Springfield Sacred Heart Academy “Blazers”

Springfield Sacred Heart Academy
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Photo from 1981, courtesy of “Sacred Heart-Griffin: A Century of Excellence 1895-1995”
Sacred Heart Academy Entrance
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Courtesy of “Sacred Heart-Griffin: A Century of Excellence 1895-1995”

The History of Springfield Sacred Heart Academy

Springfield (population 111,454) is located in south central Illinois and is home to the State Capital. Springfield is also the county seat of Sangamon County, having been founded around 1821, became the county seat in 1823, and received its city charter in 1840. It was made the capital of Illinois in 1837, and the Legislature convened here for the first time in 1839 after moving from Vandalia. Interstates 55 & 72 are the major thoroughfares thru Springfield, as are US 36, Illinois 4, 29, 54, and 97. Also, the “Mother Road,” US Route 66 ran thru town while it was in service, and still serves Springfield as the Dirksen Parkway in honor of former US Senator Everett Dirksen.

According to a source, the community was founded when Zachariah Peter, William Drennan, and Rivers Cormack drove a stake in the ground at a place described when the transaction was recorded as “a point in the prairie near John Kelly’s field on the water of Spring Creek.” By 1837, due in large part to the political maneuverings of a young politician named Abraham Lincoln, Springfield became the State Capital. From that point the City’s history, and indeed its future, has been and will always be inexorably tied to this famous American.

We are aware of the fact that Sacred Heart Academy first opened its doors in 1895, and the history of the school is in the process of being researched. According to the Illinois High School Association’s website (www.ihsa.org), the earliest known date that the school existed in their records was during the 1967-68 school year. It is a known fact that Sacred Heart was an all-girls’ parochial school as a companion school to the all-boys’ Griffin High School. The schools merged into one institution after the 1987-88 school to form what is now known as Sacred Heart-Griffin High School.

Like two other schools on this website, Joliet Catholic and Joliet St. Francis Academy, both Sacred Heart & Griffin brought all students into the same setting while allowing each gender retain their nickname and school colors.


School opened:                         1895

School closed:                          1988

Now part of:                              Sacred Heart-Griffin High School

School colors:                           Blue & Gold

School nickname:                      Blazers

School song:                             “We Believe”

                                                (To the tune of the old song, “I Believe”)

 Courtesy of SHARON HUCK (’76) & GINNY (HUCK) SCHOFIELD (’78)

                              We believe in Sacred Heart Academy and in it’s creed.

                              We believe that SHA has heard our cry and filled our need. 

                              We believe that none could ever go astray

                              Who learned from you to live and pray. 

                              We believe, we believe. 

                              We believe that of our days the greatest one is that today,

                              Because now  the time has come to go alone along the way. 

                              Now we’ll know that what you’ve taught us through the years

                              Has not been in vain; was worth the pain,

                              And we will know if we believe.


Sacred Heart Academy offered volleyball, basketball, softball, tennis, swimming, badminton, and speech team activities to its female students while open for business. Golf, cross-country, and soccer may have been offered before the merger, but there is no record of it, according to the IHSA. If anyone knows if these sports were offered before 1988 at Sacred Heart, please let us know by emailing us at dr.veeman@gmail.com.


Without question, when the names of top schools in Illinois that have produced outstanding volleyball teams year in and year out are mentioned, Sacred Heart Academy is one of the names that people think of. Coach Helen Dulle was the only coach in school history from 1973-87 before continuing with Sacred Heart-Griffin where she remains the coach today. In the 15 years as just Sacred Heart, the Blazers went to the state AA tournament eight times, taking a pair of fourth place finishes, and posting seven seasons with 30 or more victories (including 40 in 1980), while not recording a losing season.

1973-74   7-  4                                                         Coach Helen Dulle

1974-75 14-  9                                                         Coach Helen Dulle

1975-76 13-  7                                                         Coach Helen Dulle

1976-77 20-  5     District Champions                   Coach Helen Dulle

                           Sectional Champions

1977      27-  3     District Champions                   Coach Helen Dulle

                           Sectional Champions

1978      28-  9     Fourth in State Finals               Coach Helen Dulle

                           District Champions

                           Sectional Champions

                           Supersectional Winner/State Qualifier

                            Beat Barrington in quarterfinals 20-7, 22-20

              Lost to Oak Park-River Forest in semifinals 20-11, 20-11

Lost to Carbondale for third place 21-19, 13-20, & 20-14

1979       29-  2     District Champions                  Coach Helen Dulle

1980       40-  4    Fourth in State Finals               Coach Helen Dulle

                           District Champions

                           Sectional Champions

                           Supersectional Winner/State Qualifier

                            Beat Sycamore 15-3, 15-0 in quarterfinals

                            Lost to Chicago Mother McAuley 15-4, 15-7 in semfinals

                            Lost to Orland Park Sandburg for 3rd 15-12, 15-6

1981       25-  4                                                        Coach Helen Dulle

1982       31-  5    State Tourney Qualifier            Coach Helen Dulle

                           Regional Champions

                           Sectional Champions

                           Super-Sectional Winner

                            Elite 8 Qualifier

                            Lost to Belleville Althoff 15-8, 15-13

1983       34-  5    State Tourney Qualifier            Coach Helen Dulle

                           Regional Champions

                           Sectional Champions

                           Super-Sectional Winner

                            Elite 8 Qualifier

                            Lost to Palatine 15-7, 13-15, 17-15


1984       36-  3    State Tourney Qualifier            Coach Helen Dulle

                           Regional Champions

                           Sectional Champions

                           Super-Sectional Winner

                            Elite 8 Qualifier

                            Lost to Palatine 15-8, 13-15, 15-8, 15-4

1985       31-  5    State Tourney Qualifier            Coach Helen Dulle

                           Regional Champions

                           Sectional Champions

                           Super-Sectional Winner

                            Elite 8 Qualifier

                            Lost to Chicago Mother McAuley 15-11, 15-13

1986       31-  8    State Tourney Qualifiers          Coach Helen Dulle

                           Regional Champions

                           Sectional Champions

                           Super-Sectional Winner

                            Elite 8 Qualifier

                            Lost to Oak Lawn Richards 13-15, 15-8, 15-12

1987       33-  6    State Tourney Qualifiers          Coach Helen Dulle

                           Regional Champions

                           Sectional Champions

                           Super-Sectional Winner

                           Elite 8 Qualifier

                           Lost to Oak Park-River Forest 15-6, 15-7



The Blazers went outside in the spring, and were successful in bringing home some IHSA tournament hardware along with having several winning seasons. Here’s a look at those successes:

1981-82  12- 1                                         Coach Cindy Sherwood

1982-83  15- 6                                         Coach Cindy Sherwood

1983-84  20- 1 REGIONAL CHAMPS    Coach Katherine Richards

1984-85  20- 5 REGIONAL CHAMPS    Coach Julie Ormiston

1985-86  18- 8                                         Coach Julie Ormiston

1987-88  11-10                                        Coach Mike Nardini


Although it is no longer offered at Sacred Heart-Griffin today, the Blazers won five consecutive district titles and even placed in the top 10 of the state one year. We are in need of the name of the head coach and possible win-loss records for these and other badminton teams at SHA.

1977            District Champions           Coach Helen Dulle

1978            District Champions           Coach Helen Dulle

1979            District Champions           Coach Helen Dulle

                    Tied for 9th at State Meet

1  Arlington Heights                      19

2  Deerfield                                   14.5

3  Winnetka New Trier East          10.5

4  Palatine HS                                 9.5

Riverside-Brookfield                    9.5

6  Northfield New Trier West           7

Elmhurst York                              7

8  Oak Forest                                  6.5

9  Waukegan East                           6

Springfield Sacred Heart          6

Chicago Lourdes                         6

Burbank Reavis                           6

Barrington                                    6

1980            District Champions            Coach Helen Dulle

1981            District Champions            Coach Helen Dulle


Sacred Heart also offered another sport with a net in the fall, except it was outdoors and the net was at ground level. Regardless, the Blazers provided the school with several memories at the state tennis tournament level during the 1980’s. Head coaches’ names and win-loss records are missing.

1981             District Champions     

1982             Sectional Champions

1984             State Tournament Finalists

                     Amy Anderson & Maura Corcoran–5th in Doubles


Sacred Heart was represented once in its school history prior to the merger with Griffin at the girls’ state meet, and came away with a respectable showing at the finals.

1984    Individual Medalist

             Linda Suhs—4th place—100 freestyle       


Sacred Heart did offer roundball to its female athletes after the volleyball season. and came away with one AA regional title. Win-loss records and other details would be helpful.

1981-82  18-7    City Tourney Champs      Coach Cindy Sherwood

1982-83  18-9    Regional Champions     Coach Cindy Sherwood

City Tourney Champs

1985-87                                                      Coach Lisa Bauer

1987-88                                                      Coach Tina Sunderland

From Cindy Sherwood:

“I am writing to provide some missing information for your page about Sacred Heart Academy in Springfield, Illinois. I am currently the school counselor at Vienna High School in Vienna, Illinois, but my teaching and coaching career being at Sacred Heart.

“I was the Blazers’ basketball coach for the 1981-82 and 1982-83 seasons. In the ’81-82 season, we won the city tournament outright for the first time at 4-0. We finished the season 18-7 after losing to Springfield Lanphier 50-46 in the semifinal of the Taylorville AA Regional.

“In the ’82-83 season, we again won the city tournament outright at 4-0. We won the 1983 Sacred Heart Academy Class AA Regional, defeating Jacksonville High School 55-51. Next, we defeated Danville High School in the first round fo the 1983 Class AA Lincoln Sectional 61-51. We completed our season at 18-9 after losing to Stephen Decatur in the sectional final 64-46.

“Hopefully, this will complete some missing information for your page about Sacred Heart Academy sports.”


The Blazers were capable to competing with other schools in the prep speech team circuit, winning four consecutive district titles and having three ladies placed in the state’s top five in their individual events during the late-1960’s and early-’70’s .

1966-67    Individual Medalist
Carolyn Roarke        5th place–Prose Reading

1967-68    District Champions                  Sponsor unknown

1968-69    District Champions                  Sponsor unknown

Individual Medalist

                 Marita Stankitis          3rd place–Original Comedy

1969-70    District Champions                  Sponsor unknown

Individual Medalist

                 Tracy Shaw               4th place–Oratorical Declamation

1970-71    District Champions              Sponsor unknown


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. Sacred Heart Academy participated in this festival in 1979, and from 1985-87.


In researching information, we’d like to thank Sr. Diana Doyle from Sacred Heart-Griffin for helping us out. As a 1948 graduate of Sacred Heart Academy, Sr. Diana furnished us with a copy of “Sacred Heart-Griffin: A Century of Excellence 1895-1995” that helped tell the story of Cathedral, Griffin and Sacred Heart as high schools that educated youth in the Springfield. Some of the photos that you see on these pages are from the book, so we appreciate the assistance!

Can you provide any information….

about Sacred Heart Academy’s history? What were the words and music to the fight song, names of coaches/sponsors, famous alumni, and more? We’re more than ready to hear from you. Just email us at dr.veeman@gmail.com or send it via mail to:

Illinois High School Glory Days

6439 North Neva

Chicago, IL  60631  

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