Former Pittsburg State basketball player and former Girard head girls basketball coach Sunny (York) Pierce will be enshrined in the Columbus Sports Hall of Fame today at the Columbus Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet.

Former Pittsburg State basketball player and former Girard head girls basketball coach Sunny (York) Pierce will be enshrined in the Columbus Sports Hall of Fame today at the Columbus Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet.

"Being selected to the Columbus Sports Hall of Fame was a big surprise to me," Pierce said, "especially since I only competed as an athlete my senior year of high school. I am very humbled by the selection because I have realized that it is not so much a reflection of anything I have done, yet it is a reflection of the wonderful opportunity Columbus High School and the community afforded me and other girls like me."

Pierce found herself in the first wave of young women benefiting from Title IX, the landmark 1972 law banning discrimination against students or employees in public schools on the basis of sex.

Columbus started a girls basketball team in 1975-1976 and Pierce quickly made her mark during her only high school basketball season, earning All-State recognition from the Wichita Eagle.

She moved onto a stellar collegiate basketball career at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M and Pitt State, where her name and numbers can still be found in the record books after playing 39 games over two seasons.
For example, she owns the second-highest career scoring average in school history (17.3 points per game) and her 39 points against Fort Hays State are the most in school history.

After receiving word of the Columbus Sports Hall of Fame nod, Pierce started pondering what if she never had that one high school basketball season.

"It is quite overwhelming to realize that the decision by (the Columbus) school board, administration, and community to have a girls basketball program that year would allow me to 'live out' many of my passions and dreams," Pierce said. "If they would have started the program a year later, most likely, I would not have had the opportunity to do the many things which have brought so much joy and purpose to my life."

She began coaching girls basketball at Girard in 1980 and her tenure ended after the 2005-2006 season. Girard won over 300 games during this span and Brenda Rose, Amanda Davied, Morgan High, (her daughter) Nikki Pierce and Marissa Poppe scored over 1,000 points during their careers. Sunny Pierce still teaches physical education at Girard High School.

Pierce expressed appreciation for being able to continue to pass on athletics, gifts that were passed onto her and gifts that younger coaches who played for her pass on, like Amanda Davied at Pitt State and Lori Murphy at Northeast High School.

"Looking back on my high school experience, I value the education I received and the relationships that were built," Pierce said. "I remember the people who encouraged me and provided opportunities. I remember my teammates and Coach Sarwinski. I remember a teammate earning a spot in a free throw contest at the substate tournament and telling Coach to let me be the one to compete in her place because she knew how much it meant to me."

Pierce called herself a "tomboy" and said that she learned athletics through her brothers and their friends, as well as her mother who taught her how to walk on her hands, stand on her head and do cartwheels.