TriCounty Leanne Bonifas' never-give-up attitude manifested itself in the spring when her 10th Limestone softball team went from a third-place finish in the eight-team Mid-Illini Conference to the Class 3A state championship.
The seven postseason wins raised the Rockets' record to 32-8 overall. The streak included a 1-0 victory in the sectional semifinals over Mid-Illini co-champion Metamora, which swept a pair of one-run decisions from Limestone in conference play.
The first state team title in Limestone's 55-year history came two years after Bonifas was diagnosed with cervical cancer. In celebration of the former Bradley softball player from Aurora Central Catholic High, the Rockets wore pink ribbons on their cleats in the 3A title game.
Leanne Bonifas' never-give-up attitude manifested itself in the spring when her 10th Limestone softball team went from a third-place finish in the eight-team Mid-Illini Conference to the Class 3A state championship.
Hockey was a sport local fans could watch only if they went to Chicago or St. Louis until BardezBanian founded the Peoria Stars in 1959.
The two were with the Pekin Stars until 1970, when they formed the Peoria Blades, on the outdoor rink at Logan, in 1971. The Logan "bubble" went up the next year and the Blades, through membership in the Continental League, gave Peoria a solid taste of hockey.
BardezBanian played with the Blades for a few years, then became president while Olson always served as the team's general manager.
And the two gave hockey a boost whenever they could. BardezBanian coached the Bradley University club team for many years and both were instrumental in starting and maintaining youth hockey in Pekin and Peoria.
Both are now retired, Olson from Caterpillar's Mossville plant and BardezBanian from a management position with the City of Peoria.