“What do you know about basketball?”
Amanda (Newton) Plotner teaches Algebra I at Republic High School. With end-of-course exams nearing, she uses a basketball analogy to prepare students for the mental fortitude they will need for the exam. Under his breath, but loud enough to be heard, a 9th grade boy mutters, “What do you know about basketball?”
Little does this young man know his math teacher’s college basketball jersey, number 42, hangs in retirement at Drury University, or that she played in games broadcast live on ESPN, was a three-year All-American, and, at his age, an all-state high school track athlete at Republic.
It doesn’t cross her mind to share these things with him, and when I sat down to interview her, I learned why. The one thread that continued through every answer was her humble connection to people.
“Playing ball was all-consuming for me, but in the end, it’s the relationships that make it worth it,” Plotner explained. “It’s not about the game, the points, or a most memorable event, it’s about the opportunity to meet people, and make bonds with people you don’t have on your everyday journey.”
As Plotner recalled memories with teammates, her sister Callie, and her parents Fred and Susie Newton, she reflected on the influence of positive role models in her own life.
“I was touched by so many, and what matters most is the impact we can make on others. I grew up surrounded by people who were showing me every day they were making a difference, so that’s the path I wanted for myself. My goal is to take what I know from all those years of sports into my classroom, my family, and my life, and just make a positive impact on others. That’s what I hope for.”
So, truly, when her students ask what do you know about basketball?, Amanda Plotner may not brag on her retired jersey, or talk about setting records, but she does know a thing or two about building relationships. And with that, this Hall of Famer turns to a 9th grader, smiles in gratitude, says “You know, I don’t know all that much,” and begins working toward what matters most: making a difference in the lives of young people.
- All-State Basketball (2001, 2002)
- All-State Volleyball (2001)
- All-State Track (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002)
- Finished 8th in the shot put competition at state as a freshman
- Finished 2nd in the state in discus as a sophomore
- Finished 4th in the state in discus as a junior
- Won the state title in the discus as a senior, setting a new Missouri record
- Three-time All-American at Drury University
- Currently the all-time leading scorer in women’s basketball at Drury University