Kankakee (population 27,491) is located in northeastern Illinois in central Kankakee County. It is the county seat of Kankakee County as well. The town was established in the mid-1800’s and prospered when the Illinois Central Railroad laid tracks through the area. By the year 1900, Kankakee had a population of 13,500, quite large for that time period. Kankakee is approximately 15 miles west of the Indiana state border. The following roadways now lead to and from this busy metropolis: Interstate Highway 57, U.S. Route 45, Illinois Routes 17, 50, 102, 113, and 115. The Kankakee River flows through the middle of town and is joined at some point by the following creeks that also flow through Kankakee: Gar Creek, Soldier Creek, and Baker Creek. Three railroads also lay tracks which pass through town: The Illinois Central Gulf, the KBSR, and the CR.
Kankakee’s quick early growth included the building of several schools by the late 1800’s. Kankakee High School was certainly in place during that time period. Kankakee High School was the only public high school in town for over six decades. The ever-growing student population in the 1950’s and 1960’s forced the town’s people to divide the high school into two high schools in 1966. The schools were named Kankakee Westview and Kankakee Eastridge, & operated independently for 17 years. The now-declining student enrollment of the early 1980’s forced the school district to revert back to one high school. Hence, Eastridge and Westview were dissolved with all students returning to Kankakee Senior High School.
New buildings were built to house the Westview and Eastridge High School students. The Westview school is still standing, still used by the Kankakee School District today.
Kankakee Westview High School Quick Facts
Year opened: 1966
Year closed: 1983
Reverted to: Kankakee Senior High School
Westview HS team nickname: the “Kayhawks”
Westview HS team colors: Columbia (Light) Blue & Old Gold
Westview HS Fight Song: “We Are The Kayhawks”
Submitted by Nan Cogburn
We are the Kayhawks of Westview High,
Gold, White, and Blue.
Our colors do fly,
We bring fame to our name
For our loyalty,
Pride and might.
FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!
We’ll be loyal, tried, and true
To our colors, gold, white, and blue.
And when our high school days are through
Westview, we’ll always remember you!
W, W, W, E, E, E, S, T!!
Like most larger schools, Kankakee Westview offered many different sports to its students. Boys competed in baseball, basketball, football, swimming and track, while the girls were offered basketball, bowling, softball, swimming, track, and volleyball. It is possible the boys competed in cross country, golf and wrestling, and the girls in cross country and golf; however, this information is currently not available. The “Kayhawks” won a measure of state recognition in most sports that they competed in.
One great story about the Westview High School athletic rivalry with Eastridge was shared by a local fan:
“Kankakee Westview had a large “W” on top of the school which lit up when Westview won that night in sports. One autumn night they beat Eastridge and when they got to school the following Monday, the “W” was laying in pieces on the ground. About 2 weeks later, Eastridge won a game. Eastridge had a big “E” on top of their school that lit up when they won in sports. When they got back to school that (following) Monday, the “E” was turned to where it looked like the letter “W”.”
The Kayhawks team records and coach’s names are not currently available. If you have this information on any of the better Westview High diamond teams please forward it to us.
A complete season summary is available for all 17 seasons the KWHS boys competed in basketball on the IHSA website (www.ihsa.org). The teams won a total of three District titles, three Regional titles, and one Sectional title. The better team records and coach’s names are listed below.
1966-67 8-10 IHSA District Champions Coach Bob Kemp
District Scores Needed
Kankakee Regional Tourney
1st Rd lost to Rich East 81-79 (O/T)
1967-68Kankakee Dist. Runner-UpCoach Carl Koch
Season Record Needed
Kankakee District Scores
1st Rd Beat Momence 47-31
Semi-final Beat Peotone 49-48
Title Game lost to Bishop McNamara 50-47 (O/T)
1968-69 15-11 Kankakee District Champs Coach Carl Koch
1st Rd Beat Peotone 60-45
Semi-final Beat Beecher 71-56
Title Game Beat Grant Park 44-36
Crete-Monee Regional Tourney
1st Rd lost to Maron Catholic 54-53
Marion Catholic lost to Bloom in the semi-final
Bloom beat Homewood-Flossmoor in title game
1969-70 20- 9 Kankakee District Champions Coach Denny Lehnus
1st Rd Beat Peotone 53-46
Semi-Final Beat Grant Park 58-46
Title Game Beat Kankakee Eastridge 40-32
Bloom Regional Tournament
1st Rd Beat Bradley-Bourbonnais 62-53
Semi-final lost to Bloom 63-47
Bloom beat Homewood-Flossmoor in title game
1970-71 Kankakee District Tourney Coach Denny Lehnus
Season Record Needed
District Tourney Scores
1st Rd Beat Beecher 57-50
Semi-final lost to Eastridge 68-53
Eastridge beat McNamara in title game
1971-72 16- 8 Kankakee Class AA Regional Coach Denny Lehnus
1980-81 25- 5 Sweet 16 Finalist Class AA Coach Vern Sloan
IHSA Regional Champs
Regional Scores Needed
Normal Sectional Champions
Semi-final Beat Danville 50-49
Title Game Beat Joliet Catholic 57-43
IHSA Super-Sectional Finalist
Lost to Quincy 72-44 in Super-Sectional
Quincy eventual State Champs!
1981-82 25- 3 Regional Champs Coach Vern Sloan
IHSA Regional Champs
Regional Scores Needed
Normal Sectional Champions
Semi-final lost to Danville 73-61
Danville beat Lockport in title game
Danville lost tin Sweet 16 round
1982-83 School’s Last Season Coach Al Brown
Postseason scores & record needed
The Lady Kayhawks won a Regional Championship of their own! The team records and coach’s name of this and other great KWHS girls basketball teams are not available
1979-80 11 – 12 Coach Dana Parker
Regional Beat Eastridge in 1st Rd
Lost to Minooka in 2nd Rd
1980-81 Regional Champions Coach’s Name Needed
The KWHS lady’s bowling team won two district titles and qualified for the IHSA State meet.
1973-74 District Champions Coach Cheryl (Robertson) Vonch
1978-79 District Champions Coach Cheryl (Robertson) Vonch
We currently have no information on the girls or boys cross country program at Kankakee Westview High. If you have any information, please contact us via the means listed below.
The boys of the gridiron had a couple of nice seasons during their seventeen year run. One team even quaified for the IHSA State football playoffs. We are told that on the last play of the State Playoff game, all-state halfback Jimmy Smith was drug down after a long gain at the Rich South 11-yard line with no time left on the clock.
J.R. Black and Bill Wendling were two of the more notable coaches in Westview High gridiron history.
1966 7-2 First team Coach Frank Duchon
First win in school history–13-7 over Kankakee Eastridge
1967 4-4-1 Coach Frank Duchon
1968 6-1-1 Coach J.R. Black
1969 4-4 Coach J.R. Black
1970 5-4 Coach J.R. Black
1971 4-4-1 Coach J.R Black
1972 6-3 Coach J.R. Black
1975 5-4 2nd place SICA South Coach J.R. Black
1976 5-4 2nd place (tie) SICA South Coach J.R. Black
1978 7-3 QHSA Class 4A Playoffs Coach Bill Wendling
Sweet 16 Qualifier
Lost to Rich Central 40-34
Rich Central lost in Elite 8 round to JCA
Joliet Catholic won state title
1979 4-5 Conference Record 3-4 Coach Bill Wendling
Westview last fielded a team in 1982. The last win in school history was a 14-7 OT win over Andrew on the final week of the 1981 season
If you have any further information regarding the successes of the Lady Kayhawks’ softball program, please forward it to us. We currently have no information available to add.
One member of the boys swim team at Westview High brought home a medal from the IHSA State Meet. There is no current information available for the girls swim team.
1972 Gary Crow 200 IM 6TH Place
Boys Track & Field
Several boys won medals at the IHSA State Class AA Track Meet, including three individual gold medals!!. The team of 1978-79 even managed enough points to finish EIGHTH at the IHSA State Meet!!
1975-76 Individual Medalist– Head Coach Bill Farley
Mike Graves 330 Yd Hurdles 5TH Place Assistant Coach Joe Rockett
1976-77 Individual Medalists–
Mike Graves 330 Yd Hurdles 3RD Place Head Coach Bill Farley
Glenn Davidson Long Jump 6TH Place Assistant Coach Joe Rockett
1977-78 Individual Medalists–
Jim Smith 220 Yd Dash STATE CHAMPION!! Head Coach Bill Farley
Glenn Davidson Long Jump 3RD Place Assistant Coach Joe Rockett
Team finished 2nd in IHSA Sectional Meet
Team won SICA South Conference Meet
1978-79 Team Finished EIGHTH in STATE MEET Competition!! Head Coach Bill Farley
Individual Medalists Assistant Coach Joe Rockett
Jim Smith 220 Yd Dash STATE CHAMPION!!
Jim Smith 100 Yd Dash 4TH Place
Jimmy Smith – Westview State Champion!
Courtesy of Tim Yonke
Relay Team 2 Mile Relay 4TH Place
Final Team Standings
1.) Evanston (Twp.) 51
2.) East St. Louis (Sr.) 44½
3.) Chicago (Phillips) 37
4.) Palatine (Fremd) 29
5.) Moline (H.S.) 27
6.) Aurora (West) 23
7.) Deerfield 21
8.) Naperville (North) 20
8.) KANKAKEE WESTVIEW HS 20
10.) Chicago (Tilden) 17
1979-80 Head Coach Bill Farley
Assistant Coach Joe Rockett
1980-81 Individual Medalist–
Melvin Keys Long Jump 2ND Place
1981-82 Individual Medalist–
John Elliott 100 M. Hurdles 2ND Place
1982-83 Individual Medalist–
John Elliott 100 M. Hurdles STATE CHAMPION!!
John Elliott – Westview State Champion!
Submitted by Tim Yonke
**John Elliott’s effort of :13.8 in the 100 M High Hurdles is tied for
the SIXTH best time in IHSA History!
*Memories from Coach Bill Farley:
“I served as the Head Track Coach and Asst Football Coach (under Bill Wendling) during the run of success that led all the way until John Elliott was a sophomore – then I left.
A college roommate of Mike Shanahan from East Leyden H S and Eastern Illinois Univ., my career took me to jobs with the Oakland Raiders, Oklahoma Sooners and Alabama Crimson Tide where I served 25 years in Higher Education.
Even though I was Head Track Coach, Joe Rockett and I were inseparable as Coaches, so if you do mention Coaches from those years please add his alongside my name. Joe was a great tailback at Westview in 1967 – 68 who went on to Northern Illinois where he played college football for 4 years – an incredible man and mentor who came back to his alma mater to teach and Coach.
I would say our investment and success was without a doubt 50 – 50.
I was also Head Freshman Football Coach when Jimmy Smith came to Westview as a freshman in the fall of 1975 – so to have him from day 1 of his Westview career was quite an honor. He had an amazing HS career and was considered by most prognosticators as the 3rd best running back prospect in the country in the fall of 1978. He had offers from all over, including Oklahoma, Nebraska and Southern Cal. However, others were in his class (Alonzo Cephus, Michael Morris, James Moore, Billy Warren, Carl and Michael Springer) and they helped make up the bulk of the class that would have tremendous football and track success. In Track we went from 12 athletes in the spring of 1975 before my first year to 77 athletes by the spring of 1977, so as you can tell Track became very contagious at Westview. Kankakee Eastridge also began enjoying success in Track and as a result there were some epic rivalry meets throughout the late seventies – especially the Mile Relay where Paul McKinney’s Eastridge teams were always among the very best in the State of Illinois.
I read your information and it looks to be very exact. While Michael Graves in 1976 and 1977 could not quite catch world class hurdler Greg Foster from Proviso East, he did have the top time in the state all year long and did very well in the State meet, and this began the momentum to lead others. Glenn Davidson the next year(‘78) went to Northern Illinois for long jump and triple jumps, 2 time state champ and Football All American Jimmy Smith to Purdue in 79, then Melvin Key’s and John Elliott had outstanding careers for the Fighting Illini. It was truly the glory years, and, the girls programs began to take off as well, as they wanted to be near the guys at practice and at meets.
Although the ‘79 team was great, the ‘78 team won the SICA South title and finished one point from winning a second title in 79. There is no doubt in my mind that had Eastridge and Westview merged by 1976, that Kankakee would have given East St Louis and the Chicago schools all they wanted towards capturing the overall Illinois team title.
It was a real honor and privilege to be part of this great era in Kankakee Westview sports. The people and administration in Kankakee were committed to success and doing things right. At 62 yrs. now, it was a piece of my career that I will always cherish. Mostly the memories of the wonderful Coaches / teachers / administrators / and great athletes.
The people in Kankakee, Illinois are still in my heart to this very day.”
Girls Cross Country. Golf, Track, and Volleyball
Though we are very confident that the Lady Kayhawks competed in these sports, we currently have no information available regarding their successes.
Boys Cross Country, Golf, and Wrestling
We know these sports were offered at Westview High, however we have no information on any of them at this time. Please contact us if you would like to add ANY information on any one of these boys sports.
Speech Individual Events
Two individuals brought home medals for the English Department from IHSA State Competition. One team even won a District title in this competition.
1972 Individual Medalist–
Margie Hiles After Dinner Competition 4TH Place
1981 Individual Medalist–
Viril Hill Prose Competition 3RD Place
1979-80 Team Won Regional Championship
Placed Second in the Sectional Competition
(Had Finalists in 10 of 11 Events in the Sectional)
1981-82 Team Won District Championship
The Illinois Theatre Festival is the largest, non-competetive high school theatre festival in the world. It was organized in 1976 by teachers from the Chicago suburbs. This festival is still going strong as they perform at the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana) and Illinois State University every other January. Kankakee Westview High school participated in this festival from 1976-77 and again in 1979, 1981 and 1983.
Jimmy Smith was an all-state selection in football to along with his two gold medals in the 220 Yard Dash. Jimmy received a scholarship to continue his football playing career at Purdue University. According to Chris Breach and Mike Frey, Jimmy Smith continued his football career to the professional ranks. This included playing with the Minnesota Vikings and the Washington Redskins!!
John Craft was a resident of Kankakee until he turned 16. His family then moved to Momence, Illinois where he completed his Junior and Senior years of high school. Craft was an excellent athlete and became one of the top triple-jump athletes in the world. He taught at Kankakee Westview in 1970-71 while preparing for the Olympic trials. John Craft made the United States Olympic team and would compete in the Olympic Games held in Munich, Germany in the summer of 1972. John Craft would finish in 5th place, just missing out on a medal. Craft would return to coach at Eastern Illinois University in 1974 where he remained until his retirement in 2002. He was inducted into the Eastern Illinois University Hall of Fame in 2011.
…please contact us via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are interested in all facets of Kankakee Westview High School, not just athletics. We are especially interested in a photo of the school building. You can also write to us via real mail at: