The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) is proud to announce its fifth class of recipients of the IHSA Distinguished Media Service Award
. The 2017-18 honorees include a Will County prep sports writing legend in The Herald-News sports editor Dick Goss, the voice of high school sports in the greater Effingham area in WXEF Radio’s Greg Sapp, and Bill Stone, who has provided the most dedicated and nuanced coverage of Illinois high school gymnastics.
The IHSA Distinguished Media Service Award was created to recognize media members who have covered high school sports and activities in Illinois for a significant period of time, while maintaining perspective on the amateur events they report on.
“I am privileged to know and work closely with Dick Goss and Greg Sapp,” said IHSA Assistant Executive Director Matt Troha. “I grew up reading Dick’s work and he always gave high school sports the big-time treatment. At its peak, the Herald-News had arguably the best preps sports section in the country under Dick’s guidance. Greg Sapp is cut from the same cloth. He is the ultimate pro and does so much to promote and provide coverage for high school student-athletes in the Effingham area.”
IHSA member schools submitted nominations for the award, with Providence Catholic High School and Effingham High School nominating Goss and Sapp, respectively. Stone was nominated by both Hinsdale Central High School and Palatine High School.
“There is no one who does more for the sports of Boys and Girls Gymnastics than Bill Stone,” said IHSA Assistant Executive Director Tracie Henry. “Bill is highly respected, trusted and appreciated by both the Boys Gymnastics and Girls Gymnastics communities. He is a huge advocate of the sport and provides great coverage of all the competing high school gymnasts.”
The IHSA’s media advisory committee, and a veteran committee of retired media members voted on each nominee. Those who received the required percentage of votes were named honorees with a limit of one winner per IHSA Board Division. Each winner will be honored at a high school event of their choosing during the 2017-18 school year.
“A vital element of this award is the recognition within the community,” said Troha. “We look forward to seeing this year’s winners being recognized in front of the students, coaches, and communities they have impacted with their exceptional work.”
Dick recognized that he had a gift for storytelling while he was still a student at Joliet Catholic High School (now Joliet Catholic Academy). A National Honor Society student, he was active in the school newspaper and was hired as a part-time sports writer by then-sports editor Bob Drazkowski at the Joliet Herald-News during his junior year. After high school, Dick attended the University of Illinois in Champaign, where he earned an accounting degree. While working in insurance accounting, he covered sports part-time for Springfield State Journal-Register from 1973 until 1978, when he joined their staff full-time. Dick returned home as The Herald-News sports editor in 1983 and is now approaching 35 years in that role. Some memorable moments for Dick include Providence Catholic’s three straight baseball state titles (2014-16) in Joliet, his alma mater winning five football state titles in six seasons (1999-2004), the Hilltoppers 56-50 quarterfinal win over Riverside-Brookfield in 2001, and too many Joliet Central, Joliet West and Lockport basketball moments to count. Dick’s passion for high school sports goes beyond the game when talking about why he loves his job. “It's the relationships that you build with coaches and with high school athletes. Some of those relationships turn into lifetime friendships.” Some of the memorable coaches from his career include Gordie Gillespie, Pat Sullivan, Dan Sharp, Joe Gura, Luke Yaklich, Mike O'Connell, Mark Smith, Matt Senffner, Jack Hermanski, Larry Thompson, Dave Stephens, Jim Hall and Jared Voss. Among the student-athletes that Dick will never forget are Roger Powell Jr., James Augustine, Trent Jackson, Gary Bell, Mike Alstott, Pete Bercich, Oliver Gibson, John Dergo, Mike Foltynewicz, Allie Quigley, Samantha Quigley Smith and Joe Benson.
Award Presentation: At 2018 IHSA Baseball State Finals at Joliet Slammer Stadium on Saturday, June 9, 2018.
A life-long Effingham resident, Greg has been the voice of high school sports in his hometown, as well as for several surrounding high school communities since the mid 1970’s. A huge sports fan growing up, Greg helped with the baseball and basketball programs at Effingham High School before graduating in 1974. He attended Lake Land College in nearby Mattoon, all the while remaining involved in Flaming Heart athletics. That involvement included providing play-by-play on basketball video broadcasts, which led to an opportunity to call play-by-play on the radio. Greg was on the ground floor of starting Effingham’s WXEF radio in 1994 and is currently the News and Sports Director at 97.9 XFM and KJ Country 102.3 FM in Effingham. Some highlights in his career include watching his alma mater play in the 1980 IHSA Class AA Boys Basketball State Championship, calling St. Anthony’s thrilling overtime victory in the 2017 IHSA Class 1A Boys Basketball state title game, as well as being behind the mic for Teutopolis’ back-to-back IHSA baseball state championships in 2010 and 2011. Greg says he “feels blessed in covering some mighty good and successful coaches along the way”, but Effingham basketball coach Jim Maxedon will always hold a special place for his efforts in helping kickstart his broadcast career. A member of the Effingham County Salvation Army Board, who was named Effingham’s Citizen of the Year in 2009, Greg says the greatest compliment he can be paid is when listeners tell him, ‘I feel like I'm at the game when hearing your broadcasts.’
Award Presentation: At halftime of varsity Boys Basketball game between Teutopolis and Effingham High School at Effingham on Tuesday, December 12, 2017.
An avid sports fan growing up, Bill participated in soccer and tennis at Wheaton Central High School (now Wheaton Warrenville South) and has covered high school sports for more than 35 years. Bill has covered an array of sports for a variety of publications including the Daily Herald, Hinsdale Doings, Suburban Life, ChicagolandSoccer.org, Shaw Publications, and Sun Publications, and says that covering first-time state champions is always special. He was on the beat for several, including Hinsdale Central’s girls cross country, girls track & field and girls basketball, Glenbard West’s girls cross country and girls track & field, as well as Wheaton Warrenville South and IC Catholic football. He was also on the bookend of the career of NFHS Hall of Fame inductee Peg Kopec, covering her first (1988) and last (2015) state title matches. Where Bill’s greatest impact on the high school scene has undoubtedly occurred is in the sport of gymnastics. Bill has long been the preeminent source for high school Boys and Girls gymnastics coverage in the state. He expanded that base in the early 2000’s, when he and Mike Considine founded State Gymnastics Stats (SGS), which comprehensively posts results from nearly every meet around the state. Bill’s nuanced approach and expansive coverage has been a beacon for the sport of gymnastics in Illinois, while simultaneously making him a resource for student-athletes, coaches, judges, and the IHSA. Bill says that he loves covering high school sports because of the “joy of the athletes when they achieve their team or individual goals, however big or small they may be.”
Award Presentation: 2018 IHSA Girls Gymnastics State Finals on Saturday, February 17, 2018 at Palatine High School. Will also be recognized at Boys Gymnastics State Finals on Saturday, May 12, 2018.