Joliet Township East High School “Kingsmen”

Joliet East High School
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Photo by Cody Cutter: April 2009

The History of Joliet East High School

Joliet (population 129,519) is located in northeastern Illinois in west-central Will County. In fact, is the county seat of Will County. Joliet was platted in 1834 and officially incorporated in 1852.  After much discussion over the town’s early name (it was known as Juliet from 1834 to 1845), the Joliet was settled upon to honor Louis Joliet, famous explorer who first viewed the area in 1673.

According MapQuest ( Joliet has several major roadways and railways leading to and from it. Interstate Highway 80 is the main thoroughfare leading to Joliet, which is located just east of Interstate Highway 55.  The Illinois Routes of 7, 53, and 171 as well as the U.S. Routes of 6, 30, and 52 all lead to Joliet. The Illinois River flows through town as it has for thousands of years. Railroad tracks include Amtrak, the Atchison, Topeka & Sante Fe, the Elgin, Joliet, & Eastern, and the Illinois Central Gulf.

Joliet’s excellent location led to its population bursting soon after its incorporation. A high school for the children of the town was certainly in place by the late 1800s. The residents of Joliet were served by one high school (Joliet Township High School, or JTHS, as it is known locally) for several years. The student population continued to grow each decade, finally forcing the issue of more than one high school to appropriately serve the community. In the early 1960s this initiative was realized. The year was 1964 when two new high schools emerged, Joliet East and Joliet West. These schools were added to the newly named Joliet Central High School (the former JTHS).

Joliet East served the community for several years. Dwindling enrollment in all three schools along with financial difficulties led to the decision to close one of the schools. After much debate, the school it was decided to close was Joliet East. This occurred in 1983.

The Joliet East High School building is now occupied Joliet Job Corps owned by the government.

Joliet East High School Quick Facts

Year opened:                                        1964

Year closed:                                         1983

Consolidated to:                                    Joliet Central High School

Joliet East HS nickname:                       the “Kingsmen”

JEHS team colors:                                Kelly Green, Gold, White

School Fight Song:                               “Oh, Hail the Kingsmen” 

East’s fight song was taken from “Navy Blue and Gold” and had words fitted to that tune about the “Kingsmen”.

Oh,hail the Kingsmen, mighty Kingsmen,

School of green and gold
We’ll fight for the right to prove

Our might against our many foes.

Rah! Rah!

Oh, East our pride will never cease for Victory is our goal.
Our battle cry for J.T. East
Is, “Onward we will go!”
We’ll follow you to Victory
Kingsmen will reign on high.
Our loyalty, our pride, our might
Will never fade or die.

Rah! Rah!

There’s none so fair, none can compare
If they be new or old,
For we will ‘ere be loyal to
The Kingsmen Green and Gold


(Thank you to Paula Hurst for the Kingsmen FIght Song words)


The Joliet High School East Kingsmen and Lady Kingsmen had some great seasons during their nineteen year history. The school offered several sports for both the boys and girls and had many successful seasons. We are only able to provide the ones found on the IHSA website ( We are searching for the school fight song along with many other great team records and coach’s names that are not listed below.

Girls Basketball

The Lady Kingsmen of Joliet East High had a great run in the early 1980s. Back to back Elite 8 Finals appearances were hi-lighted by a Third Place Finish in the 1979-80 season. The girls followed this with two more Regional Champions including one in the school’s last season. The Ladies were led by Coach Bob Dwyer. Unfortunately, many of the season records are not available.

1978-79            Regional Champions                               Coach Bob Dwyer

1979-80  30 – 3  IHSA Class AA THIRD Place Winners       Coach Bob Dwyer

                        Regional Champions

                        Sectional Champions

                        Super-Sectional Champions

                        Beat Naperville Central 70 – 53

                        Elite 8 Winner – Beat Sterling 56 – 43

                        Semifinal Game – Lost to Chicago Marshall 72-35

Third Place Winners

                        Beat Buffalo Grove 68 – 59

                        Pam Gant named to All-Tournament Team 

1980-81  27 – 5 IHSA Class AA Elite 8 Qualifier!!             Coach Bob Dwyer

                       Regional Champions

                       Sectional Champions

                       Super-Sectional Champions

                       Beat Naperville Central 63 – 40

                       Elite 8 Finalist

Lost to Elk Grove Village 52 – 51 (O/T)

Pam Gant named to All-Tournament Team

1981-82           Regional Champions                                Coach Bob Dwyer

1982-83           Regional Champions                                Coach Bob Dwyer


The Joliet East Kingsmen baseball team won a pair of Regional titles. We are searching for team records and coach’s names of these and other great JEHS teams. One of its earliest stars went on to a Major League career with three teams…Larry Gura (see information below).

1967-68          Regional Champions

1978-79          Regional Champions

Boys Basketball

The Kingsmen did not win any IHSA hardware in this sport, but they did have some competitive seasons under a variety of coaches.  Coaches names and winning season records are listed below.

1964-66                                                                     Coach Dale O’Connell

1966-67    12-11                                                         Coach Dale O’Connell

1967-73                                                                     Coach Don Nichols

1973-74    15-10                                                         Coach Don Nichols

1974-76                                                                     Coach Don Nichols

1976-77    15-12                                                         Coach Stan Tyrrell

1977-78    17-  8                                                         Coach Stan Tyrrell

1978-80                                                                     Coach Stan Tyrrell

1980-81                                                                     Coach Don Nichols

1981-83                                                                     Coach Mike O’Connell

Joliet East Football Field
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Photo by Cody Cutter: April 2009


Most seasons in which the Kingsmen competed on the gridiron were not very successful as far as overall wins and losses are concerned. The IHSA website lists only two seasons in which the Kingsmen managed winning records. There were, however, four seasons in which the teams finished at 4 wins and 5 losses. Other nice seasons were researched and provided by our own Tom Sikorski.

1964  1-8  First team                                   Coach Howie Scheidt

                 First win in school history–9-7 over Joliet Central

1967  8-1  Illini 8 Conference Champions  Coach Lloyd Atterbury

1972  5-4  2nd place (tie) Illini 8 Conference   Coach Jim Hoffman

1978  6-3  3rd place (tie) Illini 8 Conference    Coach Mike Monken

1982  4-5  Last team                                   Coach Mike Monken

                 Won last game in school history–20-12 over Sterling

Girls Volleyball

Though short-lived, the Lady Kingsmen volleyball program did win two District championship plaques for the school. Again, team records and coach’s names are being sought.

1973-74     District Champions

1978-79     District Champions

Boys Track & Field

The Joliet East High School boys track team had some excellent success in the mid 1970s. Besides two top-ten finishes, the Kingsmen saw four individuals and three relay teams bring medals back from the IHSA Class AA State Meet. In fact in 1975-76, Tim Graf was Illinois’ fastest high school runner, winning the 100 Yard Dash State Championship!.

1974-75     Team Finished SIXTH in the IHSA Class AA State Meet!!

                     Individual Medalists

                     Tim Graf              100 Yard Dash       2ND Place

                     Relay                   440 Yard Relay      3RD Place

                     Relay                   880 Yard Relay      4TH Place

                     Final Team Standings

1  East St. Louis (Sr.)                              29

2  Chicago (Phillips)                                 19

2  Rockford (East)                                    19

4  Maywood (Proviso East)                       14

5  Alton (Sr.)                                           12

6  Oak Lawn (Community)                        11

6  Joliet East High School                      11

1975-76      Team Finished NINTH at the IHSA Class AA State Meet!!

                     Individual Medalists  

                     Tim Graf              100 Yard Dash       STATE CHAMPION!!

                                                 220 Yard Dash       4TH Place          

                     Art Baker             Long Jump            7TH Place

                     Relay Team         440 Yard Relay      5TH Place

                     Final Team Standings

1  East St. Louis (Sr.)                        30

2  Chicago Heights (Bloom Twp.)        26

3  Maywood (Proviso East)                 14

4  Harvey (Thornton)                           12

5  Rockford (East)                             10

5  LaGrange (Lyons)                          10

5  Orland Park (Sandburg)                  10

5  Chicago (King)                               10

9  Joliet East High School                  9  

1976-77      Individual Medalist –

                     Larry Thompson  880 Yard Run         5TH Place  

1977-78      Individual Medalist – 

                     Tim Herring         Triple Jump           2ND Place

MEMORIES from Lynn Hargrow, Sr.:

I would like to add since I was a part of history during the years of 1976-78 the track team was 3-time Illini-8 Conference Champions and District Champions.  The 1978 team recorded the first, and to my knowledge, only undefeated team record (12 – 0) in any sport.  We were also one of only two undefeated track teams in the state.  Unfortunately we could not claim to be the only undefeated team because Minooka was the other.  We were scheduled to have a meet with Minooka but it was cancelled due to bad weather.  We were never able to reschedule them and prove our superiority.  We did, however, defeat them at the District Meet.”

Girls Track & Field

The Lady Kingsmen thinclads brought home some IHSA Class AA State Meet medals of their own. One relay team and two individuals were responsible for the four medals won by the Lady Kingsmen tracksters.

1972-73            Relay Team      440 Yard Relay       2ND Place

                       Connie Abott     Shot Put                 5TH Place

1973-74            Vanessa Sims   50 Yard Dash          4TH Place

1974-75            Vanessa Sims   50 Yard Dash          5TH Place


The Grapplers of Joliet East won individual medals as well. Though no team trophies or plaques were won, individual medals were earned. This includes back to back STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS won by John Gurka in 1974 and 1975!!   

1973-74      Individual Medalist

                     John Gurka      Heavyweight Class        STATE CHAMPION!! 

1974-75      Individual Medalist

                     John Gurka      Heavyweight Class        STATE CHAMPION!!

1979-80      Individual Medalist –

                     Eric McEwen    112 Lbs. Class                6TH Place

1982-83      Individual Medalist –

                     Sam Parker      112 Lbs. Class                5TH Place

Speech Individual Competition

Three Kingsmen “thespians” showed the school had some well-rounded curiculum. Robert Talkie even won a State Championship in his event of Humorous Interpretation. His efforts in 1976 led the Joliet East team to a SECOND Place Finish in State Competition!!

1972-73        Individual Medalists

                       Doug & Robert Talkie  Duet                          3RD Place

                       Keith White                 Humor Interp.            6TH Place

1974-75        Individual Medalist

                       Robert Talkie              Humor Interp.             2ND Place

1975-76       Team Finished SECOND in STATE Competition!!  

                       Individual Medalist

                       Robert Talkie              Humor Interp.            STATE CHAMPION!!

                                                          Original Comedy       2ND Place

                       Final Team Standings

                      1  South Holland (Thornwood)                 24

2  Joliet East High School                   12

2  Chicago (Luther South)                      12

4  Rock Island (H.S.)                               9

4  Peoria (H.S.)                                       9


–Larry Gura (class of 1966) — Was a pitcher for the Kingsmen baseball team before going to Arizona State University, then played professionally for the Chicago Cubs, New York Yankees, and Kansas City Royals from 1970-85. Gura was 126-97 with a 3.76 ERA, having his best years with the Royals as they became World Series contenders in the late ’70’s. His best seasons were 16-4 in 1977, 18-10 in 1980, and 18-12 in 1983.

–Lionel Richie (class of 1967) — Played tennis at JEHS, then attended Tuskegee Institute on a tennis scholarship before forming the Commodores, a rhythm-and-blues band of the 1970’s. Richie also made it big as a singer-songwriter in the 1980s with five albums that went platinum in sales, and five singles that went to number one on the US charts.

–Pam Gant (class of 1981) —Basketball star for the Lady Kingsmen, leading scorer of two state AA tournament qualifiers. In 113 games over four seasons, she scored 3,205 points, third on the IHSA’s career scoring list. Pam wound up at Louisiana Tech, leading the Lady Techsters to two NCAA championships, made first-team Kodak All-American in 1985 along with Cheryl Miller and was the first woman to try out for the Harlem Globetrotters!

If You Have ANY Further Information

If you have any further information you can share regarding the many accomplishments and history of Joliet East High School, especially a photo of the original school building, please write to us at You can also write to us via real mail at:

Illinois HS Glory Days

6439 N. Neva St. 

Chicago, Il.  60631

Joliet East Football Field and Scoreboard
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Photo by Cody Cutter: April 2009

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