Evangel honors memory of Sandra Sorbo with Trees of Honor
October 17, 2016 | Paul K. Logsdon
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The Evangel University Alumni Association will honor the late Sandra Sorbo, the driving force of women’s athletics at Evangel for more than three decades, on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016.
The Trees of Honor ceremony will be held at 11 a.m., during the Homecoming Celebration Luncheon in the University Plaza Convention Center. She will be recognized along with three other members of the Evangel family.
Sorbo joined the faculty at Evangel in 1964, taught physical education there for 35 years and served 16 years as department chair.
She is quoted as saying that she got started in coaching, “to provide women the opportunity to continue and improve their sport skills and to have an opportunity to use those skills in an organized, recognized format.”
Trees of Honor
The Trees of Honor project began as an idea formed by a small group of graduates from the early 1960s and took root following Springfield’s great ice storm of 2007. The idea was to help replace lost trees and restore the natural beauty of the campus.
Trees have been planted on Evangel’s campus in acknowledgement of the legacy of service each of the recipients has provided to the university. An engraved bronze plaque is placed at the base of each tree as a permanent tribute to the person being honored.
A pioneer for women’s sports
There was a time when every one of the female athletes at Evangel was coached or taught by Sandra Sorbo, because she coached every sport. In the process, she was part of setting the future for the Athletics Department, even paying for transportation in order for students to participate in tournaments.
“Sandra pioneered athletics for women at Evangel well before Title IX came into existence,” said Dr. David Stair, recently retired director of athletics for Evangel. “As women’s sports were added, she took on the responsibility of coaching each of them. This was in addition to teaching a full academic load!”
She knew the rules of volleyball, basketball, tennis, softball, track, and field hockey . . . and she knew how to connect with the students to both motivate and inspire. Her wry sense of humor must have come in handy with so many competitive women passing through her classes!
It was also said that her goal as a teacher was for her students to do the best job possible, so that the world would realize that Christians can be knowledgeable, well-qualified and professional.
Sorbo received many awards during her lifetime, including the Delta Sigma 25-year Educator Award, The Teacher of Wisdom Award, and the Distinguished Service Award from Evangel in 1996. She was also inducted into Evangel’s Athletic Hall of Fame, and later given the designation of professor emeritus.
Her work extended into the community, where she was active with the Easter Seal Camp, served the American Red Cross as a first aid and CPR instructor, and was a National Federation volleyball official.
“Sandra and Doc Pearson were the foundation upon which today’s Kinesiology and Athletics Departments were built,” said Stair. Sorbo lived with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis for 30 years and died in 2012.
Additional Trees of Honor award recipients for 2016 include:
- Dr. Terry Bleek, former professor of New Testament, Greek and Biblical Theology at CBC and EU.
- Dorothea Lotter, the longest serving employee in the history of AGTS.
- Dr. Joe Nicholson, visionary educator and former chair of the Department of Music.
For more information, contact the Evangel University Alumni Relations Department at (417) 865-2811, ext. 7333.