For more than a half of century, nobody scored points in the home gyms at Buda Western and Bureau Valley until Bob Sprowls put them on the scoreboard.
Sprowls was a fixture at Rams (33 years) and for the first 18 years that Bureau Valley was formed. He was there for the state tournament runs for Chips Giovanine’s Rams in the mid-’70s and still there for Brad Bickett’s Storm’s state streak at the turn of the century.
He also kept the clock for Western football games and BV basketball games.
You knew it was official, when Bob made it official.
Sprowls, who passed away Sunday at the age 88 at his home in Sheffield, was remembered for his dedication to all those Rams and Storm teams.
Brad Bickett came to coach at Western in 1990 and found a good friend in Sprowls, who made things easier on the young coach just starting out. Sprowls stayed closed to Bickett’s side when Bureau Valley was formed in 1995 and through Bickett’s time there through 2010.
“It was just remarkable for what he did for me and my coaching career. As young coach it just brought a level of comfort knowing you had someone so responsible. Between Roger Marquis and Bob you knew you had all your bases covered as a coach and could just coach and not have any problems on the bench.
“He was very professional and he took it very serious.”
Sprowls was one of the first people Craig Johnson met when he came to Illinois and Western in 1990 and found a fast friend.
“Bob would always have a positive word for coach Bickett and I before a big home game at Western or later BV,” Johnson said. “For years I would always talk to Bob on my way up to the crow’s nest at BV football games or say hi at the scorer’s table at Western or BV basketball games. He loved to watch the kids play and be a part of the games.”
Bureau Valley presented Sprowls with the old scoreboard panels he ran at Western this past January.
Personally, Bob was a great, great friend. Always loved talking sports with him and he made no secret how much he loved his teams and schools.
He had a front row seat for his son, Bobby Jr.’s exploits with those great Rams teams that went undefeated two years in a row reaching the state tournament for coach Giovanine.
Most recently, he cheered for his grandchildren, Parker Neuhalfen, Kale Barnett and Saige Barnett at Bureau Valley.
Bob’s going to be deeply missed around the Bureau Valley community. It just won’t be the same.
If they keep score in Heaven, they’ve got a good scorekeeper.
• Remembering Mike: I was also saddened to learn of the passing of Mike Cunniff, 68, a veteran sports editor/writer for area newspapers in Ottawa, Sterling and Morris, and a good friend. He was also a big advocate of fastpitch softball. Mike will be deeply missed.
Kevin Hieronymus is the BCR Sports Editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.