by STEVE ALLSPACH May 14, 2017
SIOUX CITY – Not exactly lyricists when they were still drawing bountiful breaths, Walt Fiegel and Rich Vanderloo still found some measure of iambic pentameter in “telling it like it is.’’
It might not have been poetry, addressing any and all who might be inclined to listen, but there was somehow still a perfect and clear command of cadence.
Both taught the games of football and basketball beyond X’s and Oh’s.
Fiegel’s approach ran the gamut of serious to curious to the sublime.
At the end of practices or games, good and bad, he would command student-athletes to “go home, give your mother a hug and tell her you love her.’’
Appropriately, on this Mother’s Day, the words ring true in all walks of life.
While Fiegel leaned in the direction subtle and rib-tickling humor while guiding the youth of America, Vanderloo favored a sterner approach.
The first time I ever interviewed Vanderloo – with some trepidation – his greeting was “what the heck (it was actually a more terse word) do you want, we lost the game.’’
He warmed up immensely from each and every conversation after that.
Fiegel, who guided East to its only state football playoff title (4A) in 1984, found ways to equate games in the arena to the games of life.
Players would often shake their heads and wonder silently, what did he just mean when he’d tell them, oh, “I know the back roads to the Dome.’’
At the time they didn’t realize he was talking about actually earning the right to walk proudly into the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls to play for a state championship and not enter through the consolation-prize door.
Saturday night, the Walt Fiegel Foundation Dinner again honored the two late coaches during a gala affair attended by 350 in which it honored several superior metro student-athletics with $1,000 and $2,000 scholarships.
The scholarships included two recipients of the Rich Vanderloo Spirit of East High Award.
The Foundation was incorporated several years ago by several East High graduates, including the current president, Jeff Croston, who played on the 1984 state title team.