TriCounty Illinois Central College's ninth National Junior College Athletic Association team championship in school history was a first for Sue Sinclair's volleyball program.
The 33-7 Cougars completed their banner season in November with a five-set victory over Cowley College in the NJCAA Division II championship match at Wisconsin Dells, Wis. ICC's best finish previously in the DII national tournament was fourth place in 2005 and 2008.
The championship led to Sinclair's selection in December as American Volleyball Coaches Association two-year colleges national coach of the year. The pool of candidates for junior college volleyball's highest coaching honor comes from the NJCAA's three divisions, the California Community College Athletic Association and the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges (Oregon and Washington).
ICC sophomore Yiting Cao, from Shanghai, China, was named AVCA two-year colleges national player of the year. College athletes, however, must be from Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford counties to be eligible for Tri-County awards.
Illinois Central College's ninth National Junior College Athletic Association team championship in school history was a first for Sue Sinclair's volleyball program.
Tom’s outstanding baseball career was highlighted by Major League baseball appearances as a pitcher with the Toronto Blue Jays. He was the winning pitcher in his first outing with the Jays, his only decision in the Big Leagues.
Gilles was an outstanding athlete at Bergan High School (merged with Peoria AOL/Spalding to become Peoria Notre Dame in 1988). He was selected to All-Conference basketball and baseball teams. He was named All-State in both sports in 1980, his senior year. Tom was a star on the 1980 Bergan Basketball Team (GPSHOF class of 2010) that placed 2nd in the IHSA Class A State Tournament. Arguably, the most memorable moment in Bergan’s basketball history occurred during the tournament when his steal and resulting “buzzer beating” layup gave the Trojans a thrilling 56-55 win over Sterling Newman in the Moline Super-Sectional propelling Bergan to the quarterfinals. Tom was selected to the All-Tournament 1st Team. After Bergan, Gilles continued his baseball career at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana, playing for the Sycamores from 1981-85. As a freshman and sophomore, he both played as a position player and relief pitcher. His 3.22 earned run average in 1981 was the lowest among all pitchers. Tom was strictly a position player in his final two years, playing as a regular on ISU teams that won the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament championships in each season. In the summer of 1983, he was selected as a Central Illinois Collegiate League All-Star. Soon after his college career, he attempted to land a spot on the USA Baseball Team’s 30-man roster that would compete in the 1984 Olympic Games. After making the preliminary roster against nationwide competition, he narrowly missed being named to the final roster. Tom signed his first professional contract with the New York Yankees as a 47th round pick in the 1984 draft. He played first and third base his first two seasons in the Yankees organization. He was converted to pitching in 1987 and hurled as a relief pitcher the next five seasons at Appleton, Kenosha, Orlando, and Knoxville, in the Yankees, Royals, Twins, and Blue Jays organizations. He compiled a record of 22-16. After his playing days, he shared his professional experience by coaching high school and college players.