Chicago Academy of St. James H. S. “Spartans”

The History of Chicago Academy of St. James High School

Chicago (population 2.8 million) is located in northeastern Illinois in eastern Cook County. Lake Michigan, the Chicago and the Des Plaines Rivers are the main waterways to and from town. I-90, I-94, I-55, and I-57 will all lead you to the “Windy City.” From what started as a small village in the early 1800s’, Chicago has grown to the nation’s third largest city and one of the most famous places in the world.

Academy of St. James High School was based on the southside of Chicago around 77th Street. It was a co-educational, parochial school that was opened until the late 1980’s. We can find no record from the Archdiocese of Chicago of its existence.

This is currently the extent of information we have on the history of Academy of St. James High School.  If you have any information or photos you would like to add, please contact us at

Chicago Academy of St. James Quick Facts

Year opened:                         ??

Year closed:                         1987

School team nickname:         the “Spartans”

School uniform colors:           Navy Blue & Gold

School Fight Song:               unavailable


We are certain the Academy of St. James boys competed in basketball. We believe the school may have competed in other sports as well. School fight song, coach’s names, and team records are needed. Also individual accomplishments would be shared on this page.

Extra-Curricular Activities

We are also certain that other activities besides athletics were a part of the St. James experience. We would love to share stories and facts about these activities as well.

Memories of St. James

From Dexter Santos, St. James Class of 1979, now Vice President of Player Marketing for the NFL Players:

“Just read your post on St. James. I was fortunate to be a player for Coach Robert Rockymore (who is still coaching by the way at age 73) for three years at St. James (77-79). I went on to play basketball at Eastern Kentucky University. I am in the process of trying to get Coach Rockymore recognized for his 6 decades of coaching in the Chicago area by a panel of national journalists.

The school’s building still exists on the corner of 77th and south Phillips. Many of us played for Coach “Rock” in the summers on his community teams as well as the High School team including other teams he has coached through out the years. We still gather to pay tribute to the guy who start us the game of basketball.”

From alum Bryan McKissack:

“I came across the Illinois High School Glory Days website and noticed one of my former teammates had provided some of his testimony on the St. James Spartans. We were a close group of guys who had the wonderful experience of playing for an icon of Chicago high school basketball, “Rock.” We played for St. James which didn’t have a gym. Each day we had to move the lunch tables to one side of the small cafeteria and roll the basket from a closet in the corner onto a slippery half court floor in order to practice. We had three home games in three years, two were played at the YMCA on 71st Street and one was played at the Center on 76th and Phillips. We were familiar to going into the opponents home court and in most cases coming out with the ‘W’. I don’t recall the game with Ottawa Marquette, but Kev Varney’s description of us playing two and sometimes three games in one day is accurate. Before each game Rock would give the sound person for the home team, a copy of “Sweet Georgia Brown” and tell him to play it during our warm ups. Our starting five would then form a circle at half court and do tricks with the ball like the Harlem Globe Trotters – I kid you not. We traveled for hours to play games throughout Illinois and even into Indiana. We had some pretty impressive wins over some of Chicago’s most respected teams. I recall knocking off a couple of state ranked #2 teams in ’79 and coming close to going to the finals that year. We had one play, 22. When Rock called 22 you better not even think about shooting the ball. Twenty two was for Michael Rucker (RIP), Rock’s son. I still talk with the guys on occasion and I have fond memories of our time together. AJCP Spartans: (myself) Bryan McKissack, Dexter Santos, Randy Hillard, Steven Yarbrough, Fred Wells, Randall Davis, Fletcher Stevens, Kenneth Taylor, Ada, Mike Rucker, Sweet Charlie, Silk, Antonio Darton, Yorkie!, and more.”

From Ottawa Marquette High School Alum (and IHSGD’s own) Kev Varney:

“Academy of St. James High School played at Ottawa Marquette in basketball in 1978, 1979, 1980, and 1986 (the 1987 game was forfeited to Marquette on account of the school not having enough players for a team, and that is perhaps around the time when the school may have closed).

Some highlights I remember about the school was that they were nicknamed the Spartans and that their colors were navy blue and gold. In the December 1979 varsity contest, Marquette beat St. James 119-58, and this was after Coach Robert Rockymore’s team had played a game earlier that same day in the ill-fated Mayor’s Tournament in the city. Some of the players were young enough that they had to play both fresh-soph as well as varsity.

And the fresh-soph game with Marquette was a treat in itself! It went five (count ’em, five) overtimes before MHS won. At one point, St. James (which dressed six players for the fresh-soph game) was down to two players on the floor in the fifth overtime due to three players fouling out and a fourth on the sideline with an injury that was being treated before he went back into the game.”

We Need Your Assistance…

…in researching the history and accomplishments attained by the students and faculty of St. James High School. If you have a photo of the former high school building, or any information you would like to see added to this page, please write to us at You can also send items to us via real mail at:

Illinois HS Glory Days

6439 N. Neva St.

Chicago, Il.  60631

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