NeveHarms As a member of the first four-year class at Limestone High, Larry Stranz was eager to help get a positive athletic tradition started for the Bartonville school. All he lacked was talent.
"It took me very little time to find out I was just terrible in everything," said Stranz.
So Stranz chose to contribute in many other ways. That is why he was chosen to be the 40th recipient of the Neve Harms Meritorious Service to Sports Award.
Stranz figures he set the Greater Peoria record for "playing the last few seconds in (Rockets) games.. .and as a result I've always had a soft spot in my heart for athletes who sit on the bench."
As generations of Limestone athletes - stars and deep reserves alike - should have a soft spot in their competitive hearts for Stranz.
"I'd rather not think about what our athletic programs would be like without Larry around," said Larry Hodge, athletic director at the Mid-Illini Conference School. "He's been involved in about every sport you can imagine. You can always count on him. He's always there when we need him."
Stranz has always been there as a scorer, clockkeeper, statistician, volunteer coach, organizer, fundraiser, promoter and in many other sports-related capacities throughout the Limestone school system.
He's also humble - and admits to an ongoing struggle in the search for at least one sport in which he has a chance to become proficient.
"I can't golf, can't bowl, darts... I really can't do anything well," said Stranz, 60, an electrician by trade who is facility manager at the Peoria County Courthouse. His behind-the-scenes contributions have also benefited Illinois Central College.
"I'm proud of this award and very grateful," said Stranz, "but please mention there are people who have done the same things at every school, hundreds of them."
Consider it mentioned.
Through the years, the Stranz family - wife Pat, children Chris and Deana - has shared in Dad's tireless athletic activities. That makes it an even better story. Even if he has trouble throwing a Frisbee.
As a member of the first four-year class at Limestone High, Larry Stranz was eager to help get a positive athletic tradition started for the Bartonville school. All he lacked was talent.
Chad Clift is considered the first stand-out star in soccer from the Peoria area. He competed at Bergan High School, Viterbo College, and Bradley University. At Bergan, Chad was a three time All-Conference selection and earned 1st Team All-State and All-Midwest honors in 1987 and 1988. He achieved honorable mention NAIA All-America status in 1990 while playing for Viterbo College (La Crosse, WI) and holds school soccer records for career goals (59) and assists (17) in a season. Chad transferred to Bradley and earned 2nd Team All-Missouri Valley Conference honors in 1992 and 1993. He was also the team’s offensive MVP each season and holds two Bradley records: most goals in a game (5) and most points in a game (10). He was the 1st soccer player inducted into Bradley’s Hall of Fame. After his playing days, Chad remained active in soccer. He coached at East Peoria High School, leading the Raiders to titles in the Mid Illini Conference and a regional tournament. As a soccer official, he was assigned to the IHSA Boys State Finals in 2014 and for the Girls State Finals in 2015 and 2016.