Tonya Gilles Koch is the first thing you see when watching the movie, "A League Of Their Own." She is the one pitching! And, pitch she could. She was named to the ASA girl's all-state team as a 15 year-old and pitched Bergan High School to a conference title the following season. That summer she joined the Pekin Lettes and went 18-5 to break Lori Ramsey's rookie record.
Tonya took her game, first to ICC where she was a JUCO All-American and then to ISU and led them to a 9th place finish in the 1981 NCAA College World Series. She had the good fortune to be coached by two of softball's greats - Ramsey and Margie Wright. She learned her craft well.
Since brief coaching stints at Illinois Central College and Bradley University, Tonya has privately tutored softball pitchers. Two of her charges attained greatness. Melissa Cassidy and Nicol Kurth went on to capture the 1998 Junior College National title for ICC. Cassidy was the tourney's MVP. In all, some 55 of her students have received full athletic scholarships to Division I college programs.
1951 Pekin Football Team
Front Row: (from left) Gary Newell, Dick Heihs, Bob Zielinski, Doyle Glass, Jim Henry, Ed Skaggs, Pete Berardi, Glen Phillips, Jim Herget, Malcolm Crawford, Don Severe, manager Doc Lee.
The 1951 unbeaten Pekin High School football team was the first team in the history of the school to win 10 games. Coached by the highly successful football and basketball coach, Jim Lewis, the team was considered the mythical No.1 team in the state.