Category: Sports

The City of Beardstown recently honored their outstanding Special Olympic Teams.

The mayor, Steve Patterson, mayor called each team up and recognized their accomplishments at the tournament held in Bloomington, Illinois in March.

He praised the teams for their positive attitudes, good sportsmanship, and athletic abilities.

Men’s Team:
Ryan Peacock, Cole Agans, Michael Smedley, Coach Steve Wedeking, Coach Justin French, statistician Jared French.
Front Row: Christopher “CJ” Evans, Mayor Steve Patterson, Raji Nijhawan, Isaac French, Michael Walton and Phillip Baer (Not pictured: Jeremy Gaines)

Helen Glisson readies for her Cardinals debut

By Lynn Colburn

Shelley Singleton, marketing director at CNB Bank & Trust, has been looking around for the perfect person to follow Mayor Andy Ezard, who threw out the first pitch at last year’s CNB Jacksonville Night. She said she kept coming back to Helen Henry Glisson, a 95-year-old Jacksonville native who has been a Cardinals fan all her life. Singleton said she approached Dan Henry, assistant vice president at CNB and also Glisson’s son, and asked if he thought his mother would be interested. Singleton said he was surprised, but “his eyes immediately teared up and he said she would be thrilled.”

The official announcement was made on March 23 that Glisson would throw the first pitch at CNB Jacksonville Night at the St. Louis Cardinals game against the San Francisco Giants on Saturday, May 20, if 1,000 tickets are sold. After the announcement at the Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Business After Hours event at Cedarhurst Assisted Living and Memory Care in Jacksonville, where Glisson lives, Glisson gave her son, Dan, a big hug and you could see the excitement in Glisson’s face as her eyes twinkled.

Once the announcement was made and congratulations were given, Glisson, sporting a special Cardinals shirt identifying her as “Helen 95” and stepping lively in shoes with Cardinals glittering on the top, kindly took me back to her room to show me some of the Cardinals memorabilia she has collected over the years. I didn’t even need to step into her room to guess which one it was, because outside the room was a St. Louis Cardinals rug. I soon found out the rug is her pitcher’s mound for her a “first pitch training” and the two Beanie Babies lying on it serve as the practice baseballs. Glisson said from the mat at the door, she has reached the sliding doors to her patio in the back of her apartment during her practices.

Her room screams “St. Louis Cardinals fan” wherever you look, a Cardinals clock to keep time, two unopened Budweisers from the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals World Series Championship on top of her refrigerator and her table top has an image of Busch Stadium embedded in the wood. Many other Cardinals items adorn her apartment walls and shelves.

Brett Henry, one of Gilsson’s grandsons, remembers, “If you were visiting, you always knew when the Cards were playing. The volume would be up loud and Grandma would be watching and cheering her boys on. If you visited after she got back from the Cardinals Cruise, she had so many stories. She would get out the pictures she had of everybody and tell you about everyone she talked to. She would tell you about all the hugs she got and who she made sure to hug a little longer. Mike Matheny was one of those she made sure get a long hug from.”

Glisson has taken five St. Louis Cardinals Cruises in the last five years. She shared photographs from these with me. She knew every Cardinals player in the photos by name without hesitation. There was a photo of Glisson with Cardinals’ starting pitcher Carlos Martinez and one with pitcher Lance Lynn. The rest included such famous names as Mike Claiborne, Dan McLaughlin, Kerry Robinson, Mike Matheny, Luke Weaver and, of course, Fredbird.

The other important decorations in the rooms that stand out are photos and items from Glisson’s large family. There is a large photo from Glisson’s 94th birthday with Glisson’s six children, 21 grandchildren and 54 great-grandchildren. She also had artwork of a family tree with each of the family members’ thumbprints. She says she keeps active keeping up with so many family members.

When asked what 6-year-old great-grandson Parker Henry thinks about “big grandma” throwing out the first pitch at a Cardinals game, he says, “I feel awesome for her. I can’t believe she is going on the field.”

Although Glisson knows many of the Cardinals pitchers, I’m sure she would be most interested in Parker Henry’s advice; he is currently playing all different of positions on his team. His advice is, “Throw as hard as she can, so she can get it alllll the way down to the catcher.” He suggests, “She can practice throwing stuff like rubber baseballs with people she lives with at Cedarhurst.”

With such a big Cardinals fan, are any other family members routing for other teams? There are some Cubs fans in the family. Her oldest son moved and started a family in Chicago. While he is still a Cardinals fan, most of his family grew up being Cubs fans.

Henry says, “As long as no one wears a Cubs hat or shirt around her they were fine, but she would speak up if she saw one! Nothing heated though, usually just mentioning it’s the wrong team and they should get around to changing their shirt.”

Singleton says that Glisson’s family alone have bought about 100 tickets to help fill the stands and see her in action. Come and join her family and friends and cheer on Helen Glisson on May 20. You can buy tickets by going to or stop by the branch at 1341 Lincoln Ave., south of Morton. Tickets are $35 each. Proceeds benefit Jacksonville Area Baseball and Pony Colt league – serving boys and girls in the Jacksonville and surrounding communities. If you have questions, contact CNB Jacksonville branch at 217-243-6654.

Mother’s Volleyball League Celebrates 40th Anniversary

by Anna Ferraro

Moms. They’re the busiest people on the planet. Being a mom alone is a full-time job. Add to that another job in the workplace, and their days are beyond full. With stressing over doctor’s appointments, putting meals on the table, and getting children where they need to be, when they need to be there, how do they stay sane?

Close to 300 moms in the Jacksonville school district have a fun answer to that – volleyball – on 18 all-moms’ teams! Their level of involvement varies per team, but they usually meet weekly for games or practices. Olivia Mefford, just one of the many mom’s playing volleyball in the league says, “It’s a good way to connect with other moms that you might not normally have the time to get to know. You just see them in passing, in drop-off or pickup. Through the league, I have a way to get to know the other moms, and know that [I’m] not the only one stressed out with homework.”

On March 3-fifth, the Jacksonville Area Mother’s Volleyball League will host their 40th annual tournament – and it’s a pretty big deal! It’s a big deal for the mom’s who play together, and it’s a big deal for the dads who have to “play mom” for the weekend. Mefford chuckled, “It’s the weekend every husband hates…”

But it’s all for a good cause. Schools in the district take turns hosting the tournament each year. Any proceeds raised go to support needs within the school – whether that’s replacing water fountains, upgrading classroom supplies or equipment, or this year, for Salem Lutheran (the 2017 host school), they hope to be upgrading the locks on their office doors.

The weekend has a lot involved in it – spirit wear silent auctions, and concession stands with all the “fixin’s” – pork chop sandwiches, hot dogs, walking tacos, and some lighter snacks like fruit cups, as well. Mefford says, “I’ve already told my husband he’s cooking the pork chops for the weekend….” It’s a lot of work, but Mefford stated, “It definitely comes back to the school and benefits the students.”

As a shoutout to the community, Mefford said, “We want to thank everyone who has donated, whether it’s for ads, concessions or spirit wear. We’re so grateful for the community’s support.” This year, all the busy moms are trying to get all the fundraising completed before the tournament begins. Mefford explained, “It’s already a super busy weekend for us… Most of us have full-time jobs, raising a family, and we’re doing all this on the side.”

To learn how you can participate or donate to the Jacksonville Area Mother’s Volleyball League before the end of February, visit them on Facebook at

Jacksonville Middle School wrestlers recognized for their accomplishments as student athletes 

The following students made straight ‘A’ grades (ST.A), high honors (HH) or honors (H). In the front row, L to R: Treyger Vaniter H, Reed Davis, Brooklyn Murphy H, Sophie Homolka ST.A, Connor Hall ST.A, Gage Blimling ST.A and Aiden Swift ST.A. In the back row, L to R: Eli Gerard H, Conner Adcock H, Jadon Eisfelder…

JHS Signing Day 2017

Football boys:

Hunter Hartsook – St. Ambrose University, Iowa

Adam Hillis – Quincy University, Illinois

Levi Parkevich – Illinois College, Illinois

Corey Ruyle – Quincy University, Illinois

James White – Fullerton College, California

Klay Wood – Truman State University, Missouri

Golf boys:

Ryan Kaufmann – Illinois College, Illinois

Soccer Boys:

Steven Albers – University of Illinois Springfield, Illinois

Tyler DeGroot – Illinois College, Illinois

Grant Flynn – Lincoln Land, Illinois

John Gibbons – Illinois College, Illinois

Soccer Girls:

Ariel Mansholt – Southwestern University, Texas

The group picture includes (back row, L to R): Hunter Hartsook, Adam Hillis, James White, Grant Flynn, Steven Albers, Tyler DeGroot and John Gibbons. Pictured in the front row (L to R) are: Klay Wood, Levi Parkevich, Corey Ruyle, Ariel Mansholt and Ryan Kaufmann.

Soccer Boys

Pictured (L to R), representing boys soccer: Grant Flynn, Steven Albers, Tyler DeGroot, John Gibbons and Coach Evan Philpott.

Fellowship of Christian Athletes impacts lives in Jacksonville

by Anna Ferraro

“I got into teaching because I wanted to impact students’ lives,” says Todd Sweatman, director of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) in Jacksonville and the surrounding areas {CHECK ONLINE}. He continues, “I saw that you can do that as a teacher, and as a coach as well. Figuring out how to demonstrate your values, and demonstrate your faith through how you taught and treated kids and athletes, gives you an opportunity to share your faith. FCA gives an opportunity to share your faith directly.”

Since 1992, Sweatman has been a math and physical education teacher in Jacksonville. Around 1995, he was able to start an FCA group at teacher at Turner Junior High, and oversee the group, along with several other teachers that were involved in FCA with him.

FCA groups now meet before or after school, in student-led “huddle groups.” Right now, in Jacksonville, FCA has huddle groups at Jacksonville High School, Illinois College and MacMurray College. More than just Bible study groups, in Sweatman’s words, “they also try and serve the community through different projects as they grow in their faith.”

Sweatman’s vision is also to partner with more churches here in town, saying additionally, “We would like to involve anyone possible.” And when it comes to involvement, the options are limitless. Sweatman shared about the many events that FCA has coordinated for coaches and athletes in the community – banquets, camps, mission trips, community service projects, meetings and more.

Last September, Sweatman recounts, “We had a player from the Denver Broncos come to the Jacksonville area.” The player spent four days with Sweatman, going to schools and speaking to over 6,000 kids about “playing drug-free and making wise decisions.” “He was very practical, and he really impacted a lot of kids,” said Sweatman. Such an experience fueled Sweatman to continue his work. Why? He saw impacted lives.

Personally, Sweatman himself is most passionate about FCA summer camps. He shares, “They’re my favorite week of the year.” After coaching in public schools for 25 years, he shared, “I love taking that platform [at the camp] to spread the Gospel. To see 300 high school kids worshipping and growing, taking it back and applying it to their lives is so neat.”

Sweatman shared, “Over the last seven years, have had about 1,500 kids attend our camps in Jacksonville. Those camps can be life-changing for the kids – [giving a chance to] live out their faith in sports with other kids who have common interests and common values.” He added, “The kids look up to those athletes [at the camps]. And sometimes our athletes forget that – the impact they can have. When they really grasp that and take it back to their team and their communities, it’s amazing the different they can make for younger kids.”

But Sweatman’s heart is not just for the athletes themselves. He shared with feeling, “My biggest goal is to build relationships with as many coaches as possible, and to help them become as effective as possible in what they do.” One tangible way the FCA did this was to have an appreciation dinner for coaches and their wives. The evening included exciting speakers, a meal and gift bags for the spouses. Sweatman shared that FCA wants to “show support and appreciation” for the coaches that are investing in young athletes. He commented that when FCA is able to “encourage the coaches, that trickles down to their athletes, as well.”

Coming up in 2017 are some exciting FCA events. Some of the highlights include the FCA banquets in Springfield on April 2 and in Quincy on April 3. Along with a dinner and presentations, the event will feature “Big Puma” Lance Berkman – a former outfielder and first baseman. According to, “He played 14 seasons in MLB for the Houston Astros, New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers. Bergman is a six-time MLB All-Star, and won the World Series and was named the National League Comeback Player of the Year with the Cardinals in 2011.“ Sweatman shared that these banquets are “a great opportunity to hear from sports celebrities. When they share their faith, it’s very impactful. We forget [that so many of] these guys are Christians.”

In addition, this summer, the annual FCA camps will be held in Jacksonville at Illinois College July 10-13. Participants can register online before June 5 for the early bird discount. For boys, the FCA camp offers baseball, basketball, football, golf, soccer, track and cross-country, swimming and wrestling. For girls, the FCA camp offers basketball, cheerleading, golf, soccer, softball, swimming, track and cross-country, volleyball and wrestling.

For more information or a complete listing of events, visit or follow them on Facebook at For information on how you, your family or your church, school or business can become involved in Fellowship of Christian Athletes, call or text Todd Sweatman at 217-370-2008 or email him at

Master Gardener Training will be Offered in Jacksonville in 2017

The Calhoun, Cass, Greene, Morgan, Scott county Extension units will be offering Master Gardener training again in 2017. Classes will be held in Jacksonville on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6 to 9 p.m. Classes will begin February 28 and run for 10 weeks. There is a $175 registration fee to participate in the training;…