NeveHarms Carol May is the more than deserving winner of this year's Neve Harms Award. She has done more than her fair share to give the average girl the chance to participate and play in the world of sports; not "develop stars."
Carol's commitment to girls' athletics began in 1972 while she was a volunteer member of the YMCA-Lakeview Advisory Council. She was then hired to consult and develop programming ideas to get young girls to join and participate in traditional Y classes and activities. She suggested that they develop sports programs for girls, and was given the go-ahead. Due to a lack of funds, she had to implement her ideas and do her own follow-up.
Her first project was to increase the summer softball program. Thirty girls participated, while she and her husband volunteered as coaches. During the basketball season, she had forty girls running up and down the court every Saturday. She also sponsored basketball, soccer, and softball clinics. Overall, there were almost 700 girls who benefitted, thanks to Carol's efforts.
Her biggest accomplishment came in the summer of 1982. She and a group of parents decided to establish and incorporate the Peoria Girls Sports League (PGSL). She planned and personally handled all of the registration activities for the programs, organized the teams, secured the coaches, scheduled the games and officials, took injured players to the hospital, purchased equipment, ordered T-shirts, etc. All this, plus coaching at least one team in every program, and working full-time at ICC.
From 1982-84, she coached at Rolling Acres Middle School to gain experience. In 1985, she was a volunteer soccer coach at Concordia Lutheran School. In the early 1990s, she volunteered for the sports programs at Von Stueben Middle School.
Carol has since retired from the PGSL, but the purpose of the league outlines her life: 1) to provide instruction and competition for young girls in the areas of volleyball, basketball, and softball; 2) to give young girls the opportunity to know girls from all over the city of Peoria; 3) to teach them decision-making skills; and 4) to foster good sportsmanship.
It is important to note that although Carol's intention was never to "develop stars," she made a lot of young girls feel like one.
Carol May is the more than deserving winner of this year's Neve Harms Award. She has done more than her fair share to give the average girl the chance to participate and play in the world of sports; not "develop stars."
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.