NeveHarms In January of 1994, Steve Kouri led a small group of civic minded citizens in seeking to persuade the IHSA to move its Boys State Basketball Finals to Peoria after it had been held in Champaign for 77 years. Few thought the goal possible, but Steve kept the focus sharp in months of quiet discussion with IHSA officials.
On May 5, 1995, the lHSA shocked folks across the state when Peoria won out over competing bids by Champaign and Bloomington.
In the years that followed, competition became fierce, but through the work of Kouri and his group of dedicated people, Peoria succeeded in putting on a tournament the likes of which became the model for states across this nation. The promise of a "March Madness Experience" was not only kept, but was improved upon year after year. No high school association has ever hosted such an event.
Kouri co-chaired the host committee for the next ten years and his group now coordinates more than 2,000 volunteers and annually raises more than $200,000 in corporate support.
Even after stepping aside and handing the reins to Cat VP Don Weston, Judge Kouri actively participates as a volunteer during the tourney, doing whatever is necessary to insure success. 2009 marks the 14th IHSA Boys Basketball Finals to be held at Peoria's Civic Center.
In addition, Steve has served on the Peoria City Council and his other activities include Bradley Chiefs Club, Easter Seals, Holy Family Parish Council, Visiting Nurses Association, Peoria Notre Dame and 0SF Community Advisory Board.
In January of 1994, Steve Kouri led a small group of civic minded citizens in seeking to persuade the IHSA to move its Boys State Basketball Finals to Peoria after it had been held in Champaign for 77 years. Few thought the goal possible, but Steve kept the focus sharp in months of quiet discussion with IHSA officials.
Waddell has played a prominent role in the advancement of women’s athletics as an athlete, coach and administrator. A 1978 inductee into the Illinois State University Athletics Hall of Fame, Waddell earned 16 varsity letters at ISU, playing basketball, field hockey, softball and volleyball for the Redbirds. After graduation, Waddell continued to compete by playing women’s major fast pitch softball for the Pekin Lettes from 1958-63. She also was a member of the Central Illinois Field Hockey Association and the Midwest Field Hockey Team, earning selection to the second EAM All-National Tournament. She also continued her basketball career as a starter for the Peoria/Pekin Independent AAU Basketball Team that won several Illinois AAU state tournaments and competed in national AAU events. Waddell served as site director for the IHSA state softball tournament in Pekin for 25 years and she was the originator and co-director of the Pekin Lassie League softball program, which is credited with providing youth sports opportunities for girls before high school programs gained varsity status in the 1970s.