Episode 14: Hometown Heroes

Stories Beyond the Scores
Stories Beyond the Scores
Episode 14: Hometown Heroes

[Photo credit: Ed Lamoureux, 2018]

Original Run Date on WCBU/Peoria Public Radio: April 7 & 8, and October 13th & 14th 2018.

It’s been written that you can’t go home again.

While some people think of me as a hometown athletic hero, not everyone remembers my time as a high school basketball player in Peoria or a collegian at Indiana. This helps me to concentrate on my work today, and planning for the future, rather than reflecting on former glory.

Yet, we cannot forget the forces that formed us.

Reflecting on his first ballot election to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, Jim Thome noted that “Everything starts at your roots.”

Olympic figure skater, Matt Savoie, referring to family and coaches, says, “Looking back, what I take most was how lucky I was to have the support I had.”

Professional golfer, D. A. Points honors his origin story by giving back through sponsoring his hometown’s American Junior Golf Association tournament. Points recalls that he attended Pekin’s youth tournaments, and they set the stage for his successful college and professional careers.

Key member of the World Champion Golden State Warriors, Shaun Livingston recognizes the importance of his hometown legacy. Describing contacts with Peoria area youth, Livingston says, “I try to use my story and my experiences to instill a work ethic, so that they can start building a foundation for how they live their lives.”

Thomas Wolfe was at least partly right: Sport celebrities who return home have changed in the intervening years and sometimes public perceptions haven’t.

This dichotomy illustrates an important aspect of being a hometown hero: Our hometowns were not all about us. They were about our families, teachers, schools, churches, teammates, and coaches.

Real hometowns are built by the communities living there and, if one does right by those folks, hometowns will be there to welcome us home.

Until next time, for Stories Beyond the Scores, I’m Chris Reynolds.


You Can’t Go Home Again. Thomas Wolfe, 1940

“Olympic skater Matt Savoie to be enshrined in Greater Peoria Sports Hall of Fame.” Kirk Wessler, Peoria Journal Star, March 2, 2016.

“Jim Thome credits Peoria roots for path to Hall of Fame.” Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune, January 24, 2018.

“Shaun Livingston returns to basketball clinic in Peoria as a champion,” Dave Reynolds, Peoria Journal Star, July 14, 2015.

“D.A. Points to host AJGA tournament in Pekin, Illinois.” Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce. Oct. 24, 2017

Welcome to Peoria, Jim Thome photo: Ed Lamoureux, 2018.