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Coach Dennis Warr has mentored Peoria kids for generations

Coach Dennis Warr
Yolanda Wallace
Coach Dennis Warr

Dennis Warr graduated from Woodruff High School in the class of 1973. He attended Illinois Central College, in a Union Carpentry program. He then took a full-time job working at Western Electrics and Caterpillar’s apprenticeship program. He had a career at the Children’s Home. After work, he talks about a whole other job, that molded and gave chances to young children through sports, in the Peoria IL area.

In 1974 he would watch Agbara Bryson and Jim Watson assist with sports. They introduced him to coaching. They would often talk about the agencies wouldn’t have a budget for sports for the African American average school agers. The teams needed uniforms and money to pay for games fees.

Coach Dennis says he could always depend on the mothers to support the players. Most times he’d pay for food out of pocket. Dennis says that he loved coaching. He wasn’t like most dads.

“A lot weren’t around back then,” Dennis said.

He coached his kids and the men that assisted him also coached their kids, along with the teams. I remember him from the YMCA on 714 Hamilton St. in Peoria IL. The Y has moved further out north to 7000 N. Fleming Ln. in Peoria IL. The Dream Center purchased the building in 2004.

Dennis Warr talks with host, Yolanda Wallace, about how different things were back then, opposed to how they are now. He says the YMCA, which stands for Young Men Christian Association was the heart of the city. He talks about the location being downtown. At the time it was the only recreational Center in the downtown area. Dennis says that Judges, Lawyers, Doctors, and others would come and play with neighborhood people. The Gus Macker was one of the exciting things that went on for years in downtown Peoria IL. Mr. Tony Wysinger, who was a Peoria Highschool graduate and coach for IL Central College, coordinated games for Gus Macker. Sometimes Dennis Warr assisted with getting teams together. Dennis Warr went on to say that he didn’t do all this Coaching alone. He coached little league baseball, The younger Basketball Teams for 4-8 years of ages, on up to College Prep.

He didn’t Coach these kids on his own. Dennis Warr says that Darrel Griece, Boo Coleman, Steven Harvey, Steven Harper, Erickson Beck, Janelle McCloud and others. They had started a legacy in sports. One that some still loved the game until he died recently, the late Roosevelt Alexander. Roosevelt Coached for almost 50 yrs., just as long as Dennis has. Dennis didn’t want the history or the legacy to be forgotten.

Some good kids came out of all that coaching. He didn’t only coach the Boys’ Teams. He also Coached Girls and when someone was looking for a good coach, Dennis Warr was one of those names that you heard to be one of the best. Just to list a few good players that he Coached that went on to be successful are, Shaun Livingston, Derrick Booth, Sergio McClain, A.J. Riley, Tonie Debrae, Terrance Shelby, Terra Burns, Toya Daily. The Coaching went from grade schools in Peoria to Manual, Central, Richwoods.

Yolanda Wallace, Podcast Host of Mothers War on Violence, is happy to have the living legend on the podcast today, sharing his rich history as a coach and concerns for the new generations to come. He talks about parenting and his Father being an example. Dennis Warr and Yolanda Wallace talk about the concerns in the Black Community and what should be happening in the future to come.

Yolanda Wallace is an Urbana native living in Peoria, Illinois. She hosts the Mother’s War On Violence podcast, which is a co-production with WCBU.