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Members of the Illinois Valley Coal Miners are recognized in front of the Peru city council on Monday. 

Illinois Valley Coal Miners rugby coach Fran Baker and members of the state champion 12-and-under thanked the Peru City Council for allowing them to use the field west of Baker Lake for practice.

And Alderman Jim Lukosus led the council in a salute to the team, which won its state title in its first year of existence. In addition, Lukosus’ son, Eric, coaches a team from Naperville that has some fifth- and sixth-graders who joined forces with the Illinois Valley team in the state tournament.

Players signed a thank-you card to give to the council, and provided a framed photo for the city to display.

Baker was glad to report back to the city that no players got hurt and the players learned about setting goals and a little bit about life. “I always told my kids, write down your goals. If you don’t, then they’re just dreams.”

In front of the council, Baker asked team member Robert Downey of Dimmick what he always reminded them to do:

“Being a good person on and off the field,” Downey replied.

Craig Sterrett can be reached at (815) 220-6935 or ntlocal@newstrib.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_NewsEditor.

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