NeveHarms 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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The first official Board of Directors meeting was held on October 14, 1979. Officers were elected. Early decisions determined that the Hall of Famers would be from the Greater Peoria Area; the name would be The Greater Peoria Sports Hall of Fame; its purpose would be to promote and encourage the many varied sports programs in our area, to share with the area the pride we have in the accomplishments of area athletes, and to honor those men, women and teams contributing to our enjoyment and rich sports history.
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