The Illinois High School Association (IHSA), IHSA executive staff members Kurt Gibson and Scott Johnson, and Illinois Elementary School Association (IESA) executive director Steve Endsley will be recognized for their outstanding contributions to the sport of basketball as part of the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association (IBCA) Hall of Fame class of 2021.
Individual IBCA Hall of Fame inductees are broken into six groups – Coaches, Career Coaches, Player, Media, Official and Friends of Basketball – with additional categories for historic teams and Organizations of the Year.
Gibson, a current IHSA associate director; Johnson, a recently retired assistant director; and Endsley will all be honored as Friends of Basketball at a joint ceremony celebrating both the 2020 and 2021 classes. Due to the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, a date for the event, which is typically held each spring at Illinois State University, has not yet been announced.
Gibson joined the IHSA as assistant director and boys basketball administrator in 2002 after a decade as a teacher and baseball and basketball coach for the Iroquois West School District, Coal City High School, Hinckley-Big Rock High School and Manteno High School. The Belvidere, Illinois native also spent three years in school administration as principal at Manteno Middle School and Erie High School.
Gibson was promoted to IHSA associate director in 2010 and has assumed additional duties in his tenure. Aside from boys basketball, Gibson is the current administrator for IHSA boys golf and bass fishing and is director of education and corporate sponsorships. He previously oversaw softball and boys and girls gymnastics, as well as the organization’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee. His entire body of work earned him an NFHS Citation this past January, which will be presented at the 2021 NFHS Summer Meeting in Orlando.
“I’m very humbled and appreciative of this recognition by the IBCA,” said Gibson. “Getting to know and work with so many great people in that organization, most notably IBCA founder Chuck Rolinski and current director Jim Tracy, over my career is truly one of the things I’ll remember most when my work in this arena is done. These recognitions, though, are the result of efforts from many people, including the two administrative assistants I’ve had the pleasure of working with here at IHSA, Laura Hennings and Pam Flohr, and their contributions to high school basketball in Illinois, even if behind the scenes, can’t be overstated.”
Johnson, a native of Elgin, Illinois – the home of the NFHS office from 1971 to 1979 – began working at the IHSA in 1994, although his love of basketball prompted him to begin publishing a basketball newsletter for the IHSA prior to his physical arrival.
As an official member of the staff, Johnson worked in the IHSA’s IT department until his retirement in November 2019 and was responsible for several advancements that placed the association on the cutting edge technologically. Among his accomplishments, Johnson is credited with the creation of the IHSA ScoreZone – a platform still utilized on the IHSA website – as well as developments with postseason assignment mapping software and further website integration. Johnson also managed internal and external computer operations, edited IHSA souvenir programs and other publications and ran the IHSA's team chess tournament over the course of his career.
On the side, Johnson began assembling a detailed history of the boys basketball program at his alma mater, Elgin High School, that included box scores and records dating to 1899.
That affinity for sports history led him to co-author a book with his wife, Julie Kistler, in 2002, called Once There Were Giants, which told the story of Hebron (Illinois) High School’s magical boys basketball state championship in 1952. In 2006, Johnson helped produce another historical writing project, 100 Years of Madness, a 316-page compilation of the IHSA boys basketball state tournament, and wrote Association Work in 2018, a dual biography of the IHSA’s first two executive directors, C.W. Whitten and H.V. Porter.
Johnson was also involved with NFHS operations as a member of the Technology Committee and as chair of the Records Committee.
“It was always a labor of love,” Johnson said. “I came into it just happy to be working with high school sports. Basketball was always my first love. I was lucky to fall into a job that suited my interests.
It was my pleasure to work with IBCA leadership during my years at the IHSA. My visits to Chuck Rolinski’s storefront office in Toluca were always memorable. I am very thankful to be recognized.”
Endsley has been with the IESA since 1988 and has occupied the role of executive director since 1996. In his 24 years at the helm, Endsley has fostered the growth of the association to include more than 950 member schools, including nearly 425 schools in its girls basketball state series and 450 in its boys basketball state series. Endsley also oversaw the addition of golf, bowling, cheerleading and chess to the IESA activities lineup during his tenure and expanded existing offerings to accommodate growth in membership.
Slated to retire in June 2021, the IBCA recognition will likely be one of the last accolades of Endsley’s active career.
“I am humbled by being selected for this award,” Endsley said. “I thank the IBCA for this honor and everyone who has been associated with the IESA state basketball series because it is those individuals who have fostered the growth of the sport at the junior high/middle school level. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I am thankful for all the friendships I have made over the years. I am truly blessed."
The IHSA joins the Champaign News Gazette and Quincy Media, Inc. as the IBCA’s 2021
Organizations of the Year, honors that have been bestowed upon three entities annually since 2018. The award recognizes organizations that put forth large numbers of volunteers to organize and run tournaments, conferences, and other initiatives that promote basketball in Illinois.
This article was written with excerpts from articles published by the Illinois High School Association and the Daily Herald of suburban Chicago, Illinois.