Peoria Basketball is Alive and Well

This year we are blessed with two Peoria area high school teams making it to Peoria for the
Final Four of their classes.  Illini Central won it all last weekend and the all the towns in the school district showed up to support them.  Meanwhile, the Limestone Rockets continued their unexpected roll through opponents on their way to Peoria for the final four in 3A.  It is refreshing to once again have a Peoria representative playing in the final weekend.  The team they are playing, Chicago Morgan Park, is one of the best high school teams in the country with 7 players 6'5" or taller and several of those are 6'7" or taller. But, it always seems when a Peoria school qualifies for the Final Four they end up playing a Chicago powerhouse.  It will be a tough task, but it was a tough task for Limestone to beat an extremely good Washington team earlier in the tournament. Get the lead and hang on boys!! Peoria is proud of you already!

Giving the Child a Chance

We heap big praise on those families who are making numerous sacrifices in order to give their boy or girl the chance to attend tryouts for leagues and teams that are known for being more competitive (known in some sports as the "travel teams").  We know that virtually 100% of those athletes who ultimately play in high school and college are also participating in competitive leagues during the off-season from the school sessions.

If the boy or girl enjoys the sport well enough that they are willing to invest the time and effort to get better, then the opportunity exists for that to happen.  Putting the child in the environment where they can experience the quicker game, the faster pitching, the better defense, and the better competition makes the transition to high school sports so much easier.  If you allow your child to at least tryout for the better team, you are potentially opening the door to some very good things to happen.  It breaks my heart when I see a child with a ton of talent not be able to show and develop his or her skills. At age 10 or 12, that child's "career" in athletics may be over if he or she is not given the opportunity to develop their skill against better competition.

We get only one chance in life to do certain things and one of those things is being 10-15 years old.  That's the age when the opportunity usually presents itself from the travel teams. Those who eventually get to play on the big field or the crowded basketball gym on Friday nights earn their skills to play from those travel team experiences a few years earlier.  We were blessed with three kids who eventually played college sports.  And I can still remember when each of them came to the realization that they could compete at a high level of competition.  What a sense of joy and accomplishment they earned inside of them when they made the connection between the work they had put in to the success they were enjoying.

I am the first to realize also that for financial reasons some families are not able to do what they would love to do.  They just do not have the funds to afford the travel and the costs to be a part of a particular team or league. But my comments today are directed more to those who have the means to do it, but just don't bother.  I bet that virtually every athlete today in high school or college can tell you what experience it was in their past that gave them their "breakout" sense of confidence.  My hope is that parents do what they can to make that experience possible.  Otherwise, you will never know what could have been achieved.

Paul Reatherford Was A Great Influence

Paul Reatherford has touched thousands of lives in the Peoria area over the past several decades.  He was instrumental in so many youth basketball and baseball leagues, tirelessly giving his time and efforts for the benefit of kids.  Paul was a great instructor, a wonderful person, and such a caring guy.  He was all about teaching the kids sportsmanship and building character.  Wins and losses were important, but how the kids learned to handle wins and losses was even more important.

The Peoria area lost a great community leader this past week. Kids that now have grown up and have moved many states away will remember back to the day when they were first introduced to competitive games under the watchful eye of the person we all called "coach". And that he was, in the truest sense of the word. Thanks, Coach. We will miss you, but we will remember you.

Why Should a Small Business Embroider or Screenprint a Name or Logo

The door bell rings and the owner approaches the door and sees a male figure standing outside.  He is wearing a TShirt without any business name or identification.  The owner of the house is uneasy, unsure who that person might be and what he might want.

Contrast that with the situation where the person ringing the door bell has a shirt with Tom's Landscaping embroidered or screened clearly on the front.  He has a hat with the same matching logo.  The owner immediately recognizes the business name and realizes why he is there.  Is there a difference in how that representative of the business is received by the prospective customer, the owner of the house?  You bet.

Are sales lost because the roofer or the contractor or the A/C guy looks suspicious and uninviting? Does the shirt or hat with the business logo add professionalism and credibility? Yes it does.  Identifying the business on what is worn is so important to a mutually successful business relationship because the first impression is the most important one.

Also, think about how the embroidered or screened logo or business name is always advertising the business, whether the employee is walking in the neighborhood or standing in line at the grocery store.  The business name is seen by all who see the employee.  It's the greatest way for employees to advertise the business to those people who are prospective customers every day of the week.

The Trail Through Peoria is a Real Asset

We just came back from a brisk bike ride on the trail that runs through Peoria. What a great asset Peoria offers! We generally get on at the corner of Giles and Knoxville and head north toward Pioneer Parkway. Along the way we pass through wooded areas, cross a bridge, see many backyards, cross Teton, enjoy some nice gardens, scare dozens of rabbits into the woods, and enjoy nature. It's very close to Knoxville, but because of the thickness of the trees and bushes, we have never seen this nature before from our cars on Knoxville. How many years have we cruised that area on Knoxville and never thought about what was on the other side of the woods? And the people we see along the trail? Many nationalities, walkers and riders of all ages, men and women in equal numbers, babies in strollers, walkers chatting away, runners with iPods in their ears, and plenty of dogs walking their masters. Don't worry about what your bike looks like --- mine is a fat wheeled bike with no gears and old fashioned brakes. Sometimes we go further north to where Route 6 crosses the trail. Other times we turn around at Pioneer Pkwy and go south to Midsate College and back by Kellar. It's all good fun and great exercise. Try it sometime. Peoria should be proud.

Behind the Scenes at Sports Corner

"My order will be an easy one. Nothing difficult about it at all"  That may be the typical thinking that occurs when an order is placed. Generally it all runs smoothly and the order is handled within the time-frame expected.  But what are some things that can go wrong that may go unnoticed by the customer behind the scenes?  I thought you might find it interesting to see the potential challenges that have to be overcome to get that order completed on time. Generally they are all handled appropriately, but it makes the path to completion interesting.

1. The UPS truck pulls up at the usual time and the driver delivers 6 boxes.  We quickly look to see if one of the boxes is from the manufacturer that is sending us the order that has the early deadline.  Oh, good, we notice that the box from XYZ is there.  What we find out later is that the box contains an order from another store in Jefferson City, MO. It's not our order! So there is a 1-2 day delay while the delivery problem is solved.
2  We are reviewing a large league order involving 8 teams with 12 players on a team, all with different color shirts and different color #s.  We first have to sort through every box to sort into colors and sizes.  We count each shirt to make sure that we have the exact number of mediums and smalls and XL's etc. for each color. We write up the instructions that are different for each team so the correct screen color is attached to the proper shirt.  We check to see if we have enough of the red 6 " # and blue 6" # for each of the digits we will be using on the 96 shirt order.  Assuming that we have it all sorted and checked and the #'s are in stock, we are ready to get it screened, right?
3. Wrong. As we were counting each shirt, we realized the supplier sent 8 - XL's in blue instead of 6. We are two shirts short of the order, so the entire order is held up until we have the entire order in our hands. That may be 1-2 days later, depending on what time of day we found the problem.
4. We re-arrange the print date so that we can still hit the deadline for this order. The extra shirts come in, we get the entire order printed, and we call the customer to let them know the order is completed on time.  We are then informed that because of the heavy rains we just had, the game is cancelled and will be rescheduled later!!! Oh my, nobody said it would be easy!
5. One thing I forgot to mention....Right in the middle of counting the sizes for the blue shirts, the phone rings and I take the phone call.  After the phone call, now where was I in the count?

So this was one order, and a small peek into what can happen and does happen occasionally. Fortunately, the order was delivered on-time!!

Life Behind the Scenes at Sports Corner -- Part 1

At Sports Corner, we love our customers, and we appreciate our customers.  With that in mind, I thought it might be interesting to share a peice of the action that occurred this weekend inside the store and at home.

Some of you know that we were blessed this week with a set of beautiful twin granddaughters.  Along with the joy and excitement of that event comes the realization of "What am I going to do with all these orders that have deadlines?"  Thank goodness for Teri and Tammy, who were able to be at the store Thursday and Friday.  They were able to check in UPS deliveries, they were there for the customers who came in or called in. They were able to leave notes about customer requests, detail on orders, and anything that could be vital to the completion of the order.

Karen arrived home Saturday evening from helping out with our daughter and the grandchildren and immediately went to the store to check on things. She did what she could Saturday night and brought home a load of paperwork to work on for Saturday night. Sunday morning she wakes up and heads for the store again to get every order to the point where it can be screened or embroidered. Do problems pop us that make this process seamless?  You bet.  Part 2 of "Behind the Scenes" will go into some examples of what can bring on stress in heavy doses. Deadlines? Oh yes, when you work in an environment that carries deadlines with virtually every order, isn't that when things go haywire?

I will conclude Part 1 by saying that we couldn't be more thankful that the babies are healthy and our daughter is healthy as well.  Thursday and Friday were filled with exhausting emotions as you can imagine when childbirth happens.  You generally come home and want to crash and to catch up on lost sleep.  But on this Saturday and Sunday, Karen did neither.  Instead, she did what a caring business owner does.  She threw herself into that store's pending business at the store and at home until nearly midnight Saturday and Sunday.  The crashing did not have time to occur.  But what did happen was that the orders were given the attention she knew they needed to make for a happy group of customers.  That's why they do their business here. They may pick up their orders this week, not knowing what all had just taken place inside and outside of Sports Corner. But now you know a little more about what does happen behind the scenes of a small business. And this Monday morning she is back at the store.