NeveHarms As a member of the first four-year class at Limestone High, Larry Stranz was eager to help get a positive athletic tradition started for the Bartonville school. All he lacked was talent.
"It took me very little time to find out I was just terrible in everything," said Stranz.
So Stranz chose to contribute in many other ways. That is why he was chosen to be the 40th recipient of the Neve Harms Meritorious Service to Sports Award.
Stranz figures he set the Greater Peoria record for "playing the last few seconds in (Rockets) games.. .and as a result I've always had a soft spot in my heart for athletes who sit on the bench."
As generations of Limestone athletes - stars and deep reserves alike - should have a soft spot in their competitive hearts for Stranz.
"I'd rather not think about what our athletic programs would be like without Larry around," said Larry Hodge, athletic director at the Mid-Illini Conference School. "He's been involved in about every sport you can imagine. You can always count on him. He's always there when we need him."
Stranz has always been there as a scorer, clockkeeper, statistician, volunteer coach, organizer, fundraiser, promoter and in many other sports-related capacities throughout the Limestone school system.
He's also humble - and admits to an ongoing struggle in the search for at least one sport in which he has a chance to become proficient.
"I can't golf, can't bowl, darts... I really can't do anything well," said Stranz, 60, an electrician by trade who is facility manager at the Peoria County Courthouse. His behind-the-scenes contributions have also benefited Illinois Central College.
"I'm proud of this award and very grateful," said Stranz, "but please mention there are people who have done the same things at every school, hundreds of them."
Consider it mentioned.
Through the years, the Stranz family - wife Pat, children Chris and Deana - has shared in Dad's tireless athletic activities. That makes it an even better story. Even if he has trouble throwing a Frisbee.
As a member of the first four-year class at Limestone High, Larry Stranz was eager to help get a positive athletic tradition started for the Bartonville school. All he lacked was talent.
Talk to any parent who had a daughter participate in a Peoria Girls Sports League (PGSL) program, and it is safe to wager they are familiar with Jerry Robertson and his many years of dedicated service to the league. For the PGSL’s 33 years of existence, its programs provided a valuable experience for thousands of girls from third grade through high school. Most notably, Robertson was active in the league for 29 years, including 23 as President of the organization. Over his long tenure, Robertson wore many hats, including recruiting volunteers, keeping score and time, evaluating skills and coordinating the selection of players to the respective teams, securing venues, scheduling games, hiring and scheduling officials, purchasing equipment, updating rules, obtaining the state charter, fundraising, and dealing with the occasional unhappy parent. If that wasn’t enough, he also coached and officiated when needed. Under Robertson’s leadership, PGSL’s basketball program expanded to include a summer league for area high school teams that lasted for 20 years. For more than three decades, PGSL provided thousands of girls, of all skill levels, an opportunity to participate and compete in basketball and softball. Volleyball was also offered on an