This year marks the 50 year anniversary of Title IX, the act allowing equal opportunities regardless of gender and transforming the sports world for women. Since 1972, women not only have made a difference as competitors but women including Cindy Shook have greatly impacted athletics because of their leadership, which precipitated Shook’s induction into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame on Wednesday, April 22 during the women’s sports luncheon at the Oasis Hotel and Convention Center in Springfield.

More than 600 people gathered at the luncheon to celebrate Shook’s impact and seven other 2022 inductees, but she has touched the hearts of thousands more community members.

Her induction is a wonderful addition to her achievements as she has been recognized with the 2021 Missouri Municipal League Award and the 2016 Community Spirit Award from the Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau. 

As the Branson Parks and Recreation Director since 2001, Shook has made a lasting impact on thousands of visitors and community members. Shook had a vision to make Branson a sports tourism destination. “I wanted to bring folks in not only to enjoy sports since families already travel for the many attractions Branson has to offer,” Shook said. 

 She began leading a planning and development team in the early 2000’s to more than sufficiently meet Branson’s needs. Since the opening of the Branson Landing in the 90s, Branson lost several vital facilities and left citizens sharing court and gym time with area schools. 

In 2005, Shook’s concept came to life with a center to accommodate everyone young and old. The RecPlex opened with a number of venues: a recreation center, indoor and outdoor aquatic center, soccer fields, baseball and softball complex, walking paths and playground areas. “It allowed us to grow not just for our visitors but for our community, and I have a passion for helping local citizens and thousands of youngsters,” Shook said. 

Shook continues to find ways to expand Branson Parks and Recreation by adding an inclusive playground, dog park, walking and hiking trails, youth archery and cycling. 

Branson has since become widely known as a sports destination since the RecPlex has hosted five World Series events, 58 national events and 565 tournaments. In just over 15 years, 730,000 athletes have participated in events hosted by Parks and Recreation. 

“I am so grateful to have expanded the number of fields and gyms to allow our leagues to continue to flourish and be a destination for our neighboring towns to participate,” Shook said. 

The success of the RecPlex has greatly enhanced the city of Branson by contributing an economic impact of almost $167 million. 

Long before Shook took over as the Branson Parks and Recreation Director, she had a calling to serve the Branson community. 

“My junior year in college, on a van ride to a golf tournament, I decided on a major of recreation,” Shook said. “I quickly discovered that it was the right decision for me.”

Shook has been with the City of Branson since 1991 in the role of Community Center Director. In 30 years, her accomplishments go beyond awards or accolades on a wall, they are enjoyed daily all across the city. 

“I am grateful and I can’t believe it,” Shook told Branson Tri-Lakes News about her induction. “I grew up in Springfield looking up to all the accomplished people who received this award.”

 

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