A group of men representing Peoria and the Old Gipps Brewery won the state softball championship. This group decided it wanted to put back into the community some of the enjoyment it had gotten from organized sports and the Independent Sports Club of Peoria was born in 1945 with a mission that remains in place today: to support youth sports programs in Central Illinois. Today, the Independent Sports Club of Central Illinois (ISC) has a membership exceeding 600 members from the Tri-County area, and is governed by a 14 member board of directors. The board is elected from the membership, and serves voluntarily and without compensation.
The ISC understands the value that sports and competition plays in developing the future leaders in our communities. We support all types of sports teams – baseball, softball, football, basketball, wrestling, swimming, golf, hockey, soccer, and rugby.
Our club supports young athletes in the Tri-County area in three ways:
- Annual Grants – youth sports leagues and organizations are awarded annual grants of up to $700 based on their needs as defined in their applications. The grants are to help offset costs of field/court/facility rental & maintenance, equipment and registration costs to their participants. We only support “house leagues,” those without cuts like “travel” or all-star teams. Our support is given to help reduce or eliminate affordability as a barrier to participation in sports. These applications are scrutinized by and voted on by our board each month. For the second year in a row, we awarded more than $16,000 through these grants in our most recent fiscal year.
- Capital Improvement Grants – also known as “bricks and mortar” grants, these are awarded to organizations that are making permanent improvements to their facilities like dugouts, scoreboards, lighting, concessions, bathrooms, storage buildings, etc. The application process includes a committee review of financial health of each organization, a detailed budget of their project, interviews with their administrators, and proof of fundraising efforts. We have budgeted $10,000 per year for these awards, which have averaged nearly $2,500 per grant over the last five years.
- Scholarships – we award $1,000 scholarships to high school senior athletes from the Tri-County area. Since we are a sports club, the applicants must be athletes, and their applications are scored based on athletic participation and achievement, academic success, and extracurricular activities including community service. Just in the last five years, we have increased the number of scholarships awarded from four to the eight we distributed in June 2016. The number varies based on the club’s capability, the quality of the applications, and recommendations from the scholarship committee, subject to approval by the board of directors.
The ISC raises the funds necessary to provide this support in the following ways: annual membership dues, raffles and drawings, special events, advertising and sponsorship.
From Mel Burdett’s scrapbook is a picture of the 1945 Gipps softball team whose members formed the Independent Sports Club. In the first row, left to right, are: Ray Fisher, Mel Schafer, Chuck Manning, Bill Porter, Rod Thompson and Stan Wallace. Second row: Harold Koeppel, manager; Don Jones, Tom Butler, Bill Perry, Mel Burdette, Bill Manuel, Jim Sanders and Harold Neff, business manager. Seated in front is the mascot, Bill Porter Jr.