If you turn back the hands of time, you’ll see why the Alton Exchange Club sought to honor prep basketball players.
They wanted to salute the local talent. So they put together a Player of the Year award in 1946.
It wasn’t a big deal, but it started the ball rolling and became something special. Chuck Taylor — yes, that Chuck Taylor — of Converse tennis shoes spoke at the initial banquet in Alton and East Alton-Wood River High’s Dick Erzen snared the first award. It’s something he will always cherish.
The Exchange Club was ahead of the curve. The National Basketball Association didn’t come to life until later that year and college basketball was known more for the NIT than the NCAA Tournament.
Basketball has changed a lot in the past seven decades, but the Exchange Club continues to honor local players. And the group will do it again Wednesday, March 23, at the Atrium Hotel, formerly the Holiday Inn, in Alton.
Male and female players from Alton, Marquette Catholic, Civic Memorial, East Alton-Wood River and Roxana will be eligible for the top honors. The main awards are for Players of the Year. Darrius Edwards of Alton and Allie Troeckler of CM snagged the most prominent hardware last year.
Edwards is at Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville this year and Troeckler, a junior and second-team Class 3A All-Stater, has an opportunity to capture her second consecutive award.
Several players have done that, but only one has claimed it three times — Katie Broadway of CM.
Fittingly, Broadway, a first-year women’s assistant coach at McKendree University in Lebanon, will serve as the featured speaker for this year’s event.
Broadway, who earned Exchange Player of the Year honors from 2006-08, went on to a successful collegiate career at Illinois State. She was at UAB coaching last season before joining new McKendree coach Kari Kerkhoff this year. The Bearcats compete in the Division II Great Lakes Valley Conference.
Broadway is just one of multiple former Exchange Club award winners that are coaching or have been involved in it. Kavon Lacey, the boys’ winner in 2006-07, is director of basketball operations at the University of Evansville. The Purple Aces finished second to Northern Iowa in the recent Missouri Valley Conference tourney in St. Louis.
Emily (Best) Van Natta of EA-WR received the female Player of the Year honor in 2004-05 prior to playing at McKendree. Roxana’s Jordan Davis and Angela Payne; EA-WR’s Travis Williams, Steve Wooley, Cliff Talley, and Gary Lane; Marquette Catholic’s Michelle Beiermann; and CM’s Jonathan Denney, Ty Laux, Jenni Combes and Dave Taynor are some of the other award winners who have gone into coaching.
Van Natta just finished her first season guiding the Oilers. Denney has been directing the CM girls for 10 years, while Wooley has carved out a successful career in 19 years as the Southwestern High girls’ coach. The Piasa Birds have won more than 450 games during his tenure.
Thus, the past does link with the present for the Alton Exchange Club prep fete. It has become a generational thing and the future is right around the corner — Wednesday, to be exact.
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Alton Exchange Club Players Of The Year
2015: Darrius Edwards of Alton and Allie Troeckler of Civic Memorial
2014: Deion Lavender of Marquette Catholic and Megan Trost of CM
2013: Hunter Reine of Roxana and Trost of CM
2012: Hunter Reine of Roxana and Megkinize Carter of CM
2011: Tony Bradley of Alton and Cassie Endicott of CM
2010: Tony Bradley of Alton and Kelsey Harrison of East Alton-Wood River
2009: Ryan Mathews of Alton and Michaela Herrod of Alton
2008: Ruben Cotto of Alton and Katie Broadway of CM
2007: Kavon Lacey of Alton and Broadway of CM
2006: Lacey of Alton and Broadway of CM
2005: Lorenzo Taylor of Alton and Emily Best of EA-WR
2004: Nick Certa of Marquette Catholic and Emily Best of EA-WR
2003: Nick Certa of Marquette Catholic and Jordan Davis of Roxana
2002: Travis Williams of EA-WR and Casey Law of CM
2001: Michael Stockard of Alton and Ashley Russell of EA-WR
2000: Demarko “Book” Snipes of Alton and Michelle Beiermann of Marquette Catholic
1999: Snipes of Alton and Kendra Snyder of Marquette
1998: Tony Certa of Marquette and DoBee Oros-Moore of Alton
1997: Marlon Crawford of Alton and Jenni Combes of CM
1996: Nic Stotler of CM and Angela Payne of Roxana
1995: Greg McDanel of Roxana and Erica Oge of Marquette
1994: Eric Frankford of CM and Amie Gernigan of Marquette
1993: Ty Laux of CM
1992: Brad Bohannon of Marquette
1991: Jonathan Denney of CM
1990: Kevin Caldwell of Alton
1989: Joe Vann of Alton
1988: Steve Mason of Marquette
1987: Jamie Humphries of CM
1986: Larry Smith of Alton
1985: Smith of Alton
1984: Dale Liley of EA-WR
1983: Rick Taylor of Alton
1982: Steve Wooley of EA-WR
1981: Dan Coddington of EA-WR
1980: Troy Washpun of Alton
1979: Jim “Buzz” Logan of EA-WR
1978: David Goins of Alton
1977: Brad Scheiter of Alton
1976: Leroy Stampley of Alton
1975: Chris Schroeder of Roxana
1974: Doug Nalley of Alton
1973: Lafayette Collins of Alton
1972: Dennis Olston of EA-WR
1971: Ron Caldwell of Alton
1970: Dave Taynor of CM
1969: Mike Jeffries of Alton
1968: Leon Huff of Alton
1967: Ricci Stotler of CM
1966: Jim Bailey of EA-WR
1965: Terry Brown of EA-WR
1964: Larry Jeffries of Alton
1963: Bob Hilgendorf of CM
1962: Larry Shoemaker of Alton
1961: Gary Lane of EA-WR
1960: Karl Doucleff of Western Military Academy
1959: Jerry Messick of EA-WR
1958: Mike Hunter of Alton
1957: Jim Lemon of EA-WR
1956: Cliff Talley of EA-WR
1955: Essic Robinson of Alton
1954: Richard Brown of Roxana
1953: Dick Harbke of Roxana
1952: Ron Fisher of EA-WR
1951: Bob Kuhn of Alton
1950: Lowell Pettit of EA-WR
1949: Ron Bedwell of Roxana
1948: Sam Vinyard of EA-WR
1947: Bob Caffery of EA-WR
1946: Dick Erzen of EA-WR