IHSA Distinguished Service Award

Individuals with a long history of service to the Illinois High School Association are honored at the Annual IHSA Distinguished Service Award ceremony.

"The Distinguished Service Award winners are the embodiment of the can-do spirit of high school sports and activities," said Executive Director Craig Anderson. "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."

11th Annual IHSA Distinguished Service Award winners are:

  • Tricia Betthauser
  • Daniel Cliffe
  • Chad Dauphin
  • Dr. Richard Everett
  • Jim Gumz
  • Dennis Heskett
  • Kevin Hussey
  • Mark Kreiter
  • Jerry McDaniels
  • Paul Schmidt
  • Ross Truemper
  • Jim Williams

Brief biographies of the award winners follow:

Tricia Betthauser

Trish Betthauser of Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire has been the gracious and accommodating host of the IHSA State Water Polo Tournament for boys and girls since 2011. Throughout the three-day weekend, Trish works closely with IHSA staff members and officials to put together a first-class event for the participating schools, coaches, and fans. Her dedication, energy, and attention to detail have made the IHSA Water Polo Tournament one of the best in the nation and a positive experience for everyone involved.

Trish is in her eighth year as Athletic Director at Stevenson. Prior to becoming AD, she was a chemistry teacher and girls basketball coach for the Patriots. She also coached collegiate basketball at the University of Evansville (1996-2000) and Indiana University (2000-2005). She has a Bachelor of Science in Education and a Masters of Science in Educational Leadership from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, where she competed for the women's basketball program. She received her Principal Certification through the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Daniel Cliffe

For the last 20 years Dan Cliffe has volunteered as a "bracket boy" at the Individual Wrestling Tournament, updating the printed copies of results that are hung around the arena, providing a tremendous resource to the thousands of fans who attend the event. But his involvement in IHSA Wrestling goes back almost five decades..

At DeKalb High School he was a state champion at 98 pounds in 1971 and 1972. He began coaching at DeKalb in 1981. His teams won 10 conference championships, 11 regional championships, and 7 sectional championships, and placed third in the 1988 IHSA Dual Team Tournament and second in 1989.

In 1996 Dan became Assistant Principal and Athletic Director at Central High School in Burlington, hosting numerous IHSA regional and sectional tournaments in many sports and serving two terms on the IHSA Wrestling Advisory Committee. He was honored as a Grand Marshal at the Individual State Wrestling Championships in 2000, and in 2005-07 served as manager of the IHSA State Dual Meet Tournament.

Dan served two separate terms as President of the Illinois Wrestling Coaches Association and was inducted into the IWCOA Hall of Fame in 1993. In 2004 he was awarded the IWCOA Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2008 the National Wrestling Hall of Fame recognized Dan with its award for Lifetime Service to Wrestling

Chad Dauphin

Chad Dauphin of Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire has been the associate tournament manager for the IHSA State Water Polo tournament for the past 11 years. In his position as Assistant Athletic Director, he has also hosted several IHSA Regional and Sectional tournaments over the years....too many to count! In all his responsibilities to the IHSA he has been an exceptional host, providing a great atmosphere for coaches, players, and staff.

In 1993, Chad graduated from Zweibruecken American High School in Zweibruecken, Germany. He received his bachelor’s degree from Northern Illinois University in 1997 and returned to NIU for his Teaching Certification, which he received in 2000. Chad completed his M.S. Ed. in Health Education in 2003, and in 2005, he completed his second Master’s degree in Educational Leadership at National Louis University. Chad coached baseball at Driscoll Catholic High School in the late 90's and coached wrestling at Stevenson from 2000 until 2006, when he became the Assistant Athletic Director.

Chad is a member of the IADA and NIAAA and presents nationally on skills-based health education. He also serves on the National Council for Health Education at SHAPE America. He lives in Cary with his wife, Angela (a Stevenson dance teacher), and children, Madeline and Joey.

Dr. Richard Everett

Dr. Richard Everett has served for over 25 years as a member of the IHSA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, which was set up to give information and guidance to member schools, coaches, and student athletes on sports-related health issues. During those years with the “SMAC,” Dr. Everett has championed player safety and displayed a passion for advocating for student wellness, with a common-sense approach that has been a vital influence on the committee.

Dr. Everett received his chiropractic physician's license in 1980 from Palmer College of Chiropractic. He currently practices along with his wife of 37 years, Dr. Barbara Swalve Everett, at their clinic in Princeton. “Dr. Rich” holds additional certifications in sports chiropractic, sports biomechanics, and physical therapy. He has volunteered his time as trainer and team physician at Princeton High School for 28 years, and has also served as head athletic trainer and coach at Morningside College. He has been a member of the Illinois Chiropractic Society for 30 years and a recipient of the Illinois Chiropractic Society Presidential award for distinguished service in sports medicine and chiropractic.

Jim Gumz

Jim Gumz, the head girls tennis coach at Rolling Meadows High School, has been a familiar face at the IHSA boys and girls state tournaments for the last 44 years. His leadership style is instrumental in his role at the IHSA state tournaments. When Jim handles a difficult situation, a call in the back draw, a coach complaint or parent concern, it is always handled with care and dignity.

Jim retired from teaching in 2008 after 35 years at Rolling Meadows High School in the Social Science Department. During his last 19 years he also served as the Girls Athletic Director and hosted numerous IHSA events while also serving as an IHSA tennis rules interpreter.

In recognition for his work, Jim received the Principal’s Award and the Outstanding Contributions to Education Award from High School District 214. He was IHSA Tennis Coach of the Year in 2005 and was inducted into the Illinois High School Tennis Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2009.
Jim’s high school coaches inspired him to become a teacher and coach. He believes the lessons learned in the classroom and on the court are invaluable in developing teenagers into adults who contribute positively to our society.

Dennis Heskett

Dennis Heskett started as a volunteer at the IHSA boys basketball tournament in 2000 as a referee for Jump Ball Jamboree and continued in that role until 2005, when he volunteered for the Wheelchair Basketball Tournament. After Jim Williams has scheduled the games, Dennis works with Jerry McDaniels to help organize volunteers to run the clock, keep the scorebook, announce the games, and do the calligraphy on the bracket boards. In addition to supervising the bench crews, Dennis also works with the coaches to make sure their rosters are accurate and that any questions they have are answered before the start of play. This year the program in the Exhibition Hall expanded to include Unified Basketball Tournament, in coordination with Special Olympics. Dennis continues to volunteer at IHSA's March Madness Experience every year and finds the work one of the most rewarding things he’s had the opportunity to partake in.

Dennis has been employed at Peoria Park District for the last 21 years. He has been a IHSA licensed referee in basketball for 17 years and in baseball for 12 years. Dennis and his wife have three grown sons.

Kevin Hussey

At the IHSA Girls Badminton Tournament you might not notice Kevin Hussey unless you see that blur running from the scorer's table to a court and back again. Kevin has served as Tournament Manager since the tournament moved to Eastern Illinois University in 2006. His work organizing the tournament starts months in advance, and during that busy weekend of competition he wears many hats, doing everything in his power to provide a first-class experience for the participants.

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.

In the Illinois badminton community, everyone knows the name Hussey. Kevin's father Bob started the Junior Badminton Camp held at Eastern Illinois University. Kevin followed in his footsteps, directing the camp for the past 21 years, and his son Ben will continue in that role beginning this summer.

Kevin was an NCAA national singles champion and traveled with USA Badminton to World Championships held in Calgary, Canada and Beijing, China. As a coach, Kevin has worked at many levels, all the way up to Head Coach of USA Badminton for the Sudirman Cup held in China.

Kevin and his wife Kathryn are retiring from Eastern Illinois University at the end of May 2017 after 22 years of service in the Kinesiology and Sport Studies Department. But don't worry—both Kevin and Kathryn will continue serving as hosts for the IHSA Badminton Girls State Finals after retirement.

Mark Kreiter

Mark Kreiter has missed only one IHSA state wrestling meet since 1981. He became interested in wrestling through his uncle, Ron Gibson, who announced the state meet for over 35 years. Following in his uncle's footsteps, Mark has volunteered as a PA announcer at the IHSA State Wrestling Meet for the past five years. During the three-day weekend, he coordinates with the other announcers to provide timely information and keep the tournament moving.

Throughout his educational career, Mark has been a teacher, technology coordinator, middle school assistant principal, and director of technology for the Indian Prairie School District in the Naperville/Aurora area.

While attending East Aurora High School, Mark participated in three different varsity sports in golf, hockey and baseball. In his spare time, he still enjoys staying involved in middle and high school sports as well as playing golf and fishing. Mark is happily married and has one child, Luke, who just graduated from college with a degree in business administration and accounting.

Jerry McDaniels

Jerry McDaniels has been a volunteer in the March Madness Experience since 1996, the first year the boys basketball tournament was held in Peoria. He started on the Sportsmanship Committee and the Hospitality committee for the Peoria Officials Association. In 2002, IHSA Assistant Executive Director Dave Gannaway asked Jerry to coordinate the Wheelchair Basketball Tournament. Since then he has worked to ensure a smooth experience for the competing teams, assisting with any issues or questions that may come up during the weekend. He and Dennis Heskett supervise the bench crew during the wheelchair tournament, making sure that the volunteer announcers, scoreboard operators, and scorekeepers are on track and giving the participating players a weekend of great memories. Jerry also served as a host for one of the teams competing in the boys basketball tournament from 2005 to 2016.

Jerry has held an IHSA officiating license for 41 years and officiated at the girls state basketball tournament in 2014. He was inducted into the Illinois Softball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Peoria Officials Hall of Fame just this year.

Paul Schmidt

Paul Schmidt retired in 2006 after serving 33 years at Jefferson Junior High in Naperville District 203. During this time period, he served as a teacher, assistant coach, head coach, athletic director, assistant principal and principal.

Paul began his involvement with wrestling as a high school wrestler for Carrollton High School and then went on to wrestle at Western Illinois University. While he was in college, he became an IHSA wrestling official. He later coached wrestling at Jefferson Junior High School and Naperville North High School, where he was involved in many IHSA regional and sectional tournaments. He volunteered for several years as a timer and scorer at the IHSA State Wrestling Tournament, and for the last ten years has been a PA announcer, working in coordination with three other volunteers to communicate pairings and results to the large crowd at State Farm Center.

Paul says he feels lucky to have worked for so many years with our outstanding young athletes and that being a part of the IHSA in encouraging our youth to be the best they can be makes him feel very proud!

Ross Truemper

Ross Truemper has served IHSA member schools from 1974 to 2009 and beyond as teacher, coach, athletic director, and principal, going all the way back to his first apprehensive meeting with Executive Director Liz Astroth. From that point on, Ross’s mission was to advocate the IHSA's vision, mission, services, and necessity among all peers, parents, students, and communities.

Ross served as an IHSA Track & Field Official from 1983-1995 and helped promote the creation of the state series in girls soccer, boys volleyball, boys and girls water polo, and boys and girls lacrosse. Ross was the first athletic administrator liaison to the IHSA Board of Directors and was instrumental in the addition of one athletic administrator from each IHSA division to the IHSA Legislative Commission.

Beyond advocating for the IHSA, Ross’s longest ongoing service to the Association has been his volunteer work at the Individual Wrestling Tournament. Ross started as a bench official in 1995, and in 2008 he filled in for an ailing Gene Drendel as an announcer. Even though Gene came back the following year, Ross remained at the head table as an announcer and meet administrator. The long trip from his new home in Pinehurst, North Carolina, doesn’t bother him at all.

Ross says that his greatest enjoyment has always been having the opportunity to be a part of great things for students, and he considers the IHSA Individual Wrestling Tournament to be the best of all.

Jim Williams

Jim Williams started as a volunteer at the IHSA Boys Basketball Tournament in 1996, the first year it came to Peoria, and he now serves on the March Madness Steering Committee. Jim started out doing whatever was needed in the Experience. He took over as Coordinator of the Center Court Activities in 2002 and has been there ever since. In those first years the Center Court in the Experience was one court and held a host of activities. It has grown to four courts with well over 100 youth teams playing in the Jump Ball Jamboree. With the introduction of the IHSA Wheelchair Basketball Championships and the new partnership with Special Olympics it will only continue to grow. Jim is the operations master through the two weekends. If the Sport Court comes apart or a scoreboard malfunctions, Jim is there to fix it.

Jim has been a certified IHSA Basketball official for 22 years and a certified IHSA Football official for 18 years. In his spare time, he coaches youth baseball in the Peoria area. He also coaches youth bowling along with his wife, Lynn. Jim and Lynn recently celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary and have two sons, Blake and Jason.

10th Annual IHSA Distinguished Service Award winners are:

  • Joyce Blank
  • Karen Cann
  • Roger Cann
  • Mike Imes
  • Dr. Cynthia LaBella
  • David Meyer
  • Gloria Meyer
  • James Miller
  • Todd Moeller
  • Julie Nelson
  • John Schrammel

Brief biographies of the award winners follow:

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.

9th Annual IHSA Distinguished Service Award winners are:

  • Kelly Cummings
  • Sara Flanigan
  • Michelle "Mickey" Klement
  • Chris Livatino
  • Barb Maue
  • Randy Oberembt
  • Carole Rassi
  • Keith Rassi
  • Joe Ringham
  • Dan Stephenson
  • William Taylor

Brief biographies of the award winners follow:

Kelly Cummings

As a member of the IHSA March Madness Experience Volunteer Committee for the past 18 years, Kelly has been the face of the MME volunteer check-in room. She can be found there both tournament weekends.

For the past five years, she has brought 60 students from Sterling Middle School in Peoria with her to volunteer at the various games inside the March Madness Experience. In addition, she has coordinated the check-in process for the annual Legends Clinic for 10 years. Her knowledge and expertise have been integral to the success of the MME.

Kelly is a sixth grade Science and Social Studies teacher at Sterling Middle School. During her career, she has coached girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, boys and girls volleyball and girls softball. In addition, she is a trustee on the Peoria Park Board and serves on the State of Illinois Board of Trustees.

Sara Flanigan

Sara is an IHSA Clinician for Competitive Cheer and Competitive Dance. She has coached cheer and dance for over 25 years and has served as an IHSA Official for the past 10 years. She was selected as a state final official for the first three IHSA Competitive Dance State Finals as well as all ten IHSA Competitive Cheer State Finals.

She served on the IHSA Cheer Advisory Committee and was a member of the first IHSA Competitive Dance Advisory Committee, where she was instrumental in developing the dance scoring rubric. She is a member of the IHSA Officials Summer Conference Planning Committee and was recently invited to serve as a member of the Illinois Advisory Council on Player Safety as a part of the new Play Smart. Play Hard. campaign.

Sara is the co-founder and current president of the Illinois Spirit Officials Association. In 2011, she was named the Cheer Official of the Year.

Michelle "Mickey" Klement

For over 30 years, Mickey has served as an educator and cheerleading coach at Lockport High School.

In 1983, Mickey and several other high school coaches founded the Illinois Cheer Coaches Association (ICCA). She has worked diligently to improve the safety and skills for Illinois cheerleaders. During the 1990s, Mickey represented Illinois on the NFHS Spirit Advisory Committee and as the NFHS Director of Spirit Education for Illinois. She worked with the IHSA Board to establish the NFHS Spirit Rules and has served as a Spirit Rules Interpreter since 1995. In 2004, she received the NFHS Spirit Contributor of the Year for Section IV.

Mickey served on the committee to establish Competitive Cheer as an IHSA sport, the IHSA Competitive Cheer Advisory Committee and the IHSA Officials Advisory Committee. As the Head Clinician for Competitive Cheer, she oversaw the organization and updating of the officials training curriculum. Mickey has been an IHSA Certified official for 10 years and has served as the Coordinator of Officials for 8 years. She continues to assist coaches by teaching the AACCA Safety Certification Course.

Chris Livatino

Prior to Chris being appointed to serve as the Athletic Director at Evanston Township High School in 2006, he coached boys volleyball and girls volleyball. He was also a member of the IHSA Volleyball Advisory Committee and the IHSA Governance Action Team.

He has hosted over 35 IHSA Regional, Sectional and Super-Sectional tournaments in a wide variety of sports. He has also hosted nine IHSA Swimming and Diving State Finals since becoming the Athletic Director at Evanston. His attention to detail and expertise have contributed to making the state finals some of the most exciting in the country.

Chris has been active with the Illinois Athletic Directors Association (IADA) and the Central Suburban League. He will begin his term as the President of the CSL in the fall of 2016. He was a presenter at the IADA Conference in 2014 on the successful measures he and John Catalano have taken to increase participation in girls sports at their respective schools.

Barb Maue

Barb has worked countless hours training and leading the volleyball officials in Illinois to prepare them to one day work a state final match. She has been an IHSA licensed official since 1976 and has been Certified in volleyball for nearly 15 years. At the IHSA Girls Volleyball State Final, she served as a line judge in 1991, 1992, 1993 and 1994. She served as a state final official from 1995-2000 and again in 2002 and 2004.

She has served as the Head Volleyball Clinician since the inception of the clinician program and has been a pioneer in advancing the training for volleyball officials. She created the curriculum used at the volleyball clinics and has worked with the volleyball rules interpreters reviewing the officials test questions and NFHS rules changes. She has been the Coordinator of Officials for over a decade, bringing structure and leadership to the officiating crew working the IHSA Girls Volleyball State Finals.

She was named the Official of the Year for Volleyball in 2000.

Randy Oberembt

Randy has been an educator since 1976 serving as a teacher, Assistant Principal and Athletic Director. He was a Head Football Coach and a Head Track & Field Coach prior to beginning his tenure at New Trier High School. Since 2007, Randy has served as the Athletic Director at New Trier where his responsibilities include the oversight of nearly 200 administrators and coaches within the grade 9-12 program of interscholastic athletics.

Randy has hosted many IHSA tournaments during his tenure as Athletic Director. He has also served as the IHSA Swimming State Final host for the last eight years. He has been responsible for providing an outstanding venue for the IHSA Girls and Boys Swimming State Finals.

He has also been active with the Illinois Athletic Directors Association (IADA) serving as the Chair of the IADA State Conference Registration Committee since 2011, as a presenter and as a member of the Vendor Committee. He was selected as the St. Louis Athletic Director of the Year in 2003 while working in Missouri, and was inducted into the Knox College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2002.

Carol Rassi

The Rassi family has been responsible for overseeing the IHSA Media Room at the IHSA Boys Basketball State Finals. As a member of the IHSA Boys Basketball Game Day Management Team since 1998, Carole has provided valuable assistance in the smooth operation of the day to day operation of the state finals from organizing stats pages that are distributed to the media during and after each contest. If there is a question or problem, Carole is there to assist the media covering the tournaments.

Since 1980, she has volunteered on the Men’s and Women’s Basketball Statistical and Game Management Crews at Bradley University. She also served in that capacity at the IHSA Sectional and Super-Sectional games held at Robertson Fieldhouse and the IBCA All-Star Boys Basketball games held in Peoria.

She is a recipient of the 2010 “B” Club Billy Stone Service Award in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the Bradley University Athletic Department.

Keith Rassi

You have been able to find Keith in the media room at Carver Arena since the IHSA Boys Basketball Tournament came to Peoria in 1996. As a part of the Game Day Management Crew, he and his wife, Carole, have been team members who help insure that everything runs smoothly for the media. Keith has worn many hats during his time in the media room -- from historian to concierge to the dreaded copier repairman. Without his can-do attitude, the media room would not function so smoothly.

He has volunteered on the Men’s and Women’s Basketball Statistical and Game Management Crews at Bradley University since 1980. Keith also served in that capacity at the IHSA Sectional and Super-Sectional games held at Robertson Fieldhouse and the IBCA All-Star Boys Basketball games held in Peoria.

In recognition of his service to the Bradley University Athletic Department, he received the 2010 “B” Club Billy Stone Service Award.

Joe Ringham

Since 2005, Joe has been a part of the Game Day Management Crew for the IHSA Boys Basketball State Finals at Carver Arena. As a member of the all-volunteer crew, he assists in the duplication and distribution of game stats and other pertinent materials to the media and other officials.

Joe remains a jack-of-all trades among the media volunteer staff. He is often called upon to head to the upper area concourse to work with the official stats crew who is scoring the game live, or with the stats runners who distribute stats to media and teams during games, as well as the scorers table for whatever issues may arise.

He has been the Peoria Richwoods PA Announcer for Football and Boys Basketball for 11 years where he announced 16 Football Playoff games and 2 Boys Basketball Regionals. He was a member of the grounds crew for the 2011 IHSA Class 1A and 2A Baseball State Finals. Since 2006, he has served as the PA announcer for the regular-season high school baseball contests. In addition, he has been an Announcer at the IHSA Class 1A and 2A Baseball State Finals since 2013. His will-do attitude is appreciated by all working the tournament.

Dan Stephenson

Without the help of the Assistant Chief of Fisheries, Dan Stephenson, and the Department of Natural Resources, the IHSA would not have been able to hold the inaugural IHSA Bass Fishing State Tournament in 2009. Dan’s help to identify the best bodies of water for competition has been an important step in insuring that the participants have a good experience on the water. He has provided assistance in securing permits each year for the Sectionals and State Final. In addition, he works with local fisheries and biologists to make sure fish are returned to their habitat. He also insures that Department of Natural Resources representatives are present to assist with boat checks prior to each tournament.

Thanks to Dan’s assistance, thousands of Illinois high school students have had an opportunity to represent their high schools and enrich their own educational experience. Today, the IHSA Bass Fishing Tournament is considered to be the best in the nation thanks to the hard work and dedication of people like Dan.

William Taylor

For the past 19 years, Bill has been a member of the Volunteer Committee for the IHSA March Madness Experience. He is the detail man when it comes to coordinating the extensive needs required for the Volunteer Committee. Bill leads and organizes the 37-person committee in addition to recruiting and training new volunteer members. His responsibilities also include the coordination and scheduling of all of the announcers, check-in volunteers and event volunteers for the Legends Clinic each year. His dedication is truly remarkable.

Bill also serves on the Steering Committee for the IHSA Boys Basketball State Finals in Peoria. He is a past recipient of the March Madness Volunteer of the Year Award and the Over & Above The Rim Award.

He also has held various positions in Peoria area youth sports programs including the Peoria Girls Sports League, Richwoods Junior Football League and Richwoods Youth Baseball.

8th Annual IHSA Distinguished Service Award winners are:

  • Sister John Lalande Baricevic, SSND of Belleville
  • Dan Fulscher of Lincoln
  • Dr. James L. Green of Jacksonville
  • Robert Grierson of Skokie
  • Matthew Norris of Arlington Heights
  • John Novak of Arlington Heights
  • Drew Potthoff of Woodstock
  • Jim Prunty of Oak Lawn
  • Katie Hogan VanCleveof Peoria
  • Elighie Wilson III of Forrest Park
  • Dr. Preston M. Wolin of Chicago
  • Daniel Young of Arlington Heights

Brief biographies of the award winners follow:

Sister John Lalande Baricevic, SSND

Sister John established the Scholastic Bowl program at Mater Dei High School in Breese during the 1986-87 school year, the first year Scholastic Bowl was a state-sanctioned activity. She served as the coach until the end of the 1998-99 school year. During that time, she hosted local, Masonic, and IHSA tournaments and wrote questions for local elementary school scholastic bowl tournaments. She continued to moderate and write for both elementary and secondary tournaments after she left Mater Dei. Sister John first moderated at the IHSA State Finals in 1996, and continues to serve as one of the state final moderators today. At the end of the 2000-01 school year, in response to requests from the Illinois High School Scholastic Bowl Coaches Association (IHSSBCA), the IHSA agreed to purchase future questions for the State Series from a committee of retired coaches. Sister John served as a writer on that committee during its first year in 2001-02. Beginning in 2002-03, she became the head editor of that committee and continues to serve in that position. She was a founding member of the IHSSBCA, served two terms on its Board and was inducted into the IHSSBCA’s Hall of Fame as a member of its second class in 2006. Sister John has been a School Sister of Notre Dame since 1965. She currently resides in Belleville, Illinois.

Dan Fulscher

For nearly 40 years, Dan has been an IHSA wrestling official and has been involved in many leadership roles with the IHSA. He has served as a wrestling clinician since the inception of the sport clinicians program. In addition, he has served as a wrestling rules interpreter and the coordinator of officials for both the Individual and Dual Team State Final tournaments multiple times. His dedication to the education and training of wrestling officials has set him apart from other officials. Dan has been an integral part in the development of the curriculum for the officials clinics. He has developed power point presentations and serves as the instructor for many annual IHSA clinics. He has worked with other wrestling clinicians in developing a post-season regional review which is attended by many State Series officials. During his career, he has officiated 32 state finals, served two terms on the IHSA Wrestling Advisory Committee and was named as an IHSA Grand Marshall in 2008. In addition, Dan is a leader in the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association (IWCOA), serving as the Officials Chairman. In his role, he supports the IWCOA in the recruitment efforts of new officials to the association. In 2000, he was inducted into the IWCOA Hall of Fame, and in 2012, he was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Dr. James L. Green

Twenty-five years ago, Dr. Green was appointed to the IHSA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee. The Committee has been essential in looking at critical issues related to student-athlete safety and risk minimization. Dr. Green’s leadership and experience as a sports medicine practitioner has been an essential component in the Committee’s ability to provide the member schools with policies such as PES testing, concussion/return to play protocols and the football acclimatization policy to name a few. Dr. Green graduated from the University of Illinois School of Medicine and completed his Internship and Residency in Surgery at St. Louis County Hospital. He practiced General Surgery and Sports Medicine in Jacksonville, Illinois, from 1972-2003. He served as the team physician for Jacksonville High School for 30 years, the team physician for MacMurray College for 15 years and continues in that same role at Illinois College today. He is a member and Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and served on the Illinois State Medical Society Sports Medicine Committee for five years. He has received the Distinguished Citizen Award from Illinois College, the Outstanding Team Physician Award from the Illinois State Medical Society and the Friend of Education Award from the Jacksonville Education Association.

Robert Grierson

Rob was appointed to the IHSA Scholastic Bowl Advisory Committee in 1994, and has served for 18 of the last 20 years. He founded the Illinois High School Scholastic Bowl Coaches Association in 1995 and edited its newsletter, Scholastic Visions, until 2013. Rob co-authored the first editions of the Scholastic Bowl Case Book in 1999 and Rule Book in 2001, and was a co-creator of the Scholastic Bowl Score Book in 2002. He’s been a contributor to the IHSA Scholastic Bowl Handbook for Managers since 1996, the Moderator Coordinator for the IHSA Scholastic Bowl State Finals since 1997, and a question writer and proofreader for the IHSA Scholastic Bowl State Series since 2001. With a BA in Math Education and an MBA from Northwestern University, Rob taught math at Skiles Experimental Middle School in Evanston and The Latin School of Chicago for 19 years. While at Latin School, Rob served as co-Athletic Director and Technology Coordinator, and coached Middle School Soccer, Basketball, Baseball, and Varsity Scholastic Bowl. Rob was a Macintosh computer consultant with Lapin Systems in Evanston for five years, then spent ten years as the Director of the McGaw YMCA’s Camp Echo in Fremont, Michigan. Most recently, Rob has been working as a Project Manager for Chicagoland Habitat for Humanity.

Matthew Norris

Matt Norris is currently in his 17th year at John Hersey High School, where he has served in a wide range of roles, including substitute teacher, security guard, teacher, coach and administrator. He is currently the school’s Dean of Students, making him in charge of all student discipline at Hersey. Prior to becoming Dean of Students, Matt taught Social Science and coached tennis. He was Head Girls tennis coach for 11 years and Head Boys Tennis Coach for 10 years. During his time coaching, many Hersey Tennis players qualified for the IHSA State Tennis Tournament and three of his teams won divisional conference championships. In addition to his duties at Hersey, Matt has been the IHSA State Final Tennis Manager for 14 years. He has been instrumental in providing an exciting event for the state final qualifiers—one that will be remembered for the rest of their lives. During this time, he has been a member of the IHSA Tennis Advisory Committee and a member of the Illinois High School Tennis Coaches Association. During his time as a student at Augustana College, he lettered in Varsity Tennis all four years, while also being named team MVP and team captain his last two seasons. He went on to attend Roosevelt University, where he earned his Master’s Degree in Teacher Leadership and his administration certification.

John Novak

John is in his 26th year at John Hersey High School, serving as a teacher, coach, and athletic administrator. Currently, in his role as Assistant Principal for Student Activities, John oversees all co-curricular activities at the school. He served as an assistant boys basketball, boys soccer, boys tennis and girls golf coach, as well as the head boys tennis coach. It was this involvement in tennis that led to John’s work with the IHSA. He first assisted with the IHSA Tennis State Finals in 1988, serving as the Tournament Director from 1994-99. During that time, he was a member of the IHSA Tennis Advisory Committee and the Illinois High School Tennis Coaches Association Board of Directors. John has also been involved with the Illinois Athletic Directors Association, serving as the state conference program chair in 2011 and a state conference co-chair this past May. In 2009, he was named the Illinois Principals Association (IPA) Regional Assistant Principal of the Year and the IDSA Activity Director of the Year. In 2005, his school awarded him the Myrtle Rothermel Service to Colleagues Award. He was recognized by the Arlington Heights Park District for his work in advancing a partnership between the park district and the school to enhance participation in programs.

Drew Potthoff

For the past 36 years, Drew has been involved in high school athletics as a teacher, head football coach and athletic administrator. The first two stops of his career came as a teacher and head football coach at Effingham High School and Sycamore High School. He then moved on to South Beloit, where he served as a Junior High Principal, High School Assistant Principal, District Athletic Director and football coach, leading the 2002 Sobo football team to the IHSA Class 1A state championship. He then spent eight years at McHenry High School as the school’s Athletic Director, before retiring. He was the Athletic Director at Faith Lutheran High School in Crystal Lake during the 2012-13 school year, and is currently in the same role at Marian Central Catholic High School in Woodstock. Drew has served the IHSA as a Legislative Commission member and also serves on the Sportsmanship Advisory Committee. He coordinates the Sportsmanship State Final Committees for the football, wrestling and basketball tournaments. He served on the NIU planning committee and helped secure NIU's bid to host the IHSA Football State Championships. He served on the Executive Board of the Illinois Athletic Directors Association and as IADA President in 2009, and again in 2011 as Interim President. He earned his CAA in 2004 and his CMAA in 2010. He is a member of the state and national faculty for Leadership Training with the IADA and the NIAAA.

Jim Prunty

At the end of the current school year, Jim is stepping down from his position as Athletic Director at Saint Ignatius College Prep in Chicago where he served for the past 14 years. During his tenure at Saint Ignatius, he and his staff have hosted every sport (with the exception of competitive cheerleading and competitive dance) at the regional or sectional level. Over the years, Jim has served the IHSA in a number of capacities. He has been a member of the IHSA Basketball, Swimming and Diving, Tennis and Track & Field Advisory Committees. In addition, he served as a member of the IHSA Legislative Commission representing Division 1 from 2004 to 2013. He also served on the following IHSA committees: All-State Academic Selection, Public-Private Task Force, Transfer Students’ Eligibility and the Multiplier/Success Factor. During his 38-year career in education, Jim has served as a teacher, counselor and head coach in baseball and basketball. He is a member of the Chicago Catholic League, Girls Catholic Athletic Conference and Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Halls of Fame.

Katie Hogan VanCleve

During the past 15 years, Katie has been a part of the IHSA March Madness Steering Committee. Through her involvement and vision, two specific events have taken life – Access the Experience and the IHSA Wheelchair Basketball Tournament. Access the March Madness Experience is a special field trip day for people with disabilities. Katie, her Heart of Illinois Special Recreation staff, and hundreds of volunteers adapt all of the games and activities in the March Madness Experience and make them accessible. Over 1,000 students attended the annual field day trip in 2014. In addition to the field trip day, a Family Night and a Special Needs Information Fair are also held. In 2014, the Information Fair had over 300 attendees. Katie and the Peoria Wildcats Wheelchair Basketball team have served as the host team for the IHSA Wheelchair Basketball Tournament for the past 12 years. They coordinate the annual banquet for all of the teams, coaches and parents who attend the tournament each year and assist with securing hotels, bench crew and tournament volunteers. Her ability to look at existing events and adapt those events to extend their reach is truly remarkable.

Elighie Wilson III

During his career in education, Elighie spent 15 years at Illinois State University and five years at Millikin University. He is currently a Professor of Communication at Prairie State College in Chicago Heights, where he serves as the Coordinator of Faculty Development, Coordinator of the Communication Program, and is the Co-Director of the Speech Team and Summer High School Speech Workshop that prepares students for the upcoming tournament season. He has coached at the university, community college and high school levels. His students have won individual national championships, and many others were national finalists. He served as an Assistant Coach at Downers Grove South High School from 2000-2012 and his students won nine IHSA Team State Championships during that timeframe. For over 20 years, Elighie was a judge at various levels of IHSA State Series Speech Individual Events, Group Interpretation and Drama. For the last five years, he has assisted the tournament director with the Speech State Finals. He has helped countless students not only achieve competitive success, but exceed their own expectations. By example, he teaches leadership, professionalism and compassion to not only his students, but to his colleagues. Elighie has been a member of the Illinois Speech & Theater Association/Illinois Communication & Theater Association for over 25 years, and has served as its newsletter editor, Higher Education Chair, President-Elect, President, and Executive President.

Dr. Preston M. Wolin

Dr. Wolin was an inaugural member of the IHSA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, which was established in 1988. Through his quarter century of service, he has provided common-sense reason and practical experiences in formulating policies and protocols for high school student-athletes in Illinois. He founded the Center for Athletic Medicine, Ltd. in 1991, which provides multispecialty care to every level of athlete, from children to professionals. Dr. Wolin has served as a team physician for DePaul University, Loyola University, University of Illinois at Chicago, the Chicago Fire (Major League Soccer), the United States Soccer National Men’s and Women’s Teams and the Windy City ThunderBolts (Frontier League Professional Baseball). He is also the team physician for Robert Morris University, St. Rita High School, St. Ignatius College Prep and Chicago State University. He also has a subspecialty certificate in sports medicine from the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery. Dr. Wolin also has been the Vice-President of the Conference USA Medical Committee and a consultant to the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Dr. Wolin is an Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Director of the Sports Medicine Fellowship.

Daniel Young

After thirty-three years in education, Dan retired from teaching in 2008. His career as a math teacher and assistant swimming and baseball coach started at Proviso East High School. For the next thirty-one years, he taught and coached at John Hersey High School. He coached cross country for two years, track for one year, and for twenty-three years served as either the head or assistant coach for both boys and girls swimming and diving. In 2000, he became the boys athletic director at Hersey. While serving as the athletic director, Hersey High School twice won the "Paddock Cup" for having the top boys program in the Mid-Suburban League. One of the responsibilities Dan assumed was the "assistant to the meet manager" role for the IHSA Boys Tennis State Finals—a position he continues to hold while in retirement. His organizational skills have contributed to one of the finest Tennis State Finals being conducted in the country. He has been a licensed IHSA Track and Field official for 30 years and a licensed Swimming and Diving official for six years. In 2006, Hersey High School recognized Dan with the R.J. Hannon Service to Students Award. The Arlington Heights Park District also recognized him with its Community Service Award in 2007.

7th Annual IHSA Distinguished Service Award winners are:

  • Kent Ayers of Pekin
  • Ann Bagel of Hoffman Estates
  • George Dyche of Aurora
  • Owen Fuller of Marseilles
  • Larry Gassen of Downers Grove
  • Tom Heniff of Olympia Fields
  • Perry Korbakis of Crestwood
  • Chris Long of Sigel
  • Rich Marshof Sugar Grove
  • Nancy Nelson of Bloomington
  • Jean Rezny of Arlington Heights
  • Brad Stearns of Springfield

Brief biographies of the award winners follow:

Kent Ayers

Kent retired from Pekin Community High School in 2001 after 33 years of service, first as a teacher and coach, and the final 17 years as Athletic Director and director of the Pekin Holiday Basketball Tournament. He has served the IHSA by hosting numerous state series events. For 15 years, he served as the financial manager for the IHSA Girls Softball State Finals in Pekin. For 16 years, he has been the Happening Coordinator for the IHSA Girls Basketball State Finals at Redbird Arena, where he oversees all aspects of the three-point shooting competition. Kent meets with each shooter, over 2,000 through the years, to give them their final instructions along with a message of confidence before sending them out to the floor. Kent has also served the IHSA as a member of the Boys Tennis Advisory Committee and the Athletic Directors Advisory Committee. He was active in the Illinois Athletic Directors Association and was named an Athletic Director of the Year in 1998. In 2010, he was inducted into the IADA Hall of Fame. Today, he continues to be active at PCHS assisting with the Pekin Holiday Tournament and other events as needed. Kent and his wife, Ludy, have two children, Greg and Shelly Brix. Shelly and her husband Alan have two children, Jordan and Andrea.

Ann Bagel

For 10 years, Ann has been a fixture at the IHSA Girls Volleyball State Finals working in every capacity: scorekeeper, timekeeper, libero tracker. You name it, Ann has done it. In addition, she also worked at the IHSA Girls Bowling State Finals, as well as served as the State Final Manager for the last five years at the IHSA Boys Volleyball State Finals. Her coaching career includes a stretch as the head varsity softball coach at Hoffman Estates High School, and she has also served as an assistant coach at the school in girl’s basketball, soccer and bowling. Ann has been an educator at Hoffman Estates for the past 29 years. She taught math/computer science for 21 years and served as the Dean of Students one year. She served as the Athletic Director from 2001-2006, the Athletic Coordinator from 1985-2001 and was the IADA Awards Chairperson from 2003-2006. Ann is a lifetime member of the NIAAA. She graduated from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana in 1984 with a degree in Mathematics and received her Master’s Degree from National Louis University in Computer Education. She is a Certified Master Athletic Administrator (CMAA).

George Dyche

George, a graduate of West Leyden High School, earned his undergraduate degree from Coe College in 1967. In 1965, he became Coe’s first All-American wrestler when he placed fourth in the NCAA College Division National Tournament. He earned his Master’s Degree from Northern Illinois University in 1981. In the fall of 1967, he began his forty-year teaching and coaching career. In 1972, George took over the wrestling program at West Aurora High School and remained in that position for the next 33 years. During his thirty-six year high school coaching career, his teams won over 420 dual meets. He coached 47 state qualifiers, twenty of whom were medalists — including five state champions and two silver medalists. George has served as IWCOA President and as Co-Chairman of the Illinois Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. For close to two decades, he has served on the IWCOA Hall of Fame Selection Committee. George is currently a member of the Coe College Athletic Hall of Fame, the Midlands Hall of Fame, the West Aurora Athletic Hall of Fame and the IWCOA Hall of Fame. He has received the National Wrestling Hall of Fame – Illinois Chapter Lifetime Service Award as well as the IWCOA Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2006, the IWCOA recognized George as its Man of the Year.

Owen Fuller

Owen first registered as an IHSA official in Track & Field and Cross Country in 1983 and became Certified in 1988. Owen served as the Head Long Jump Judge at the IHSA Girls Track & Field State Finals from 1988-1995. He also worked for more than 20 years in the Clerk’s tent at both the IHSA Boys and Girls State Track Meets. He was appointed the Head Clerk of Course for the IHSA Boys State Meet in 2005 and for the Girls State Meet in 2007. He has officiated numerous Cross Country Invitationals and IHSA Regionals and Sectionals during the past 25 years. He has served as the Clerk of the Course for both the IESA and IHSA Cross Country State Finals and has served as the Coordinator of Officials for both state meets since 2007. Owen serves the IHSA as a Rules Interpreter and Certified Clinician in the sports of Track & Field and Cross Country. He is a Past President of the Illinois Track & Cross Country Officials Association where he served as President in 2008 and 2009. After a 35 year career as a high school chemistry teacher, he retired in 2007. He now resides in Marseilles with his wife, JoEllen. They enjoy traveling and their four grandchildren, two dogs and four cats.

Larry Gassen

A graduate of Illinois State University, Larry earned three letters for the Redbirds in football. After earning his Master’s Degree in 1965, he began teaching mathematics and coaching football and wrestling in Crete. In 1967, he moved to Downers Grove South High School where he just completed his 48th year coaching wrestling. He served 13 years as a head coach and 35 years as an assistant. He also spent 20 years coaching football. Larry is a lifetime member of the Illinois Wrestling Coaches & Officials Association where he served on the Executive Board for 27 years. He has volunteered at 17 IHSA Dual Team Wrestling State Finals and at the last 13 IHSA Individual Wrestling State Tournaments. He was the Grand Marshal in 2005 and has been setting up the weigh-in procedure for the IHSA Individual Wrestling State Tournament by providing detailed graphics of the facility set-up. In addition, each year, he travels to the IHSA Office to help with the seeding of the individual wrestlers. In 1993, he was selected as the IWCOA Man of the Year. He was inducted into the IWCOA Hall of Fame in 1995 and received the IWCOA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009. In 2007, Larry received the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Lifetime Service Award. He was honored with the Alumni Award of Excellence by Downers Grove North High School in 2009.

Tom Heniff

Tom has been an athlete, coach and official during his career. In 1972, he began his head coaching duties at Richards High School, where he coached for 11 years, including six team finishes of sixth-place or better. His teams won two State Championships, one Runner-up and one Third Place. He had 33 state qualifiers, 20 place winners, five State Champions and two undefeated dual teams. While coaching, he became a licensed wrestling official and was a part of a group that was instrumental in the formulation of the present day officials clinics. Five times, he was chosen as the Official of the Year for the South Inter-Conference Association. From 1994 to 2004, he worked a combination of 11 Dual Team or Individual State Wrestling Championships. Since his retirement from officiating in 2004, he has worked as a volunteer at the meets as a weigh-in official/supervisor. He has been a member of the Illinois Wrestling Coaches & Officials Association since its inception and was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 1982. Tom was selected to serve as a Grand Marshal of both the Kids and IHSA State Tournaments. He was voted the IWCOA’s Official of the Year three times, its Man of the Year in 2001, given a Lifetime Achievement Award from the IWCOA and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum. Tom is a board member of the Richards Athletic Hall of Fame, and was inducted into Richards’ first Athletic Hall of Fame class in 2006. In May of 2013, he was inducted into Evergreen Park’s Hall of Fame. Tom is married to Suzanne, and together they have 4 children and 9 grandchildren.


Perry Korbakis

For the past twelve years, Perry has been guiding all IHSA Water Polo officials. He has been instrumental in creating the Part 1 and Part 2 officials exams, clinic curriculums and the content for the Water Polo Rules Interpretation meetings. He is one of the first officials to reach the Certified level in Water Polo. In addition, he has been recruiting and educating new Water Polo officials since the IHSA began licensing officials in the sport. Serving as the Coordinator of Officials at the IHSA Boys and Girls Water Polo State Finals, he has been managing the head table at the state finals. His knowledge of the rules of water polo and his experiences as an official has benefitted the student-athletes and coaches involved in the state tournament. His service to the IHSA, its member schools, coaches, student-athletes and fans has been instrumental to the IHSA Water Polo State Series. Perry has been integral in promoting the growth of the sport of Water Polo by providing mentoring and education for new officials as well as conducting clinics throughout the state where there is interest in starting a Water Polo program. He has been recognized for his work as a leader in Water Polo on both the state and national level.

Chris Long

Chris has been involved as an IHSA official in five sports (basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball and football) for over 30 years. His is Certified in baseball, softball, volleyball and football and Recognized in Basketball. He has been assigned to officiate an IHSA Football State Championship game three times and the IHSA Girls Softball State Final five times. In addition, he has served as the Umpire in Chief at the IHSA Softball State Finals on nine different occasions. He presently assists the IHSA as a Softball Rules Interpreter and has served three terms on the IHSA Officials Advisory Committee. Chris served as an administrator in Effingham and Shelbyville before he began his 20-plus years as Superintendent for Kansas Unit #3 Schools. He said, “I truly enjoy serving the IHSA in any capacity, whether it be as an official or on a committee of any sorts.” Long lives in Sigel, Illinois, with his wife of 26 years, Sheryl, and has four children – Abbie, Baylie, Caleb and Demmie.

Rick Marsh

Rick has served as an official, mentor, clinician, recruiter and educator in the sport of Water Polo since its inception in 2002. He has been instrumental in guiding the IHSA Water Polo Officials through training, clinics, testing, and rules interpretation meetings. He is a Certified Water Polo Official who has provided opportunities for new officials to be trained for the girls and boys water polo season. Thanks to his involvement, the number of licensed high school Water Polo officials in Illinois has more than doubled. Rick has conducted clinics in different parts of the state where there is interest to begin a Water Polo program. He has also worked at the national level and has been recognized by coaches, players and peers as a leader in Water Polo. By serving as the Coordinator of Officials at the IHSA Girls and Boys Water Polo State Finals, Rick has helped establish a successful state final. His hard work, dedication and exemplary service to the IHSA and its member schools have been essential to the growth of the program in Illinois.

Nancy Nelson

After staying home to raise her three daughters, Nancy transitioned into a job in the insurance industry, where she worked for more than 20 years. While in insurance, Nancy fell in love with the game of golf and ventured out to turn the game into a career, working part-time at the Bloomington Golf Courses. Realizing that golf was her true career path, she made the full-time switch from insurance to managing Prairie Vista Golf Course in 1997. She is the Golf Operations Manager for the City of Bloomington Golf Courses. A 15 year veteran of the IHSA Boys Golf State Finals, Nancy has become the face of the IHSA Class 1A and 2A Boys Golf State Finals. Her attention to detail—whether finding volunteers, setting up concessions or posting tee times—creates a first class atmosphere for all who are participating in the event. She says that she "loves that her job is truly rewarding each and every day.” While she enjoys taking care of the day-to-day needs of the golfing public in the Twin Cities, her most enjoyable accomplishments are working with the various junior golf tournaments and providing young players lessons. Nancy spends what free time she has away from the golf courses with her daughters and seven grandchildren.

Jean Rezny

Jean attended Western Illinois University where she received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Physical Education in 1981 and a Masters of Science Degree in Physical Education, with an emphasis in Athletic Administration, in 1983. She has been a District #214 teacher and coach since 1984 at Prospect High School. She has coached 42 seasons at three schools in the district: Prospect, Elk Grove and Buffalo Grove. She has coached Boys Golf, Girls Volleyball, Boys and Girls Tennis and Girls Badminton. Since 1984, Jean has been the central figure at the IHSA Girls Tennis State Finals. She has served as the IHSA Girls Tennis State Final Manager for the past 12 years. Prior to that, she served as the Assistant Manager for 17 years. She has provided leadership and professionalism for all who have attended the IHSA Girls Tennis State Finals. With the state final being conducted in the fall, the tournament always seems to face some unique weather situations. Her calm attitude and tireless work ethic ensures that the IHSA Girls Tennis State Finals are an outstanding event. A coach who worked with Jean for many years said, “Jean Rezny is one of the most dedicated, dependable and hardworking individuals that I have ever worked with – inside or outside the tennis courts.” Jean was inducted into the Hall of Fame at Western Illinois University in 1994.

Brad Stearns

Brad has been a licensed IHSA Football Official since 1977 and has been Certified since 1982. He became licensed in Baseball in 1979 and has been Certified since 1983. Brad has served as a clinician in both sports and has conducted clinics throughout the state. For the past 15 years, he has been the Head Clinician in Baseball. He was the first to develop clinic power points for our baseball clinicians and provides the basis for mechanics used in both 2-man and 3-man umpiring systems used in Illinois. Since 1988, he has been assigned to officiate IHSA Football Playoff games, culminating with an assignment to the IHSA Class 3A Football State Championship in 2011. He was assigned to officiate the IHSA Baseball State Finals in 1996, 1997, 1998 and 2000 and has served as the Coordinator of Umpires at the IHSA Baseball State Finals for the past 10 years. He is a charter member of the Springfield Area Officials Association (SAOA) where he has served as the Baseball Secretary, Football Secretary and SAOA President. In 1997 and 2000, Brad received the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) Award for Baseball Official of the Year in Illinois. In 2007, he was inducted into the Springfield Sports Hall of Fame as a “Friend of Sport”, primarily as a Sports Official.

6th Annual IHSA Distinguished Service Award winners are:

  • Hector Carabez of Glenview
  • Pat Creek of Quincy
  • Mike Creek of Quincy
  • Dan Cunningham of East Peoria
  • Greg Gaa of Limestone
  • Ron Gibson of Naperville
  • Bill Laude of Frankfort
  • Michael Nisen of Rolling Meadows
  • Matt Piescinski of Charleston
  • Sally Renaud of Charleston
  • James Tidwell of Charleston
  • Patricia Wozny of Chicago

Brief biographies of the award winners follow:

Hector Carabez

For over thirty years, Hector has been on staff at Glenbrook South High School in Glenview. He has served as the announcer for football, basketball, volleyball and gymnastics contests and has kept stats at wrestling tournaments. He has also served as the liaison between the student activities office and the Special Education Department. He coached girls softball, girls golf and freshman and sophomore cheerleading, but found his true coaching passion in 1993 when he began coaching boys and girls soccer at Glenbrook South. In 2002, Hector was honored as the inaugural recipient of the Illinois High School Soccer Coaches Association Boys Soccer Assistant Coach of the Year Award. Since 1995, Hector has been a member of the Girls Soccer State Final stats crew. In 2001, he began serving on the stats crew for the Boys Soccer State Final. He has worked all the boys and girls state final soccer games since then with the exception of one game in 2005 when his boys team made the quarterfinals and two games in 2010 when his girls team made the final four. In 2010, he served as the announcer for the Class 1A Girls Soccer State Final. In 2011 and 2012, he announced the Class 2A and 3A Girls Soccer State Finals.

Mike Creek

Mike is a graduate of Herrin High School and Quincy College. He started umpiring right after high school helping the Herrin Park District with the younger children. His father was a respected umpire for many years and helped him get off to a good start, but it was his wife, Pat, who got him back into umpiring. He would always go to the clinics and rules meetings with her. When her partner retired, she asked if he could step in as her new partner. Since then he has umpired most of his 29 years as an IHSA umpire on a two-person team with his wife. He was appointed to be a part of the first team of clinicians to conduct a mechanics clinic for softball umpires and still serves the IHSA as a softball clinician. When the 25th Anniversary of IHSA Softball was held at Mineral Springs Park in Pekin, Mike served on the IHSA Committee to mark the occasion. Mike was a volunteer for the first three Officials Conferences and has served as a softball conference clinician or assistant each year the conference has been held. He is a certified softball and volleyball official for the IHSA. He has been assigned regional post season assignments and one sectional. He has also served as a line judge for sectionals. Mike is a member of the Capital Area Officials Association and a founding member of the Western Illinois Volleyball Officials Association. He firmly believes that we all need to give back to the sport that has given us so much joy.

Pat Creek

Pat taught physical education and health at Camp Point (Central) for 33 years and five years of seventh grade Language Arts. In her third year of teaching, Pat (with the support of several Board members) was able to introduce and coach two girls sports and expand it to coaching all five sports the next year. Central’s girls athletic program included softball, volleyball, bowling, basketball and track. This fulfilled one of Pat’s high school goals…to be instrumental in providing opportunities for girls to compete, to represent their school, and to benefit from participation in athletics as well as to receive a quality education. She has been an IHSA certified official in volleyball and softball for 39 years. She has officiated numerous volleyball regionals, sectionals and super-sectionals, and has been a state final line judge two times and a state final official two times. She is currently an IHSA Volleyball clinician. She has umpired 15 Girls Softball State Finals and has been an Umpire-in-Chief twice. Four times, she has been selected as the recipient of the NFOA Outstanding Softball Award. She served as the Illinois representative on the NFHS Softball Committee and also served on the IHSA Sportsmanship Committee for two years. She was selected by the IHSA to attend a Michael Josephson Character Counts program with an emphasis on sportsmanship. Pat was a member of the Officials Conference Committee for its first three years and served as a Conference Speaker and Clinician. She has also been inducted into the Illinois Coaches Hall of Fame for Umpires. Pat was asked by the IHSA to help develop a forerunner of the softball education program by teaching mechanics at selected clinics. She was a member of the first Softball Curriculum Development Committee, served the IHSA as a softball clinician and rules interpreter and has been the Head Softball Clinician since 2001. She has enjoyed knowing three and four generations of families through sports. She says that it doesn’t seem possible that she has shared IHSA history with so many wonderful friends both on and off the field/court.

Dan Cunningham

Dan is the Executive Director of EastSide Centre in East Peoria, Illinois. He has held that position since 2000. He has hosted many East Peoria High School athletic events and numerous other IHSA regionals, sectionals and super-sectionals. In 2001, the Girls Softball State Finals were awarded to EastSide Centre. This is the twelfth year hosting the Girls Softball State Finals. Landing the IHSA Finals was the catalyst that helped EastSide become one of the outstanding youth sports facilities in the Midwest -- hosting numerous state, regional and national tournaments over the years. Prior to joining EastSide, Dan enjoyed 10 plus year stints of employment with Caterpillar and SVI Systems. In 2011, Dan was elected into the National Softball Association Hall of Fame in Lousiville, Kentucky.

Greg Gaa

Greg has served on the IHSA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee since 1991 where he has been a valuable voice of the committee, bringing his expertise and perspective from the athletic training community to the group. In addition, he has been the Medical/Sports Medicine Coordinator for the IHSA Boys Basketball State Finals since 1996, the Girls Softball State Finals since 2001, the Girls and Boys Cross Country State Finals since 2007 and the IHSA Class 1A and 2A Boys Baseball State Finals since 2011. He has been employed by Great Plains Orthopaedics in Peoria since 1989 where he is the Director of Therapy and Outreach Services. He is a member of the United States Anti-Doping Agency where he currently serves as the Lead Doping Control Officer and conducts event and out-of-competition drug testing. In 2006, Greg was named to the Illinois Athletic Trainers Association Hall of Fame. In 2007, he received the Service Award from the Peoria Football Coaches Association. In 2011, he received the Athletic Trainer Service Award from the National Athletic Trainers Association.

Ron Gibson

Ron began his career with the Naperville Community Unit School District in 1966 as a social studies teacher and continued for the next 38 years culminating in 2004 after holding the position of Associate Superintendent for Elementary Education for 23 years. He received the Outstanding Young Educator (OYE) Award for Community Service, the Community Service Award as a Distinguished Educator and in 2008, Steeple Run Elementary was dedicated to him. Since the first year the tournament was held at the Assembly Hall, in 1972-73, Ron has been working at the IHSA Boys Wrestling State Final. He began his service working at the scorer’s table and then moved to the announcer’s position in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s. In addition, he has worked at all of the Boys Wrestling conference meets and the regional and sectional tournaments that have been hosted by the Naperville School District. Since 1996, he has also been the voice at all football and basketball games hosted by the district. Throughout his career, he always maintained that it was important to “give back”. He was heavily involved in community service for many years. He served on the Naper Settlement Board in the 1990s, was appointed to the DuPage County Ethics Commission in 2005 and has served on the Personnel Committee of the DuPage Children’s Museum since 2005. In 2006, he was appointed to the Naperville River Walk Commission.


Bill Laude

Bill joined the IHSA as an official in baseball and basketball in 1967 and added football in 1971. He has served as a state final official in all three sports. He has made three trips to the Boys Basketball State Finals, three trips to the Boys Baseball State Finals and five trips to the Boys Football Championships. Bill’s dedication to the IHSA goes beyond these many trips of post season officiating success. Over the years, Bill has assumed many leadership roles in officials’ education with the IHSA. He serves as a football rules interpreter and head clinician. He annually is an instructor in the “Train the Trainer” program. This program is the initial building block to officials’ education. Bill has provided great leadership since the inception of this course as an instructor and curriculum developer. Bill has been the Head Official for the Football Playoffs since 1999 except for two years, 2003 and 2009, when he was on the field as a working official. In addition, for the past five years, he has been the voice of the IHSA Boys Baseball State Finals. He is the past president of two different local officials associations, the South Suburbs Officials Association (SSOA) and the Central Officials Association (COA). He was named the Illinois NFOA Baseball Official of the year in 1996 and the Illinois NFOA Football Official of the year in 2000. Bill was inducted into the Illinois High School Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2000, the Chicago Public League Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2010 and the COA Hall of Fame in 2011.

Michael Nisen

For an astonishing 47 years, Mike has been involved with the boys golf state series as either a coach or volunteer. He served as the boys varsity golf coach at Prospect High School from 1965-66 to 1970-71 and at Rolling Meadows High School from1971-72 to 1999-2000. During those years, Mike developed not only quality golfers, but numerous quality young men who undoubtedly used the lessons taught by their coach and the game of golf to make their own positive contributions in life. Since 1990, Mike has been volunteering at the Boys Golf State Finals. In those early years, Mike worked the scoreboard, keeping results posted as they came in. He continued working at the scoreboard but added the responsibility of working the official scorer's table when it moved to Crestwicke Country Club. After two years, he began announcing tee times in addition to working at the official scorer’s table. He has continued working as the announcer and as the lead person at the official scorer's table since then. Always adorned in his trademark yellow rain suit, “Big Bird” as he’s affectionately known, has been a familiar face to generations of golfers and golfing families in Illinois. He said that he looks forward to seeing former coaching colleagues and watching the outstanding young golfers this state produces every year.

Matt Piescinski

Matt’s work as a Public Address announcer for the IHSA began in the 1972-73 school year, where, at age 15, he started a three year run as the PA Announcer for the Dolton (Thornridge) Class AA Boys Basketball regional. His association with Boys Basketball resumed in 1979 at the Charleston Class A Super-Sectional. For the next 25 years, he was a regular voice at that state tournament venue, as part of his career as Eastern Illinois University’s stadium announcer for Panther Football and Basketball. However, his most permanent and productive IHSA Championship home has come not from March Madness, but from the Spring Spectacular. In 1991, Matt joined the announcing staff of the Boys Track & Field State Final Meet. In 1992, he was requested to join the Girls Track and Field State Final Meet staff, and from that time forward he has been considered the voice of the State Final Track Meets. As part of his preparation for the championship weekends each May, Matt spends time each season calling indoor and outdoor meets across Illinois. In November, 2006, Matt had the opportunity to join the officials group at Detweiller Park, Peoria, for the Boys and Girls Cross Country State Final. His assignment there has been to provide live “play-by-play” of each of the six races as transmitted from the lead truck. In that same year, EIU became the host of the IHSA Badminton finals, and at that single class championship, Matt has been the Master of Ceremonies and the Meet Announcer. Matt is a 1975 graduate of Dolton (Thornridge) where he was part of two State Championship performances in Drama (1972) and Readers Theatre (1975). He is a graduate of EIU, where he continues to serve his alma mater as master of ceremonies at commencement and other special events.

Sally Renaud

Sally is an associate professor at Eastern Illinois University, teaching history of American journalism and writing courses for the department of journalism. She advises EIU’s Warbler yearbook and the Society for Collegiate Journalists. For the past six years, she has served as the co-host and co-manager of the IHSA Journalism State Final at Eastern Illinois University. She was instrumental in the development of the state tournament from its inception. Her expertise was valuable in setting up the Terms and Conditions and formalizing the state final competition. Sally, along with James Tidwell, believed that the tournament would give students in our state the exposure and recognition that often times is overlooked with student publications. Throughout her career, Sally has worked with high school and college journalism programs, both in the classroom and with events. She is a frequent speaker at state and national high school and college journalism conventions and workshops, and she has written articles for high school and college publications. She also is the Executive Director of the Illinois Journalism Education Association, which supports Illinois high school journalism advisers and educators, and is the immediate past president of the College Media Association, which supports college media advisers and educators.

James Tidwell

James, professor and chair of the journalism department at Eastern Illinois University, has been a college educator since 1973. Before joining the EIU faculty in 1987, he taught journalism at Indiana University Southeast and at Tulsa (Okla.) Community College. From 1969-73, he was a reporter and editor for several daily newspapers in Oklahoma. At EIU, he teaches communication law and is a legal adviser to student media. James, along with Sally Renaud, is the host and manager of the IHSA Journalism State Final at EIU. He was involved with the development of the tournament from its inception. He wanted to recognize the skills of students who work with their newspapers and yearbooks. He and Sally were instrumental in developing a competition with fifteen categories where the students could display their talents in a head-to-head onsite competition.
He is a member of the College Media Association’s Hall of Fame and the Illinois Journalism Education Association Hall of Fame. James has been awarded the Reid Montgomery Distinguished Service Award and the Louis Ingelhart First Amendment Award from the College Media Association. In addition, he also has been awarded the Medal of Merit from the Journalism Education Association, the David Adams Journalism Educator of the Year Award from the Scholastic Journalism Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Illinois Journalism Education Association.

Patricia Wozny

Patti retired in 2008 after serving 35 years in south suburban high schools. She successfully taught and coached speech and drama at perennial powerhouse Thornwood High School in South Holland. During her tenure, she garnered five IHSA Group Interpretation Championships from 1981-1993 at Thornwood and won three consecutive IHSA Drama State Championships at Homewood-Flossmoor. She then continued her career as an administrator/curriculum coordinator for language arts at Rich Central in Olympia Fields. In 1992, Patti was appointed to the IHSA Drama and Group Interpretation Advisory Committee and became the chairperson of the state final committee in 2003. For the last eight years, she has served as the State Final Manager for the IHSA Drama/Group Interpretation State Finals. She also serves the IHSA as the coordinator for the Performance in the Round competition at the Individual Events State Final. Her leadership on the Advisory Committee has helped make the tournaments the premier events they are today. Patti’s mission is to engage, educate and inspire others through performing arts. Her unfailing effort to help directors and students strengthen their character, emotional development and self-esteem through drama is unfounded. In 2010, she became a member of the Joseph Jefferson committee in Chicago where she evaluates as many as 180 plays a year. The play really is the thing in her life.

5th Annual IHSA Distinguished Service 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.

4th Annual IHSA Distinguished Service Award winners are:

  • John Anderson of Rockford
  • Bonnie Harper of Rockford
  • Richard Hecathorn of Leland
  • Dick Inman of Earlville
  • Dave Kidwell of Charleston
  • Kerry Krempasky of Metropolis
  • Bud Lachel of West Dundee
  • Mike Manahan of Bloomington
  • Mickey Pruitt of Chicago
  • John Sommer of Rockford
  • Fred Vogt of Pekin
  • John Widmayer of Woodstock

Brief biographies of the award winners follow:

John Anderson

Serving as one of the current site managers for the Girls Bowling State Finals is John Anderson. John and Bonnie Harper serve as the heart and soul of the bowling tournament. He has been active with youth bowling programs for over thirty years.

John has served in various capacities: Northern Illinois Bowling Proprietors Association President, Rockford Area Youth USBC President, Illinois State Bowling Proprietors Association Director and Assistant Zone 1 Director Illinois United States Bowling Congress.

He also serves on the Rockford Area High School Bowling Board of Directors and is the Rockford Area Middle School Bowling Commissioner.


Bonnie Harper

Bonnie is one of the current site managers at Cherry Bowl Lanes, the host of the IHSA Girls Bowling State Finals. Bonnie and John Anderson work hand-in-hand to run Cherry Bowl Lanes. Through her leadership during the past 15 years, the tournament has become kid and fan friendly.

Bonnie has been the manager at Cherry Bowl since 1995. She has been a member of the WIBC for 48 years and has held numerous offices at the local, state and national level. In addition, she has been involved in numerous state and national tournaments.

She has been very involved in volunteer work as an instructor, director and assistant in the junior program. In 2001, Bonnie received the meritorious Illinois Girls Coaches Association Appreciation Award from the IGCA. She was inducted into the Rockford Area Bowlers Hall of Fame in 2003.

Bonnie commented that her greatest contribution and love is for the junior leagues and high school bowling.

Rick Hecathorn

Rick was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2005 as a "Friend of Basketball". He was recruited by Dick Inman to serve on the bench crew at the IHSA Girls Basketball State Finals in 1995. He has served as a scorekeeper, timer and scorer during his tenure. Rick has always tracked the stats needed to complete the NFHS data as well as his other duties on the bench.

Rick started working at the table for Leland High School home games in 1970. By the early 1980s, he was the scorekeeper for all the grade school and high school home basketball games.

Rick is a graduate of Leland High School. Prior to his retirement in March of
2010, he was employed as a truck mechanic at a local trucking firm before becoming a Laborer in the construction field.

Dick Inman

In 1995, Dick was recruited by Don Robinson to work on the girls basketball bench crew for a "year or two." He served in that capacity for fifteen years.

Dick was Mr. All Everything at Earlville High School. He was the head coach in ten different sports at Earlville and served as the athletic director.

In addition to serving on the bench crew, Dick was president of the Little Ten Conference from 1975-86, was the IADA district representative for seven years and was named a Class A Outstanding Athletic Director of the Year in 1993. Dick served on the IHSA Athletic Administrators Advisory Committee from 1979-81. He was also an IHSA official in basketball for twelve years. He was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2000.

Dick passed away on March 22, shortly after the girls basketball tournaments. His friendship will be missed by everyone in the IHSA community.

Dave Kidwell

Dave is the Assistant Athletic Director/Special Projects Manager at Eastern Illinois University. He has assisted with the administration of the Girls Track & Field State Finals since 1973 and the Boys Track & Field State Finals since 1974. In addition, he has been involved with the administration of Boys Basketball Super-Sectionals, Boys Baseball Super-Sectionals, Girls Softball Super-Sectionals and the Girls Volleyball State Finals when EIU hosted the event in 1975.

He was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2004. In 2005, he was named the Honorary Referee of the IHSA Girls Track & Field State Finals. He also received the Community Service Award from the Illinois Parks & Recreation Association/Charleston Parks & Recreation Department.

Dave has also been involved in his community. He coached youth baseball for eight years, served three years as the PTO Treasurer at Carl Sandburg Elementary School and served six years on the Charleston Education in Excellence Foundation Board of Directors.

Kerry Krempasky

Kerry began serving as a girls basketball bench official when the tournament was in Champaign in 1988 and made the move to ISU in 1992.

Kerry has been an IHSA official in basketball since 1979 and received her 25th and 30th year awards. She has been licensed in softball since 1981 and received her IHSA 25 year award in 2005 and will receive her 30th year award in 2010. She is also licensed with the Kentucky High School Athletic Association in softball and basketball. In 1999, Kerry umpired the Kentucky Softball State Finals in Owensboro, KY.

Since 1988, Kerry has been the computer school board operator for all home games in football and basketball and also served as the official scorekeeper for Massac County High School in Metropolis. In addition, she has been a statistician for football.

She is employed in the Joppa Maple Grove School District where she served as the girls softball coach from 1999-2002 and has worked the computer scoreboard for the past twelve years.

Bud Lachel

Bud is the other member who followed the girls basketball tournament from the U of I to ISU in 1992. He has worked a total of 21 girls tournaments and 2 boys tournaments.

Bud began teaching at Cary-Grove High School during the 1966-67 school year and taught social science. He retired from teaching in 2001 after 35 years. He has served as the Cary-Grove High School boys basketball scorer since 1967. He also announced Cary-Grove football games for thirty years.

Bud has coached the Cary-Grove boys tennis team since 1969, the Cary-Grove girls tennis team since 1974 and was a scholastic bowl coach at the school for 23 years. He hosted many boys and girls tennis sectionals as well as scholastic bowl sectionals. He also served on the boys and girls state tennis seeding committee for approximately thirty years.

Mike Manahan

Mike began his coaching career at Bloomington Junior High School and went on to coach at University High School in Normal and Eureka High School before starting the wrestling program at Olympia High School in 1972. He has a career record of 421 wins, 361 losses and 3 ties, including three conference championships and 9 regional championships.

Mike had 55 state qualifiers, 18 place winners and 4 state champions during his career.

The former IHSA Wrestling Advisory Committee member and State Final Grand Marshall has hosted several IHSA Regional and Sectional wrestling tournaments and also served as the manager of the IHSA State Dual Team Wrestling Tournament.

Mike received Coach of the Year accolades from the IWCOA in 2001 and was named National Coach of the Year by the National High School Athletic Coaches Association one year later. He has also been inducted into both organizations' Halls of Fame.

A 47-year wrestling official, Mike was named the Wrestling Man of the Year award winner in 2005 and was also honored with the IWCOA's Lifetime Service Award.

Mickey Pruitt

Mickey was a standout athlete playing under the direction of his father at Robeson High School and came full circle in 1999 when he became a Chicago Public Schools sports administrator.

Mickey is the coordinator for football, wrestling and lacrosse as well as the Lane Stadium Director. Mickey currently serves on the NFHS Football Rules Committee as recommended by the IHSA. He hires the officials for all wrestling and football contests and also serves as the education coordinator for the football and wrestling officials hired by Chicago Public Schools.

Mickey has served as one of the main table workers at the Individual Wrestling State Finals for the past eight years. In addition, he has also coordinated the public school wrestling program and runs the Chicago Public Schools wrestling tournament each year.

Prior to joining the Chicago Public Schools staff, Mickey was an assistant football defensive backs coach at the University of Hawaii and a graduate assistant linebackers coach at the University of Colorado. He was a linebacker on the Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl XXVII championship winning team and also served as a linebacker for the Chicago Bears, where he received the Brian Piccolo Award for Dedication and Enthusiasm.

John Sommer

When the girls bowling state final moved to Cherry Bowl Lanes, John was the President of the Bowling Proprietors Association. John has helped the growth of bowling in the state through his leadership as the state final host and with his influence in the bowling community around the state.

John's 40-plus year career in bowling began as a porter at Don Carter Lanes in Rockford while he was still in high school. After college and serving in the U.S. Army, he returned to Rockford to manage the bowling center, expanding the business to include six centers in Northern Illinois. He founded the Youth of Northern Illinois Bowling Foundation which has provided more than $1,000,000 dollars in scholarships to area youth bowlers.

A past president of the Northern Illinois Bowling Proprietors, John currently serves on the Bowling Proprietors' Association of American Board of Directors and on the BPAA Tournament Committee. The co-founder and Chairman of the Professional Women's Bowling Association, he has been instrumental in the revival of the BPAA In-School program and the BVL "Bowlers Salute to Troops." John has also been inducted into the Hall of Fame for the BPAA, PWBA and USBC.

Fred Vogt

Fred served the IHSA as an Assistant to the Director for Speech Individual Events and Drama/Group Interpretation from 1998-2004. Prior to his retirement, Fred served Pekin High School as an educator, director and forensic coach. He was the East Campus principal for four years and was also the Math Department Chair from 1994-2009. He is currently working as the Secretary to the Assistant Principals at the school.

As a director, Fred had the prestigious honor to win a state championship in 1986 with his direction of the Group Interpretation titled "Wings". He also coached the state champion in Radio Speaking in 1995-96.

Fred remains actively involved in the Illinois Speech and Theatre Association and has served on and chaired the Drama/Group Interpretation State Tournament Committee.

He was selected by the Pekin High School Seniors as the honorary initiate into the National Honor Society in 1989 and received the PCHS outstanding Contribution Award in 2001.

John Widmayer

John has worked at Redbird arena for the IHSA Girls Basketball State Finals since 1992.

John has been a licensed official in football for 40 years, basketball for 39 years and softball for 21 years. He has officiated in ten state finals--three girls basketball state finals as a floor official in 2002, 2003 and 2006; three football playoffs in 1986, 1987 and 1990; and, the Girls Softball State Finals 1997, 1998 and 2002. The rest of the years, he served as a bench official and timer.

He served as the official scorer at the Class AA Boys Basketball State Finals in 1983
and 1984. In addition, John was a member of the IHSA Football Advisory Committee from 1991-94.

Since 1969, John has served as the scorer and timer at Woodstock High School. In addition to those duties, he also served as an assignor for the Fox Valley Conference from 1978-84 and the North Suburban Conference from 1994-99.

He retired from the engineering staff of McHenry County Highway Department in 1997.

 3rd Annual IHSA Distinguished Service Award winners are:

  • Mike Biggs of Bloomington
  • Leanna Bordner of Normal
  • Anthony Clarke of Zion
  • Dan Dietrich of Peoria
  • Bob Dollaske of Park Ridge
  • Win Eggers of Chicago
  • Paul Herzog of Germantown Hills
  • Chuck Kessler of Northbrook
  • Debi Neff of Morton
  • Chris Perry of Peoria
  • Gary Slettum of Elgin
  • Marty Woerter of Elmwood Park

Brief biographies of the award winners follow.

Mike Biggs

Since 1992, Mike has served as the Girls Basketball State Final Volunteer Coordinator. During that time, he has worked with over 5,000 coaches, players, administrators and cheerleaders to guide them through their memorable trip to the Girls Basketball State Finals at Redbird Arena on the Illinois State University campus. He organizes and meets with the team hosts as well as the other volunteer coordinators months before the tournament begins. Mike has also volunteered his time to work the at the Girls Volleyball and Competitive Cheerleading State Finals and at the Boys Basketball Super-Sectional.

Mike has given exemplary service to the IHSA as well as to its member schools, coaches, players and fans throughout the girls basketball community.

Leanna Bordner

One of Leanna's first assignments when she came to ISU Athletics was to serve as the state final manager of the IHSA Girls Volleyball State Final. She also served as the state final manager of the IHSA Girls Basketball State Final. Her organizational, leadership and other skills have been instrumental in conducting first class tournaments at Illinois State University. Leanna has been instrumental in supporting the mission of the IHSA and has provided unparalleled experiences for our student-athletes.

She serves on the senior management team in the athletic department. She is the Senior Women's Administrator and supervises twelve sports in addition to the day-to-day operations for two other sports. She is the department liaison to the Missouri Valley Conference office, a member of the Officiating, Marketing and Conference Relations Committee, Chairs the Women's Basketball Marketing Committee. She also serves on the Athletic Council Gender Equity Committee and the Homecoming Steering Committee.

In the community, Leanna serves on the Red Cross Board, the McLean County Chamber Board and is a member of the Bloomington Kiwanis.

Anthony Clarke

Anthony has served the IHSA in many capacities. He began officiating wrestling in 1984 and achieved the rank of Certified Official in 1991. He has also served as a Wrestling Rules Interpreter and a Wrestling Clinician. In addition, he was a member of the IHSA Wrestling Advisory Committee. Anthony has served as the Wrestling Assignment Chairperson for the Mid-Suburban and West Suburban Conferences since 2000. For the last four years, he has served as a volunteer wrestling coach at Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein.

He has worked 22 Wrestling Regionals, 18 Sectionals and 16 State Finals (3 Dual Team and 15 Individual). He served as the Head Official for the Dual Team State Tournament in 2003 and 2009 and as the Head Official for the Individual State Tournament in 2005 and 2008. Anthony received the NFOA State Service Award for Wrestling in 2000 and the IWCOA Official of the Year in Wrestling in 1996. He was inducted into the Illinois Wrestling Coaches Official Association Hall of Fame in 2005.

Dan Dietrich

A career educator, Dan has been a teacher in Bement and Chillicothe. Dan holds a Bachelor's and Master's Degree in Music Education. He has been in his current position at Illinois Valley Central High School since 1980. The IVC Band is well known around the state for its numerous appearances at state and national events. They have been Class State Champions from 1990-95 and in 1998, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006. The IVC Pep Band has been selected three times to perform at the IHSA Boys Basketball State Tournament. The Jazz group has placed in their class and produced several All State Musicians over the years, many of whom have gone on to professional careers.

Dan served on the IHSA Music Advisory Committee for two terms and was the IHSA Assistant to the Director in charge of Music until that position was eliminated. In 1999, School Band and Orchestra Magazine named Dan one of its "50 Directors that Make a Difference." He was awarded the Friend of Youth Award by the Chillicothe Optimists in 2003 and received the National Federation Outstanding Educator of the Year Award in 2006. In 2007, he received the Illinois Music Educator's Association Distinguished Service Award and the National Federation's Music Educator of the Year for the Midwest.

Bob Dollaske

Bob spent his entire thirty-five year career at Maine East High School as an English teacher, soccer coach and Director of Athletics. His 1975 team finished as runners-up in the IHSA Boys Soccer State Final. He also served as the first president of the Illinois High School Soccer Coaches Association which was established in 1971.

For thirty-eight years, Bob has served on the press box crew for Boys Soccer. He also served as the TV color commentator for both boys and girls soccer state finals for several years. Bob has been the recipient of the IHSSCA Coach of the Year, Man of the Year and was inducted into the IHSSCA Hall of Fame. He was a member of the IHSA Soccer Advisory Committee, the Board of Directors of the National Soccer Coaches Association of American and received the NSCAA National Coach of the Year award in 1975 and the Robert W. Robinson Award in 2005, the highest honor for a high school coach given by the NSCAA.

Win Eggers

Win has been an IHSA Licensed Official since 1997. She has served as a volunteer at both the Boys and Girls Sectional and State Final meets for the last 23 years. In addition, she served as an assistant coach at Downers Grove North High School for nineteen years. She officiated at the Special Olympics Regionals for six years and at the World Special Olympics for two years.

She received the U.S. Women's Track Coaches Association Service Award in 2000, the National Federation Track and Field Official for Illinois Award in 2000. In addition she has received the following USATF Awards: John R. Davis Humanitarian in 2002, Officials Chair award in 2005 and, President's Award in 2005.

Paul Herzog

Since 1996, Paul has been "the voice" of the IHSA Boys Basketball Tournament at Carver Arena. During that time, he has also served as the announcer of the IHSA's Boys Basketball Happening bringing the same passion and professionalism to those events as he does tournament games. For five years, he served as the Master of Ceremonies for the Boys Basketball Championship Tip-Off Banquet. Paul also serves on the March Madness Steering Committee. He also designed and implemented the game-by-game timeline which integrates pep band, video board, sponsorship commercials, public service announcements, half-time programs and game flow during the Boys Basketball State Final.

In addition to his many years serving as the announcer for the boys basketball tournament, Paul served as the Master of Ceremonies for the Cross Country State Final Awards Ceremonies for ten years.

Chuck Kessler

During his thirty-four year tenure at Maine East High School, Chuck taught English and also coached freshman and sophomore soccer. He has served as an announcer at the Boys Soccer State Final since the tournament's inception and only missed one year (1975 when he coached the Maine East team to a second place finish).

Chuck has also provided historical soccer tournament information as well as the statistical data that is available on the IHSA web site. To ensure consistency, he volunteered his time and expertise to the new bench official crews.

Debi Neff

Debi has served the IHSA in many capacities during her career. She has been a teacher, coach, athletic director and official. She coached basketball, volleyball and track at Northwestern High School. For the past fourteen years, she has been teaching and coaching at East Peoria High School where she serves as Lead Teacher for Health, Driver Education and Physical Education. She celebrated her 300th victory in softball and in 2007 received the Illinois Coaches Association coach of the year award.

For twenty-five years, Debi has been a licensed volleyball official, working five state finals, and serving as a rules interpreter since 1996. She received the National Federation Official of the year award in 1996 and 2003.

For the past eight years, she has served as the IHSA Girls Softball State Final Tournament Director and as a member of the Girls Softball Advisory Committee. In addition, she has served the IHSA as a scorer at the Boys Golf State Final, an Announcer at the Boys Volleyball State Final, an Assistant Announcer at the Boys and Girls Track and Field State Finals, a Presenter at the IHSA Officials Conference and a Train the Trainer for the Certified Clinician program.

Chris Perry

Chris began his teaching and coaching career at Woodruff High School in January of 1978. During his career, he coached Cross Country, Boys Soccer and Boys Track and Field. He served as the Dean of Students at Peoria High School beginning in 1987 and in 1992, added the duties of Activities Director. At that time, he took over the job of Manager of the IHSA Boys and Girls Cross Country State Final.

He has served the IHSA by being a member of the Boys/Girls Cross Country Advisory Committee, the All-State Academic Selection Committee the Steering Committee for March Madness. He has been a Certified Track and Field Official since 2003 and has served as a Starter, Assistant Starter or Referee at nearly sixty cross country and track and field sectionals. He has also served as a member of the officials crew at the Boys Track and Field State Final for over thirty years.

Gary Slettum

Gary began working the IHSA Boys Soccer State Final in 1978 during his student teaching experience at Maine East High School. He has served as a statistician and press box liaison. He taught middle school physical education and coached soccer and baseball at Waukegan East and Waukegan West High Schools. In the early eighties, he transitioned to a business career where he has served as a Human Resources Executive in the metro Chicago area.

For over thirty-one years, Gary has retained his passion for high school soccer and has continuously volunteered his services at the IHSA Boys Soccer State Final.

Marty Woerter

Marty taught English at Westchester High School for three years and then at Maine East High School from 1969-2002. He served as an assistant boys soccer coach for twenty-three years. He was also a licensed official in soccer at the high school level.

Since 1972, Marty has served as an announcer at the Boys Soccer State Final. He helped create the standard which the Class 1A Boys Soccer and the Class 1-3A Girls Soccer bench crews follow. He has been instrumental in providing historical data and statistics to the IHSA web site. When the new bench crews were formed for the boys and girls tournaments, he volunteered his time to ensure there was consistency in the way statistics were recorded.

2nd Annual IHSA Distinguished Service Award winners are:

  • John Bailey, Jr. of Shiloh, track official and advisory committee member
  • Blaise Blasko of Glen Ellyn, boys gymnastics official and officials advisory committee member
  • Jerry Bretag of Ottawa, IHSA records
  • Al Cornish of Dunlap, boys golf state final manager and sports medicine advisory committee member
  • Geza Ehrentreu of Rockford, track and field and cross country official, clinician
  • John Elder of Alexis, legislative commission, IHSA strategic planning
  • Carol Koszola of Hoffman Estates, multisport state final volunteer
  • James (Jimmie) Lewis, Jr. of Northwoods, MO, track state final volunteer
  • Joe Pedersen of Naperville, wrestling official, wrestling state final manager
  • John Polka of Oak Park, track and field official, track and field advisory committee member, interpreter and clinician
  • Phil Salzer of Peoria, track and field advisory committee member, track and field state final meet manager
  • Jean Walker of Arlington Heights, girls tennis state final meet manager

Brief biographies of the award winners follow.

John Bailey, Jr.

John is the retired principal of Lincoln High School in East St. Louis and former federal law enforcement officer. For the past 30 years, he has served as a volunteer official at the IHSA Girls Track and Field State Finals where he served on the Games Committee and Jury of Appeals. He also served as a field event inspector, member of the dugout staff and awards custodian. John was also a long-time member of the IHSA Boys/Girls Track Advisory Committee. In 2004, he was named Honorary Referee at the Girls Track and Field State Final. John continues to enjoy his annual trip to the IHSA Track and Field State Finals and finds it to be a rewarding experience that he greatly looks forward to attending each spring.

Blaise Blasko

A career educator, Blaise wore a number of hats until his retirement in 2001. He was a teacher, coach and athletic director at Glenbard West High School, serving the IHSA on a number of advisory committees during his career. Blaise became an IHSA registered official in Boys Gymnastics in 1975 and has worked 23 IHSA Boys Gymnastics State Final meets. He is the only IHSA Certified Boys Gymnastics Clinician. For the past nine years, Blaise has been a member of the National Federation of State High School Associations Boys Gymnastics Advisory Committee and a leading voice in boys gymnastics nationally.
In 1998, he was inducted into the Illinois High School Gymnastics Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Blaise was named the National Federation Officials Association Boys Gymnastics Official of the Year in 2001.

Jerry Bretag

For 20 years Jerry has been updating the IHSA database of sports records. Almost 90,000 separate records are listed and Jerry has had a hand in almost every one, processing and deciphering submissions for all-time records that are sent throughout the year by coaches and fans. Jerry started his career as a sportswriter in the Quad Cities. When he retired in 1984, he began recording the IHSA’s growing history. In the early days, Jerry’s long printouts were rolled into scrolls. These days, he transmits his changes to the IHSA Office via the Internet and they are updated on the Web soon after. This year, the IHSA has offered him a new challenge – developing completely new sets of records in Class 1A, 2A, 3A and 4A in five different sports.

Al Cornish

Before his retirement in 2002, Al was a teacher and coach at Galesburg, Dunlap and Illinois Valley Central High Schools. He served as athletic director for four years at Dunlap and for eight years at IVC. During the time as A.D., he managed numerous IHSA regional, sectional and super-sectional tournaments. He also was a member of the IHSA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee. In addition, he served as the IHSA Class A Boys Golf State Final Manager for four years in the mid-1980s and returned to that capacity since 2005. Al is a member of the Steering Committee for the IHSA Boys Basketball State Finals in Peoria and serves as a team host for the Class 1A and 2A Boys Basketball State Finals. Al was selected as the March Madness Experience Volunteer of the Year in 2003.

Geza Ehrentreu

Geza became a licensed track official 31 years ago with the help of his high school track coach, Phil Salzer. In his long career, he has served as a starter, referee, and coordinator of officials at both the IHSA Boys and Girls Track and Field State Finals and the IHSA Cross Country State Finals. Geza founded the Illinois Track and Cross Country Officials Association, served as its first president, and is still actively mentoring about 20 officials. He has served as the Head Clinician for IHSA Track and Field and Cross Country since the inception of the clinician program. Geza was the recipient of the NFOA Illinois Cross Country Official of the Year Award in 1999 and 2000 and was named the Honorary Referee for Cross Country in 2002 and in Girls Track and Field in 2007.

John Elder

John was head football coach at Alexis High School from 1965-93 and also worked as assistant basketball coach and head track coach for shorter periods. He was junior-senior high school principal from 1968-95 and superintendent from 1984-95 until his retirement. John has served the Illinois Coaches Association as Executive Director since 1980 and as State Football Chairman since 1976. A member of the IHSA Legislative Commission for six years, John also served on the IHSA Strategic Planning Committee in 1996 and 2008. John has been inducted into both the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame and the National High School Athletic Coaches Association National Hall of Fame. In 2008 John received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Organization of Coaches Association Directors and in 2003 the Gerald Ford All-American Coach Award from the All-American Football Foundation.

Carol Koszola

Carol began her career as a teacher at Lake Park High School in 1972 and played a vital role in establishing its girls sports programs. She also served as Dean of Students and Assistant Athletic Director and coached volleyball (12 years), track and field (7), softball (6) and basketball (1). Carol served on a number of IHSA committees and ran the Three-Point Showdown and softball Hitting Derby. For 13 years, Carol has been the assistant manager for the IHSA Girls Bowling State Final and for the last eight a P.A. announcer at the IHSA Girls Volleyball State Final. She served as a finish line official at the Girls Track and Field State Final from 1980-99 and a Girls Badminton tournament official from 1996-2002. In 1997, Carol was inducted into the Illinois Girls Coaches Association Hall of Fame and served as its president from 1998-2002.

James (Jimmie) Lewis, Jr.

At East St. Louis Sr. High School, Jimmie served as an assistant coach in track and field from 1967-72, head track and field coach from 1972-79. He served as the Principal of Lincoln Senior High School the last five years of his career prior to his retirement in 1999. Jimmie has officiated at IHSA boys track and field meets for 37 years, in many roles from long jump judge to the jury of appeals, currently holding down the position of dugout supervisor. He’s worked in a similar capacity at the Girls State Meet for 15 years. Jimmie also served two terms as a member of the IHSA Track and Field Advisory Committee. Jimmie was recognized as the Illinois Track and Field Coach of the Year in 1974-75 and 1976-77 and was inducted into the Illinois Coaches Hall of Fame in 1983.

Joe Pedersen

Joe began his teaching career at Eisenhower Junior High School in Darien, Illinois. His coached wrestling at the junior high and later at Hinsdale South and Downers Grove South, with his teams winning over 400 dual meets, 11 regionals and 3 sectionals. Joe became an IHSA licensed official about the same time he started coaching and has served over thirty years as a wrestling official, working many IHSA regionals and sectionals as well as the State Dual Team and Individual State Finals. Early in his career he served as a volunteer bench official; for the last six years he has been tournament manager. Joe was honored as the IWCOA Man of the Year in 1995, elected to the IWCOA Hall of Fame in 1996 and was a Grand Marshal at the Individual State Wrestling Tournament.

John Polka

John has coached cross country and track and field at Fenwick High School since 1966. He began officiating at the IHSA state track and field meets in 1972 and worked as the starter-referee at both the girls and boys state meets from 1992-2001. For the past two years, he has served as the meet manager for both state meets. He has been an IHSA rules interpreter since 2000 and a track clinician since 2001. John is currently a member of the IHSA Track and Field Advisory Committee and the IHSA Officials Advisory Committee. He received the National Federation Illinois Boys Track Officials Award in 2001 and the ITCCCA Outstanding Officials Award in 2006. John was inducted into the Illinois Track and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2001, and in 2004 was named the IHSA Boys Track and Field Honorary Referee.

Phil Salzer

Phil taught in the Peoria School District for over thirty years where he held various positions in teaching and coaching. From 1978-2004, he served as a member of the IHSA Boys & Girls Track and Field Advisory Committees and served as the first chairman when the two combined. In addition, Phil served as the meet manager for both the Girls and Boys Track and Field State Finals. He was a member of the original committee that brought March Madness and the IHSA Boys Basketball State Finals to Peoria in 1996. For 33 years, he has been an officer in the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association. Phil received the prestigious “Ray Eliot” Award in high school football and in 1974 was named the Illinois High School Track and Field Coach of the Year. He has also been inducted into four different halls of fame.

Jean Walker

During her years at Prospect High School, Jean coached badminton, tennis and basketball. She served as the first Girls Athletic Director from the 1970s until her retirement in 2000. She hosted many IHSA regionals and sectionals in a variety of sports and also volunteered for duty at state meets in boys gymnastics, girls track and field, girls bowling, girls archery, as well as the softball Hitting Derby and the girls basketball Three-Point Showdown. For 36 years Jean has served the IHSA at the Girls Tennis State Final, first as tournament manager and most recently as assistant tournament manager. She has been present at every Girls Tennis State Final since its inception in 1972. On September 28, 2007, Jean became the first female to have an Illinois high school fieldhouse named in her honor.

1st Annual IHSA Distinguished Service Award winners are:

  • Harry Bohn from Clarendon Hills, multisport official
  • Dick Deitz from McLeansboro, multisport official
  • Gene Drendel of Naperville, wrestling bench official
  • Carol Floros of Plainfield South High School, girls bowling tournament manager and multisport bench crew member
  • Kathy Krebs of Rich East High School, girls gymnastics official
  • Connie Link of Heyworth High School, speech tournament manager
  • the late Madelynn Martino of Lansing, multisport official
  • Haig Nighohossian of Granite City, multisport official
  • Rich Piatchek of Andrew High School, multisport bench crew member and Happening coordinator
  • Art Sievers of Monticello, multisport media and press conference coordinator
  • Hank Sundeen of Moline, multisport media and press conference coordinator
  • Mike Zacate of Mokena, chess tournament director

Brief biographies of the award winners follow.

Harry Bohn

Harry started his career as an IHSA official in 1967 with baseball and basketball and holds a certified rating in both sports, highlighted by serving as a basketball state final official for three years (1983-85). He has been Head Basketball Clinician for seven years, a basketball rules interpreter for 25 years, a member of the Officials Conference Committee for eight years, and has served as the Coordinator of Officials for the IHSA basketball state finals for both the boys tournament (seven years) and the girls (six). In 1999, Harry was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame and in 2007 he was named NFOA Official of the Year in boys basketball.

Dick Deitz

Dick has been an IHSA official for 50 years and is certified in four sports: basketball, football, baseball, and softball. He officiated the Boys Basketball State Finals in 1972, 1973, 1974, and 1996, highlighted by Class AA title games assignments in 1974 and 1996. Dick has also served as Head Official for the IHSA Football Playoffs. Off the court, he has remained involved with the IHSA as a rules interpreter in basketball and baseball since 1976 and as a clinician in basketball and football. Dick was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame in 1998 and was selected as the Football Official of the Year from Illinois in 2000.

Gene Drendel

Gene has worked at every IHSA Individual Wrestling State Tournament since 1972, serving as a bench official for 15 years and the public address announcer for the last 20. He has also served as the announcer at Naperville school district wrestling meets for over 20 years and at area track meets since the early 1980s. He is a former teacher, principal, and Associate Superintendent of Secondary Education for Naperville Community School Unit District 203. Although he retired in 1994, he remains active as an instructor in teacher education at North Central College.

Carol Floros

Carol and her schools (Streamwood, Jacobs, Plainfield, and Plainfield South) have served as the hosts for the IHSA Girls Bowling State Tournament for the past 14 years. During that time, Carol has helped chart the tournament's course by developing relationships with bowling proprietors, coaches, and organizations. She has also served as public address announcer at the IHSA Girls Volleyball State Final, a judge for the Girls Basketball Happening and the Girls Softball Hitting Derby, and a track official. Through the years, Carol has also served on numerous IHSA ad hoc, advisory, and strategic planning committees.

Kathy Krebs

Involved with girls gymnastics as both coach and administrator at Rich Central and Rich East, Kathy has made 27 state final appearances as an official, including eight as Meet Referee. She is an IHSA certified clinician and rules interpreter in girls gymnastics and served as a commentator for the IHSA Girls Gymnastics State Final telecasts from 1977-81. Kathy has also made contributions on the national level. She has served on the National Federation Girls Gymnastics Rules Committee and will chair the committee beginning with the 2007-08 school term. Kathy was inducted into the Illinois High School Gymnastics Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1998.

Connie Link

Connie has been an educator, director and coach in Illinois for over 35 years. She developed a successful speech program at Heyworth High School and at one time had over half of the student body involved in either speech or drama. She is the state final manager for the IHSA Individual Events Tournament and has also hosted many regional, sectional, and state final speech events. While serving on the IHSA Speech Advisory Committee, Connie works annually with the IHSA staff to review the Terms and Conditions. In 2005, Connie received the National Federation Coach of the Year Award for Speech, Drama, and Debate.

Madelynn Martino

A longtime coach at Lane Tech, Madelynn was a pioneer of Illinois girls sports. In the 1970s, she made speeches in support of competition for girls to the IHSA, the Chicago Board of Education, and the state legislature. She was also a dedicated official, licensed for over 30 years in track, swimming, softball, and volleyball. In swimming and diving, she officiated 25 state final meets. She also served for 27 years as Head Umpire at the Girls Track and Field State Meet, where she was recognized as Honorary Referee in 2003. She worked the Goodwill Games, Prairie State Games, and NCAA indoor track championships, and among many honors, she received an Illinois Path Finder Award in 2004 from the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, and Dance. Madelynn passed away on May 30 and her loss is felt deeply by the entire IHSA community.

Haig Nighohossian

Haig was a wrestling coach for eight years at East St. Louis before he set out to start soccer programs at Granite City and Belleville Althoff High Schools. When IHSA adopted boys soccer in the 1970s, he became an IHSA rules interpreter and later added head clinician to his duties. He has also served on the IHSA Officials and Soccer Advisory Committees. As an official, he's worked state finals in boys soccer (15 times), girls soccer (7), and wrestling (12). At the national level, Haig is a certified “Train the Trainer” instructor with NFHS accreditation and is a member of the NFHS soccer rules committee. Haig is the recipient of three NFIOA Service Awards for soccer officiating.

Rich Piatchek

As an Athletic Director at Andrew and Hillcrest High Schools, Rich has hosted various IHSA state series events. He has served on the state final bench crew in football for 15 years and baseball for 27 years. In addition, he has served as the coordinator for the IHSA Happening in boys basketball for 16 years. He was the President of the Illinois Athletic Directors Association in 2005-06, later serving as liaison to the IHSA Board of Directors. Rich also served as a member of the IHSA Athletic Administrators Advisory Committee. He received the Division 3 Athletic Director of the Year award in 2005 and was recently awarded the NFHS Spirit Citation for his active involvement in competitive cheerleading in the state.

Art Sievers

Art has served the IHSA in many capacities over the last 35 years. He has been the Media Coordinator for every state championship event held at Illinois State University, starting with the first soccer state finals in 1972 and including football, girls basketball, girls volleyball, and competitive cheerleading. Recently he has also performed those duties for the football championship games at the University of Illinois. Art has served as a table official at the Individual Wrestling State Tournament and since 1977, he has taken on multiple duties at the Boys and Girls Track and Field Meets. He has also provided many photographs for the basketball and track and field state final programs.

Hank Sundeen

For 30 years, Hank has shared his time and talents at numerous IHSA state championship events. He has served as the Press Conference Coordinator at boys and girls basketball as well as the Media Coordinator at the baseball and track and field state finals. He has also served as the IHSA Web site updater for many of the tournaments where he's worked. Hank has also enlisted his son and three grandchildren to assist with the media at various IHSA tournaments. As a freelance reporter for the Rock Island Argus and Moline Dispatch, Hank often wrote program notes for the IHSA state finals for teams he covered in the Quad Cities area. He is closing in on a 30-year career as a Supervisor of Logistics with the Department of the Army at the Rock Island Arsenal.

Michael E. (Fernandez) Zacate

Mike was instrumental in the establishment of the IHSA Chess State Tournament. As an instructor and chess coach at Evergreen Park High School in 1968, he sought IHSA guidance in how to start a statewide chess championship. Organizing the tournament himself for many years, Mike finally persuaded the IHSA to take over the event in 1975. Ever since, Mike has served as chairman of the IHSA Chess Advisory Committee and as Tournament Director, and he was instrumental in writing the Chess Terms and Conditions and IHSA Chess Rule Book. Now retired from teaching and coaching, he retains his IHSA duties and shows no signs of slowing down.