NeveHarms Jim Watson has devoted more than forty years to the youth and public of our community. He is recognized throughout central Illinois as an excellent official, coach, administrator and league organizer.
An enthusiastic volunteer in Peoria, he's been a superb role model for our youth. Instrumental in a variety of sports essential to Peoria, Jim spent twenty-seven years in service as a coach, official and director of the Junior Football League. Primarily associated with basketball, he's served as a longtime scorer for Peoria Manual, helped to establish the Moonlight Basketball League, worked as chief statistician for both Bradley basketball and WMBD radio, and supervised activities for the Boys and Girls Club as well as Taft and Warner Homes.
Numerous other contributions have been made to such activities as YMCA 1-ball, soccer and touch football, Carver Center, IBCA All-Star basketball, and every job imaginable for the success of the Gus Macker Tournament.
Due to his tireless dedication and outstanding example to our community, we are honored to bestow the Neve Harms Award on Jim Watson.
Jim Watson has devoted more than forty years to the youth and public of our community. He is recognized throughout central Illinois as an excellent official, coach, administrator and league organizer.
Larry Leitner was among the state's elite officials for more than 40 years, officiating high school, college and professional sporting events from 1960 through 2003 and he remains involved in sports by serving on the board of directors for the Pekin Insurance Holiday Tournament, as well as evaluating current officials and moderating IHSA rules clinics.
Among his officiating highlights, Leitner worked more IHSA basketball and football tournament games than any official in the state's history, earning 27 consecutive boys basketball regional assignments. He also worked the IHSA boys basketball state finals in 1973, 1974 and 1976, including the 1976 championship game, and three IHSA football finals, including the first-ever 2A state championship game in 1974. A charter member of the Gateway Conference officiating crew in 1988, Leitner was part of the crew that officiated the 1990 and 1993 NCAA Division I-AA quarterfinals and he served as an associate official for the Big Ten Conference from 1984-88.
Leitner also was called upon to officiate two IESA state championship games, the 1990 National Catholic Basketball finals, three Shriner All-Star football games and the 1980 IBCA All-Star Classic, while also working for two seasons in the Midwest Professional Football League.
Leitner is a member of the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association, Peoria Officials and Bloomington/Normal Officials Halls of Fame.