Athletic Hall of Fame

norman gabby gibbons

Norman "Gabby" Gibbons graduated from Purdy High School in 1945. He was a star basketball player. In one match-up he sunk a field goal with two seconds remaining, to bring the Eagles a victory over Nevada in the Sub-Regional Tournament. Gabby never lost his love for Purdy High School and returned in 1951 to teach high school math and science and to coach basketball. In addition to coaching and teaching, Gabby also served several terms on the Purdy Board of Education. He continued cheering for the Eagles and assisting Coach Mike Payne in molding young players until shortly before his death. Payne noted of his friend, mentor and assistant, “Gabby was an encourager who made the people around him better. He looked for the best in people and was especially drawn to young people. Gabby gave of himself and was a person of great integrity. He made a big difference in the lives of many people, and the ripple effects will go on forever.” In 2005 the City of Purdy renamed the street circling the school “Gabby Gibbons Drive” in his honor. Norman “Gabby” Gibbons passed away in 2008. 

Earl Miller graduated from Purdy High School in 1969. After scoring a total of 2,083 career points and joining the All Conference, All District and All Ozarks teams in 1968 and 1969, Earl was named to the All-State First Team in 1969. After leaving his mark on basketball courts across the area, including a stint at Crowder College, Earl settled down to a quiet, yet impactful, farm and family life. He continued to lend his support to his beloved Purdy Eagles and to the community. In true Eagle fashion Earl soared through life, inspiring others to set their sights equally high. Bill Lee, Earl's high school coach, spoke glowingly of his star player. "Earl was an outstanding leader on the basketball court and later in the community. His versatility, resilience, and keen instincts made him both a tremendous athlete and person." Earl Miller passed away in 2013. 

Becky Fly Woods graduated from Purdy High School in 1982. She joined the Lady Eagles’ basketball team on all three of their trips to the State Tournament, one from which they brought home the State Championship. Becky’s teammate and friend, Dixie (Williams) Henry noted, “Becky – or “Pucky”, as we called her – was the glue that held us all together. She was an amazing player.” Among the highlights of her innumerable honors, Becky made the All-State First Team in both her junior and senior years, and she set the state record for most points scored (96) by an individual in Class 1A over four state playoff games. After graduation Becky continued her education and her athletic career at Missouri Southern State College, where she was a four-year starter and won many awards, including the Missouri Southern Lady Lion Athlete of the Year in 1985. She also played softball for the Lions as a walk-on from 1984-1987, where she won the 1987 Offensive Player of the Year award. She was inducted into the Missouri Southern Sports Hall of Fame in 2001. 


Coach Mike Payne began his career at Purdy in 1978. Throughout his 28-year tenure, Payne has coached basketball, track, softball and cross country and has instilled the values of hard work, determination, confidence and school spirit in countless players of all ages. He also left his mark on generations of Purdy Eagles as a social studies teacher, mentor, hero and friend. Although he treated each student and player as one of his own kids, Coach Payne was blessed to teach and coach his own children. His daughter, Jessie Payne Clawson, said of her dad and coach, “In his 30 years of coaching, Dad has undoubtedly taught many players the fundamentals of basketball. He ingrained in us the concept of using the backboard, the importance of keeping your head up to see the ball and your man. He taught us to play hard. More importantly he taught, through his example, the fundamentals of life – to live a life of virtue, to serve others, to have a positive attitude, to be an encourager, to show kindness, to practice patience, to give of your time, to work hard, to do what you love." Coach Payne retired in 2005, but he returned to the basketball court in 2014, as assistant coach for the Lady Eagles. He continues to mold and shape young athletes, both on and off the court. 

Megan Leonard led the Lady Eagles softball team to the State tournament in 2003 and again in 2004. Her high school accolades included two-time Conference Player of the Year, four-time First Team All-State selection and Newsleader All Area Team selection. Megan continued to collect softball honors after her 2005 Purdy High School graduation. She pitched for Crowder College, where she broke the Single Season Strike-out Record. Her record still stands. Leonard finished her college softball pitching career at the University of Central Missouri (UCM), where she broke the UCM Single Season Strike-Out record with 303 strike-outs and tied the Single Season Saves record. During her senior year she was named MIAA Conference Pitcher of the Year, Senior Female Athlete of the Year and National Pitcher of the Week. She led her team to the MIAA Conference Championship and tied the NCAA Division II record for Consecutive Scoreless Innings at 83 2/3. Leonard was inducted into the University of Central Missouri Athletic Hall of Fame in February 2015.

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