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IHSA Honors 5th Annual Distinguished Service Award Winners

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Twelve individuals with a long history of service to the Illinois High School Association were honored June 13 at the 5th Annual IHSA Distinguished Service Award ceremony, held at the Holiday Inn and Suites Airport in Bloomington.

"The Distinguished Service Award winners are the embodiment of the can-do spirit of high school sports and activities," said Executive Director Marty Hickman. "In every case, they have been given a task and then taken it far above and beyond the job description. For their lasting commitment to IHSA sports and activities, we are happy to have the opportunity to honor each of them with this award."

The award winners are:

Patty Burke of Palatine High School
Jerry Dobbs of Palatine High School
Jeff Fritzen of Normal
Jan Heiteen of Downers Grove
Annie Hernandez of Palatine High School
Steve Kouri of  Peoria
Amy Kurey of Palatine High School
Terry Murphy of Palatine High School
Sandy Oldham of Palatine High School
Tony Pisano of Germantown Hills
Joe Plack of Deerfield
Bill Roeder of Peoria

Brief biographies of the award winners follow.

Patty Burke

From 1970 to 2002, Patty taught physical education at Palatine High School and in 2005 was named the school’s Sports Coordinator.  She served in various capacities during her tenure and was a Founding Member of the Illinois Drill Team Association.  She also helped organize the Illinois Cheerleading Coaches Association and its state competition.  Patty was an active member of the IAHPERD, presented at its state conventions, and worked at the on-site registration.

Patty has helped with the IHSA Girls Gymnastics State Finals since it was first held at Palatine High School.  Throughout the years she has assisted the Meet Director, Sandy Oldham, in various capacities from set-up to take-down.

Patricia is married to Johnny.

Jerry Dobbs

Jerry has served as the Athletic Director at Palatine High School since 1997 and has been a big part of the IHSA Girls Gymnastics State Finals hosted by the school.  His leadership and commitment to the sport have helped make the event, which Palatine has hosted since 1979, one of the best in the nation.

Jerry is a graduate of Sullivan High School and Eastern Illinois University.  He has taught at Buda Western, Villa Grove, Rochester, Lake Zurich and Schaumburg High Schools during his career.  In addition, he has coached football, boys basketball and track prior to beginning his position at Palatine High School.

Jerry has served on various IHSA Advisory Committees and hosted numerous Regionals, Sectionals and State Finals during his tenure.

Jeff Fritzen

In addition to serving as a seven-term Councilman for the Town of Normal, Jeff is the Executive Vice-President of Bloomington Offset Process, Inc.

Since 1997, Jeff has been the voice of the IHSA Girls Basketball State Finals and the Girls Basketball Happening at Redbird Arena.  His delivery resonates throughout the arena, contributing to the electric atmosphere and providing recognition to the players.

Jeff has also been the announcer at the Boys Football State Finals since 1998.  His ties to football go back to 1974 when he covered the first IHSA Playoffs as a reporter for the Bloomington Pantagraph.

Jeff’s community involvement includes the Fellowship of Christian Athletes – North Central Illinois Region, Illinois State University Alumni Association, Weisbecker Scholarship Fund, Unit 5 School District and the Bloomington-Normal Community Campus Committee.

Jeff received the Stretch Miller Award for Service to Athletics at Illinois State University in 2008, the Pioneer Hall of Fame Award in 2004, the E. Burton Mercier Alumni Service Award at ISU in 2002, the Citizen of the Year in the Town of Normal in 1999 and the Outstanding Graduate in Speech Communication Award at ISU in 1998.

He and Judy have been married since 1978 and have a son, Tyler, and two daughters, Audra and Jenna.

Jan Heiteen

Jan has been the Head Speech Coach at Downers Grove South High School since 1980.  As Drama Director, she has directed over 80 plays, musicals, and talent shows.

Her Speech Teams have won 14 IHSA Individual Events State Championships and have finished in second place seven times.  In addition, her teams have garnered one state championship and one second place finish in Drama & Group Interpretation. Jan has coached 55 IHSA Individual Events state champions, three state champions in Performance in the Round and one in Creative Sportsmanship.

She has served as the Regional and Sectional Manager for IHSA contests in Speech and Drama & Group Interpretation since 1980.  Downers Grove South served as the host for the State Tournament in 1985 and 2002.

Jan serves the IHSA as the State Chair for Individual Events and has been an adjudicator for the IHSA Sectional and State Tournaments in Drama & Group Interpretation.

Jan is a life member and past president of the Illinois Speech and Theatre Association.  She is also an Illini District Chair of the National Forensic League where she has served as a member of the Oral Interpretation Rules Committee and participated in the NFL 2009 Summer Leadership Conference.

Annie Hernandez

Annie has worked at Palatine High School for 33 years and has served as the Athletic Director’s Secretary since 1986.  She served as the Student Supervisor at Palatine from 1977 to 1986.

Since 1979, when the IHSA Girls Gymnastics State Final was first conducted at Palatine High School, Annie has worked at every meet.  She has been one of those friendly voices you like to hear when you call the school for information regarding the state final. 

When her daughter, Michele, was attending Fremd High School, Annie was able to watch her compete in and win the floor exercise event in 1985, 1986 and 1987.

She has been married to Clement for 50 years and has three children – Larry, Jeff and Michele – and eight grandchildren.

Steve Kouri

Judge Steve Kouri is being honored tonight for being instrumental in bringing the March Madness Experience to life in Peoria.  Steve served as the Co-Chairman of the IHSA Boys Basketball Steering Committee from 1995 to 2004 and as a committee member from 1995 to the present.  He has had a vital role in the overall success and development of the March Madness Experience. 

Steve was elected to serve as a Circuit Court Judge in the 10th Judicial Circuit in 2002.  He received the WEEK/InterBusiness News Central Illinois Top Ten Most Powerful Leaders Award in 1995; the 2000 Illinois Governor’s Conference on Tourism Individual Friend of Tourism Award, the 2002 Peoria Area Convention and Visitors’ Bureau Person of the Year Award; the 2006 Chuck Schofield Memorial Award for Community Service; the 2007 Boys and Girls Club Helping Hand Award; and, the 2008 Greater Peoria Sports Hall of Fame Neve Harms Meritorious Service Award.

Steve has also been very active in the Peoria community serving on the Peoria City Council, the Easter Seals/UPC Board of Directors, Peoria Area Convention and Visitors’ Bureau Board of Directors, Bradley University Braves Club, City/County Intergovernmental Cooperation Committee, Peoria Riverfront Commission, OSF Foundation Board, Peoria Notre Dame High School Foundation Board and the Catholic Cemetery Association Board.

Amy Kurey

Amy is a 1998 graduate of Palatine High School.  In 2003, she graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in Physical Education.  She received her Master’s Degree in Education in 2006 and has been teaching physical education at Palatine High School for the past eight years.

Amy has been the co-meet director for the IHSA Girls Gymnastics State Finals for the past eight years.  Her work ethic and leadership have helped provide a venue where the participants and fans feel welcome.  She has been instrumental in providing a once in a lifetime experience for the student-athletes participating in the state final.

Amy currently resides in Palatine with her husband, Jason, and their two sons – Anthony and Joey.

Terry Murphy

Serving as the Athletic Staff Assistant at Palatine High School for the past nine years, Terry has been very involved with the Girls Gymnastics State Finals hosted by the school.  She has been instrumental in providing an outstanding venue for the state final. 

Terry worked for the Palatine Park District from 1995 to 2002.  From 2000 to 2003, she was the Treasurer of the Palatine High School Parents Club.

In her capacity as the Athletic Staff Assistant, she has been honored to work and attend many IHSA state series events, including the IHSA Girls Gymnastics State Final.

Terry is married to Joe and has two sons – Joe and Mike.

Sandy Oldham

Sandy has worn many hats during her career.  She has been a physical education teacher for 34 years, a Girls Gymnastics coach for 28 years, and a Girls Gymnastics Judge for 34 years. In addition, she has served as a Girls Gymnastics Clinician.

Sandy served as the Meet Director of the IHSA Girls Gymnastics State Final Meet at Palatine High School for 32 years.  Her tireless energy has helped provide a first class state final for the student-athletes participating in the meet.  She has provided leadership to establish the state final as one of the best in the USA.

During her years of coaching, Sandy was named the Connecticut Coach of the Year in 1977 and the Illinois Coach of the Year in 1988.  Her teams received nine team trophies, including team championships in 1988 and 1989.

Sandy is now retired and enjoying life traveling with her son and his wife.

Tony Pisano

Tony is being honored tonight for his contributions in bringing the vision of the March Madness Experience to reality.  One of the original members of the March Madness Steering Committee, Tony has worked over the last fifteen years to bring an outstanding event for all ages to the IHSA Boys Basketball State Finals venue in Peoria.  He currently serves as the Chairman of the Tip Off Banquet and the Supervisor of the Center Court Committee for the March Madness Experience.

Tony was a Board member of the Heart of Illinois Hospitality Association from 1992 to 2006 and the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau from 1997 to 2006.  He also served on the Inaugural Tri-County Sports Commission, the American Heart Association and the City of Peoria Planning Commission.

Tony has been married to Ginny for 27 years and has three sons – Michael, Mario and Nicholas.

Joe Plack

During his 43 years as an IHSA Official, Joe has served the IHSA in many different capacities.  He has served on the IHSA Swimming and Diving Advisory Committee for thirteen years.  In addition, he has served as an IHSA Clinician since 1997. 

At the Boys and Girls Swimming and Diving State Finals, Joe has been the Meet Referee twelve times.  He has also been selected to serve as the Diving Referee fourteen times and the Starter eleven times.  Joe has also received numerous assignments as the Head Finish Judge, Head Timer and Coordinator of Officials.  In addition, he as served as the Meet Referee at the Sectional level numerous times throughout his career.

Joe has been instrumental in providing clinics, manuals and training for swimming officials.  With his assistance, changes have been made by the advisory committee to improve swimming and diving officiating and provide better conditions for the competitors.

Joe was inducted into the Illinois State University Sports Hall of Fame in 1976.  In 2005, Joe was inducted into the Illinois Swimming Hall of Fame and was named the Illinois Swimming Official of the Year.  He received the NFIOA State Service Award in Girls Swimming and Diving in 1996 and in Boys Swimming and Diving in 1991, 1993 and 2000.

Bill Roeder

The March Madness Experience would not be possible without the hard work of Bill Roeder and the other members of the March Madness Steering Committee.  Bill has served on the committee since 1997.  He has played a key role in planning and refreshing the event each year.  Bill has been onhand during the event to provide whatever is needed.  He has been an essential part of the leadership team in providing an experience that everyone will remember for the rest of their lives.

Bill is the Superintendent, Riverfront Division, of the Peoria Park District.

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