SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — “Tough Times Don’t Last, Tough People Do!” and “Don’t ever forget where you came from.”

Just two of the many sayings former Sioux City East football coach Walt Fiegel coined while coaching.

Now, 20 years after his passing a foundation in his name continues to share his words and his ways.

You will find his name on the billboard outside East High’s practice football field. His picture, in the school’s trophy case and his memory, all over Siouxland.

“Coach Fiegel was a mentor, a motivator, a leader. Even today when we see videos of the past I get chills. I get a chill talking about it right now because he brought out the best in every person on that team,” said Jeff Croston, President of the Walt Fiegel Foundation.

Croston should know. He played for coach Fiegel in 1983 and 1984 and was part of the school’s only football state championship team.

Twenty years after Fiegel unexpectedly passed away Croston keeps his memory alive as president of the Walt Fiegle Foundation.

“When we started this off it was to perpetuate the characteristics of coach Fiegel. The inspiration he had on people. We had no idea how long this was going to go we just wanted to do something in his name,” Croston said.

Since 2003, the foundation has hosted a fundraising dinner and golf event. Proceeds fund a scholarship endowment for graduating seniors. After initially offering two scholarships on Friday, the Walt Fiegel Foundation will award twenty, $2,000 scholarships at this year’s dinner.
20 of 199 handed out since Walt’s death totaling $289,000 in 20 years.

“It’s amazing that this has kept going. At some point someone said this is a great idea but it won’t last 5 years,” said Fiegle’s daughter Jill Persinger. “I feel like my dad always had good luck fundraising getting whatever he needed for his kids. A pair of shoes or whatever they needed. The community trusted him and they were very generous and they still are.”

Fiegel was a Blackraider through and through but his caring ways reached much further.

” He had all sorts of ties through the state of Iowa, college coaches, coaching clinics, locally the church. He wasn’t just a coach. He taught science and PE so he was touching every kid that came through this school,” said Croston.

“He had a knack of making people feel special. He recognized kids basically kids from besides East High Sioux City and kids all over the state,” added Persinger.

Current East head football coach Mike Winklepleck experienced that connection as a crosstown high school rival.

“To see the amount of scholarships they have given out over 20 years, not only are they scholarships for East students but all the schools… you see people from Heelan, West, North, Dakota Valley, sergent Bluff. They all come together to support what Walt Fiegel was all about,” said SC East football coach Mike Winklepleck.

“Ya know Walt Fiegel was kind of a big name around here so winning his scholarship is something look forward to. At East family is everything, “said scholarship recipient Jackson Johnson.

As the foundation looks ahead to providing it’s 200th scholarship next year… Walt Fiegel’s link to Siouxland is ever-present.

“Makes me feel proud, People involved players and community. It’s a great community,” said Persinger.

“When you think of East High you think of Walt Fiegel. It’s amazing the things he did here and the stories you hear,” added Winklepleck.

“We have parents of ours still attending. They are in their 80’s and they remember Walt and what Walt did for their kids, You see it all the time,” Croston said.