Chicago Heights Bloom Trail “Trail Blazers”

The History of Chicago Heights Bloom Trail High School

Chicago Heights (population 32,776) is located in the southern suburban area of Chicago, which is 22 miles to the north. The Indiana border is within 10 miles of Chicago Heights, which can be reached by using Interstate 57, US 30, and Illinois 1.

The community’s origin can be traced back to the 1830’s when farmer Absalom Wells built his cabin in an area known as Thorn Creek, but it wasn’t until the early 1890’s that there was a movement to create a community to the south of the “big city” as developer Charles Wacker and others lured Inland Steel to locate there and Chicago Heights started to take off. People of different nationalities relocated there and by 1920, over 19,600 people lived there.

The community was home to around-the-clock plants that produced steel, war, and chemical products during World War II, and the Ford Motor Company decided to locate a plant there in the 1950’s. Chicago Heights had over 40,900 residents in 1970, but has declined due to plant closings to its current population and there has been revitalization of urban renewal along with stabilization in the workforce to hold off the decline.

Bloom Trail was started in the 1964-65 school year as the home of freshmen students from Bloom Township High School, then expanded the new school year to house freshmen and sophomores as the population swelled. This forced the school district to institute a split-day schedule for classes at both buildings.

There is a little confusion as to what year Bloom Trail actually became its own school. According to the IHSA website (, two sports are shown to have offered in the 1975-76 school year at the school. But on the Bloom Trail site ( thru Bloom Township High School, it was stated “…in the fall of 1976, following a successful building bond referendum, Bloom School District had two four-year schools. Bloom Trail was then born.”

The first graduating class from Bloom Trail in 1977 had 348 students, all of which made the choice to graduate from there after being at Bloom Township the year before. There were 27 more graduations with over 10,000 alumni before the school board decided to merge the two schools back together under the name Bloom Township in 2003. Bloom Trail remains open but is considered another campus for the main school in the district that it serves. All athletics and extra-curricular activities are now held under the Bloom Township banner.


School opened:                          1976

School closed:                           2003

Now part of:                               Bloom Township High School

School colors:                           Navy Blue & Old Gold

School nickname:                      Trail Blazers

School song:                             unknown


Bloom Trail offered numerous sports for its co-ed enrollment. The boys had their choice from football, basketball, baseball, wrestling, track, cross-country, golf, swimming, gymnastics, and soccer. For the girls, they could play volleyball, basketball, badminton, track, cross-country, soccer, gymnastics, swimming, softball, and tennis. According to the IHSA website (, there is no record that shows whether or not the school offered other sports or activities. Anyone who has proof is encouraged to submit the information at


The Trail Blazers were known in the state as a formidable team, taking home several first place medals and finishing in the top three at the state AA meet twice in a three-year span. Coach John Collet helped bring recognition to the program, which went 33-1 in dual and triangular meets over a five-year period in the first half of the 1980’s. Here are some of the highlights for the oval track stars of Bloom Trail:

1978     5-3   Team Medalist                        Coach John Collet

440-yard relay–6th place

Individual Medalist

Greg Newquist–7th place–High jump

1979             Team Medalists                      Coach John Collet

1-mile relay–2nd place

                        880-yard relay–8th place

1980     6-0    Individual Medalist                Coach John Collet

Scott Gillespie–6th place–200-meter dash

1981     6-0                                                  Coach John Collet

1982     8-0    District Champions                 Coach John Collet

Team Medalists

1600-meter relay–3rd place

                         800-meter relay–7th place

                         400-meter relay–8th place

Individual Medalists

Fred Barnes–7th place–Long Jump

                        Clifton Franklin–6th place–100-meter high hurdles

                        David Neal–8th place–100-meter dash

                        Chico Rigdon–8th place—Discus

1983     7-1    Sectional Champions             Coach John Collet

                      Second in AA State Finals!!!!

1  East St. Louis Lincoln               49

2  Chicago Heights Bloom Trail  46

3  Waukegan East                        30

4  Chicago Kenwood                     29

5  Danville HS                               28

6  Wheaton North                          21

Chicago Tilden                          21

8  Oak Park-River Forest               19

9  Arlington Heights St. Viator       16

10  Downers Grove South                15

Team Medalists

1600-meter relay—STATE CHAMPIONS!!!

800-meter relay—3rd place                         

                         400-meter relay—4th place

Individual Medalists

Ernest Burr—2nd place—100-meter high hurdles

                                           7th place—triple jump

                        Clifton Franklin—2nd place—300-meter hurdles

                                                 3rd place—100-meter high hurdles

                        Ed Spila—8th place—shotput

1984     6-0   SECTIONAL CHAMPIONS         Coach John Collet

Individual Medalist

Leonard Vance–5th place–triple jump

1985             SECTIONAL CHAMPIONS        Coach John Collet

                       Third in AA State Finals!!!

1  East St. Louis Senior                 40

2  Elmhurst York                           39

3  Chicago Heights Bloom Trail   36

4  Harvey Thornton                         29

5  Chicago Mt. Carmel                   26

6  Zion-Benton                               25

7  Rock Island HS                         24

8  Peoria Central                           20

9  Danville HS                               18

Oak Park-River Forest               18

Team Medalists

400-meter relay—STATE CHAMPIONS!!!

800-meter relay—2nd place

Individual Medalists

Aaron Mayo—STATE CHAMPION!!!—100-meter dash

2nd place—200-meter dash

1986             Individual Medalist                  Coach John Collet

Chris Heidt—6th place—3200-meter run

1987     4-2-1 Individual Medalist                 Coach Bob Stevens

Edward Williams—5th place—100-meter hurdles

1988             Team Medalist                        Coach Joe Skowronski

400-meter relay—6th place

                    Individual Medalist

Makeba Wolfe—8th place—triple jump

1989     7-3    Individual Medalist                 Coach Joe Skowronski

Cordell Drake—5th place—300-meter hurdles

1990              Individual Medalist                 Coach Joe Skowronski

Fletcher Davis—3rd place—triple jump

1991              Individual Medalist                 Coach Joe Skowronski

Daniel Wilson—5th place—100-meter high hurdles

1993              Individual Medalist                 Coach Joe Skowronski

James Moore—STATE CHAMPION!!!—long jump



In the winter months, Bloom Trail’s grapplers had plenty of success from the first year that the school was open, eventually having a team champion and two individuals win their weight classes at the state meet, along with three second-place finishes.

1975-76   10-3-1                                            Coach Mike Fendley

1976-77   14-2     Individual Medalist            Coach Ron Ray

Walter Futrell—STATE CHAMPION!!!—119 lbs

1977-78   12-5     Individual Medalist            Coach Ron Ray

Harold Moore—6th Place—145 lbs

1978-79   12-4     District Champions             Coach Ron Ray

1979-80   20-1     District Champions             Coach Ron Ray

                             Sectional Champions

                              Finished Ninth at AA State Finals

                              1  Addison Trail                         62.5

2  Maywood Proviso East           61

3  Moline                                  58

4  Oak Lawn Richards               52

5  Rockford Jefferson                 49.5

6  Belleville West                      40

Waukegan East                    40

8  Machesney Park Harlem        38

      9  Chicago Hts. Bloom Trail    37

10  Oak Lawn Community            36.5

  Individual Medalists

Lenal Brinson—5th place—105 lbs

                         Carl Davis—5th place—167 lbs

1980-81   14-4   District Champions             Coach Ron Ray

                           Sectional Champions

                        Individual Medalist

                            James Irons—2nd place–Heavyweight 


1981-82   15-4   STATE CHAMPIONS!!!        Coach Ron Ray

                             District Champions

                  Sectional Champions

1  Chicago Hts. Bloom Trail        72.5

2  Carol Stream Glenbard North      61.5

3  Waukegan East                         60.5

4  Bethalto Civic Memorial              58.5

5  New Lenox Lincoln-Way             52.5

6  Wheaton North                          46.5

7  Belleville West                          42

8  Maywood Proviso East              41

9  Hoffman Estates HS                  40

10  Joliet West                              39

1982-83   10-8    Individual Medalists           Coach Ron Ray

James Irons—STATE CHAMPION!!!—Heavyweight

Chris McFarland—2nd place—145 lbs

                             Reginald Wilson—2nd place—155 lbs

1983-84              Regional Champions         Coach Ron Ray

1987-88     9-1                                               Coach Gabe Damiani

1988-89   11-5                                               Coach Tom Tong

1989-90   10-8    Regional Champions          Coach Tom Tong

Individual Medalist

Stanley Johnson—6th place—189 lbs

1990-91   12-7                                               Coach Tom Tong

1991-92   11-8                                               Coach Tom Tong

1992-93   11-7                                               Coach Tom Tong



Not to be outdone by their male counterparts, the Lady Trail Blazers were in the top 10 AA teams four consecutive years from 1980-83, three of them were in the top four with a second place finish in 1982 along with five of the six first places recorded by Bloom Trail female track athletes at the state finals.

1976           First season                                 Coach Marsha Ulmer

State AA Meet Medalists

1 mile relay                                  4th place

                     880 yard relay                              6th place

                     Diane Emmons–220 yard dash     7th place

1977    8-0                                                     Coach Marsha Ulmer

                   State AA Meet Medalists

                    880 yard medley relay                   6th place
Diane Emmons–220 yard dash      STATE CHAMPION!!!

1978    8-0                                                     Coach Marsha Ulmer

                   State AA Meet Medalist

                    Kathy Vicari–880 yard run             3rd place

1979    5-1                                                     Coach Joyce Feleky

                   State AA Meet Medalist

                    880 yard relay                                  7th place

                    Sherry Giarusso–220 yard hurdles   6th place

                    Dorthea Brown–long jump              4th place 

1980    4-1   Took 7TH @ State AA meet       Coach Joyce Feleky

                     1 East St. Louis Lincoln         61.5

2 Chicago South Shore           45

3 East St. Lous Senior           35.5

4 Joliet West                         29

5 North Chicago                     25

6 Evanston                            23

                     7 Chicago Hts. Bloom Trail  22

8 Downers Grove North           18

Wheaton North                   18

10 Oak Lawn                           15.5

                   State AA Meet Medalists

                    400 meter relay                                2nd place

                    800 meter relay                                3rd place

                    Dorthea Brown–long jump               2nd place

                    Pam Brown—100 high hurdles         4th place

1981   6-1   4th in AA State Meet                   Coach Sue Carr

                    1 Chicago South Shore          52

2 East St. Louis Lincoln         48

3 East St. Louis Senior          44

4 Chicago Hts. Bloom Trail  35

5 Blue Island Eisenhower       29

6 Country Club Hills Hillcrest  24

7 Addison Trail                      23

8 Park Ridge Maine East       18

9 Harvey Thornton                 17

10 Glen Ellyn Glenbard West   16

Joliet West                         16

Moline HS                          16

State AA Meet Medalists

800 relay—STATE CHAMPIONS!!!

Dorthea Brown–long jump            STATE CHAMPION!!!
100 meter dash    4th Place

                      Sharon Green–100 meter dash      5th Place

                                                200 meter dash    3rd Place

                      Pam Hall–100 meter high hurdles  6th Place

                      Kathy Vicari–800 meter run           STATE CHAMPION!!!

1982   9-6    District Champions                    Coach Sue Carr

                    2ND IN AA STATE MEET           

                     1  East St. Louis Lincoln        67

2  Chicago Hts. Bloom Trail 57

3  Chicago South Shore         41

4  East St. Louis Senior         35

5  Harvey Thornton                 23

6  Joliet West                        20

7  Crete-Monee                      19

8  Rock Island HS                  18

9  Chicago Hyde Park            16

Evergreen Park                  16

State Final AA Medalists

                      400 relay–STATE CHAMPIONS!!!

                      800 relay–6th place

                    1600 relay–5th place

                      Dorthea Brown–long jump                STATE CHAMPION!!!

                                               100 meter dash         3rd place

                      Sharon Brown–100 meter dash         2nd place

                                               200 meter dash         3rd place

                                               long jump                 2nd place

                      Sabrina Harper–200 hurdles              7th place

                      Annette Masselli–800 meters             6th place

1983          4TH @ STATE AA MEET              Coach Sue Carr

                    1  East St. Louis Lincoln            71

2  East St. Louis Senior             53

3  Chicago South Shore             51

4  Chicago Hts. Bloom Trail    22

5  Harvey Thornton                    20

Romeoville                            20

Urbana HS                           20

Olympia Fields Rich Central   20

9  Schaumburg HS                   19

10  South Holland Thornwood      18

 State Finals AA Medalists

                      800 meter relay–2nd place

                      800 medley relay–7th place

                      Sharon Green–100 dash                    6th place

                                              200 dash                    8th place

                                              long jump                  2nd place

1984                                                             Coach Sue Carr

State Finals AA Medalists

1600 meter relay                                 4th place

                     Sabrina Harper–100 high hurdles       8th place

                     Annette Masselli–800 meters              7th place

1987                                                             Coach Sue Carr

State Finals AA Medalists

                     800 medley relay                                5th place

                     Gail Malone–100 meter dash              3rd place

                                           200 meter dash             3rd place

                     Kim Petty–long jump                          4th place

1991                                                             Coach Dennis Carrabine

State Finals AA Medalist

                     Tameka Gordon–shotput                    4th place

1995                                                             Coach Jim Hayden

State Finals AA Medalist

                     Roslyn Turner–long jump                    4th place


Bloom Trail was a respectable team around the nets during the 1980’s. Joe Skowronski’s Lady Blazers won three AA regional titles and 214 matches during his 15-year tenure on the BT bench.

1976-77    First season                             Coach Penny Chamberlaind

1977-78                                                   Coach Pam Wallace

1979                                                       Coach Sharon LeBrun

1981        11-11                                       Coach Joe Skowronski

1982        16-  7 Regional Champs          Coach Joe Skowronski

1983        24-  3                                       Coach Joe Skowronski

1986        12-11                                       Coach Joe Skowronski

1987        16-10                                       Coach Joe Skowronski

1988        18-  4 Regional Champs          Coach Joe Skowronski

1989        27-11 Regional Champs          Coach Joe Skowronski

1991        25-11                                       Coach Joe Skowronski

1994-95                                                   Coach Linda Connor-Bolden


The Trail Blazers played a good game of hoops while being a member of the SICA (Suburban Inter-Conference Association), taking on the likes of Bloom, Rich Central, Rich East, Rich South, and Crete-Monee. One team even made it to the Elite Eight of the state AA tournament before bowing out. Here’s a look at some of the better teams in school history:

1976-77  14-12   (first season)                        Coach Don Roux

1977-78  14-13                                              Coach Don Roux

1979-80  15-12                                              Coach Pete McGuire

1983-84  17-  9                                              Coach Gary Meyer

1984-85  24-  5   Regional Champs               Coach Gary Meyer

1985-86  24-  4   Regional Champs               Coach Gary Meyer

1986-87  17-10                                              Coach Gary Meyer

1987-88  21-10   ELITE 8 IN AA STATE          Coach Gary Meyer

                         REGIONAL CHAMPS

                          SECTIONAL CHAMPS

                           Beat Joliet Catholic 58-56 in Aurora East Supersectional

Lost to Rock Island 69-52 in AA quarterfinals

1988-89  14-12                                              Coach Gary Meyer

2002-03  24-  5                                              Coach Gary Meyer



Throughout the history of the school. Bloom Trail’s girls could hoop it up. Even though there were no trophies in IHSA state tournament play, the school was competitive on the hardwood. The best seasons in school history are highlighted below.

1976-77               First season                       Coach Pam Wallace

1977-78   11-  7                                             Coach Ray Thornton

1978-79   13-  7                                             Coach Ray Thornton

1979-80   21-  2                                             Coach Ray Thornton

1980-81                                                        Coach Otis Watkins

1981-82   13-10                                             Coach Tony Kennedy

1982-83   15-  8                                             Coach Tony Kennedy

1983-84                                                        Coach Tony Kennedy

1984-85   13-  6                                             Coach Tony Kennedy

1985-90                                                        Coach Tony Kennedy

1990-92                                                        Coach Willie Wraggs

1992-93   12-12                                             Coach Willie Wraggs

1993-94   17-10                                             Coach Willie Wraggs

1994-95   14-12                                             Coach Willie Wraggs

2002-03               Final season                      Coach Sean Bean

One Lady Blazer was named All-State during her career. Oteria Stampley was a second-team All-State pick of the Chicago Tribune in 1978.


Two boys from Bloom Trail earned All-State honors by placing in the top 25 at the IHSA State Meet.

1985AA     Chris Heldt          4TH Place
1992AA     Tim Sauceda      25TH Place


The Lady Trail Blazers were competitive on the parallel bars, vault, rings, and in floor exercises with some success after starting out slow.

1975-78               First seasons                     Coach Alexis Kneeland

1978-79    9- 3                                              Coach Pat Moore

1979-80                                                        Coach Del Mach

1980-81    8- 3                                              Coach Del Mach

1981-82  13- 3    (outstanding record!)          Coach Del Mach

1982-83    9- 3                                              Coach Del Mach

1984-85    8- 4                                              Coach Del Mach

1985-86  11- 4                                              Coach Del Mach

1986-88                                                        Coach Del Mach


The Lady Trail Blazers had several successful seasons on the diamonds with several winning records and a AA regional title to boot. Their best seasons are listed below.

1976                    First season                          Coach Pam Wallace

1977         7-  7                                                 Coach Pam Wallace

1979       12-  2                                                 Coach Pam Wallace

1980       11-  5                                                 Coach Pam Wallace

1983       11-10                                                 Coach Ernest Turner

1985       16-  8                                                 Coach Ernest Turner

1986       13-12                                                 Coach Ernest Turner

1987       15-12                                                 Coach Ernest Turner

1989       15-12                                                 Coach Ernest Turner

1991        27- 5                                                 Coach Ernest Turner

1992        26- 5    AA Regional Champions      Coach Ernest Turner

1994        17-10                                                Coach Linda Connor-Bolden

2003        22-12-1                                             Coach Mark Anderson



Bloom Trail “blazed” it’s way across hill and dale in the fall as a competitive entity to ready its long-distance types for track & field. As you can probably tell, some of the same names that coached the track teams also coached cross-country for the school.

1977                    First season                         Coach Bob Stevens

1978-81                                                          Coach John Collet

1982         6- 6                                                Coach Bob Stevens

1983-88                                                          Coach Bob Stevens

1989-92                                                          Coach Jim Hayden

1993         4- 3                                                Coach Jim Hayden

1994                                                               Coach Jim Hayden


The Lady Blazers began offering their net program from the first fall that the school was offered with some success. The most wins the program had as a team was five during the 1977 season under coach Emily Means-Willis, and four under Terri Lacy in 1979 along with Ralph Kwilosz’ team in 1993.

1976-78                                                          Coach Emily Means-Willis

1979                                                              Coach Terri Lacy

1980-83                                                          Coach Myrna Hill

1984-94                                                          Coach Ralph Kwilosz


Bloom Trail offered this sport as well in the fall for the girls. Between 1976-95, the IHSA website shows that the program under seven coaches, and had just three team victories.

1976-78                                                            Coach Joan Gamble

1979-82                                                            Coach Larry Loven

1983                                                                 Coach Pete Lira

1984                                                                 Coach Bill Tucker

1985                                                                 Coach Larry Loven

1986-87                                                            Coach Patty Schmipf

1988-95                                                            Coach Lisa Freedman-Hester


The Trail Blazers took to the field each season and competed with other South Suburban schools. No IHSA hardware was won by the school at the state tournament level in baseball while the school was open as Bloom Trail.

1977-79                                                            Coach Ernie Turner

1980       14-14                                                 Coach Ernie Turner

1981-82                                                            Coach Len Motta

1983-84                                                            Coach Pete Lira

1985-88                                                            Coach Bill Tucker

1989-92                                                            Coach Bert Michael

1993-94                                                            Coach Ron Peterson

1995        15-14                                                Coach Ron Peterson

2003        19-16-1                                             Coach Job Gunderson


Even though their records are few, Bloom Trail did offer soccer to its girls. Sue Garcia was coach from 1988-95 and the IHSA website reports that two win-loss records were reported…3-13-1 in 1990 and 3-14 in 1994.


The Trail Blazers took to the links and came home with some success, although there were no medalists or teams that placed at the state AA meets.

1976-79                                                             Coach Al Versypt

1980         7-1-1  (good record)                            Coach Al Versypt

1981         5-4                                                    Coach Al Versypt

1982         9-3     (good record)                            Coach Don Croarkin

1983-87                                                             Coach Don Croarkin

1988         7-7                                                    Coach Don Croarkin

1989         7-5-1                                                 Coach Don Croarkin

1990-91                                                             Coach Don Croarkin

1992         9-7                                                    Coach Gary Meyer

1993         8-7-1                                                 Coach Gary Meyer

1994       10-7                                                    Coach Gary Meyer


Bloom Trail’s girls were offered the chance to compete with the racket and shuttlecock during the spring, but only three seasons were found on the IHSA website. Don Denham was the head coach from 1975-78 as the Lady Trail Blazers were winless in 27 dual meets.


Even though the Trail Blazers never did qualify for the IHSA playoffs, they were a competitive team in the SICA. The best of Bloom Trail gridiron seasons follow:

1976                   First season                           Coach Angel Velasquez

1977        6-3      (good record)                           Coach Angel Velasquez

1978-80                                                            Coach Angel Velasquez

1981-84                                                            Coach Tom Tong

1985-90                                                            Coach Mike Mecozzi

1991        5-4                                                    Coach Mike Mecozzi

1992                                                                 Coach Mike Mecozzi

1993-94                                                            Coach Anthony Pietrzak

One Trail Blazer went onto play collegiately and at the professional ranks. Rickey Young went on to star as a linebacker at Oklahoma State, and then spent three seasons in the former United States Football League (USFL) with Michigan and Houston from 1983-85.


Bloom Trail offered this winter sport at least from 1977 thru 1994. We have found out that there were three teams won four meets in the winters of 1980-81, 1981-82, & 1990-91. Here’s a list of coaches for the Trail Blazer tankmen:

1977-78               First season                           Coach Norm Pounder

1978-81                                                            Coach Larry Loven

1981-82                                                            Coach Dawn Fulsa

1982-83                                                            Coach Pete Lira

1983-85                                                            Coach Bill Tucker

1985-88                                                            Coach Patty Schmipf

1988-94                                                            Coach Lisa Freedman


Bloom Trail was competitive in the spring around the tennis courts, giving its’ student body a choice as to what sport they wanted to go out for (along with baseball and track). The IHSA website shows that the Trail Blazers’ best win-loss record was 5-8 during the spring of 1990, with a pair of four-win seasons in 1983 and 1984.

1977-78               First seasons                          Coach Ralph Kwilosz

1979-80                                                             Coach Norm Pounder

1981-94                                                             Coach Ralph Kwilosz


Can you help us find further information about the history of Bloom Trail High School? If so, we invite you to complete the School Submission form located in the left column of this site. Win-loss records, pictures of the school, great teams, and the words/music to the school song are greatly appreciated. You can also send more to or by regular mail to:

Illinois High School Glory Days

6439 N. Neva

Chicago, IL  60631

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