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Last remaining member of original Rockford Peaches dies at 101

By Jim Hagerty Reporter ROCKFORD - Mary Pratt, the last known remaining member of the original Rockford Peaches, has died at the age of 101. Pratt, a pitcher who also played for the Kenosha Comets of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL), died Wednesday in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Born in Bridgeport, Pratt was an accomplished athlete who competed mostly against boys. Three years into her teaching career, she tried out for the AAGPBL in 1943 and landed a spot on…

Former Jefferson football star making mark in Hollywood

Staff Report BURBANK, Calif. - A former Jefferson J-Hawk football standout is carving out an increasingly large role for himself in the entertainment industry. Prince Vaughn III, a 1991 All-NIC-9 defensive end for the Jefferson is vice president of casting for UnRealistic Ideas in Burbank, California. The production company is owned by Mark Wahlberg, among others, and created the documentary “Run This City,” currently running on the mobile app Quibi. Before working for Wahlberg, Vaughn…

Auburn names new girls basketball coach

Staff Report ROCKFORD - Auburn High School officials named a new girls basketball coach Tuesday, someone familiar to the game and the program. Assistant coach Taylor Griffin will take over as head coach for the 2020-21 season, pending approval from the Rockford School Board. Griffin helped Auburn Knights finish the 2019-20 season as NIC-10 Conference champions for the first time in school history, and earned the regional title for the first time in 33 years. "I'm very excited for the…

There wasn’t much Don Shula didn’t do in the NFL

By Steven Wine AP Sports Writer MIAMI (AP) — Measuring Don Shula by wins and losses, no NFL coach had a better year. Or career. He looked the part, thanks to a jutting jaw and glare that would intimidate 150-pound sports writers and 300-pound linemen alike. Shula led the Miami Dolphins to the only perfect season in NFL history, set a league record with 347 victories and coached in six Super Bowls. Near the end of his career, Shula's biography in the Dolphins' media guide began with…

Former Guilford swimming standout now helps build better lawnmowers

Staff Report ROCKFORD - One of Rockford's top swimmers of the 1990s is helping a leading U.S. company make better lawnmowers. Stephanie Homewood Boozer, a 1996 graduate of Guilford High School, is manager of program development for riding lawn equipment at John Deere in Cary, North Carolina. At Guilford, Boozer was one of the top freestylers in conference history. She won seven individual conference titles, the 50 free style in 1994, the 100 freestyle all four years in high school and…

NHL brass positive about restart, ‘Return to Play Committee’ formed

Staff Report NEW YORK - National Hockey League executives said Thursday that talks with owners and the NHL Players' Association about resuming the season have been positive. The league has been on pause since March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus but there is now light at the end of what was once a long, uncertain tunnel. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said he speaks to NHLPA executive director Don Fehr regularly and the pair has formed the "Return to Play Committee" that…

NHL: Blackhawks fire John McDonough

Staff Report CHICAGO - Chicago Blackhawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz announced Monday that the team has released John McDonough from his role as president and CEO of the organization. McDonough was hired as president of the team in 2007. In 2011, the role of CEO was added to his title. "Thirteen years ago, I recruited John to the Blackhawks because of his leadership, direction and vision. John brought all of that to the table and more. His contributions went well beyond leading the team to…

Rockford Park District announces golf course openings

Staff Report ROCKFORD - Local golf courses owned by the Rockford District will open for the season starting May 1. Aldeen Golf Club, Elliot Golf Course and Sinnissippi Golf Course will open May 1. Sandy Hollow will open May 6 while Ingersoll gets going May 11. Under guidelines under Gov. J.B. Pritzker's stay-at-home order extension that will be in effect through May 30, the 6-foot social distancing rule will be enforced at all courses. Players are limited to twosomes, carts allowed only…

COVID-19: IHSA cancels spring state tournaments

Staff Report ROCKFORD - The Illinois High School Association Board of Directors on Tuesday announced that it has decided to cancel all spring tournaments. The decision comes in conjunction with Friday's announcement by Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois State Board of Education that all Illinois high schools will complete the 2019-20 school term from home via E-learning. "We support the decision by Gov. Pritzker and the Illinois State Board of Education, and given the logistics, we…

IceHogs defenseman T.J. Brennan joins fans for Facebook Q&A

Staff Report ROCKFORD - Rockford IceHogs defenseman T.J.Brennan will join fans at 11 a.m., Tuesday, April 21, for a live question-and-answer session on the Rockford IceHogs Facebook Fan Page. Brennan returned to the IceHogs organization in a trade between the Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers on Feb. 24 and picked up three assists in six games with the IceHogs before the season was postponed. He first spent time with the IceHogs during the 2014-15 season when he contributed…

Former East tennis star John Ortberg still preaching to millions

Staff Report ROCKFORD - John Ortberg, a two-time Big Nine boys tennis runner-up, is the senior pastor of Menlo Church in California and author of several Christian books. At East, Ortberg finished second in conference tennis in both 1974 and 1975. In 1974, he lost to West’s Mark Saunders in the final and in 1975 he came in second to West’s Mark Benson. After East, he got a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Wheaton College and master’s degree in divinity and a doctorate degree in…

Former Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg announces retirement

Staff Report TORONTO - Former IceHogs and Blackhawks forward, two-time Stanley Cup champion Kris Versteeg, on Tuesday announced his retirement from professional hockey after appearing in 11 NHL seasons. Versteeg amassed 358 points (149 goals, 209 assists) in 643 regular-season games and 48 points over 93 playoff games (18 goals, 30 assists) during his NHL career. “What a run it was," Versteeg said in a statement. "A kid from North Lethbridge who played on the streets every day, dreaming…

Sports marketing: Coronavirus shutdown presents challenges for teams, sponsors

By Jay Cohen AP Sports Writer CHICAGO (AP) — There are no sponsored power plays at the moment. No doughnut races in the fourth quarter. No calls to the bullpen presented by phone companies. Amid the coronavirus shutdown, sports business executives are having tough conversations about lucrative advertising and marketing contracts with no games on the horizon. Everyone involved knows the relative insignificance of the talks in the greater scheme of things, but billions of dollars are…

British Open canceled, tournament will resume in 2021

Staff Report VIRGINIA WATER, Surrey, England - The 2020 Open Championship will has been canceled amid the COVID-19 outbreak. The Open was due to be played in Kent from 12-19 July but it has been necessary to cancel the Championship based on guidance from the UK government, the health authorities, public services and The R&A’s advisers. This is the first time since the Second World War that golf’s original  championship, first played in 1860, has been canceled. The 149th Open will…

Kobe Bryant in 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame class

By Tim Reynolds AP Basketball Writer Kobe Bryant's resume has yet another entry to validate his greatness: He's now, officially, a Hall of Famer. And he's got plenty of elite company in the 2020 class, one that may be as glitzy as any. Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, and fellow NBA greats Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett headlined a nine-person group announced Saturday as this year's class of enshrinees into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. "An amazing…