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First YBE year draws enthusiastic players, parents, volunteers and donors

In Field of Dreams, a child’s mantra, “If you build it, they will come,” became prophetic.

A.J. Guyton’s first year as Peoria Public Schools Athletic Director is following a similar path. At the January 13 Board of Education meeting, Guyton gave a summary of the District’s successful, inaugural primary-grade Youth Basketball Experience (YBE) citing impressive numbers of participants, donors, volunteers, spectators and funds raised through donations, gate receipts and concession sales.

Guyton also presented the Community Contribution Award to Paul Larson and Charles Gordon of the Greater Peoria YMCA which donated 30 hours of gym time to the program, a value of approximately $1,500.


Guyton Gordon Larson   YBE coaches, volunteers

Among the statistics Guyton cited:

  • 340 first through fifth grade students participated in the program.
  • Each PPS school with primary grades had two teams except Hines, Kellar and Northmoor which each fielded four teams.
  • The co-ed teams practiced two-to-three times each week, for 60 to 90 minutes per practice beginning in September. The playing season consisted of five Saturday’s in November and December and teams played 136 games.
  • Charter Oak, Hines, Franklin, Dr. Maude A. Sanders, Woodruff Career & Technical Center, Glen Oak Community Learning Center, Harrison Community Learning Center and the YMCA all hosted games.
  • The eight host schools raised a total of $4,120 from concessions and donations. Schools can use those funds for the sports program, other activities or for attendance and behavior incentive prizes.
  • The program recruited 34 volunteer coaches, 11 volunteer referees/scorekeepers and ten sponsors.

In addition to the YMCA donation, sponsors and donations were:

John Seckler

$500 worth of basketballs and sponsor ads

Syntia Jackson,
American Red Cross

$500 in medical supplies

Ed Schumer


Eureka College

$450 for Kellar Primary game shirts

Goldfine & Bowles

$350 for Dr. Maude A. Sanders game shirts

Northmoor Primary PTO

Northmoor game shirts

Hines Primary
Principal Matthew Durr

$365 for Hines game shirts

Charter Oak Primary PTO

$390 for coach and player game shirts

Steve Tyler

$200 donation

To close the season, Guyton and volunteers coordinated a fundraising jamboree featuring 22 teams and over 400 spectators which raised over $2,100.

Guyton also reported on plans for other sports programs for primary grades and special events.

  • A Youth Skills & Development Experience for Pre-K students and parents will be held on Saturdays from January 18 through February 8 at Lakeview Recreation Center from 8:30 to 10 a.m. and at Glen Oak Community Center from 10:30 to noon. The program will focus on team building, running and conditioning, balance, flexibility and much more. (Perfect for getting little ones away from a screen and moving!)
  • YBE participants will be playing at the March Madness Experience on March 14 and 21.
  • Pre-season soccer training begins in February. Teams will practice from March 30 through April 10 with games held from April 18 through May 16.
  • A youth baseball camp is tentatively scheduled for May 2 and 3, 2020.
  • Dates are being finalized for pre-season volleyball training and an intro to cheerleading program for first-and fourth-grade students.

Following Guyton’s report, Franklin Primary School principal Anna Rose, in accepting the second place Most Improved Attendance award for December, cited the students and parents’ excitement about the basketball program as one factor in the school’s attendance progress. “The students want to be a part of the basketball program and they know they have to be at school.” Rose also said that Franklin used some of the concessions money to purchase attendance incentive prizes and to buy t-shirts for their newly formed cheerleading squad.


YBE 1   Roosevelt team    

Lincoln YBE teach   YBE game