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Two members of the Walt Fiegel Foundation approached me recently, asking me to help dispel a local myth. The scholarships given in memory of their late football coach were not only for athletes. Or for East High seniors.

The $1,000 scholarships, they insisted, are reserved for winners.

“It’s never been about athletics,” said Jeff Croston, a 1985 East grad who played for Fiegel. “Coach Fiegel was a football coach, but he was much more than that. He always had a special interest in students that didn’t have the gift of athletics.”

After his death in 2003, several of Fiegel’s former players formed a foundation in his honor. The group celebrates its fourth annual golf tournament and dinner this weekend, highlighted with the award of four $1,000 scholarships to students from East, West and Bishop Heelan High School. To date, the Walt Fiegel Foundation has raised more than $65,000, money which is overseen by the Siouxland Community Foundation.

Foundation member Steve Huisenga explained that the group awarded two scholarships two years ago. The number grew to three last year and may top four in years to come.

If the 2007 recipients are anything like two of the 2006 winners I spoke with, these awards are finding very good homes.

Tough people last

Fiegel loved to use this statement for a student or player facing adversity. “Tough times don’t last,” he’d say, “tough people do.”

It resonated with Mike Haight, a Fiegel Foundation scholar wrapping up his first year at the University of Iowa.

Haight, the son of Grant and Gail Haight, played football as a freshman and sophomore for East High. He suffered a broken foot his junior season and had a pin surgically inserted. He was excited to come back for his senior campaign, but that season was derailed the first week of practice.

“Three days after practice started I told Coach (Steve) Zediker that I didn’t feel well,” Haight remembered. “He told me to go home and rest before coming back.”

Haight had a seizure later that day. An exam discovered Haight had a brain tumor. A month later, doctors took a biopsy and found the tumor wasn’t cancerous.

Still, football was out.

Having a tumor didn’t stop Haight from playing basketball that winter for the Black Raiders. He was eighth man and co-captain on a team that finished third among Class 4A schools. Haight had missed his junior basketball season due to the foot injury.

If it weren’t for bad luck in his high school athletic career, Mike Haight would have had no luck at all.

Toward the end of his senior year, Haight applied for a Fiegel Foundation scholarship. He remembered the old coach supervising the weight room when Haight was a seventh-grader.

“I liked how friendly Coach Fiegel was,” Haight said. “Here I was a seventh-grader lifting at a 4A school and the head football coach knew who I was.”

“I applied for the scholarship because I knew who Coach was,” he added. “Healthwise I wasn’t getting stuff to go my way. But I remembered Coach Fiegel’s saying about how tough times don’t last, but tough people do. That saying stayed with me.”

Haight, who still has that brain tumor, will undergo surgery to remove it in 2008. Until then, he’ll study actuarial sciences at Iowa while finding time to work in between courses.

Iowa State University freshman Kylie McCarthy also won a $1,000 scholarship a year ago. The exercise sciences/pre-med major is the daughter of Melissa Miller and Brian McCarthy.

Speaking of tough times, McCarthy’s stepfather, Tim Miller, died of cancer during her sophomore year. She’ll always remember her final Christmas with Miller.

“He had some seizures and went to the doctor and they told him he had cancer and probably two months to live,” she said. “It was a pretty rough Christmas.”

The diagnosis came Nov. 19, 2003. Miller died Jan. 19, 2004, two months to the day after he learned of the disease.

“I wrote an essay for the scholarship and I talked about overcoming those obstacles,” said McCarthy.

My, did she!

While at East, McCarthy took part in volleyball, softball, show choir and earned all-state honors in speech. She also served as student body president, which impressed Croston and the scholarship committee.

“She became a leader,” he said. “Through hard work and a challenge, she became a role model.”

Huisenga, a 1984 East High grad who also played for Fiegel, said their old coach touched them in matters way beyond football. Establishing a scholarship in his honor keeps the spirit of a unique gridiron mentor very much alive.

About this weekend

A dinner, program and auction gets the Walt Fiegel Foundation event started this weekend. A social hour at 5:29 p.m. (Fiegel time, they say) Friday at Lewis Bowl gives way to the prime rib dinner and auction that features a Brett Favre autographed helmet, lots of Iowa and Iowa State merchandise and a weekend package featuring a Chicago Cubs game and a Hawkeye football game at Soldier Field (the same weekend). There’s also a week stay at an Orlando condominium featured and many other items.

A four-person best shot golf tournament will be held Saturday at Whispering Creek.

For any information on these events, call Huisenga at (712) 490-3229 or Croston at (712) 253-4496.

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Barry Poe, Journal sports writer May 2, 2007

As far as I know, Walt Fiegel didn’t play much golf. The legendary former East High football coach, who passed away several years ago, was more apt to go fishing or just sit around and talk football. Or talk about anything, for that matter.

It just so happens, however, that so many of the young men whose lives were forever changed for the better by Coach Fiegel like to tee it up on occasion. For the last four years, right around this time, former East High athletes gather to pay tribute to their longtime mentor.

Members of the Walt Fiegel Foundation will hold their annual dinner auction and golf tournament May 11-12. The dinner/silent auction will be Friday, May 11, at the Lewis Bowl Annex while a calcutta four-man golf tournament is set for Saturday, May 12 at Whispering Creek.

Funds raised from the events support the Walt Fiegel Scholarship Fund, administered through the Siouxland Community Foundation. Scholarships are presented annually to graduating seniors from each of the four Sioux City high schools. To date, the group has awarded five $1,000 scholarships and another four will be presented this year.

The always popular silent auction once again features some highly sought after items.

They include University of Iowa and Iowa State sports autographed collectibles, a Green Bay Packers helmet signed by Brett Favre, an Orlando, Fla., condo vacation package, a Black Hills vacation package, NASCAR items and much more.

Several East High alumni established the Walt Fiegel Foundation in 2004 with the intent of continuing the legacy of Coach Fiegel through scholarships to high school students and eventually grants to community organizations. The sole purpose of the foundation is to perpetuate the values of Coach Fiegel in his memory.

Cost for the dinner and golf tournament is $100 per person. Individuals or spouses wishing to attend the dinner only may do so for $25 per person.

Interested golfers must put together teams of four and submit a registration form with the entry fee. Registration forms can be obtained at or by contacting Jeff Croston at (712) 253-4496.

This is an event that normally fills up quickly and I know from talking to people who’ve participated in the past, regardless of the weather, a good time is had by all.

One thing is for certain, there’ll be more than one mention of Walt Fiegel.

Hard to believe it, but it’s time for the first of the city’s four “major” golf tournaments of the season, the Tri-State Masters.

Ayron Corporon will defend his title in the third annual event, held at three different golf courses. The first round is Friday at Two Rivers Golf Club in Dakota Dunes, the second round on Saturday at Covington Links in South Sioux City and the third round Sunday at Green Valley.

Corporon defeated Dan Freed in a playoff to win last year’s event. Tournament director Scott Harmelink reports that at the cutoff for entries, a field of nearly 90 players had signed up.

Which is a good sign, considering that several players who would normally compete are taking part in the Iowa Mid-Amateur Championship in Des Moines this weekend.

The low one-third of the field after Friday and Saturday rounds will make up the championship flight for Sunday’s play at Green Valley. The rest of the field will be broken into flights, with the top half of each flight receiving golf shop credit to the Green Valley pro shop.

Speaking of Corporon, the former East High and Creighton University shotmaker teamed with Jason Pease to tour 27 holes in 1-under-par 107 for a victory in the first Western Iowa Best Ball Championship Sunday at Whispering Creek.

Bill Hornbeck and Gary Stieneke of South Sioux City were second while Chad Anderson and Joe Gormally of Sioux City finished third after each twosome carded 1-over 109.

Chris Jenness and Ryan Lux of Cherokee (91) won low net in the championship flight while Mike Fitzpatrick and Bob Geary (99) claimed low net in the first flight.

Thought for the week: Why is it that at the conclusion of a golf round, whether in a tournament or not, players remove their hats or visors to shake hands with their playing partners?

Journal sports writer Barry Poe can be reached at (712) 293-4205, or e-mail

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Terry Hersom Journal sports editor Sep 16, 2004

The passage of time is supposed to make all of those athletic achievements more grandiose, more phenomenal, more downright legendary.

There’s something wrong with this bunch of guys whose Class 4A state championship in 1984 is the most recent state football title by a Sioux City high school team and, in fact, the only state grid crown ever for a Sioux City public school squad.

Sure, sure, some of them have gotten too big for their britches. However, that’s a matter of age, not conceit.

As championship teams go, this one tends to look back two decades and count its blessings.

“We were lucky, man,” exclaims Ed Gochenour, a first-team all-state linebacker who declares himself to be, “probably the one who’s most non-modest about it.”

Lucky? Well, yes, to some extent.

However, as hall of fame broadcaster Vin Scully once put it, “Luck is the residue of design.”

As a 20-year reunion unfolds this weekend, there is one clear factor that has made the ’84 champs a little more subdued: Their coach, Walt Fiegel, who died last November, won’t be around to celebrate with them.

“It was Coach Fiegel’s trophy more than anyone else’s,” said Gochenour, a Sioux City insurance agent. “It was Coach Fiegel’s destiny to win a championship. We weren’t by any means the greatest team. He probably coached better ones. But we won it. We had heart.”

Indeed, they did.

Rated No. 1 throughout the season’s first seven weeks, East had already clinched a spot in Iowa’s eight-team Class 4A playoffs when Sioux Falls Lincoln scored a touchdown and two-point conversion with 4:08 remaining to knock them off, 8-7.

One week later, in the regular season finale, Fort Dodge earned a playoff berth when a touchdown with 34 seconds to play snapped a 6-6 tie and gave the Dodgers a 12-6 victory.

East’s three playoff triumphs were quite a tightwire act.

In the opening round, the Raiders followed up a 13-12 win over Heelan by winning a 17-7 rematch that was closer than the score indicated.

In the semifinals, Des Moines Roosevelt missed a potential game-tying PAT kick with 2:20 left, falling 28-27 after rallying from a 28-7 deficit.

Then, in the championship game, East prevailed in a memorable 21-20 thriller with No. 1-ranked and undefeated Waterloo West.

“We were outclassed,” said Gochenour. “I really believe if we played Waterloo West three times, they would have beaten us two out of three.”

Besides the one-pointer over Heelan, East’s other regular season wins included a 9-3 squeaker over West Des Moines Dowling and an 18-13 escape from Sioux Falls O’Gorman on a touchdown pass with four seconds to play.

“We were kind of short on talent but long on heart,” said Kevin Kay, the center. “Our coach was a pretty good asset to us, too.”

“The atmosphere Coach Fiegel allowed us to be in, we had fun but we also knew when it was time to focus and do our job,” said offensive tackle Jeff Croston.

Tailback Greg Schiltz rushed for 1,343 yards in 12 games while quarterback Allen Burns, a state champion sprinter, added 458 and fullback Mike Dean 355.

Although more of a threat to run than pass, Burns did become an effective thrower in the playoffs, finding tight end Tim Jackson for 10 timely catches totaling 261 yards — six yards less than his regular season total on 14 receptions.

“After losing those two games (at the end of the regular season), we kind of changed what we did in the playoffs,” said Croston. “We started throwing it more.”

Kay, Croston and guards Dan Rose and Robbie Martin were all seniors in the offensive line while tackle Brent Culver and guard Mark Kaprelian, a part-time regular, were juniors. Matt Grau was the wingback and junior Mike Spieler was the other starting end.

“Probably what won it for us most was our defense,” allows Kay.

Gochenour and defensive end Bob Grantham, who joined him as a first-team all-stater, were leaders on that unit, but it was a solid group throughout. Troy Bohlke was the nose guard, Scott Mayer was the other end, Pat Steele was one tackle and either Mike Julius or junior Kelly McKeever was the other.

Jon Danke joined Gochenour at linebacker while the secondary consisted of Mike Krohn, Buddy McNaughton, Tom Bolton and Dave Skogen.

Jay Lindstrom, whose three PATs made all the difference in the one-point title game, was the kicker.

Fiegel’s staff included Don Schuldt as the defensive coordinator, Del Hughes as the offensive coordinator and Jim O’Hern, who later served a stint as East’s head coach.

Croston, curiously, was the only Division I scholarship recruit on the team, following in the footsteps of his brother, Dave, when he signed with Iowa. He started as a fourth-year junior for the Hawkeyes but missed his senior season with ankle problems.

Gochenour also wound up at Iowa, playing on special teams after transferring from Morningside.

It was Gochenour who had the angle on Courtney Messingham when the Waterloo West quarterback unloaded an errant pitch just outside his own goal line late in the third quarter of the state title game.

Bolton alertly picked up the loose ball and made the quick four-yard trip that set up Lindstrom’s go-ahead PAT.

Waterloo West mounted a serious scoring threat late in the game, advancing to a first-and-goal at the East 8-yard line. However, the Wahawks self-destructed on five ensuing snaps.

First came a six-yard loss on a fumble in the backfield, then a holding penalty backed West up to the 29. On a repeat of second down, Messingham was whistled for intentional grounding and West moved back to the 42.

With a loss of down, it was third down when Grantham sacked Messingham back at West’s 44. Then, forgetting the grounding call had cost him a down, Messingham tried to stop the clock with a quick pass out-of-bounds.

The ball — and the state title — went over to East.

The state champion Raiders will be acknowledged at halftime of East’s game Friday night with Mason City and they’ll gather after the game at Lewis Bowl to reminisce and watch the tape of their history-making win.

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Steven Allspach, Journal sports writer Sep 3, 2004

It’s the dawn, no, dusk, of a new era of Sioux City metro high school football.

Emotions will certainly be running high tonight when East High, under the direction of new coach Steve Zediker, opens the 2004 season at Des Moines Hoover.

Zediker is replacing longtime East Coach Walt Fiegel, who passed away last Nov. 12.

Black Raider players will be wearing “WF” decals on their helmets this season in memory of Fiegel.

East, 3-6 last season, will take its lead from running back Kirk Jaminet, who rushed for 955 yards last season.

However, the Raiders go into the game without starting defensive tackle Ben Collins and starting offensive tackle Mike Weltz. Collins is out with a broken leg and Weltz a broken hand.

Consequently, junior Ryan Lessman (6-2, 260) and sophomore John Kirwan (6-1, 225) will start at tackle on both sides of the football.

“We’re all excited about finally playing a game,” said Zediker, an East graduate who has also served in the past as head baseball and head track coach his prep alma mater.

“We don’t know much about Hoover, but we’re eager to get going.”

Hoover was 1-8 last season.

Since the Sioux City schools began playing Central Iowa Metropolitan League schools in 1998, Hoover has lost all eight confrontations, but they were to either Heelan or North.

In the other Sioux City openers, Bishop Heelan hosts Johnston at Memorial Field, North entertains Ottumwa at Roberts Stadium and West meets West Des Moines Dowling at West Des Moines Valley’s multi-million dollar complex that features FieldTurf.

South Sioux City, meanwhile, gets to go indoors for its opener with Vermillion, S.D., in the DakotaDome.

All the kickoffs are at 7:30.

Coach Al Carothers’ South Sioux team will be seeking to snap a 19-game losing streak dating back to a playoff loss in 2001 that ended a 10-1 season, the best in school history.

Quarterback Brett Gotch and junior Joe Rodriguez, who will do double duty at running back and linebacker, will play key roles for the Redbirds, 0-9 in each of the past two autumns.

In Vermillion, SSC will face a perennial South Dakota Class 11A powerhouse. Gary Culver, entering his 28th season as the coach, is 173-100 and the school, as always, has an eye toward the playoffs.

Defense will be a Vermillion virtue with veteran defensive end Sean Pederson starting for the third straight season.

Johnston, the Heelan foe, was 5-5 last season under the guidance of Coach Brian Woodley. It was the first time the Dragons qualified for the post-season since moving up from 3A to 4A in 1998.

“Johnston is very big up front and they’ve got four returning defensive starters,” said Heelan Coach Roger Jansen. “Our concern is how the five new guys on our offensive line develop.

“We’re tyring to be patient with the kids and keep them positive.”

After winning back-to-back state titles in 2000 and 2001, Dowling has been relatively quiet the past two seasons, although going 5-4 last season.

The Maroons will be without the services of senior tight end Trent Flander, an Iowa State recruit who will sit out the first 2 1/2 games due to an alcohol possession violation in July.

West Coach Tim Schmitt will rely heavily on the work of linebacker and running back B.J. Steed, a 6-2, 212-pound senior who is receiving substantial recruiting attention from several Division I schools.

The Wolverines were winless last season, but the school’s last encounter with Dowling resulted in a stunning upset of the Maroons in the 1997 playoff quarterfinals.

North and new coach Keith Hanks Jr. face perhaps the most difficult opening-night assignment.

Ottumwa, under the direction of veteran coach Tom Kopatich, is coming off an 8-3 season.

Quarterback/defensive back Alex Crosser and offensive lineman Troy Downing are all-state candidates among 13 returning starters from a team that lost in the 4A playoff quarterfinals.

Ottumwa has won four straight CIML Metro Conference titles and hasn’t lost to a Des Moines school during that run of success.

Ottumwa’s last visit to Sioux City was in 2002 when the Bulldogs topped East, 24-14. Ottumwa also belted East in Ottumwa in an opener last year, 49-0.

Ottumwa visited South Sioux City in 1991, rolling to a 54-0 triumph, but North handed the Wapello County school a 29-22 setback in a 1979 opener, the Stars’ lone victory that season. Kopatich coached old Cedar Rapids LaSalle to consecutive 2A state titles in 1982-83.

North, 5-4 in 2003, lost several standouts to graduation, including speedy receiver-returner Deric Manrique, The Journal’s 2004 Sioux City Metro Male Athlete of the Year, and linebacker Zac Brouillette, now a football walk-on at Iowa State. Manrique is a scholarship baseball player at Nebraska.

Anchors for the Stars will be be offensive lineman Adam Barcus and linebackers Jesse Greer and Anthony Ellis. All three were accorded pre-season all-state recognition by the Iowa Football Coaches Association.

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Steven Allspach, Journal sports writer Jul 24, 2004

The spirit of former East High football coach Walt Fiegel lives on.

Fiegel, who coached East to 128 victories, 22 playoff appearances and the Class 4A state title in 1984, passed away last Nov. 12.

His death stunned the football coaching community far and wide.

In his memory, a group of former athletes have formed the Walt Fiegel Foundation and the organization will conduct its first major event in establishing a scholarship program on Aug. 7 with the Walt Fiegel Classic golf outing at Whispering Creek.

“Walt Fiegel was an inspiration to hundreds of students and athletes, not only at East High, but everywhere,” said Jon Danke, a former Raider football player and a member of the Fiegel Foundation board of directors. “After Walt passed away we were determined to continue his legacy in some way.

“The Walt Fiegel Foundation was established after we received permission from the family and with the intent to provide scholarship opportunities for high school students and eventually grants to community organizations.

“The sole purpose of the foundation is to perpetuate the values of Coach Fiegel in his memory, not only in Siouxland, but throughout the state of Iowa as well.”

The foundation is governed by a board of directors including Danke and several other former East athletes, including Dave Croston, Jeff Croston, Kevin Kay, Ras Vanderloo, Mike McManamy, Darin Hildahl and Ed Gochenour, who is the president of the foundation.

The board also includes Tom Peterson, an administrator at East High during Fiegel’s teaching and coaching career.

Honorary board members are Fiegel’s children, son Jim and daughters Jill and Beth, along with two high profile coaches, former Iowa Coach Hayden Fry and successful longtime Iowa prep coach Ken Winkler of State Center-based West Marshall.

Winkler, a close Fiegel confidant and friend for several years, has coached state championship teams at Treynor and West Marshall and also guided West High fortunes for two seasons in 1983-84.

The foundation is still actively involved in the process of raising funds to finance the scholarship intentions.

Danke (712-276-2664, 402-494-2110) and McManamy (712-274-1144) can be contacted by any and all interested in playing in the golf outing on Aug. 7 at Whispering Creek.

Also, Gochenour (712-276-7574) can be reached for further information.

“We’ve been more encouraged than ever after we changed the golf format to four-person teams in a Texas Scramble format,” said Danke. “We’ve gotten more response lately and hope to get even more.

“We were going to have a calcutta dinner on Aug. 6, too, but we’ve decided not to do that. The format on Saturday now will be more popular.”

The Fiegel Foundation is still looking for a major sponsorship and has several levels of individual and corporate sponsorships.

Danke said the deadline for golf applications is Monday, Aug. 2.


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Terry Hersom, Journal sports editor Mar 24, 2004

Their lives intersected once in a fairly profound way.

For one, growing up in Sioux City was a stepping stone to life on a larger stage.

For the other, Sioux City was the adopted home for which he become a prominent ambassador.

Next Tuesday at the Sioux City Convention Center, both Bill Lewis and the late Walt Fiegel will be honored as the latest inductees into the Greater Siouxland Athletic Association Hall of Fame.

And, Lewis, now a prominent sports radio talk show host in Phoenix, will also serve as the evening’s featured speaker after an induction ceremony being conducted during the annual Sertoma Dinner.

Tickets for the event, which begins with a 6:15 p.m. social period, followed by a 7 o’clock dinner, are available from all Sertoma Club members.

Lewis was the pupil and Fiegel, then serving as the sophomore football coach at East High, was the teacher.

It was one of the first major influences in the life of a late bloomer, Lewis, who went on to become an All-American at Nebraska and a 10-year professional football veteran.

Fiegel, of course, was the popular East High football coach who loved his program so much that he came out of retirement on two occasions to return to the sidelines.

Last Nov. 12, less than two weeks after completing what would be his last of 22 seasons at the Black Raiders’ helm, the 69-year-old Fiegel died unexpectedly after being stricken at his home by a massive heart attack.

Lewis didn’t earn his first varsity letter until the fall of 1980, his senior year at East, when he helped lead interference for Rick Wegher and Paul Prout, a pair of 1,000-yard rushers, on a team that lost to Newton in a high-octane state semifinal playoff game.

Also earning his first varsity basketball letter during the ensuing winter season, the big offensive lineman — a 6-6, 280-pounder by his senior year at Nebraska — signed with the Cornhuskers.

Again, it took patience, playing on the freshman team in 1981, redshirting in 1982 and serving as a backup lineman in 1983 and 1984. Finally, as a fifth-year senior in 1985, he was voted captain and was named an All-American in his one and only season as a starter.

Selected in the seventh round of the 1986 NFL draft by the Los Angeles Raiders, Lewis started eight games as a second-year pro, then was voted the Raiders’ lineman of the year in 1988.

Benched in 1989 after a contract dispute with controversial team owner Al Davis, Lewis went on to start three seasons for the Phoenix Cardinals before two injury plagued years with the New England Patriots.

In 1995, after an unsuccessful trial with the Denver Broncos, he played 10 games with the U.S.-based Memphis Mad Dogs of the Canadian Football League before calling it quits.

“Ten years in pro football, 12 surgeries and seven more coming,” reflects Lewis today.

For the last three years, Lewis has been a co-host five days a week on a sports talk show aired on the Phoenix station KDUS-AM while also working as a pre-game and post-game analyst for the Phoenix Cardinals. In December, he drew his first play-by-play assignment, calling the action in a thrilling 52-49 California victory over Virginia Tech in the Bowl.

Terry and Adell Lewis, now residents of Phoenix, are also expected to attend the banquet. Terry Lewis was once a highly ranked professional boxer in the heavyweight ranks.

Fiegel, born in Britton, S.D., joined the East High faculty in 1963 and became the school’s head football coach in 1967. He held the job for five seasons, then stepped aside in 1972, when Terry Stevens came aboard for what would become a nine-year stint.

Returning to the helm after Stevens’ resignation, Fiegel guided East to its only state championship just two years later, in 1984. It was one of nine playoff appearances over an 11-year period before he turned the post over to Jim O’Hern, a former all-state running back for East.

Five years later, though, Fiegel once again took over as East’s head coach, producing three playoff teams in the next four years.

His 22-year record as the East head coach was 128-79 and his sophomore teams posted a 52-18 mark. Fiegel also coached four years at Tripp, S.D., totaling 30 wins before moving to Sioux City.

A driving force in establishing the Iowa Football Coaches Association, Fiegel served many years as the IFCA’s presiding secretary and was still active as the group’s secretary emeritus upon his death.

Fiegel is surived by his wife, Margaret, and their three children — daughters Jill Uhl of Kansas City and Beth McAlpine of Little Rock, Ark., and son Jim of Iowa City.

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Remembering Walt Fiegel in the words of Coach Ras Vanderloo:

He could make the worst case scenario seem like the best thing in the world. He talked so much about loyalty, respect, tradition about East High Football

…him being an old military man. He was very proud of that. He’d remind you often about that…he was an old marine, toughest guy in town.

Showing those kids how to line up for the national anthem, showing them how to stand at attention for the flag, things that aren’t taught anywhere else…it was taught on the football field…and he was awesome at it…”the other things” as he would say..

He talked constantly about RESPECT…your mother, your family, your girlfriend, the school. “Don’t ever forget where you came from,” he’d say.

Walt wanted things very nice. He’d say, “We want to be like those big boys, down in Lincoln, Iowa City, Manhattan, those fancy places…” but he wanted it the East High way and that was doing it right.

He loved every player. He loved the best guys. He loved the NFL guys, David Croston, Bill Lewis, Wager… he bragged about them everywhere he went. But he bragged about those guys who weren’t very good, too. The little guy. The guy that came out who weighed 104 pounds and ya knew probably couldn’t do anything…he knew it, we knew, it, everybody knew it. But he made that kid feel like Superman some days. He’d put those kids in situations where he knew they would succeed…to make them feel good. He treated that person just like the big guys-the all staters, the NFL guys. They were all the same…it did not matter who you were.

Remembering Walt Fiegel in the words of Coach Ken Winkler:

He was a leader, colleague, friend, mentor…a breath of fresh air.

The most positive person I’ve ever been around.

He coached for all the right reasons.

He coached for the kids and not for himself.

He used to say, “Kenny, the one thing I want to do is I want to have 100 juniors and seniors out for football and I’m gonna line those kids up from the goal line to the goal line during the National Anthem.”

Walt coached the Shrine Game when it was in Sioux City. Normally when the Shrine Game is over, the kids just mingle with their families and friends that were at the game. But in the middle of the field there were 40 Shrine kids from 40 different high schools that he had been with for 10 days and they were all chanting, “Walter! Walter! Walter!” waiting for him to come back for one last time. And I think that speaks volumes about what Walt was about. Kids cared about him and he cared about the kids.

Remembering Walt Fiegel in the words of Rev. Alex Washington:

He was always completely candid, speaking his mind, whether you agreed with him or not. He was very honest and very open with his opinions, and he always had some very definite opinions. That is a good, admiral quality to have in an individual because you never had to wonder what Walt was thinking or where he stood on any issue. The man you saw was the man he was. And he expected that same kind of honesty from all of us. He had a strong sense of right and wrong. When he knew he was right, he would not compromise his principles. His strong convictions of right and wrong were very evident.

He was very friendly, very outgoing. The high esteem in which this man was held by the people of our community is a matter of common knowledge.

He was a man who had a keen sense of humor. A keen sense of humor is a flexible way of being able to enjoy life…That keen sense of humor enabled Walt to look past all the problems, all the disappointments, all the heartaches of life and experience life with a sense of joy and happiness.

He had a lot of happy days during his lifetime. His happiest days were the days he was surrounded by the members of his families because he enjoyed doing things with them and for them.

He was devoted to his family…and never failed to be there for them.

Walt was a man who always had time for his family. To deserve and receive the love and trust of a family is one of life’s greatest achievements and richest blessings.

How do you say goodbye to someone you love? You don’t…you say thanks for the wonderful memories. Thanks for sharing your life with us. Thanks for the profound and meaningful lessons you taught us by the kind of man you were.


Just came across your Walt Fiegel Foundation web page & want to add my two cents.

I played eight-man football at Tripp, South Dakota, as a freshman in the fall of 1962 — the last year Fiegel coached at Tripp. I was one of two freshman to letter in football that year. The other freshman who lettered was my best friend, Glen Reiner. And there’s the Iowa connection. Glen’s son, Jared Reiner, played basketball for the University of Iowa Hawkeyes from 2000-2004. Jared is now a rookie with the Chicago Bulls.

Best Wishes
Allyn Brosz
Washington, DC

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Favorite Quotes of Walt Fiegel

“Go home, give your mother a hug and a kiss and tell her that you love her.”

“Tough Times Don’t Last, Tough People Do.”

“Don’t ever forget where you came from.”

“Treat your girlfriend well. Someday she could be your daughter.”

“By God, when you get off the bus, I want it cleaner than when you got on the bus…pick up all that crap you eat in the back. Hurry up!”

“I know how to get to that dome in Cedar Falls. I know the back roads.”

“The name on the front of your jersey represents who you play for, the name on the back of your jersey represents who raised you. Do them both justice. Be proud of where you come from. Thank God that you are able to wear that jersey.”

“I’m your friend, but I’m not your buddy.”

Walt would end his clinic speeches with this:
“Good Luck! God bless you, and I hope you win ’em all!”

Walt’s way of motivating:

“Hells bells Darin Hildahl…you pushed that Heelan basketball team all over the gym last winter…so they’re gonna be coming after you, Darin…and they’re gonna be double teamin’ you all night on Friday and I’m not sure you’re up to it…that Heelan tackle has a scholarship to Nebraska….you’d better be eatin’ nails this week Darin Hildahl…Darin I’m worried you won’t be able to handle those rich kids from Heelan….I hear they all drive new Camaros and Mustangs…Darin, what is that you drive, an old Ford Pinto…..Hells bells Darin Hildahl, I’m starting to worry…Darin Hildahl, should I be worried?”


And then Darin “the Dog” would just go out and beat the snot out of Heelan just as the Croston boys would ….no rich kids were going to push us around…now of course later you would learn that the Heelan kid wasn’t rich and didn’t have a car and was going to Nebraska Wesleyan but Walt never let the facts get in the way of a good motivational speech…

From Dave Adam:
I remember one game when Walt was coaching the East Soph’s and they were in the final seconds and he called time out. Walt wanted to have a field goal, so out on the field he went. He started placing his players exactly were he wanted them. I walked up to him after the game to razz him about this, and he said, “If you think that was bad, you should have heard the ref’s when I asked for a practice kick!” That’s the Walt I loved and miss.

From Greg Hall:
Walt Fiegel is one of the three most influential men in my life. Along with my father and my tight end coach in college, Coach Fiegel pushed me to be the best I could be and most importantly he believed in me before I had the self-confidence to believe in myself. He always thought I could do more than I thought I could do. “Hells bells Greg Hall, you’re the best tight end in the damn state of Iowa and I want you to block that damn Fletcher kid from Central into the damn dressing room behind the end zone.” Then he would take me down to the dressing room and he would pace off the yardage from the back of the end zone to the dressing room….Walt understood visualization well before it became fashionable…

“Now Greg Hall (he always called you by your full name) you have a chance to be another Steve Zediker……now those are big shoes to fill…Steve Zediker is one of the best athletes to ever wear a Black Raider uniform… come on over here, Greg Hall…here are the cleats Steve Zediker wore when he played for East…I want you to try them on….(pause while I try on the shoes with the entire team circled around and watching) …ok Greg Hall, now they’re still too big for you to wear….but some day you will wear these shoes because you have as much as ability as Steve Zediker…now I don’t know if you are as smart as Steve Zediker…I don’t know if you have it in you to work as hard as Steve Zediker……but some day you might be able to wear Steve Zediker’s shoes…..right now they are still too big.” I remember walking home from practice and thinking, “Coach Fiegel thinks I could be as good Steve Zediker some day, wow!” And of course Walt knew that I idolized Steve Zediker which is why he made those shoes Steve’s.

Walt Fiegel was the greatest motivational speaker I have ever been around and I’ve been around some good ones including Pat Riley and Rick Pitino…

I would not be where I am today were it not for Walt Fiegel. May God bless his family.

Walt often shared this poem:

A Bridge

An old man going a lone highway

came at the evening, cold and gray,

to a chasm vast and deep and wide,

through which was flowing a swollen tide.

The old man crossed in the twilight dim,

that swollen tide held no fears for him.

But he paused when safe on the other side,

and built a bridge to span the tide.

“Old Man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,

“you’re wasting time with building here.

Your journey ends with the ending day.

You never again must pass this way.

You’ve crossed this chasm deep and wide

Why build this bridge at the even’ tide?”

The builder lifted his old gray head,

“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,

“there follow after me today,

a youth, whose feet must pass this way.

This swollen stream that was naught for me,

To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.

He, too, must cross in the twilight dim.

Good friend, I am building the bridge for him!”

Posted by & filed under News.

First of all, I wish there didn’t need to be a new head football coach at East High.

That would mean the terrible news from last Nov. 12 didn’t really happen and that we’d all still have Walt Fiegel around to help keep our lives more enjoyable.

We don’t have that option, of course, so my task today is to give the proper due to Steve Zediker, a guy Walter was proud to coach many years ago and also a guy he’d have been proud to have succeed him.

This is something that has been lost a bit in the shuffle of news reports the last several days.

First, after learning the word was out, we ran a story Sunday morning without benefit of comments or elaborate background on the candidate, who could not be reached Saturday night, as will happen in this world of breaking news and busy lives.

Next came the follow-up after the school board’s vote Tuesday to confirm the selection, a story that delved into other matters and, again, neglected more specifics on the new head coach.

Let’s take care of that.

Zediker is not only a former three-year varsity football player for East and a rare two-year starter at quarterback, he’s also a coach with a state championship under his belt, leading Coleridge to Nebraska’s Class C2 title in 1982.

More than anything, he’s someone who respects the tradition that he is now entrusted with perpetuating.

“It’s one of the top jobs in the state,” said Zediker, well aware that East is among the all-time leaders in state playoff appearances with 18 (in Class 4A, the Raiders trail only the 27 trips for West Des Moines Dowling, 23 for Heelan and 20 by Newton).

First of all, I wish there didn’t need to be a new head football coach at East High.

That would mean the terrible news from last Nov. 12 didn’t really happen and that we’d all still have Walt Fiegel around to help keep our lives more enjoyable.

We don’t have that option, of course, so my task today is to give the proper due to Steve Zediker, a guy Walter was proud to coach many years ago and also a guy he’d have been proud to have succeed him.

This is something that has been lost a bit in the shuffle of news reports the last several days.

First, after learning the word was out, we ran a story Sunday morning without benefit of comments or elaborate background on the candidate, who could not be reached Saturday night, as will happen in this world of breaking news and busy lives.

Next came the follow-up after the school board’s vote Tuesday to confirm the selection, a story that delved into other matters and, again, neglected more specifics on the new head coach.

Let’s take care of that.

Zediker is not only a former three-year varsity football player for East and a rare two-year starter at quarterback, he’s also a coach with a state championship under his belt, leading Coleridge to Nebraska’s Class C2 title in 1982.

More than anything, he’s someone who respects the tradition that he is now entrusted with perpetuating.

“It’s one of the top jobs in the state,” said Zediker, well aware that East is among the all-time leaders in state playoff appearances with 18 (in Class 4A, the Raiders trail only the 27 trips for West Des Moines Dowling, 23 for Heelan and 20 by Newton).

He worked for a time in the insurance business and also made quite a name for himself as one of fast-pitch softball’s premier catchers, helping Penn Corp carve out an impressive dynasty.

Four years after college, he shifted gears, taking his first teaching job at Coleridge and leading that school’s football teams to a four-year record of 31-12-1, suffering seven of the losses in the same year.

After selling some more insurance for a few years, he came back to coaching with one season on the football staff at North, finally moving back to East in 1990.

Zediker, certainly, didn’t want the circumstances under which he has become the head coach, but it’s an exciting opportunity. His wife, the former Nancy Tritz, is an avid football fan, as are two sons, Bart and Matt, who both played football for East.

That tradition is in good hands.

Sioux City Journal sports editor Terry Hersom can be reached at (712) 293-4214 or by e-mail at

Posted by & filed under News.

Professional Accomplishments:
Iowa State Football Playoffs: 1983–84–85–86–87–89–90–91–92 , 99–00–01
Missouri River Conference Champions: 1999
Sioux Interstate Conference Champions: 1983–84–85–86–91–92
Sioux Interstate Conference Coach of the Year: 1991
Coached Class 4A State Champions: 1984
Sioux City Journal Siouxland Coach of the Year: 1983
Des Moines Register Coach of the Year: 1984
Iowa Football Coaches Association District Coach of the Year: 1983, 1984, and 1999
Iowa Football Coaches Association Distinguished Service Award: 1985
Iowa Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame: 1992
Iowa Football Coaches Association Executive Secretary: 1977-1994
National Federation of Interscholastic Coaches Association Director – Section 4: 1985-1990
National Federation of Interscholastic Coaches Association Distinguished Service Award – Sec. 4: 1991
Iowa Shrine Football Game Assistant Coach: 1989
Iowa Shrine Football Game Head Coach: 1993
Greater Siouxland Hall of Fame: 2004
2005 NHSACA Hall of Fame Inductee

Professional Organizations:
Member of the Iowa Football Coaches Association
Member of the American Football Coaches Association
Morningside Masonic Lodge
Member of the York–Zadok Lodge #24
Member of the ABU BEKR Shrine Temple
Member of the American Legion Post #64
Member of the NEA/IEA/SCEA