Unless you have a child involved in high school sports, it’s easy to take winter basketball and spring softball games for granted. But thanks to thousands of outstanding high school athletes in the central Illinois area, we get to enjoy everything from Friday night lights to day-long track and field events. Now, we all get a chance to thank our top athletes who have made our free time more enjoyable.

Best of Capital Region PrepsINB is proud to be sponsoring the State Journal-Register’s inaugural Best of Capital Region Preps awards banquet. The June 27 event at the Prairie Capitol Convention Center will honor top high school athletes from throughout central Illinois and feature guest speaker Brian Urlacher, a former Chicago Bear who spent his entire career with the team.

Honored players are being chosen by the State Journal-Register’s sports writers, who are working with all the high schools in the paper’s 12-county circulation area. Schools will be in one of three categories:

  • All-Metro all-star teams will include athletes from schools with enrollments of more than 600 students, including Springfield High, Southeast, Lanphier, Sacred Heart-Griffin, Chatham Glenwood, Decatur Eisenhower, Decatur MacArthur, Jacksonville, Lincoln, Rochester and Taylorville.
  • All-Prairie teams will include athletes from schools with less than 600 students.
  • All-Area teams will feature athletes from all SJ-R-area schools, regardless of enrollment.

Young men and women chosen as the best from their school in fall and winter sports have already been invited. Honorees participating in spring sports will receive letters from the newspaper as soon as the sports season ends.

I’m proud INB has the opportunity to be part of these first-time event. We’ll be honoring kids we’ve watched grow from the early days on the basketball court to high school point guards. It was fun watching them run in little packs up and down the court. Now it’s fun watching them being cheered on by their entire high school fan base. I’m glad we have this opportunity to thank them for working so hard for all of us.

Other event sponsors include Hy-Vee, Illinois Pork Producers Association, and Memorial Medical Center. While the event is open to the public, sponsorships assure all athletes get a free ticket. If you’ve ever enjoyed a high school athletic competition, you may not want to miss this event. You can get your tickets by visiting this web page.