Springfield (population 111,454) is located in central Illinois in Sangamon County. It is the State Capitol of Illinois and the County Seat of Sangamon County. Springfield was first settled in 1818. It was named the State Capitol of Illinois in 1837 though it wasn’t officially chartered until 1840. Springfield is located at the intersections of Interstate Highway 72 and Interstate Highway 55. Illinois Routes leading to and from Springfield include 4, 29, 54, 97, and 124. Historic Route 66 passes through Springfield as well. Several railroad lines help make Springfield a transportation hub.
Schooling for Springfield children was begun in the early 1800’s. Due to its fast growth in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, there was a need for more than just one central high school in town. Feitshans (pronounced “fight-shuns”) High School was opened in 1929 to accomodate the growing student population of Springfield. It was named for Frederick Feitshans, a longtime teacher and administrator in the Springfield public schools in the late 19th century. Frederick Feitshans died in 1886 and a grade school was built in his honor.
The original Feitshans School was destroyed by fire in 1920, but a new building was constructed in 1921. It was originally used as a grade school as well, but it became a high school in the fall of 1929 and remained a high school through the 1966-67 school year. Feitshans High School served the residents in its area for nearly 40 years. In the mid 1960’s, it was decided the Feitshans High School building was simply too small for the ever increasing student enrollment. In 1967, Feitshans High School was essentially closed and a new building was built in the area. The new high school was called Southeast High School.
The same building is there today, on South 15th Street between Cook Street and South Grand Avenue in Springfield, and is known as Feitshans Academy, a grade school geared to the performing arts that’s part of the Springfield Public School District.
Springfield Feitshans High School Quick Facts
Year opened: 1929
Year closed: 1967
Consolidated to: Springfield Southeast School District
Feitshans team nickname: the “Flyers”
School colors: Blue & White
School Fight Song: “Onward Feitshans”
Sung to “On Wisconsin”
Onward Feitshans, Onward Feitshans,
Smash right through that line!
Send the ball clear ’round Springfield,
Touchdown sure this time!
Hee Rah Rah!!
Onward Feitshans, Onward Feitshans,
Fighting for her fame!
Fight Fellows, fight, fight, fight,
And win this game!!
Rear View – Southwest Side
Click to Enlarge
Rear View – Northwest Side
Click Photo to View Enlarged Version
Feitshans High School competed in many boys’ sports. Baseball, basketball, football, track, and wrestling successes are documented on the IHSA website (www.ihsa.org).
The basketball teams originally played their home games on the stage of the school auditorium — a common practice for some high school teams in those days. The Feitshans gym was added for the opening game of the 1936/37 season.
Feitshans was in the middle of a residential area and did not have much in the way of outdoor athletic facilties. The football teams usually had to practice several blocks away from the school, as did the track and baseball teams.
Feitshans at one time competed in the now-defunct Central Conference — a blend of some of the Springfield schools along with other schools such as Beardstown, Carlinville and Jacksonville — in the 1940’s & 50’s. Feitshans later competed in the South Central Conference. When Southeast opened, it joined the now-defunct Capitol Conference. Feitshans was a member of the South Central Conference from 1963-66.
If you have any further informaion you would like to share regarding Springfield Feitshans’ athletic program, please e-mail us at email@example.com .
The Flyers of 1940-41 Sweet 16 Finalists!
Photo Courtesy of Tom Fitch
The basketball program has a well-documented history on the IHSA website. Two Regional titles and a Sweet 16 appearance in the 1940-41 playoffs hi-lite the Flyers’ success. Members of the Sweet 16 team of 1941 pictured to your right include:
Top row: head coach Leo Duke, Robert “Bob” Rodgerson, Joseph “Joe” Schuster, William “Bill” Klekamp, William “Bill” Theys and manager Oris Hughes.
Middle row: Leroy Bennett, George Hannah, Marvin Schultz, Charles Bohles and Harold Merrill.
Bottom row: Lloyd Newquist, Andrew “Andy” Washko, John Kimball, Edris Mabie and Richard Barregarye.
Here’s a little trivia note regarding Springfield Feitshans and its only boys’ basketball sectional championship team in 1941. This was the era when the IHSA brought all 16 teams to Huff Gym in Champaign. But for some reason, 1941 was the exception. The sectional champions played in various “semi-state” tournaments around Illinois, with only a few teams actually advancing to Champaign. Feitshans ended up playing at the Illinois State Armory in downtown Springfield — a place where the Flyers already had played a few games that season. They fell short of reaching Chamapign. So Feitshans missed out on its chance to play in the “Sweet Sixteen.”
John Homeier holds the Feitshans High School records of 42 points in a game, 533 points in a season and 1,838 points, plus or minus a few points, in a career.
1966-67 13- 5 School’s Final Season Coach David Sponsler
**Good news for the Feitshans basketball team of 1940-41; the Sweet 16 Finalists will be inducted into the Springfield Sports Hall of Fame on April 14, 2008!! The Springfield Journal-Register newspaper and sports editor Jim Ruppert made this announcement on February 10, 2008. Regarding the team of 1941, the newpaper wrote:
“The 1941 Feitshans boys basketball team, coached by Leo Duke, was 22-9 and was the only Feitshans basketball team to ever win a sectional tournament. Springfield Sports Hall of Famer Marvin Schultz played on this team, which beat Springfield High 32-28 in overtime in the regional title game. In the sectional at Decatur, Feitshans beat Bement 39-25, Kincaid 27-26 and Clinton 45-28 in the title game. In the state quarterfinals held at the Armory, Feithans dropped a 29-19 decision to Pittsfield and Verdie Altizer.
Other members of the Feitshans team were Leroy Bennett, Charley Bohles, Johnny Kimball, Bill Klekamp, Allen Loeser, Edris Mabie, Lloyd Newquist, Bob Rodgerson and Andy Washko.”
Congratulations to the boys of 1941, and thank you to Phil Shadid, an avid supporter of the Glory Days site and the former high schools in the Springfield area, for this excellent information.
The Feitshans boys of the baseball diamond had one great season as far as the IHSA State Tourney is concerned. The boys of 1960-61 made it all the way to the Elite 8 before falling to eventual state champion Elmhurst York High School. Coach’s names of these and other Feitshans’ baseball teams are being sought.
1959-60Elite 8 Finalist in IHSA State Tourney!
Elite 8 Qualifiers
Defeated by Elmhurt York 3-1
Elmhurst York eventual State Champions.
1961-1962 Regional Champions
The Feitshans football Flyers had some nice seasons as well. Their better records and coaches’ names are listed below. This includes an undefeated (9 – 0) team of 1952!!
1932 3-4-2 Coach Carroll Hall
1933 3-5-1 Coach Carroll Hall
1934 5-2-2 Coach Earl Wax
1935 5-3-1 Coach Earl Wax
1936 6-2 Coach Earl Wax
1937 4-5 Coach Earl Wax
1938 4-4-1 Coach Earl Wax
1939 2-7 Coach Earl Wax
1940 4-4-1 Coach Earl Wax
1941 5-2-1 Coach Earl Wax
1942 3-5 Coach Earl Wax
1943 3-5 Coach Earl Wax
1944 6-2 Coach Earl Wax
1945 2-5 Coach Earl Wax
1946 4-3-1 Coach Earl Wax
1947 7-2-1 Coach Earl Wax
1948 5-4 Coach Earl Wax
1949 5-3 Coach Marvin Schultz
1950 6-3 Coach Marvin Schultz
1951 7-2 Coach Marvin Schultz
1952 9-0 Coach Marvin Schultz
1953 6-2 Coach Marvin Schultz
1954 7-2 Coach Marvin Schultz
1955 3-5-1 Coach Marvin Schultz
1956 2-6 Coach Marvin Schultz
1957 3-6 Coach Marvin Schultz
1958 4-4-1 Coach Marvin Schultz
1959 4-5 Coach Marvin Schultz
1960 1-8 Coach Marvin Schultz
1961 2-7 Coach Marvin Schultz
1962 2-5-2 Coach Marvin Schultz
1963 3-6-1 Coach Marvin Schultz
1964 0-9-1 Coach John McCoy
1965 2-7 Coach John McCoy
1966 4-5 (Final Season) Coach John McCoy
Overall: 140 – 149 – 17 (a .485 winning %)
The linksters had their moment in the sun as well, finishing NINTH in the State Match in the spring of 1951. There were no individual medalists, so this was a true team effort.
1950-51 Team Placed NINTH at STATE Finals!!
Team Won District Title
Final Team Standings
1.) Winnetka (New Trier) 657
2.) Moline (H.S.) 667
3.) Rockford (East) 673
4.) Bloomington (H.S.) 690
5.) Joliet (Twp.) 699
6.) Des Plaines (Maine) 702
7.) Chicago (Taft) 711
8.) West Frankfort (Frankfort) 714
9.) SPRINGFIELD FEITSHANS HS 733
9.) Champaign (H.S.) 733
10.) Alton (Sr.) 741
Boys’ Track & Field
Two District titles were the hi-lites of the Feitshan Flyers track and field success.
1958-59 District Champions
1960-61 District Champions
The grapplers had some nice seasons and good documentation on the IHSA website. One District title, won in their last season of existence, allowed the Flyers to go out on a high note.
1957-58 Coach Jack McCoy
1958-59 5- 5-1 Coach Jack McCoy
1959-64 Coach Jack McCoy
1964-66 Coach Jack Gardner
1966-67 12- 2 District ChampionsCoach Jack Gardner
Charlie Matlack (Class of 1947) — He was a multi-sport athlete at Feitshans and went on to earn letters in football and baseball at Bradley University. But Matlack’s biggest achievements were in golf. He played on the PGA Tour from 1963-72 and also played in numerous events overseas. He’s still a teaching pro near Orlando, Fla.
Otto Stowe (Class of 1967) – A receiver who went on to play in the NFL for Miami, Denver and Dallas.
John Homeier (Class of 1956) — A basketball star who scored 1,836 career points, which still ranks fourth among high school boys from any of the Springfield schools. Homeier led Feitshans to a 20-4 record his senior year, and he received a scholarship to Illinois, although he saw limited playing time with the Illini. Rennie Clemons (2,939 points), Ed Horton (2,004) and Jeff Walker (1,911) have scored more than Homeier’s 1,836.
Marv Schultz – well known football coach
Dean Tillman – turned FHS into a track power in the early 1960’s
Bob Kyes – coached the state baseball team
Leo Duke – coached a variety of sports in the 1930’s and 40’s
Jim Gardner (FHS Class of ’58) – went on to coach wrestling for many years at Springfield Lanphier, where the old gym there is now known as the “Jim Gardner Wrestling Gym.”
Jack Gardner (FHS Class of ’59)- coached wrestling for many years at Springfield Southeast. Jim and Jack Gardner are brothers.
LeRoy Halberg – was the boys head basketball coach from 1947-57, a very highly-respected coach in the Springfield area. Coach Halberg had a pair of 20-win teams: 1951 and 56.
Feitshans Swim Team of 1962-63
Courtesy of Norm Thompson
Norm Thompson (Class of 1964) advises us that Feitshans also had a swimming team that was started in 1962. Norm served as team captain for the first three years of the program. In 1964 the Feitshans athletic program celebrated an incredible day that would be difficult for any school to match. During one spring day that year the golf team, baseball team, and track team all won the Springfield City Championship in their sport. What an incredible feat!!
Norm goes on to tell us “Feitshans High was also known state-wide for our Accapella choir. We went on tour every year. The boys and girls ansemble, as well as our madrigal group, were often sought to sing at special occassions. Our choir director was Miss Gher. GOOOOOO Flyers !!!”
Special Thank You
Thanks to Dave Kane for much of the information on this page! Thank you as well to Tom Fitch for the information he provided to this page.
Need Your Assistance
If you have any further information to share regarding the Springfield Feitshans High School accomplishments, please share them with us. Photos of some of the school’s outstanding teams or prominent figures are especially being sought. You can e-mail items to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to us at: