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 Insight.com 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.