Among his officiating highlights, Leitner worked more IHSA basketball and football tournament games than any official in the state's history, earning 27 consecutive boys basketball regional assignments. He also worked the IHSA boys basketball state finals in 1973, 1974 and 1976, including the 1976 championship game, and three IHSA football finals, including the first-ever 2A state championship game in 1974. A charter member of the Gateway Conference officiating crew in 1988, Leitner was part of the crew that officiated the 1990 and 1993 NCAA Division I-AA quarterfinals and he served as an associate official for the Big Ten Conference from 1984-88.
Leitner also was called upon to officiate two IESA state championship games, the 1990 National Catholic Basketball finals, three Shriner All-Star football games and the 1980 IBCA All-Star Classic, while also working for two seasons in the Midwest Professional Football League.
Leitner is a member of the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association, Peoria Officials and Bloomington/Normal Officials Halls of Fame.
Neve Harms Award
The Greater Peoria Sports Hall of Fame Neve Harms Award, formerly the Peoria Advertising and Selling Club's Annual Meritorious Service to Sports Award, was named the Neve Harms Award in 1966 and for a very good reason.
As Director of Proctor Recreation Center, Harms observed the need for all youths to experience participation in sports activities, and not just the few who excelled. He, therefore, adopted a firm policy which assured that all youths would have an opportunity to play in games of the various sports controlled by Proctor Center. This plan met with much success and certainly with acceptance by parents whose children became more interested in sport activities at Proctor and consequently made good use of their free time.
Neve carried through this policy when he was appointed Superintendent of the Peoria City Recreation Department which later became part of the Peoria Park District. In addition, he also developed a system of recognition for all youths so that each young person could feel good about his or her efforts.
This kind of interest in all youths regardless of ability came from a most competitive and outstanding athlete. Neve was a four-sport player at Manual High School and a three-sport letter winner at Bradley University. He was a member of the 1929 Manual High School State Championship Basketball team.
Awards prior to 1981 were offered through the Peoria Advertising Club, rather than the Greater Peoria Sports Hall of Fame. We don't have biographies for these individuals. If anyone would be able to provide the bios that were written by the club at the time of the awards, we would very much appreciate receiving them for posting. We are also missing the Bruce Saurs' bio that was written in the 1991 Greater Peoria Sports Hall of Fame Banquet book, and we would like to receive it also. We are specifically interested in the bios written at the time of the awards, not more or less current. Please contact Rick at email@example.com.
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2014 Hall of Fame Program Listing
The first official Board of Directors meeting was held on October 14, 1979. Officers were elected. Early decisions determined that the Hall of Famers would be from the Greater Peoria Area; the name would be The Greater Peoria Sports Hall of Fame; its purpose would be to promote and encourage the many varied sports programs in our area, to share with the area the pride we have in the accomplishments of area athletes, and to honor those men, women and teams contributing to our enjoyment and rich sports history.
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