Decatur Tribune Online

Glidewell New Lions Volleyball Coach

   Rhonda Glidewell is the new LSA Lions volleyball coach, Athletics Director Kurt Younghouse announced this morning (Thursday).
   "LSA is looking forward to the fun, excitement and leadership that Rhonda will bring to our fourth through 12 grade program," said Younghouse in the school's release.
   "We are happy to welcome Coach Rhonda Glidewell back to LSA," continued Younghouse.  "Our goal is always to have dedicated and relational coaches, who develop and lead our teams. Coach Glidewell is a great addition to our coaching staff, and we look forward to seeing how she will impact our student-athletes and the girls volleyball program."
   In 2000, Coach Glidewell started her coaching at LSA and now she returns to help LSA rebuild the volleyball program.  After coaching at LSA, she coached at Our Lady of Lourdes and led them to seven regional, five section, one third place, two runnerups and two state championships.  During that time, she also coached at MacArthur two years as an assistant and one year as head coach.  The last three years she has been the varsity coach at St. Teresa.
   I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Isi Gabsa Wins Forsyth Classic On
Fourth Playoff Hole
    On the fourth playoff hole Sunday afternoon, Isi Gabsa of Munich, Germany won the 34th annual Forsyth Classic with her birdie putt.
   Jillian Hollis of Rocky River, Ohio and Gabsa were tied at t13 under after 54 holes Sunday afternoon when they went to the 18th for their first playoff hole which they parred.  They returned a second time and parred it again.  Once again, they went back a third time and parred it.  Then came the fourth and final hole which Gabsa birded to end their marathon round..
   Cyndi Deadrick-Wolfer presented Gabsa the winner's $19,500 check and trophy. 
   Before the tournament began, Mike Nichols, the chief business officer of the Symetra Tour, opined, "It's unprecedented to have an event with such longevity and support as the Forsyth Classic.  
   "As a staple to our calendar, it speaks to the outgoing nature of the community and their excitement to grow women's professional through the next generation of LPGA Tour stars." 
    He was referring to this event as the longest running tournament on the Symetra Tour and the third longest running women's golf tournament.  
    Once again these aspiring and talented women golfers come to Decatur for the tournament in recognition of the first class hospitality and professionalism the Classic organizers, sponsors, volunteers and fans bring each year to the event.

Condition Of Alexander Field Poses
Problem For Decatur School District

By J. Thomas McNamara
Tribune Sports Editor

 With the Friday night lights on, Alexander Field on Eisenhower's South 16th Street campus was once a beautiful field on which Panthers football games were played.  
    With St. Mary's Hospital looming large in the south end zone, Alexander has been the site of many great Eisenhower victories.
       But that beautiful field is not the case today and hasn't been since the school was renovated.
       So, it's no surprise that the condition of Alexander Field is giving District 61 administrators grief for multiple reasons.  
       Last Friday morning Superintendent Dr. Paul Fregeau and Assistant Superintendent-Secondary Michael Dugan updated the Decatur Tribune on the field conditions there and what the district is doing to make sure first-year head coach Curtis Graham's Panthers get to play at least two games on their home field this fall.  
   Sitting in the superintendent's office, Fregeau and Dugan answered my numerous inquiries about why grass cannot grow on the once-beautiful field.  "We're monitoring it," responded Dugan with the superintendent opining, "something is causing the grass not to grow. We're trying to figure it out."  
       They are not alone as the district is working with its architects, engineers, contractors and subcontractors to find solutions to the continuing problem and what continues to cause these problems.  
       As a result of the grass not growing as it should, one home game (against Springfield Southeast) has been moved to Saturday, Sept. 8, and will be played at Millikin's Frank M. Lindsay Field. 
       Dugan informed Eisenhower still is scheduled to play at Alexander its September 21st Homecoming game against Springfield and its October 5th game against Sacred Heart Griffin.  
       District 61 officials are doing everything they can to get the field playable for the Panthers Homecom-ing game against Springfield.
   They confirmed the district has reserved Lindsay Field for four games this fall, including the 60th anniversary contest between the Panthers and MacArthur Generals.  Those games are Saturday, Sept. 1, MacArthur versus Jacksonville, the Oct. 13 game against Eisenhower, and the previously cited two Eisenhower games against Southeast Saturday, Sept. 8, and Oct. 20 against Normal University High.
       In addition, they also indicated they have contingency plans to use Stephen Decatur Middle School's football field, if necessary, which is the former home of the Stephen Decatur Runnin' Reds, before the high school closed.  Dugan said the district maintains all its fields.
   Neither Fregeau nor Dugan were here when these problems began.  They inherited the Alexander Field situation.
       All because of problems dating back to when Eisenhower was renovated to what the school is today and where the district may be forced to use the court system to gain recourse from the problems they are experiencing since the modernization process.
       This is not a new problem as District 61 administrators have been working since the school was renovated to solve these Alexander Field situations.  Through the use of the Freedom of Information Act, I have pages and pages of notes from District 61 officials to the contractors, architects, engineers and subcontractors where they're attempting to make the field playable without success.  Some pages are heavily redacted.
       They carefully chose their words to respond to my questions because of the tolling agreement and the expectation that mediation is ahead.
       In the meantime, let's get the field playable for first-year head Coach Graham and his Panthers to play their home games.
       By the way, Millikin is charging the district a nominal $1,400 for use of their artificial turf field for each of the scheduled four games.
    I close out this piece with this reminder, all of this could have been avoided if the administration of former superintendent Gloria Davis had taken the advice of those of us who advocated spending money up front to artificial turf both Alexander and Matheson fields during the schools renovation.  She said the district could not afford it.  Here we are now penny wise and pound foolish as Eisenhower continues to have problems getting grass to grow and we don't know yet at what cost the district will incur to correct the problems.


By J. Thomas McNamara
Tribune Sports Editor

Mount Zion's lady Braves continued to make school history with their fourth place finish in the Class 3A Illinois High School Association's championships in East Peoria where numerous records were broken by Providence Catholic and the Braves. 

The Mount Zion/Providence Catholic game truly was one for the ages and the history books as the 31 runs scored by both teams shattered the Illinois High School Association single game record of 21. 

Both teams came from behind to tie the game and take the lead with Providence Catholic batting last and scoring in the bottom of the eighth for its 16-15 win. 

Providence Catholic's 22 hits broke the old record of 17 set by Lombard Montini. Coupled with the Braves 16 hits, the combined 38 hits also set a new tournament mark. Providence Catholic's 16 runs scored also established a new standard, breaking the old one of 14. 

Mount Zion's 15 runs also broke the old record. PC's 16 runs batted in broke the old mark of 12. The lady Braves 13 runs batted in also broke the old standard. And their combined RBIs of 29 also established a new mark, far surpassing the previous one of 16.

Individually, the Braves Stephanie Hurm tied a state tournament single game runs batted in record with six. She hit a grand slam home run in the fifth inning Saturday, her second grand slam of the post-season. The other came in the sectional semifinal. 

The lady Braves trip to the state championships also gave their veteran coach Greg Blakey his first trip. He's been in the coaches box 27 years with three sectional championships, but this was his first supersectional championship and resulting trip to East Peoria for the championships. 

Mount Zion earned its way there with its 2-1 win over Centralia in the Mattoon supersectional. The fell in the semi-finals to Lombard Montini, 3-2, last Friday afternoon and played Saturday for third place.

Cluver Recalls Brian Brooks

    Long-time St. Joseph-Ogden Spartans boys basketball head coach Brian Brooks announced his retirement from the game he's coached successfully for years there, including a super-sectional game in Redbird Arena against Chad Cluver's Maroa-Forsyth Trojans, less than 48 hours after their standout guard Robert (Robo) Kreps) had an emergency appendectomy the previous weekend and was in street clothes on the bench.
       Only the coaching staff and Trojans themselves believed they could handle Brooks' Spartans that evening, but they did which was their first step toward their championship season in March 2007 in Peoria's Civic Center's Carver Arena.
   While Kreps did not play in the super-sectional win, he did play in their three games in Peoria, including their double overtime semi-final win over Teutopolis.  And then won the title with their pulsating, heart-stopping win over Chicago North Lawndale.
       Here's Cluver's reflections on Brooks and his contributions to prep basketball, "Coach Brooks did it the right way.  You knew going into a game vs. SJO that you were going to be guarded hard and that they were going to be well-prepared.  I knew that my teams would be better after playing a Brian Brooks-coached team.  I also knew I would learn a lot about my team and our weaknesses.     
       "I have the upmost respect for Coach Brooks and wish him the best," concluded Cluver about the retiring basketball head coach, but is remaining as superintendent of the district.
   Although never actually coaching against him, Mount Zion's Bryon Graven offered this perspective, "never coached against him, but always respected his teams.  I can remember Coach Brooks being on staff at Riverton when I was playing for Auburn in the early 2000s.  I am sure he learned a great deal from Coach (Joe) Koger) at Riverton during his time there, and I always watched his teams through social media, newspapers or at the state tournament.
   "I always respected how he went from being an assistant to being a great head coach at another school.  A lot of people probably do not realize how hard that is to do, and he accomplished it," responded the Braves head coach.
       In his 15 years courtside with the Spartans, Brooks compiled an overall record of 324-121 in 15 years, including a fourth place state finish in 2013 and a state championship three years later in 2016.  His teams won nine regionals, three sectionals and two super-sectionals in their fourth place and state title seasons.


J. Thomas McNamara
Sports Editor

Decatur Tribune
Email Tom at

Check out McNamara's "Irish Stew" every week in the print edition of the Decatur Tribune.
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