Inductees The first inductee selected by the newly-formed "Old Timers Committee", Mark Harper won 11 varsity letters in four sports at Peoria High School (Central) in the 1920's before signing a professional basketball contract with the Chicago Bruins.
As a track star for the Lions, Harper was a shotputter and consistently went over six feet in the high jump; his athletic reputation grew while playing tackle in football, first base in baseball, and center in basketball. A six-footer at age 13 who would stand 6-foot-4 inches as a high school sophomore, Harper helped Central earn a third-place finish in the 1922 state high school basketball tournament.
He played semi-pro basketball for several area teams prior to signing an American Professional Basketball League contract in 1924 for $400 a month with the Chicago Bruins, a team owned by the legendary George Halas who traded him in 1927 to the Washington D.C.'s (later known as the Brooklyn Visitations).
In 1930, he joined the Fort Wayne Hoosiers, who went on to capture a divisional title only to lose in the league championship game to the New York Celtics on Nat Holman's last second shot.
From 1931 until 1935, the final year of his professional basketball career, Harper toured with the House of David Independent Professional team out of Benton Harbor, Michigan. He has been a Rock Island railroad retiree since 1969.
The first inductee selected by the newly-formed "Old Timers Committee", Mark Harper won 11 varsity letters in four sports at Peoria High School (Central) in the 1920's before signing a professional basketball contract with the Chicago Bruins.
Ulrich has coached in the Junior Football League and youth baseball for 32 years, while also serving as president of numerous youth leagues and director of the Peoria Diocesan basketball tournament. He began volunteering as coach for the Richwoods Browns JFL team in 1971 and served in a coaching or administrative capacity for the Richwoods JFL program from 1971-89. In addition, he served as a coach and president of the Richwoods League League, as well as Pony League, from 1975-85. During that same period, he coached the Bergan All-Star Pony League from 1981-84. In his role as St. Thomas Grade School athletic director for 32 years, Ulrich directed the 11 boys (six) and girls (five) basketball teams for 27 years, scheduling tournaments, ordering uniforms and hiring officials among his many duties. He also served as director of the Peoria Diocesan Tournament for 14 years. Ulrich coached basketball at Peoria Heights Grade School from 2006-11 and he volunteered as manager of a fastpitch team in the Peoria Park District Softball League for 23 years, while also playing on the team for several seasons. He currently is completing his two-year stint as the St. Philomena School 5th Grade boys basketball team and is preparing for his second year of coaching in the Irish youth baseball program.