Todd Hollis, a teacher and coach at Elmwood High School, has been selected as the 2013 Section 4 (Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin) recipient of the National High School Spirit of Sport Award
as awarded by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).
The National High School Spirit of Sport Award was created by the NFHS to recognize individuals who exemplify the ideals of the spirit of sport that represent the core mission of education-based athletics.
Hollis will be recognized by the IHSA on Saturday, March 9 during the 2:00 p.m. game at the IHSA Boys Basketball State Finals at the Peoria Civic Center.
“We are very proud to have Todd represent the IHSA and the NFHS,” said IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman. “However, we are even more grateful for the life lessons and values he instills in the students he teaches and coaches. Individuals with Todd’s level of passion and commitment can be hard to come by. The high school, Elmwood-Brimfield football program and community are very lucky to have someone of his character interacting with their children on a daily basis.”
Hollis, who has led the Elmwood-Brimfield Coop football program to an 83-56 win-loss record from 1999 to 2012, has strived to enrich the lives of his players with the Trojans’ Men of Virtue program, which promotes positive values. However, it’s what Hollis has done outside of football that has really distinguished him.
After Hollis’ wife, Anne, gave birth to two healthy boys, the family’s first daughter, Meg, was born in 2007 with Down syndrome. Three years later, the Hollises adopted three-year-old Alina (who also has Down Syndrome) from an orphanage in the Ukraine.
As both daughters received therapy and services from Easter Seals of Peoria, the family took on such an affinity for the organization that Anne took a job there and Hollis began to look for ways to give back. His initial efforts came in the 2007 season with some simple grassroots fundraising programs that generated $1,300.
The following season, Hollis and his players started “Blackout for Easter Seals,” in which the team would sell black t-shirts featuring the Easter Seals logo for a select home game each season. The concept continued to spread and soon more than 30 high schools were hosting games. During the past five years, more than 100 “Blackout for Easter Seals” games have been played, raising a grand total of $194,107.87 for Easter Seals.
“After the initial nomination, I researched the Spirit of Sport Award and found that a truly exceptional group of people have been recognized through the program,” said Hollis. “To be selected as the Section 4 recipient is pretty unbelievable. Most importantly, though, this award recognizes the Blackout and all of the schools that participate in it as well as Easter Seals and the amazing work they do to help children with disabilities. This recognition will help to further 'Blackout' Friday nights and to turn on the lights for disability awareness, acceptance and understanding."