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NASCAR bans Confederate flag

By Dan Gelston AP Sports Writer NASCAR banned the Confederate flag from its races and properties on Wednesday, formally distancing itself from what for many is a symbol of slavery and racism that had been a familiar sight at stock car events for more than 70 years.  The move comes amid social unrest around the globe following the death in police custody of George Floyd, an unarmed black man in Minneapolis. Protests have roiled the nation for days and Confederate monuments are being taken…

Rockford IceHogs announce 2019-20 team awards

Staff Report ROCKFORD - The Rockford IceHogs announced Wednesday the recipients of the organization’s annual tam awards for the 2019-20 season. Most Valuable Player & Rookie of the Year: Brandon Hagel After sample of professional action at the end of the 2018-19 season (eight games, one assist) with the IceHogs, rookie Brandon Hagel became a scoring force in the Forest City during the 2019-20 campaign, earning him the team’s Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year awards. This…

Rockford Park District announces ‘Phase 3’ restrictions for golf courses

Staff Report ROCKFORD -  The Rockford Park District has updated restrictions for its five golf courses as the Restore Illinois coronavirus plan moves into Phase 3 Friday, May 29. The restrictions are in accordance with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. In Phase 3 groups of four are allowed with 10 minutes between tee times. Driving ranges, practice putting greens, and Aldeen Practice Centre will be open at 50% capacity. Golf carts are permitted. Individuals…

NHL approves 24-team playoff format; no guarantee games will resume

By Stephen When and John Wawrow AP Hockey Writers NEW YORK - The NHL will abandon the rest of the regular season and go straight into the playoffs with 24 teams instead of 16 — if it is able to resume play. The decision, announced Tuesday by Commissioner Gary Bettman, is no guarantee that games are coming back. The NHL and the NHL Players' Association must still figure out health and safety protocols and solve other issues. "This is a meaningful start, I think, but it's only a start,"…

Denny Hamlin wins 2nd race at crowd-less Darlington

By The Associated Press DARLINGTON, S.C. (AP) — Denny Hamlin won NASCAR's first Wednesday race since 1984 when rain stopped the event with 20 laps remaining at Darlington Raceway.  The Daytona 500 winner was out front but out of fresh tires and trying to hang on when he got unintended help from Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch. The reigning Cup champion caused Chase Elliott to crash eight laps earlier to bring out the caution.  A furious Elliott waited for Busch on the apron of the…

NHL players compete in live charity Fortnite tournament

Staff Report TORONTO - The National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) is proud announced Friday live charity Fornite tournament. The NHLPA Open featuring Fornite was created by Colorado Avalanche forward J.T. Compher and Toronto Maple Leafs forward Zach Hyman. It will feature more than 60 NHL players, each representing his city. Players will compete in trios. The three-hour event will be streamed from 1-4 p.m. (Central Time), Monday, May 18, on Twitch.tv/espnesports. The…

Pro Hockey: AHL cancels rest of 2019-20 season, Calder Cup Playoffs

Staff Report SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - The president of the American Hockey League, on Monday, announced that the league's Board of Governors has voted to cancel the remainder of the 2019-20 regular season and the 2020 Calder Cup Playoffs because of the ongoing coronavirus crisis. “After a lengthy review process, the American Hockey League has determined that the resumption and completion of the 2019-20 season is not feasible in light of current conditions," AHL President and CEO David Andrews…

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…