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.
To be inducted into the GPSHOF while continuing your career in coaching, requires some serious “credentials.” John Gross’s career in coaching high school girls basketball certainly meets that criteria. At the time of his election into the Hall, he had coached nearly 1,000 games, and his teams had won more than 75% of those contests. Close to 70% of those victories came during John’s 26 seasons at Limestone Community High School (Bartonville). From 1976-2001 the Lady Rockets compiled a record of 544-168. John’s 1991-92 team (32-1) lost only to Chicago Marshall in the championship game of the IHSA Class AA (large schools) State tournament at ISU’s Redbird Arena. After a semifinal win over LaGrange (Lyons) earlier in the day, the fatigued Rockets, trailing most of the game, “dug deep” in the 4th quarter to tie the game with under 10 seconds to play, only to lose on a last second basket by Marshall. Beginning with 2004-2005 campaign, John coached for 5 seasons at Richwoods (Peoria) where his teams compiled a 147-26 record. The Lady Knights won State Championships in 2005 (Class AA vs. Bartlett) with a perfect 38-0 record, and in 2009 (Class 3A vs. Freeport) with a record of 34-3. (A four-class system was introduced by the IHSA for the 2007-08 season.) John came out of “retirement” in 2015. In his second season at Princeville, the Lady Princes won their first Regional Championship since 1988. At the time of his election into the GPSHOF, he was guiding Princeville through another winning season. Not surprisingly John has received several honors both at the State and National levels. Gross was twice named national coach of the year and has been inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.