Mac on Sports
Lori Kerans Is Retiring As Millikin
Women’s Basketball Coach
By J. Thomas McNamara
Tribune Sports Editor
Lori Kerans is retiring from the only position she's ever had since graduating from the university that educated her and allowed her to play the game of college basketball for the Millikin Big Blue women. She retires knowing she leaves the legacy of being the first woman to ever coach and play in the NCAA tournament.
After 32 years of coaching the Big Blue women, Kerans decided it is time to hang up her whistle and stop roaming courtsides throughout the Midwest as a member of one of the toughest Division III women's conferences in all of basketball.
She's excited about the new opportunity the university and President Dr. Patrick White is giving her to work with alumni and the Decatur community in continuing the Millikin brand within the city, Macon County and all of Central Illinois. She stressed this was her decision and she was excited to make at this stage in her life, admitting she started thinking about retiring back in November before this season even started.
But she isn't walking off into the sunset as she will continue to be highly visible in the community and at Millikin alumni events in her new role of serving as a university Goodwill Ambassador if you will.
"For 32 years, Lori Kerans has been the embodiment of what we value at Millikin University. The impact she has made in Decatur and Macon County, and her passion to help students succeed on the court and in the classroom has made a lasting mark on the Millikin community," said Millikin President Dr. Patrick White.
"In addition to her achievements on the basketball court, many students have had the privilege to learn from her teachings throughout her coaching career, and she will continue to make a positive difference in people's lives in the local community and beyond. We look forward to her new role at Millikin," concluded President White's comments on Kerans' retirement as the lady Big Blue basketball coach.
Athletic Director Dr. Craig White opined, "Coach Kerans has meant a great deal to Big Blue athletics during her 32 years of coaching. She and the women's basketball program have had many great accomplishments over the years, including winning Millikin's only national championship. I understand and support her decision to take on a new position.."
Check out this week's print edition of the Decatur Tribune where we will have a lot more on the retirement of Coach Lori Kerans
Mac on Sports
Graham New Panthers Grid Coach
By J. Thomas McNamara
Curtis Graham, who has coached two years at St. Louis Normandy high school and who comes out of the powerful East St. Louis Flyers football program, is the new Eisenhower football head coach after the school board approved him at tonight's meeting.
Graham left the East St. Louis program in 2016 to take over the Normandy football program that had not won a game since 2014 and won in his first season there.
A 1993 East St. Louis graduate, Graham played for legendary coach Bob Shannon. He returned to his alma mater and coached the lower levels for Darren Sunkett from 2008 through 2015. Graham won a state title as a player in 1991 and was on staff in 2008 when the Flyers won again. He said in his nine seasons with the East St. Louis freshmen team the Flyers were undefeated five times.
With that in mind, Graham's first order of business is to change a program's culture. At Normandy, he put up pictures in the locker room of players he's coached that are off at college, playing football and chasing degrees. It's his way of selling his program that he knows what he's doing and he can help them reach their goals.
"You want to go to college you have to put in work," Graham said. "Now, they know what they can do with work."
Graham succeeds Drew Wagers, who resigned at the end of the 2017 season and whose Panthers had a disappointing season after back-to-back playoff seasons, including the quarterfinal round in 2016.
About Graham's appointment and the committee's recommendation, Eisenhower Athletic Director Steve Thompson said, "From the initial phases of the search, it was evident that Coach Graham had the qualities that we were looking for. He possesses great work ethic and determination.
"That is evident in the number of years he served as an assistant coach at East St. Louis before finally getting a shot to take over his own program at Normandy," wrote Thompson after Graham had been approved by the board tonight (Tuesday). "His knowledge and enthusiasm, combined with his discipline, is evident the moment you speak with Coach Graham.
"There is also instant credibility, just looking at the ring on his finger. As coaches, we all know just how hard it truly is to earn a state championship. Coach Graham knows firsthand just how much work goes into successful football programs. We are excited to bring him and to see where he can take our football program," concluded Thompson about the Panthers new football head coach.
There will be a 12 noon Friday "Meet and Greet" session with the new Panthers head coach in the Eisenhower auditorium.
Lori Kerans Is Retiring As Millikin Women’s Basketball Coach
J. Thomas McNamara
Email Tom at JThomasMc@aol.com
Check out McNamara's "Irish Stew" every week in the print edition of the Decatur Tribune.
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