TriCounty National championships for Illinois Central College and long-time coach Lorene Ramsey go hand-in-hand.
And this was especially so in 1998 when she won not one but two national titles: the National Junior College softball crown in Hutchinson, Kansas and the National Junior College Division II basketball title in Hagerstown, Md.
The double victory march earned her the honor of being named the Tri-County Female Coach of the Year for the second consecutive year and fifth time overall adding to previous awards in 1993, 1992 and 1979.
She won her first national JC softball title in 1982 and followed up with Division II basketball crowns in 1992 and 1993. She was named national JC Coach of the Year in 1992 and 1993.
Ramsey felt her basketball team hit its peak in the national tournament. "We put together our three best back-to-back games in the national tournament, and we got contributions from a lot of people. Sometimes they contributed in a way that amazed me."
In the softball national tourney, ICC had to win five games after a loss put it into the loser's bracket, but it then won the tourney with ease with back-to-back shutouts of Ricks College.
Ramsey was voted into the Women's Softball Hall of Fame last May. Kathy Leitke, president of the Women's Softball Coaches Association, lauded Ramsey: "There's no doubt in my mind that Lorene Ramsey is as solid as a rock. She is the foundation of JCAA women's softball."
Following the season, Ramsey retired as softball coach with a career mark of 840-309. She will continue as ICC's basketball coach.
National championships for Illinois Central College and long-time coach Lorene Ramsey go hand-in-hand.
Al Smith was one of the greatest high school athletic stars in Peoria history, earning All-State recognition in football, basketball and baseball. He went on to a brilliant basketball career at Bradley University and then starred for the Denver Nuggets and Utah Stars of the American Basketball Association.