Inductees Bob Smith, a graduate of Peoria Central and Bradley, had one of the most successful and varied football coaching careers in local history.
Starting at East Peoria High School in 1970, his teams went 18-12 for three years and he was named the 1972 Coach of the Year by his fellow Greater Peoria coaches.
Switching to Peoria Manual, he posted a 44-9 record for five seasons (1973-1977), his 1975, 1976 and 1977 teams going unbeaten before losing in the state playoffs. In 1976 he was named a national coach of the year by Who’s Who.
He was an assistant coach at Illinois between 1978 and 1983 for Mike White, and in 1988 for John Mackovic. He coached in the 1982 Liberty Bowl, the 1983 Rose Bowl and the 1989 All-American Bowl.
He was head coach at Southeast Missouri State in the 1984-87 seasons, going 21-19. His 1987 team won the Missouri Intercollegiate Athletic Association Conference and he was named the conference’s Coach of the Year.
Smith was head coach at Southern Illinois between 1989 and 1994, going 19-32. His 1991 team was named the most improved team in the nation in Division 1-AA.
His overall coaching record is 102-72.
Bob Smith, a graduate of Peoria Central and Bradley, had one of the most successful and varied football coaching careers in local history.
Neve Harms Award
The Greater Peoria Sports Hall of Fame Neve Harms Award, formerly the Peoria Advertising and Selling Club's Annual Meritorious Service to Sports Award, was named the Neve Harms Award in 1966 and for a very good reason.
As Director of Proctor Recreation Center, Harms observed the need for all youths to experience participation in sports activities, and not just the few who excelled. He, therefore, adopted a firm policy which assured that all youths would have an opportunity to play in games of the various sports controlled by Proctor Center. This plan met with much success and certainly with acceptance by parents whose children became more interested in sport activities at Proctor and consequently made good use of their free time.
Neve carried through this policy when he was appointed Superintendent of the Peoria City Recreation Department which later became part of the Peoria Park District. In addition, he also developed a system of recognition for all youths so that each young person could feel good about his or her efforts.
This kind of interest in all youths regardless of ability came from a most competitive and outstanding athlete. Neve was a four-sport player at Manual High School and a three-sport letter winner at Bradley University. He was a member of the 1929 Manual High School State Championship Basketball team.
Awards prior to 1981 were offered through the Peoria Advertising Club, rather than the Greater Peoria Sports Hall of Fame. We don't have biographies for these individuals. If anyone would be able to provide the bios that were written by the club at the time of the awards, we would very much appreciate receiving them for posting. We are also missing the Bruce Saurs' bio that was written in the 1991 Greater Peoria Sports Hall of Fame Banquet book, and we would like to receive it also. We are specifically interested in the bios written at the time of the awards, not more or less current. Please contact Rick at email@example.com.
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The Greater Peoria Sports Hall of Fame celebrates the rich sports heritage of Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford counties. We will promote and encourage the many varied sports programs in our area, share our pride and honor the accomplishments of the individuals, teams and organizations that contribute to our enjoyment and area sports history.
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