When told he was reaching his 1000th career game, Wayne Kreklow could only laugh.
“It’s big,” Wayne said. “I never would’ve thought of that.”
On Friday, he and his wife, Susan, the director of volleyball, will travel to Nashville, Tenn., for the annual Lipscomb Invitational to play Houston for the tournament opener. The game will mark No. 1,000 for the couple.
The milestone came as a surprise to both of them.
“I had no idea,” Susan said. “It’s a pleasant surprise. We’ve just been doing this a long time.”
She began her career in high school and played for both University of Central Missouri and Missouri State University (then Southwest Missouri State University), graduating from the latter in 1987. After a couple of years of high school coaching, she began her collegiate coaching career in 1990 at Columbia College.
“It’s just something that I’ve always enjoyed,” Susan said. “Teaching, working with people and, of course, sports it was a natural path.”
While his wife was always a player, Wayne started his athletic career as a basketball player. As a guard at Drake University, he became the fifth highest-scoring player in Drake history, receiving the accolades of All-District, All-Conference, All-American and a member of the Drake All-Century team.
He would then go on to play for the Boston Celtics from 1980-1981, who won the NBA Finals that year under the leadership of Larry Bird.
Wayne would leave the Celtics after just one year and began his collegiate coaching career at Missouri from 1988-1994 under Craig Sherman.
From 1990 to 1993, Susan had a 189-57 record as coach for Columbia College. In 1994, her husband joined her. As co-coaches from 1994-1999, they led Columbia to two NAIA national championships (’98 and ’99) and a 267-29 record. From 1997 to 1999, the two were also the men’s volleyball coaches with a record of 53-24.
In 2000, both Wayne and Susan were hired at MU, with Susan starting out as head coach and Wayne as associate. From 2000 to 2005 she had a 109-46 coaching record and took Missouri to the NCAA tournament each year. In her final season as head coach in 2005, Missouri reached the Elite Eight, the highest round in school history.
After the 2005 season, the two decided to switch positions, with Wayne taking the head role. The decision was unrelated to volleyball.
“There were a lot of factors, none which really (involved) volleyball,” Wayne Kreklow said. “There was some family stuff and our kids were getting older. As parents, you miss your kids and, as they started to get older, we had to start missing their games and activities. We decided that if we switched it would free up Susan a little bit more to be able to do things like that.”
In his seven years at MU, Wayne has had a 137-88 record, reaching the NCAA tournament five times.
In the 999 games the two have coached in their careers, they have won 755 with a winning percentage of .756.
Will Missouri be treated to another 1,000 games with both of the Kreklows? Wayne says don’t count on it.
“Not unless we start playing a hundred games a year,” Wayne said. “Never say never, but probably not. Hopefully we’ll have a few hundred more.”
Junior setter Molly Kreklow, who is Susan and Wayne’s niece, congratulated her family on their successful careers.
“I think it’s really exciting and I’m happy for them,” she said. “They’re a pair of really great coaches and have influenced a lot of people. When they first got here, Mizzou was bad and now we’ve been to the NCAA tournament 10 times now.”