Inductees Right from the start Mark Dennis, who had played on two conference championship teams at Washington High School, was on target for major things in the world of big time football.
As a 6-foot-5, 275 pounder at the University of Illinois, he was quickly put on the two-deep offensive line chart in the first week of his freshman year, the 1983 season, by coach Mike White.
After four years of being a vital part of the lllini forward wall and two bowl games, there came 10 seasons in the National Football League with the Miami Dolphins, Cincinnati Bengals and Carolina Cougars.
Playing for John Venturi at Washington, Dennis played on teams that won the then Mid-State 10 in 1981 and the Mid-Illini Conference the following year.
The Champaign News-Gazette, Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times selected him to their all-state teams and he also was included in the Adidas prep All-American team.
He was a four year starter at Illinois, played in the 1983 Rose Bowl game and the 1984 Peach Bowl game. In his four years, the Illini went 27-18-1.
He was regarded as having excellent pass blocking drills by the lllini and he also excelled in the classroom, making the Big Ten All-Academic team.
Drafted in the eighth round by the Miami Dolphins, he played seven years for coach Don Shula, one year for Cincinnati and Dave Shula and wound up his career with two years in Carolina for coach Dom Capers.
He played for Miami against Buffalo in an American Football Conference title game and for Carolina against Green Bay in a National Conference title game. He retired after the 1996 season.
Right from the start Mark Dennis, who had played on two conference championship teams at Washington High School, was on target for major things in the world of big time football.
As a man devoted to sports, Mick Donahue contributed an essential (and sometimes underappreciated) service to organized sports in Peoria for decades. His passion for athletics began as a youth as a participant in the Salvation Army Junior League Tournament and Proctor Center Basketball League. At Peoria Manual High School in the early 50’s, he played on the baseball team. After graduating from Manual, he was a player/manager on the LeTourneau-Westinghouse team in the old Industrial League, which was one of the nation’s top amateur sports organizations at the time.
Mick spent much of his life coaching, organizing and officiating youth sports in the area, especially baseball, softball, basketball and volleyball. He volunteered as a coach from 1957-72 for the St. Boniface Mustangs. Additionally he coached numerous Little League and Pony League teams.
Over the next several decades, he volunteered thousands of hours organizing and administering officials for various league play in the community. Beginning in 1972, he supervised adult softball and basketball leagues for the Peoria Park District. He also scheduled officials/umpires for the area’s catholic grade schools as well as many basketball, baseball, and softball games for the Peoria Public Schools. In his over 30 years with the Peoria Park District, Mick trained, assigned, and supervised officials for adult softball games for leagues at Peoria Stadium and Sterling school. He organized a force of volunteer basketball officials for the Prairie State Games.
Even after his passing in 2011, his legacy in sports continued to have a positive impact for a charitable cause. As a tribute and acknowledgement of his decades of dedication to local softball leagues, a Mick Donahue Memorial Tournament was held in August of 2013, on the park district diamonds near Peoria Stadium. Many teams participated and many others, including umpires, volunteered their services. Proceeds from the successful event were donated to the PKD (Polycystic Kidney Disease) Foundation, a disease being fought by his granddaughter. Concurrent with the tournament, a park bench was dedicated near the large diamond near Peoria Stadium. The small plaque affixed to the bench, reads, “In Memory of Mick Donahue for his dedication to softball and the Peoria Park District.”