NeveHarms As a member of the first four-year class at Limestone High, Larry Stranz was eager to help get a positive athletic tradition started for the Bartonville school. All he lacked was talent.
"It took me very little time to find out I was just terrible in everything," said Stranz.
So Stranz chose to contribute in many other ways. That is why he was chosen to be the 40th recipient of the Neve Harms Meritorious Service to Sports Award.
Stranz figures he set the Greater Peoria record for "playing the last few seconds in (Rockets) games.. .and as a result I've always had a soft spot in my heart for athletes who sit on the bench."
As generations of Limestone athletes - stars and deep reserves alike - should have a soft spot in their competitive hearts for Stranz.
"I'd rather not think about what our athletic programs would be like without Larry around," said Larry Hodge, athletic director at the Mid-Illini Conference School. "He's been involved in about every sport you can imagine. You can always count on him. He's always there when we need him."
Stranz has always been there as a scorer, clockkeeper, statistician, volunteer coach, organizer, fundraiser, promoter and in many other sports-related capacities throughout the Limestone school system.
He's also humble - and admits to an ongoing struggle in the search for at least one sport in which he has a chance to become proficient.
"I can't golf, can't bowl, darts... I really can't do anything well," said Stranz, 60, an electrician by trade who is facility manager at the Peoria County Courthouse. His behind-the-scenes contributions have also benefited Illinois Central College.
"I'm proud of this award and very grateful," said Stranz, "but please mention there are people who have done the same things at every school, hundreds of them."
Consider it mentioned.
Through the years, the Stranz family - wife Pat, children Chris and Deana - has shared in Dad's tireless athletic activities. That makes it an even better story. Even if he has trouble throwing a Frisbee.
As a member of the first four-year class at Limestone High, Larry Stranz was eager to help get a positive athletic tradition started for the Bartonville school. All he lacked was talent.
Bruce Saurs, a former baseball and basketball coach, shifted gears dramatically in 1989 and saved professional hockey for Peoria.