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IHSA Associate Executive Director Kurt Gibson & Southland College Prep Director of Forensics Cheryl Frazier Named NFHS Citation Award Winners

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On January 20, 2020, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) announced its annual list of NFHS Citation recipients.

The list of 12 honorees includes IHSA Associate Executive Director Kurt Gibson (top right), and Southland College Prep Director of Forensics Cheryl Frazier (bottom right).

The Citation award was designed by the NFHS to honor individuals who have made contributions to the NFHS, state high school associations, athletic director and coaching professions, the officiating avocation and fine arts/performing arts programs.

The NFHS Citation is one of the most highly regarded achievements in high school athletics and performing arts. The 2020 NFHS Citation recipients will receive their awards on June 30 at the 101st annual NFHS Summer Meeting in Denver, Colorado.

“It’s very humbling to be recognized by your peers for your work, but I realize that the work has been done by many,” said Gibson. “These kinds of accolades really reflect on the work of our staff as a whole, and I’ve been fortunate to be a small part of the process over the years. I’ve also had the good fortune of working with two excellent assistants (Laura Hennings and Pam Flohr) who have both done their share of the heavy-lifting and played incredibly important roles on this journey.”

Gibson joined the IHSA as an Assistant Executive Director in 2002 after time as a high school teacher, coach and administrator. He currently serves as the IHSA administrator for boys basketball, boys golf and bass fishing, while also directing the IHSA’s education and corporate sponsorship efforts.  He previously managed the IHSA’s softball, boys gymnastics and girls gymnastics programs, as well as its Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC). His time working with the SMAC coincided with the integration of sweeping changes and reform to player safety, especially in the sport of football. In that role, he oversaw the implementation and facilitation of the IHSA’s Performance Enhancing Drug Testing program in 2009. Gibson is a graduate of Belvidere High School, Bradley University and earned a Master’s Degree from Governor's State University.

"I want to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude for this recognition," said Frazier. "I am truly humbled and honored to receive it. In a larger sense, however, this award is a reflection of the speech and theatre community where students and families flourish and thrive as a result of the dedicated educators who have a passion for this activity.  Having an opportunity to participate in speech and theatre as a student and educator has enriched my life beyond measure."

Frazier is a nationally recognized forensics educator who has served as director of forensics and theatre at Southland College Prep Charter since 2011. Under Frazier’s direction, Southland students have won the Performance in the Round event at the past three IHSA Speech State Finals. Southland also earned the IHSA Drama & Group Interpretation State Championship in 2017 for their performance of Hidden Figures. In 2015, one of Frazier's students was the National Speech and Debate Association's poetry reading champion. Last year, Frazier was named the Outstanding Speech, Debate and Theatre Educator for the NFHS’s central section of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin. Frazier is a graduate of Drake University, and also earned degrees from Governors State University and Roosevelt University as well.

“We are honored to have Cheryl and Kurt represent Illinois and the IHSA as NFHS Citation Award winners,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “This is an incredibly prestigious distinction that recognizes the career accomplishments of two decorated individuals. Both Cheryl and Kurt have long track records of service to students throughout their careers. We know that they did not choose this vocation for accolades, but it is very rewarding to see them recognized at the national level for all they have contributed and given back.”

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