Shaun Livingston made a surprise appearance Friday in Morton.

The former Peoria High basketball star and two-time NBA champion with the Golden State Warriors visited with students at Morton Academy, the educational arm of the Guardian Angel home for troubled boys that’s staffed by administrators and teachers from the Morton School District.

Livingston handed out T-shirts, knapsacks, Warriors pencil pouches, high fives, autographed pictures and advice to the boys.

“Work hard,” he said, according to a news release from the Morton School District. “You can’t get anywhere if you don’t work hard. You have to have a good work ethic. No one is going to do your work for you. You have to do it for yourself. If you start something, you finish it. That’s what winners do.”

Livingston shot baskets with the students, who gave him a tour of the Queenwood Road facility and showed him where they sit in their classroom.

ONLINE SIGNUP: Registration for Pekin High School students-athletes is being done online starting this year. Parents/guardians should go to or the high school’s homepage under the “Athletics” tab.

OFF TO MONMOUTH: Alexis Opel of Morton will continue her softball career at Monmouth College. Opel, a middle infielder, will play for 11th-year Monmouth coach John Goddard, the longest-serving and winningest coach in the history of Fighting Scots softball.

SPIRITED: Nicole Koch of Morton received the Millikin University softball team’s Big Blue Spirit Award and she was named to the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin Academic All-Conference Team. Koch was a senior outfielder-pitcher this past season. The biology major hit .260 and was 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA on the mound while starting all 44 games for Millikin (32-12, 14-2), which posted the most wins in a season since 1990 and won the conference regular-season championship.

BRADLEY SCHOLARS: Six Bradley University athletes from Tazewell County received recognition from the Missouri Valley Conference for their academic success during the 2016-2017 school year. Here’s the list: Dan Bolt (Morton, baseball, MVC Honor Roll); Christian Dominguez (Washington, baseball, Commissioner’s Academic Excellence Award, Honor Roll); Lou Griffith (Washington, men’s basketball, Honor Roll); Drake Bushong (Pekin, men’s golf, Academic Excellence Award, Honor Roll); Grayson McGraw (Washington, Peoria Notre Dame, soccer, Academic Excellence Award, Honor Roll); and Julie Martin (Morton, tennis, Honor Roll).

KAPLAN IN EAST PEORIA: Chicago media personality David Kaplan will be at the Fifth Quarter Sports Bar and Pizzeria in East Peoria from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday. Kaplan will sign copies of his book, “The Plan: Epstein, Maddon and the Audacious Blueprint for a Cubs Dynasty.” To reserve a copy of the book and a spot in line, go to A portion of the proceeds from book sales goes to the Anthony Rizzo Foundation, which raises money for cancer research and provides support to families with children battling cancer.

THE MISSION BEGINS: Registration has begun for Pekin Union Mission fall baseball and softball. Leagues for boys ages 5-7, 8-10 and 11-13 and girls ages 5-7 and 8-11 are offered. Signup hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday, 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 4 to 6 p.m. Friday at the Mission, 203 Court St.  Fees vary according to league. For more information, call the Mission at 346-0724.

JACKETS TRYOUTS: Tryouts for Avanti’s Yellow Jackets softball teams will be held from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, 5:50 to 8 p.m. Thursday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug 6 at the Avanti’s Dome in Pekin. Go to, or contact Bill Harris at 253-5527 or

DARTBALL: Miller Center in Pekin is holding its 19th annual dirtball tournament Aug. 19. The tournament is a fundraiser for the Miller Center Transportation Service. Registration forms are available from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays at the center, 551 S. 14th St. Questions? Call the center, 346-5210.


Peoria Journal Star sports staff contributed to this report. Steve Stein can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.