H.O.P.E. nonprofit’s Mounts ‘shocked’ by Hall of Fame honor

Jackie Mounts at the Hoops of Hope dedicated in her honor in Springfield. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Caption
Jackie Mounts at the Hoops of Hope dedicated in her honor in Springfield. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Springfield youth minister’s college basketball prowess recognized by Murray State.

When Greenon High School standout Jackie Mounts was putting together a pacesetting and record-setting college basketball career at Division I Murray State in the mid- to late-1970s, little did she know where it would lead and what doors it would open.

What it has led to is 25 years of serving Springfield’s youth through her H.O.P.E. nonprofit ministry. In March, H.O.P.E. celebrated 25 years of working with youth in urban neighborhoods and the juvenile court system by providing guidance, direction, training, support and positive role models.

On Saturday, the doors of the Murray State Sports Hall of Fame open to her as she joins a 2021 class that includes a PGA golfer and an NBA player, Cameron Payne of the Phoenix Suns, who is still competing in the league’s playoffs.

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“I played because I enjoyed the game; I never thought about how God would use it,” she said. “I was drafted by the Women’s Professional Basketball League, which was what women’s pro basketball was before the WNBA. I went to camp, but never had a pro career. But in the years to come to be able to say to kids I was trying to minister to that I was drafted by the pros, that got their attention. It helped open doors. I never thought about that while I was playing.”

She enjoyed quite a career. Despite missing most of her freshman year after breaking a finger in a play resulting from the opening tip of her first college game, she was still the first Murray State woman to score 1,000 career points and grab 1,000 rebounds. To this day, she is one of two players to do both. She remains the program’s ninth all-time leading scorer with 1,421 points and all-time leading rebounder with 1,170 boards. She was also the first woman to play in Kentucky on a full scholarship.

She credits God and her family. Her father was the late Jack Mounts, a fixture as a volunteer at Greenon basketball games and a leader in management at Navistar. He was also a standout athlete at Enon High School. Her mom Linda was also an athlete. And her brother Eric was an All-American basketball player at Cedarville College.

“Mom and Dad were very giving, loving people,” she said. “I definitely got my work ethic from them. They taught us that you never quit and if you see a need you step up and fill it, even if it costs you something. And there’s a lot hurting people.”

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It is their contributions coupled with her faith that has kept her going through the years.

“My love for Christ motivates me,” she said. “I feel that I’m where God wants me, and that keeps me going. But their example contributes to that.”

All of this attention makes her uncomfortable.

“I’m very grateful, and very shocked by the honor because many, many great athletes have played at Murray State,” she said. “But I don’t enjoy attention. However, if I can honor Christ through it, then I say, ‘Let’s do that.’ "