The worst thing about attending Kansas City Kansas Community College for Stephanie Brown was that she had to leave after two years.
“I always tell everyone that if KCKCC had been a four-year school, I definitely would have stayed,” said Brown, who will return to the college Saturday, Feb. 23, to be inducted into the KCKCC Sports Hall of Fame in ceremonies to be held between games of KCKCC’s doubleheader with Labette that starts at 6 p.m. She’ll be joined by Olympian Dinsdale Morgan, baseball coach Steve Burleson and the 1976 World Series baseball team.
Brown said selecting KCKCC after earning second team all-state honors at Park Hill High School was one of her best decisions – along with playing for coach Valerie Scott (now Valerie Stambersky).
“I liked what coach Scott had to offer,” Brown said of her choice of KCKCC. “That definitely had an impact and being able to stay close to home. But once I started going to KCKCC, I wanted to stay in the area rather than drive back and forth to Missouri.”
Although she didn’t see it coming, Brown was a freshman sensation, leading the Jayhawk Conference in both scoring (22.4) and rebounding (11.7) and sweeping every possible conference honor – Freshman of the Year, Player of the Year, first team All-Jayhawk and All-Region VI and NJCAA Division I All-America honorable mention. Here 22.4-point scoring average was sixth best in the nation and she was chosen NJCAA Athlete of the Week.
“I didn’t think my freshman year would ever turn out like that,” Brown said. And it might not had it not been for a particularly hard practice.
“One day during a frustrating freshman practice, coach told me not to give up and keep working hard and that I would soon be able to write my own ticket to which ever college I chose,” she vividly remembered. “Thanks to her pushing me to work harder and harder every day and her words of encouragement, I was able to choose from several universities.
“I also remember questioning one day, ‘Why do we have to do this (work out so hard)? Coach said that she was getting us ready for the next level and that’s exactly what she did. She worked me 10 times harder than what I ever expected. There were times that I would struggle to sit on my bed after workouts with her and trainer Rodney Christensen.”
Averaging 21.2 points and 10.6 rebounds as a sophomore, she was again All-Jayhawk and All Region VI and earned Kodak All-America honorable mention. Today, Brown’s name can be found throughout the KCKCC record book – second most points in a career (21.7 average), third and fifth in points in a season, first in field goals in a game (19 twice) , fourth (.537) and sixth (.525) in field goal accuracy, second in career rebounds and second and third in most rebounds in a season.
Honored in pre-game ceremonies for becoming only the fourth player to score 1,000 points on Jan, 22, 2005, several of her future UMKC teammates were on hand and she didn’t disappoint, scoring a career high 37 points on 13-of-19 shooting and adding 10 rebounds in an 82-54 win over Allen County.
“Without a doubt, she’s the best player I’ve ever coached,” said Stambersky, who was first contacted by Brown although she was being recruited by just about every Jayhawk member. “She had an extremely high skill level to start with but was very coachable on things that made her better and applied them. Her numbers in the conference were phenomenal. She was also a model citizen and student athlete and understood what was expected of her and played the part to a T.”
Because it was also close to home, Brown chose UMKC over several other offers and again, she didn’t disappoint, leading the Kangaroos in rebounding (8.9) and finishing second in scoring (12.5). She also set UMKC records in rebounding, field goal percentage (.529) and free throw percentage and attempts. Selected Player of the Week multiple times, she was Newcomer of the Year, first team all-conference and team captain both as a junior and senior. Off the court, she won the Circle of Champions Award for being the best overall female athlete in all sports and the Jim and Sally Job Award as the most promising female student athlete, both in 2005-06.
Her final season, Brown finished second in UMKC scoring (9.4), rebounding (6.7) and field goal percentage (486.) playing against the likes of Kansas, Kansas State, Wichita State, Arkansas, Oklahoma State, Tulsa, Drake and Boston University.
“I had an opportunity to play overseas in China but I decided it was time to pursue my career,” said Brown, who graduated with a degree in liberal arts and criminal justice. Today, she’s a case worker for Ozanam, a residential facility in Kansas City, Mo., where she works with young people between the ages of 12 and 18 with behavioral issues, neglect and parents not in the home helping the transition them back into homes and the community.
Six months pregnant with her child, she’ll be making grandparents out of her biggest fans, her mother and stepfather, Bobette and Eugene Agee; and her grandparents, Bob and Pearline Motley. “They were at every game,” she said proudly.
Fittingly, Brown learned of her induction into the KCKCC Sports Hall of Fame from her coach, Valerie Scott Stambersky, “I was speechless; I didn’t know what to say,” Brown said. “By far, I dedicate this Hall of Fame accomplishment to coach Stambersky, the best coach I’ve had in my entire career.”