State Stories

20

IHSA Honors 10th Distinguished Service Award Class

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On June 13, 2016, the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) conducted its recognition ceremony for its 10th annual class of IHSA Distinguished Service Award winners. Members of the IHSA staff, Board of Directors and past honorees gathered to recognize the honorees and their families. The 2016 honorees included:
  • Joyce Blank
  • Karen Cann
  • Roger Cann
  • Mike Imes
  • Dr. Cynthia LaBella
  • David Meyer
  • Gloria Meyer
  • James Miller
  • Todd Moeller
  • Julie Nelson
  • John Schrammel

Joyce Blank

Joyce Blank started as a volunteer at the IHSA Boys Basketball Tournament in 1996, the first year it came to Peoria, and she has continued to volunteer her services ever since. Joyce started out doing statistics for the tournament, but within the last 15 years she has served as the official host and guide for the cheerleaders who come to Carver Arena with their state tournament qualifying teams. Joyce's energy and efficiency have made it possible for hundreds of cheerleaders to support their teams and their schools in style.

Joyce was a registered IHSA volleyball official for 20 years. During that time, she also competed in crafting events, earning grand champion status at the Heart of Illinois Fair and the Illinois State Fair. For the past 25 years, she has served as a knitting and crocheting judge at the Illinois State Fair. She is also an active member of the Gems of the Prairie Quilters in Peoria and she enjoys singing with the Vermilion Valley Show Chorus, a Sweet Adeline Barbershop Chorus based in Pontiac. Her chorus has competed at the international level, including a 2nd place among small choruses when they competed in Hawaii in 2013.

A medical technologist in her professional life, Joyce has been employed at Peoria's Unity Point Proctor Hospital for the last 39 years. br />

Karen and Roger Cann

Karen and Roger Cann have been team hosts at IHSA state tournaments since 1992, beginning with the Girls Basketball Tournament at Redbird Arena. They look back fondly on the very first team they hosted, the state champion Commandos from Marshall High School in Chicago, coached by the legendary Dorothy Gaters. In 2002, Karen and Roger became Volunteer Coordinators for the IHSA Girls Basketball Tournament, laying a firm foundation for success at the tournament as they work with team hosts and other volunteers.

The Canns have also served as hosts for the IHSA Girls Volleyball Tournament since it first started at Redbird Arena. Since 1994, Roger and Karen have worked with over 5,000 coaches, players, administrators and cheerleaders to make sure that their trip to state is memorable. They are professional and composed no matter what problems arise, offering exemplary service and endless patience. In every way, the Canns are outstanding ambassadors for the IHSA.

Continuing to add to their volunteer resumes, Roger and Karen serve as Commencement Marshalls at Illinois State University for May and December graduation ceremonies. They also volunteered when the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall came to LeRoy last year and they will be there again when the Wall comes to Bloomington later this summer.

Karen and Roger hail from Peotone, Illinois, where they both graduated from Peotone High School. They were married in 1974 and are the parents of two daughters.

Mike Imes

What is Mike Imes' chief goal for the Boys Bowling State Tournament? To provide a venue that bowlers, coaches, and parents want to return to. To that end, Mike has served as the Boys Bowling State Final Manager for the past 14 years, working tirelessly behind the scenes to cover every detail. Along with Todd Moeller, also a Distinguished Service Award recipient this year, Mike begins his work months in advance, organizing, planning and securing volunteers. When the tournament arrives, Mike is among the first to arrive and the last to leave each day, making sure each player and coach has what they need while they're at St. Clair Bowl.

For 20 years, he has been the Southern Illinois High School Bowling Conference Commissioner, presiding over a conference that started with eight schools but now has 26, and St. Clair Bowl Youth Director, managing programs with over 200 bowlers.

In addition, Mike coached girls bowling at O'Fallon High School from 1997 to 2002 and he has been Varsity Boys Head Coach since 2003. Mike's teams earned 10 conference titles and 13 trips to the IHSA State Finals, including five consecutive Top 5 finishes for the boy’s team.

Dr. Cynthia LaBella

Dr. Cynthia LaBella, Medical Director at the Institute for Sports Medicine at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, has been an integral part of the IHSA's Sports Medicine Advisory Committee since its inception in 1988. The SMAC has consistently kept Illinois ahead of the nation on a range of topics, and Dr. LaBella's contributions have been crucial to the committee's vision for important issues like testing for performance enhancement substances, concussion management, severe weather and football acclimatization policies.

Dr. LaBella is a genuinely caring person who, in her own words, "likes to hear other people's stories" when they come to her at the Lurie Children's Hospital. Her ability to connect with people, her professional expertise, and her capacity to forge the necessary relationships to bring about positive change have been vital not only to the success of the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee over the years, but also to the IHSA in general. As concussion prevention, treatment and oversight have become increasingly prominent issues, Dr. LaBella has shown herself to be a true ally of the Association and high school student-athletes in Illinois. Her consistent support of the IHSA to protect the well-being of student-athletes and her ability to work with the Illinois General Assembly to promote those efforts has definitely made a difference.

David and Gloria Meyer

As members of the Bradley Braves stats and game management crews since 1990, David and Gloria Meyer were very familiar with Carver Arena when IHSA Boys Basketball started "Playing in Peoria" in 1996. David and Gloria pitched in right from the beginning, working stats crew and typing play-by-play from a courtside seat.

As their duties have changed over the years, the Meyers have adapted and flourished. If there is something that needs care and attention, you will find David or Gloria getting it done. Some of the work they've taken on over the years includes working with the stats crew, coordinating the distribution of stats to members of the press and coaches, managing press and pass gates, checking in teams and All-State players, overseeing access to hospitality rooms, escorting officials on and off the court, guiding coaches and teams to post-game interviews, and setting up trophies and medals for post-game presentations. Their commitment and work ethic have helped keep Boys Basketball in Peoria rolling since the start.

David and Gloria live in Pekin. David has been a teacher within Peoria Public School District 150 for 34 years, while Gloria recently retired from Caterpillar. Together, they were honored in 2011 with the B-Club Billy Stone Service Award for exemplary service to the Bradley Braves athletic program.

James Miller

The boys and girls soccer state series found a home at North Central College beginning with the 2001 Boys State Finals and the 2002 Girls State Finals. At that time, North Central College faculty member and coach Jim Miller helped manage the tournament. As Jim took on the job of Director of Athletics at North Central in 2005, he remained a gracious and accommodating host, annually turning his facility and campus over to IHSA staff members and a flood of high school soccer players and fans.

The Boys State Finals were held at North Central through 2010, and the Girls State Finals continue to be held there today. Both have benefitted immeasurably from Jim's dedication, energy and attention to detail. He has created a great atmosphere for all of the coaches, players and staff. Whether it's a beautiful and sunny day, windy and freezing, or the occasional evacuation when the tornado siren sounds, Jim and his staff are prepared.

A native of Rantoul, Illinois, Jim graduated from North Central in 1986. He returned to his alma mater as an admissions counselor and became a full-time instructor and coach in the Health and Physical Education Department in 1993. At North Central, he has coached both wrestling and football, and as Athletic Director, has helped bring national prominence and numerous championships to the college.

Todd Moeller

Todd Moeller has been athletic director at O’Fallon Township High School for the past eleven years. Prior to that, he coached basketball and football, taught math, and served as Assistant Athletic Director at OTHS. When O'Fallon's bowling coach, Mike Imes, began supporting the IHSA Boys Bowling State Finals, Todd offered his services, too. The two serve as Boys Bowling State Final Managers, working countless hours to make sure that bowlers from all over the state experience a seamless tournament experience.

With Mike, Todd starts early and stays late at St. Clair Bowl, never wavering in his commitment to meet the needs of competitors, coaches and parents. Both can also be counted on to attend Bowling Advisory Committee meetings in the off-season so they can stay on top of committee recommendations. Todd is a big part of why this state tournament continues to be a first-class event.

Todd was inducted as a member of the 2016 O'Fallon Township High School Walk of Fame along with the 2004-05 Panthers football team he coached to an 11-1 season. The team went 9-0 during the regular season and holds the record for the most games won in OTHS history.

Julie Nelson

Julie Nelson has just finished her 13th year as a volunteer for the IHSA Boys Basketball Tournament. She works in the Media Room making sure everything runs smoothly for members of the media covering the tournament. She is also in charge of finding runners who will carry information to reporters around the arena. Her positive attitude and enthusiasm for her work and for the IHSA have made her indispensable in the Media Room.

Julie's father, Dale White, was an IHSA volunteer for over 30 years. During that time, Julie enjoyed helping her dad. When he passed away, Julie felt it was just natural to slip into his spot and keep the family tradition going.

In addition to her work for the IHSA, Julie has also volunteered at Bradley University for men’s basketball games and women's volleyball matches.

Julie is a graduate of Manual High School in Peoria, and she earned her Master's Degree in Education from Illinois State University. A teacher for 35 years, Julie will be retiring after one more year of teaching second grade, where she spends her time "watching her students blossom." Later this year, she will watch her own children blossom, as both Brandon and Lauren Nelson have weddings planned.

John Schrammel

For 38 years, John Schrammel has been the man in charge of the pass gate at the IHSA Girls Gymnastics State Meet at Palatine High School. John will be the first to tell you that there were "shenanigans" taking place at that gate when he took over. But not anymore! With John on duty, the pass gate has worked like a dream.

John greets gymnasts, coaches, administrators and athletic trainers with a pleasant welcome, setting the tone for the tournament. For many years, John taught and coached at Palatine, and he also served as a gymnastics judge and member of the advisory committee to the IHSA. Now John is retired, but he still enjoys coming back to work at the state meet every year to see old friends and witness firsthand the excitement on the faces of the gymnasts. John often talks about the fact that he considers it an honor to volunteer for the IHSA, but everyone associated with the Girls Gymnastics State Meet knows they're the lucky ones to have the benefit of John's warmth, wisdom and steady presence year in and year out.

In addition to working with gymnastics, John also volunteers at the Girls Tennis State Championship at Buffalo Grove, where his son serves as tournament manager. A willingness to volunteer and a passion for IHSA sports clearly run in the Schrammel family.