the court and in the classroom.
After college, Nancy continued to excel in her professional career. In 1991, she was recruited to develop and manage the cardiopulmonary rehabilitation service at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Belleville, IL. She continued until 2000 when she was recruited by Dr. Morris Kugler for a breast cancer research project as a clinical research assistant with the National Cancer Institute ACOSOG Z10 and Z11 studies. This came to fruition in the development of the Belleville Breast Center where the lives of so many people, especially women, have been touched. Currently employed at Sparta Community Hospital, Nancy is involved in the inaugural dispatch of a mobile medical clinic that provides medical services to underserved rural communities in Southern Illinois.
Kassebaum continues to be involved in the community. She is an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion and responsible for the Rosary at St. Agatha/St. Joseph Parish and volunteers for the American Red Cross, Belleville Humane Society and Freeburg Animal Hospital.
Nancy has been married to her husband Al for 24 years and is blessed with two daughters-in-law and their families: Amy and Keith, grandchildren, Mitchell and Stella; Jamie and Ed, grandson, Ryan. Besides her brothers, other family members include her sister-in-law Marchelle and Ise, her nephew Andrew (Caitlin), along with her grandnephews Jakob and Lukas; niece Amy (Eamon) with grand-nephew Liam; nieces Ellie and Emma and nephew William; and stepfather Raymond. Also, Mother Carole, who continues to be the driving force behind TEAM Kassebaum.
Quotes from Kassebaum:
A good memory of HS: BB works out at 6 a.m. in a cold gym while trainer Jim McHaney cranks up some upbeat music. After a victory, the Queen’s – “We are the rising champions.”
Hi-lite College: Finishing 2nd nationally in softball in 1982.
Role models: My older brother, Andy. I idolized him. My auxiliary role models were Mother Teresa, Eleanor Roosevelt and Coach John Wooden.