Missouri State University - West Plains

Grizzly Basketball

Hall of Fame Member Tracy Flora-Gilcrest

A complete player with a fun, competitive spirit is how many Grizzly Volleyball fans remember Tracy Flora-Gilcrest.

The 5-foot, 10-inch left-handed outside hitter from Holden, Mo., brought the total package of leadership, skills and athletic ability to the floor and helped the Grizzlies win their first of 11 consecutive National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region 16 Championships and make their first of 11 consecutive trips to the NJCAA Division I Women’s National Volleyball Championship Tournament beginning in 1999.

“Tracy had a very easy, fun – but competitive – spirit about her and it showed in the way she played the game,” recalled Grizzly Volleyball Head Coach Paula Wiedemann, who was the team’s assistant coach at the time. “She was a complete player in the fact that she worked as hard at ball control as she did at taking swings. Her consistency was a key to our success, and it made a difference in our ability to reach the NJCAA national tournament for the first time her sophomore year. Her fun personality was contagious and it made our team better on and off the court.”

Gilcrest came to the Grizzlies in fall 1998 after a successful high school career with the Holden High School Eagles. Her team earned the Missouri Class 2A State Championship in 1995 and she personally earned all-district and all-conference honors in 1996 and 1997 and all-state recognition in 1997.

Members of the Grizzly Volleyball coaching staff were excited to add Gilcrest to the team. “She played every aspect of the game,” Wiedemann explained. “She was great at passing, attacking, defense and brought excitement to the floor. And, being a lefty made her a versatile player for us, since she could take good swings from either side of the floor.”

As a freshman, Gilcrest was a key component in steering the Grizzlies to a 46-11-1 record in 1998 and a second-place finish in the NJCAA Region 16 Championship Tournament, but her attitude, competitiveness and ability to have fun on the court made the team even better in 1999. The team posted a 42-16 record that year, broke the Region 16 Championship Tournament barrier with a 15-13, 16-14, 15-8 straight set victory over arch rival Jefferson College for its first region championship trophy in seven tries and placed eighth in its first ever trip to nationals.

“Tracy was a big part of the picture in us making our first trip to the NJCAA national championship,” Wiedemann said. “She anchored our passing and defense and was a very good outside attacker. Tracy and Edna Chumo are the only two Grizzlies to have over 1,000 digs in a career and not be in the libero position. Her ability to pass and play defense gave us the ability to be a very good offensive team.”

Gilcrest said the wins the Grizzlies posted over Jefferson College in 1999, especially in the region championship, are some of her fondest. “We had a huge rivalry with Jefferson College. It initially started out with the coaches but transitioned into a fun player rivalry, so every win for us was a big accomplishment,” she recalled.

Playing in the national tournament also was a highlight of her time as a Grizzly, Gilcrest added. “It was an amazing experience,” she said. “Coach Knight (former Grizzly Volleyball Head Coach Trish Kissiar-Knight) wrote us a poem. It was very emotional and talked about how proud she was of us and of our accomplishments. It really meant a lot to all of us.”

By the time her career ended at Missouri State-West Plains, Gilcrest led the team in three statistical categories – digs (1,014), attacking attempts (1,679) and passing rating (2.40). Her totals in those categories still leave her ranked fourth, 12th and 10th, respectively, among all former Grizzlies. She also had garnered three all-tournament team honors (the Grizzly Invitational in 1998 and the Physical Therapy Specialists Clinic Tournament of Champions and First National Bank Invitational in 1999), a tournament MVP honor (Comet Cleaners Classic in 1999), second team All-Region 16 team recognition in 1998 and first team All-Region 16 team honors and honorable mention NJCAA All-American honors in 1999.

Gilcrest graduated from Missouri State-West Plains in May 2000 with an Associate of Arts in General Studies degree and transferred to Missouri State University in Springfield, where she earned bachelor’s degrees in psychology and occupational science in 2003. She then continued her studies at the University of Missouri-Columbia, where she obtained a master’s degree in occupational therapy in 2006.

She now lives in her hometown, Holden, with her husband of five years, Jack, an engineer and their two-year-old daughter, Ava. They’re expecting a second child later this year.

As a self-employed occupational therapist, Gilcrest said her experiences as a Grizzly have helped her a lot. “As I matured in college and on the court, I realized that through hard work and dedication, you really do see good changes in your life. Similar to my career now, as a self-employed occupational therapist, if I don’t work, I definitely do not get paid!”

She also said she hopes her time as a Grizzly “helped left-handers continue to be noticed on the outside hitting position rather than always on the right/back side” and that she is remembered “as a positive role model who is compassionate about people. I always tried to maintain a good attitude and good sportsmanship among players.”

For Wiedemann, Gilcrest’s legacy will be one of advancing the Grizzly tradition of excellence. “Being a big part of the first ever team to go to the NJCAA national championship and being an All-American was the beginning of a great tradition in Grizzly Volleyball,” she explained. “She and Sara Kincaid were the first two to do it and there have been many more who followed. They set a standard the teams and players before them worked hard to achieve but didn’t quite make, and for the teams that came after them, they put a huge step in place for them to continue to rise to new heights.”

A complete player with a fun, competitive spirit is how many Grizzly Volleyball fans remember Tracy Flora-Gilcrest.

Tracy’s Missouri State-West Plains’ Career Stats

1998-1999 • 294 Games Played

Kills • 653 • 2.22/game
Attack Attempts • 1,679
Attacking Percentage • .257
Blocks • 227 • .77/game
Aces • 81
Digs • 1,014 • 3.45/game
Service Points • 510