Every year, Smith-Cotton honors athletes and coaches who have helped shape their athletic programs. This year, two former athletes and one coach will be inducted into the Smith-Cotton Athletic Hall of Fame on Friday, Feb. 1 at S-C’s Courtwarming. It will take place between the boys and girls basketball games.
The Hall of Fame was established in 2009 to recognize former athletes and coaches who made an impact at S-C. Activities Director Rob Davis says that it was made to show current student athletes what they can achieve if they work hard.
This year’s inductees are Warren Dey, Emily Webster, and Joe Arbisi. Inductees are nominated by people in the community and are selected for induction by a committee.
Dey is an S-C alum of the Class of 1986. While at S-C, Dey played soccer and baseball. In later years, he coached baseball, soccer, and girls basketball. Dey is not the only member of his family in to be inducted: his parents, Bill and Alma Dey, and brother, Ross Dey, are currently in the Athletic Hall of Fame.
“I guess you might say that we had a love and passion for sports and each other,” Dey said.
While a member of the S-C soccer team, Dey had his fair share of accomplishments. He was first team All-State in 1984 and 1985, as well as All-District in 1983, 1984, and 1985. Throughout his years on the soccer team, he had 68 total goals and 30 assists. Dey lettered all four years of his baseball career at S-C and had a batting average over .400 each season. In all four years combined, Dey struck out three times and had one recorded error. Following his high school career, Dey attended Florissant Valley Community College in St. Louis. While playing soccer in 1986, Dey was an honorable mention All-American, and a member of the All-Region 16 team and the All-Midwest team. In 1987, Dey made first team All-American.
While playing baseball, Dey made the All-Region team in 1987 and 1988. Following Florissant Valley, Dey attended the University of Missouri-St. Louis, where he continued to play soccer and baseball. In soccer, Dey is the sixth leading scorer of all time in his two years of playing. In baseball, Dey made the All-MIAA team in 1989.
Webster is a member of S-C’s Class of 2011. While at S-C, Webster ran in cross country, but her primary sport was wrestling. Webster fell in love with wrestling in seventh grade, after her sixth grade math teacher encouraged her to go out for the team. Webster attended high school in Cameron, Mo., her freshman and sophomore years, and moved to S-C to complete high school. Former S-C wrestling coach Joel Sherman admired Webster’s work ethic and her desire to improve.
“She told me once that her goal was to be the first one at practice and the last one to leave every day,” Sherman said.
Webster was a two-time state qualifier and lettered four times in wrestling. She was 22-18 as a junior and 30-8 as a senior. Following her time at S-C, Webster attended Oklahoma City University, where she became the first four-time undefeated national champion. Her fourth national title was won three weeks after completely tearing the ACL in her dominant knee. Not only did Webster excel in wrestling, she excelled in school. She graduated from Oklahoma City University with a 3.95 grade-point average and received the 2014-2015 Jim Wade Award as the Stars’ female student-athlete of the year.
Webster would encourage current athletes at S-C to never give in and to always keep working, because sports help teach life lessons that can be applied to the real world.
Sherman said Webster “is a hero to the young girls in Sedalia” and that she proved that it is possible to achieve goals if you have a strong work ethic and positive attitude.
Arbisi graduated from Ruskin High School in 1966, and started to teach at S-C in 1971. While teaching, he coached wrestling, football, and track. He then taught at Manuel High School in Kansas City where he coached swimming and diving. Arbisi returned to the Sedalia area and taught at many rural schools before coming back to Sedalia School District 200 in 1996, where he taught at the Sedalia Middle School and coached boys and girls swim and dive for S-C until his passing in 2008.
Arbisi led the girls swim and dive team to three consecutive conference championships and many of his swimmers and divers qualified for state competition. Arbisi established Arbisi Aquatics Swim Lessons in 1973 and taught swimming through 2008. In 1984, he established the Sedalia Bandits Swim Club. Arbisi taught and coached all ages, ranging from three to 18.
Joe’s son, Tony Arbisi, said that Joe always put his athletes first. Joe also had a famous saying: “There is no such thing as I can’t. Only I can, I will, and I have.” Tony said that Joe bought equipment for his athletes just so they could compete, and always offered rides to all sorts of activities.
“There was always a spot in our van for any kid that needed a ride to an out-of-town swim meet, soccer or football game,” Tony said.
S-C boys swim and dive coach Jerry Tankersley, who nominated Joe, said that Joe had quite an impact on his coaching mindset.
“He instilled in me that there is a lot more to sports than winning,” Tankersley said.
Over his years in the Sedalia community, Joe was always lending a helping hand and pushing kids to reach their best. Not only was he a coach to them, he was someone that they could always rely on and could look at as an example, Tony said.