Phil Salzer has been a vital part of the local high school coaching scene for almost his entire life.
A 1957 graduate of East Peoria High School, where he played football and ran track, he was on the football and track staff at Peoria Central High School by 1964 after a three year stint at Farmer City High School after his 1961 graduation from Bradley University.
He was head track and field coach at Central from 1966 through 1989 and assistant football coach for 30 years beginning in 1964. And few have been as successful.
During his long track coaching tenure his teams won 10 Mid-State titles and took nine district and sectional crowns. His athletes placed in the IHSA state meet 15 times along with three of his relay teams. Three of his athletes became NCAA national champions and one was a Big Ten champion.
Still a volunteer football coach at the time of his induction, he helped coach 11 Central teams that made the IHSA playoffs including the 1989 team that was runner-up in Class 4A.
He was inducted into the Illinois High School Track and Cross Country Hall of Fame in 1992, named the Illinois High School Track and Field Coach of the Year in 1974, been a member of the IHSA Track and Field Advisory Board since 1978 and was named chairman of the group when the boys and girls committees merged.
He was inducted into the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1994, received the Greater Peoria Football Coaches Award for Meritorious Service in 1994 and received the Ray Eliot Award for Service of the Illinois High School Football Coaches in 1984.
He was a member of the steering committee which brought the state high school basketball tournament to Peoria and has been involved as a member of the Games Committee in running the IHSA cross country meet hosted by Peoria Central.