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The Illinois United youth sports organization grows at the start of it’s second year!

Eric Broughton



The Illinois United Youth Sports Programs increased the number of participants qualified for the Junior Olympics in its second year of existence. Coach Marcus Bates says, “he’s more excited then ever to give young kid in Springfield the change to compete in sports at the highest levels”, who may not have the necessary means for competition travel, event registration fees, etc.

Robert Williams Lauren Ferguson N’dia Jackson Jaylen Gary and Deja Anderson all make their returns back to the national stage, while 1st year athletes Qa’Ron Hawkins, William Crawford DaShawn Brownlee Tori Taylor and Jocelyn Anderson, all make their debuts.

Several athletes go into this year’s meet with the opportunity to finish in the top percent in the nation and get an ALL-AMERICAN opportunity. Lauren Ferguson the highest placer for IU last year returns in the 400m hurdles while also adding Long Jump to her impressive track and field resume. Robert Williams comes into nationals with one of the favorite times to place top 8 in the nation in both of his events. Deja Anderson currently holds the #1 Long Jump in the nation for 13 year old girls and looks to make a big jump as national champ at this years event. DaShawn Brownlee has a great chance to become triple crown and place top 8 in 3 events; 100, 200 and 400. Jocelyn Anderson, younger sister of Deja makes her national debut in the Long Jump competition after a minor set back at regionals. She recently bounced back with her best jump in the 10 year old girls division.

Illinois United – Track & Field Team Roster

Robert Williams (17-19Boys)-110 Hurdles, 400 Hurdles

Lauren Ferguson (17-19Girls)-400 Hurdles Long Jump

N’dias Jackson (17-19G)-100 Hurdles

Qa’Ron Hawkins (17-19B)-Triple Jump, Long Jump

Jaylen Gary (17-19B)-High Jump

William Crawford (17-19B)-Discus

Deja Anderson (13G)-100m Dash Long Jump

DaShawn Brownlee (13B)-400m Dash 100,200

Tori Taylor (14G)-200m Hurdles Long Jump High Jump

Jocelyn Anderson (10G)-Long Jump

Nikeya Walker (13G)-Long Jump


Follow them on Facebook at ILLINOIS UNITED FACEBOOK for more info.

CEO & Co-Founder of Springfield Daily. Former financial analyst and project manager, turned online entrepreneur. Eric also owns Interactive Media, a digital marketing and consulting firm located in Downtown Springfield as well as the fitness startup FitTube. Eric received his Masters in Business Administration from Benedictine University, prior to that played college football at Quincy University, and is a Springfield High alumni.

HS Football

Fewer Illinois high school students playing football



The number of Illinois high school students playing football continues to decline.

According to an annual survey from the National Federation of State High School Associations, the total number of football players in the state has dropped about 17 percent in the past few years from 47,068 to 40,111. Matt Troha, assistant executive director with the Illinois High School Association, said injury concerns and new research on concussions play a factor. He said the IHSA has taken steps to make the sport safer.

“Most of them revolve around the practice schedule,” Troha said. “The amount of time you’re allowed to practice, what days you can practice, how often you can wear equipment and go full pads and hit when you are practicing.”

Troha also pointed to shifting enrollment patterns in the city Chicago over the past decade.

“As you look at where those kids have gone, some of it is population loss, but a lot of it is in the influx of small charter schools,” Troha said. “Many of them are very small and don’t field a team. They might be located in an old factory or office building. There’s no gym and there’s no football field behind there. The opportunity to have a team might not be there. We’ve lost a number of teams in Chicago and I think that accounts for a lot of the loss.”

A number of schools in the state have switched to play eight-man football. Troha believes that sport soon could be sanctioned by the organization.

“I think you’ll see an IHSA 8-man playoff system in the next five years or so, give or take,” Troha said. “That’s going to become a realistic option. Most of the states around us already play that. It’s something that realistically is coming sooner rather than later.”

Football still is by far the most popular sport nationwide, with more than one million high school players across the country.

Other sports in the state are seeing a participation boom, including lacrosse, which Troha believes will continue to flourish.

“I think the exciting part is a lot of those programs are co-ops right now, and I think over the next five years you’ll see a lot of them split off into their own teams,” Troha said. “We’re expecting a lot of growth. The Peoria area has several teams popping up, as does the Metro East area. We think it’s going to become more of a statewide sport.”

The overall number of participants in Illinois high school sports was down slightly, at about 340,000 student-athletes. Boys outnumbered girls by 50,000, but Troha said that might not always be the case thanks to the introduction of new sanctioned activities like dance.

“The girls have continued to close that gap,” Troha said. “I think it’s just a reflection of more and more opportunities. I don’t know if it will ever be 50/50, but I think the gap will become smaller each year.”

Article by Scot Bertram, for more news visit

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Tax exemption for pro sports leagues targeted in new federal legislation



Federal lawmakers are again pushing to remove the tax exemption used by many professional sports leagues and associations.

Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst’s bill would bar any pro league that makes more than $10 million annually from being 501(c)6 tax exempt. She estimates that it would save $100 million over 10 years. The NFL, for whom the tax exemption was crafted in the 1940s, gave up its exempt status in 2015. Major League Baseball dropped it in 2007. Many organizations such as the PGA Tour and the National Hockey League are still nonprofits.

“Professional sports leagues – which are raking in millions of dollars from television rights and membership dues – shouldn’t also be scoring a hole-in-one with their taxes,” Ernst said in a release.

That amount of additional revenue may not balance the budget but supporters say the principle of tax cuts for connected businesses sets a poor precedent.

“$100 million over the course of 10 years in the grand scheme of things is not a lot of money, but the precedent is that we need to start getting rid of things like this, otherwise the debt isn’t going to go down,” said Alec Fornwalt, policy analyst with the Tax Foundation. “If we keep cutting taxes and we leave things like this carved out, the debt won’t go down.”

Many organizations that used the exemption didn’t save much money. The NFL actually posted a loss in a number of years and didn’t qualify for any breaks, but others did.

“The PGA now saves millions of dollars in taxes,” Fornwalt said. “It really has to do with how these organizations have moved themselves around this status.”

Similar legislation has been proposed in the past but has never gotten much traction.

Fornwalt said it was due to the lobbying efforts, and a couple well-timed pro golfer appearances, that it was removed from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that passed in December.

This would not stop organizations from convincing local governments to pay for their stadiums, something Illinoisans are all too familiar with.

Ernst’s bill was referred to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee for consideration.

Article by Cole Lauterbach with Illinois News Network. For more INN News visit 

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Local Youth Athletes Shine at AAU Junior Olympics

Staff Contributor



PRESS RELEASE: Des Moines, IA Drake University AAU Junior Olympics

Day 3-Day 7 updates

AAU Junior Olympics are held in Des Moines IA at Drake University.
Monday, Day 3 started the running events for Illinois United. Athletes were welcomed by “The Greatest Olympian of All Time” Carl Lewis. No, he didn’t sing the national anthem, but it was great for the kids to be able to meet such a legendary American Olympian.

“At IU(Illinois United) we believe in a fun, family oriented environment for our athletes and parents. Regardless of placing results, the main thing we focus on are personal bests.” Coach Ronell Hawkins Robert Williams started the day off strong for Illinois United. Entering his race with the 3rd fastest time. Robert was pushed to not only PR 54.07 seconds finish a very close 2nd place in his heat. Qualifying for the finals with the 3 fastest time, and only .06 seconds from the nations fastest time. Robert had already accomplished goal 1, #1 hurdler in Illinois. Now time for the finals. Robert ran a great race, his best race of his 400m hurdle career (6 races). Finishing 3rd in the nation, with another PR and goal of breaking into 53 seconds, 53.81. Robert is the 1st top 3 national finisher for Illinois United, and 2nd All American in consecutive years. Lauren Ferguson, the programs 1st All American, and national placer, didn’t have the week she had planned for. She was in a very tough heat of the 400m hurdles, and expected to reach the finals as a high favorite. Unfortunately she placed 3rd in her heat and placing 24th overall, not making the finals.
On a brighter note, her college recruiting has started, with several coaches reaching out with great interest in bringing her talents to their beach, or farm land.

“I am very happy with the progress Lauren, and Robert are making in the 400 meter hurdles. This event is not ran in Illinois, and for them to come out and compete at a national level in the event shows the amount of talent these two have”-Coach Marcus Bates.

Jaylen Gary, class of 2019, placed 14th overall in 15-16 boys high jump. Coming in new and the youngest of the 17-19 group, Jay finished tied for 9th in high jump, and 1 jump away from being top 8, and All American status. Deja Anderson, of Springfield Grant had a tough week the national stage. She was the number 3 seed in her heat for the 13year old girls 100 meter dash, behind by .063 seconds from a 1 seed. She placed 2nd in her heat, but unfortunately the top 24 advance, Deja tied for 24th, but because of the wind aided times was pushed to 25th. Both ran 12.91, but Deja had a wind time of 1.9 and #24 1.8, pushing Deja to 25th. She was a heavy favorite in the girls long jump, but just could not stick 1 jump and scratched 3 jumps. Younger sister Jocelyn Anderson also jumped in the 11 year old long jump. In her 1st year in T&F Jocelyn placed 12th in the nation with a PR jump of 13’05’’ QaRon Hawkins also a 1st year qualifier in mens 17-19 Long Jump and Triple Jump had a good weekend of experience. Quoted saying, “Im coming back with vengeance next year” not placing where he wanted as a competitor.

William Crawford graduate of Lanphier High School, qualified in the mens 17-19 discus throw, placing in the top 50 national, at number 50. Will plans to attend Western Illinois this January. Nikeya Walker got her national wings clipped this weekend, competing as well in the 13 year old girls long jump. Nikeya jumped a PR 12’06’’ and looks to transition to middle school track and field this spring.

“I am extremely proud of our athletes, each one competed tough and gave it their all. I am proud to say we have the best hurdle crew in the State of Illinois, and any athlete looking to get better in the hurdles before next track seasons feel free to contact me. We will begin the schedule for our winter indoor season, which is open to any ages 5-high school. We have growth, which was the primary goal, luckily enough we have some dawgs in our program and have yet another All American hurdler in Springfield Il. Next year we are aiming for National Champion for a few athletes, and look again to take a bigger group. July 24th-Aug 3rd 2019 Greensboro, North Carolina look out for Illinois United” – Coach Marcus Bates



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