Tri-County Youth Sports Grant
Tri-County Youth Sports Grant Winners

Mark Olson came to Peoria in 1963, and because of his most successful background in hockey in Michigan, he immediately involved himself in the promotion and development of hockey in the Peoria area. He became player-coach of the Pekin Stars from 1964-68, and then in 1971 he provided a leadership role in cooperation with Pete Bardezbanian, his sons, Mike, Rick and Joe, and other volunteers to form the Peoria Blades hockey team. At the same time, Mark gave liberally of his time and talents to further youth hockey in the Peoria area.

Mark was in the front line, associated with other people, to organize, nurture and develop the Continental Hockey League, and then enjoyed the satisfaction of seeing the Peoria Blades win the League championship five times.

Along with other volunteers who worked hard to promote hockey, Mark felt his dream was realized when the professional hockey team, the Peoria Prancers, began play in the Civic Center Arena.

Because of the persistence, interest and unselfish work of Mark and other persons, the Peoria area now has ice rink facilities and talented skaters, so that some day in the future, a figure skating champion or a National Hockey League player could be developed.

Mark places no limit on the application of his volunteer time. He has been active in Little League baseball, the Peoria Pacers, CIC League team and has been president and treasurer of the Independent Sports Club.

Some years ago, Mark and his eight brothers and six sons played as a team against the Peoria Stars for a March of Dimes promotion.

Mark is a graduate of Michigan Tech in engineering and received his Master's Degree in Engineering Administration from Bradley University.