As a former sportswriter and sportscaster, I have developed a passion for researching information for the Illinois High School Glory Days website. I was a writer with the Ottawa Daily Times along with reporting for radio stations WCMY/WRKX in my hometown of Ottawa from 1985-1991. I witnessed the closure of high schools in Marseilles, Mazon-Verona-Kinsman, and Odell, along with the deactivation of Cornell first-hand. The closing of Marseilles had special meaning to me, since I had gotten to know a number of people associated with the school and that it was a city of 5,000….. which is unusual since most of the schools you see on this website have populations that are far less in their home towns.
Later on as sports director of radio station WZRO in Farmer City in 1994, I had the dubious honor of broadcasting the final boys’ basketball game for Wapella High School. As with any closure, I experienced the feeling of pitting neighbor versus neighbor when the news came out. Even today, some people in Wapella still wish they had their beloved Wildcats playing in their home gym, nicknamed “The Thunderdome.“
Since that time, I have retired from the radio industry, but continue to keep a close tab on prep sports by following the action in Central Illinois while maintaining a job as a service representative at an insurance company.
As a history buff, I am aware of other schools that closed their doors for financial considerations and agree that the stories of these schools should be told in more than just the newspapers and in special features on radio/television, now that the Internet has become a viable media source. In order to preserve what history there is left, my feeling is that we need to remember those schools that existed before the consolidations of the late 1940’s as well as those that have closed their doors through this very day.
As a Mineral graduate stated on the home page, the high school was the center of activity of the small towns, serving as a meeting place for various reasons. I am happy to be involved with the Illinois High School Glory Days website. I have found a website that has combined two of my favorite topics, history and sports. I hope that we can tell the story of your high school, as well as your hometown, as accurately and as thoroughly as possible.