To be honest, I really don't know Cindy Stein. I really don't cover the women's basketball team at Mizzou. I attend a couple of games a year, but that's it.
I know the Tigers' women's basketball team struggled in recent years in the Big 12 standings. And so, after 12 years as the women's head basketball coach at Mizzou, Cindy is deciding to step down from that job at the end of this season.
Here's what I do know about Cindy Stein. Whenever I see her around Columbia, she has a smile on her face. Whenever she is on campus, there it is, that smile.
I've never heard a bad word said about Cindy Stein. That's saying something. In a small town like Columbia that is wrapped up in Tiger sports teams, coaches get talked about. Sometimes that talk is critical and unflattering. But, I can honestly say, I have not heard a bad or unflattering word about Cindy Stein.
Instead, I would hear people say things like, "Cindy is such a great person. I sure wish her team's record was better. She deserves it."
As I said, I see a couple of Mizzou women's basketball games every year. In every one of those games, Cindy's teams played hard. The players gave their all. There was no shortage of effort, just a shortage of wins.
In recent years her teams had numerous near upsets against some of the top teams in the country - the Big 12's elite teams. This season I watched the women beat 10th-ranked Baylor and their star 6-foot-8-inch center Brittney Griner. What a great game that was!
Not only did I see Cindy's players play hard, I saw them play with joy. These gals had fun playing for coach Stein. And, while the players played with enthusiasm and joy, their coach showed that same enthusiasm on the bench. It was fun to watch.
I'm not sure why the Mizzou women's basketball team has been toward the bottom of the Big 12 standings in the last few years. As I said, I don't cover the team that much. One thing I do know, it sure wasn't for lack of effort.
Don't tell me Cindy didn't turn out winners. Her players played hard. They went to class. They did well in the classroom. They graduated. Her players represented the University of Missouri with class. Many of those players have now gone on to be top flight citizens of our country. Those are winners in my book.
Remember I said I never heard anyone say a bad word about Cindy. Well, I never heard Cindy say a bad word about anyone else. She never complained. She never said a bad word about the University. She didn't make excuses. When her team suffered a tough loss, there were no sour grapes. Cindy represented the University of Missouri with class.
Mizzou will hire a new women's head basketball coach. We hope the new coach does well. We hope the new coach wins more games than Cindy.
But, the new coach will have hard time matching the class, character and dignity that Cindy Stein displayed for 12 years as Mizzou's women's head basketball coach. She leaves big shoes to fill.
I said I never heard anyone say a bad word about Cindy Stein. As she leaves the University of Missouri, this Mizzou alum has only two words to say to her.
This column, written by Todd Donaho, was published in the March 3 edition of the Missouri Official Sports Report. To subscribe, visit http://www.officialsportsreport.com/infostore/ca.cart.asp?sAction=DisplayList&id=241.