100 days of Kansas City-area Olympians: Mary Phyl Dwight, handball

Mary Phyl Dwight.jpg
Posted at 8:00 AM, May 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-12 09:00:58-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Mary Phyl Dwight was ahead of her time.

Dwight, a 1970 Raytown South graduate, went on to star for Southwest Missouri State in softball, volleyball, track, cross country and basketball.

She also helped Southwest Missouri State, which has since been renamed Missouri State, win nearly every sport she competed in for the school at the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women, according to her MSU Athletics Hall of Fame bio.

She was inducted in 1985.

Dwight went on to coach two sports at Kansas State from 1975-78 — leading the Wildcats women’s volleyball team a 107-91-3 record and the softball team to a 43-81 record, according to the Garden City Telegram.

The volleyball team competed in the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women in 1977 and finished third in the Big Eight in 1978.

Dwight reportedly left to devote more time to playing for the U.S. Women’s National Handball Team, serving as team captain.

She spent nine years on the national team, including a fifth-place finish at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

Dwight, who scored two goals during the Olympic Games, coached the University of Iowa volleyball team to a 43-42-1 record during two seasons (1980-81) and later returned to Springfield as the Bears’ softball coach in 1985, leading the team to a 27-23 record.

Dwight received special recognition from Eunice Kennedy-Shriver, who founded the Special Olympics, for her work as the director of team handball competition for Special Olympics International.

She’s also been a professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City for 25 years.

The Kansas City region has a deep, rich history with respect to the Olympic Games. As the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games approach with the Opening Ceremony scheduled for July 23, we will profile an athlete with ties to Kansas City, Missouri or Kansas each day.

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