WSCC’s Kragel named to NJCAA Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame
Walters State women’s basketball coach Dave Kragel talks to his team during Friday night’s home game against Columbia State. Kragel has been selected for induction into the NJCAA Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Walters State women’s basketball coach Dave Kragel never approached his job as a way to receive accolades or honors during his now 37-year coaching career.
His main objective has been to better the lives of young women both on and off the basketball court and to make sure they receive an education.
He’s been successful at both, graduating better than 90 percent of his players while compiling an 830-258 record on the floor.
Due to his standout record and lengthy list of accomplishments that include 10 NJCAA National Tournament appearances, seven of which have come since 2005, and a win total that puts him in the top 5 all-time in junior college women’s basketball, Kragel has been selected for induction into the NJCAA Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Kragel said the honor was a humbling one, and a bit of a shock despite his abundant success.
“It was definitely a surprise to get that phone call in November that I was going into the Hall of Fame,” Kragel said. “I was sitting in my office with my wife Sharlene and with (WSCC assistant) coach Jasmin Coleman when they called, and I really didn’t know what to say. It’s a very humbling honor, and I couldn’t have achieved it without the great players that I’ve had the chance to coach in my 37 years here.”
Kragel has led the Lady Senators to new heights since the 2004-05 season when he began a run of now nine straight NJCAA Region VII championship game appearances. WSCC has won seven of those games to advance to the National Tournament in Salina, Kan., and he has placed in the top 9 four times – 9th in 2013, 8th in 1992 and 2005 and 5th in 2009. The 2009 team (33-1) and 2013 team (29-1) amassed the two best records in program history.
Kragel has also coached 17 TCCAA state championship teams, and this year’s team is closing in on another regular season TCCAA crown with a 24-0 record overall and 13-0 mark in league play. The Lady Senators are currently ranked No. 2 in the nation, the highest ranking in program history.
Walters State president Dr. Wade B. McCamey said Kragel was an ideal candidate for the Hall of Fame due to his successful coaching record and his players graduating from both Walters State and also at four-year universities.
“Dave is truly deserving of this honor,” said McCamey. “In addition to being an outstanding coach with one of the most impressive records in the country, around 90 percent of his players complete their two-year degree or transfer to a four-year college or university.”
Current Austin-Peay assistant coach and former Hiwassee and Carson-Newman head coach Dean Walsh, who coached against Kragel while at Hiwassee, called the honor a well-deserved one for one of his mentors.
“This is a very deserving honor for a great coach,” Walsh said. “Dave cares deeply for his players and his family, and this is well deserved for him. I’m glad he is finally getting in.
“We go way back to our days coaching against each other in the JUCO ranks, and he taught me a lot about the game, especially about defense, that has helped me in my coaching career. I couldn’t be happier for him.”
Kragel also thanked the administrative staff he has worked with at Walters State, along with his wife Sharlene, oldest son Alex and his wife Amanda (a former Lady Senators standout), youngest son Ryan and his wife Audra and his now five grandchildren for being his support system for 37 years.
“I really want to thank then Walters State president Dr. Jack Campbell for giving me an opportunity to become a head coach 37 years ago and taking a chance on me,” Kragel said. “Also, I wouldn’t be here without the support of my wife Sharlene, my two boys and my grandkids. They have put up with a lot during my career, but they are my biggest supporters.
“Walters State and Morristown are home to us, and we love it here. This place has been good to us, and to receive an honor such as going into the Hall of Fame really is a blessing.”
-By Matt Daniels, Tribune Sports Editor