ONE HUNDRED YEARS IN ONE NIGHT: Teutopolis boys basketball honors past and present with 100-year celebration

Jan. 16—TEUTOPOLIS — Derrick Zerrusen started as athletics director at Teutopolis on July 1 and, just over one month after taking the position, had a task that he knew would take up the bulk of his time.

The upcoming boys basketball season was going to be a special one for the Wooden Shoes. It was the 100th season the program had been around, so Zerrusen was planning a special night for everyone to return and needed that night to be as spectacular as possible.

And it turned out to be just that.

Fans, former players, coaches, family members of former deceased coaches and administrators flocked into J.H. Griffin Gym on Saturday night ahead of Teutopolis' game against Tuscola for the festivities.

Following the junior varsity game, Zerrusen wheeled out a table with every state trophy along with handmade carvings of the Wooden Shoe logo that were given to each of the living coaches and the families of the coaches that had passed on. Each carving had a brief message along with the coach's name and record at Teutopolis engraved in the middle.

Since the first Wooden Shoes team in 1924-1925, there have been a total of nine head coaches in the history of the program. Three coaches, including current head coach Chet Reeder, and family members of two of the deceased coaches were in attendance — each one greeted with a standing ovation amidst a sea of people.

Fourteen former and current administrators were also announced to the same greeting.

Zerrusen couldn't be happier with how the night turned out.

"Overall, I thought the night went really well," he said. "We had a ton of people there who were invited. Former coaches, representatives of the few coaches that have died already and almost all of our living admin were there. A lot of the players from those four teams we wanted to recognize were there."

The mindset Zerrusen had didn't change, no matter how long the hours or demanding the research was, either.

He wanted everyone who had a hand in building the tradition-rich program involved.

"My mindset was that everyone deserved to be a part of it," Zerrusen said. "So, then, I've got to start trying to find everyone."

That started in the middle of August.

"That was the hardest part — doing the research," Zerrusen said. "Some of these guys, who were coaches, died over 70 years ago. The hardest one, I think, was Henry Fagan. He started the basketball team and was the principal and one of two teachers on the staff at the time. He went to Xavier University of Louisiana as a chemistry professor and the information I found about him in local history was misleading at first. The year that he died and what he was doing when he died were both incorrect. I found out that he had moved on from that university and went to another one and died a little bit earlier than we thought. So, doing that kind of research on him, the (James) Berger family, the (William) Jagg family and talking to those people took awhile."

All of that hard work was nearly all for naught, too.

Teutopolis was initially scheduled to host Madison on Saturday, but the Trojans canceled, leaving a spot open.

That's where the Warriors came into play.

"We had a few solid choices and thought after last year's performances, Teutopolis versus Tuscola is probably, on paper, one of the best basketball games in the state, maybe all season," Zerrusen said. "We didn't want to pass up on that opportunity and I ran back to Coach Reeder with that and he was on board.

"I liked (Tuscola) because they're a school with a tradition, as well. I told them from the get-go, 'This is what I got going on,' and they were all about it. I talked to Coach (Justin) Bozarth when he got there and he said, 'Do you mind if I drag my varsity guys out and we sit on the bench while you do this? I want them to see it and be a part of it,' and I said, 'Absolutely.'"

Other individuals commented on the celebration, as well.


Current superintendent Matt Sturgeon said in an email to the Daily News, "As a former basketball coach within the Teutopolis region, I was well aware of the winning tradition cemented by the 1986, 2000 and 2007 teams. As a Wooden Shoe, I've witnessed the charisms of our program participants, including those of our 2023 team.

"Today's coaches, players and program representatives continue to lead by example with their commitment to the team, attitude, work ethic and desire to uphold the 'Wooden Shoe Way,' thereby positively representing themselves, their families, the district and our community."


Current principal Tanner Lawson said, "I thought Derrick did a good job putting it all together. You talk about 100 years of history and to see the state teams back and I thought it was really neat to see the four individuals whose parents were on the first team, which puts 100 years into perspective. It was a great night for a community that loves basketball and especially Shoe basketball, but what really stood out was we celebrated 100 years of basketball and we had standing ovations for Lawrence (Carie) and Ken Crawford and all the state teams, but I think it speaks a lot to our community.

"We're Shoe basketball first, but when (Jordan Quinn) scored his 1,000th point, he got his biggest standing ovation from our fans and I think that's attributed to our community."


Longtime public address announcer Rich Niebrugge read three pages worth of information to the crowd and said Saturday night was "wonderful."

"Saturday night was wonderful. It was neat to see the gym so full again and it was neat to see people from different eras," he said. "Being a kid, I grew up in T-Town, and I've been teaching at the school for 23 years and it was good to see the teams that I remember seeing as I was older, but it was also cool to see the '86 team because I was a kid when that happened. Having all the teams there at once was pretty cool."


Carie was the fifth head coach at Teutopolis and didn't take one moment of his time there for granted.

He was overjoyed with how the celebration went, especially with how the weather played out.

"The honoring of all the people that were there, the state tournament teams, all the coaches, all the administration, that was great," Carie said. "I was talking to my wife, Barb, and told her, 'No matter what, they're going to all come and support the program.'"

Carie, sitting in a wheelchair, was wheeled to the middle of the floor to one of the many standing ovations. He sported a yellow jacket and a Teutopolis beanie on his head.

Carie spent 23 years as the Wooden Shoes head coach. His career record was 443-173.

"The things that the kids did, they were willing to do it," said Carie, reminiscing on his time on the sidelines at Teutopolis. "They weren't disobedient. They wanted to play basketball and try to get better."

Carie helped guide the Wooden Shoes to eight regional championships in what was a two-class system at the time.

One of his favorite years to coach was the 1970-1971 season. He won his third regional that year and went 25-3.

"We beat Dieterich and St. Anthony and were one of the best ball clubs," Carie said. "The players we had were very coachable and did the things that I wanted them to do."


Crawford spent 26 years as head coach and finished with a career record of 612-150.

He helped lead the program to three state appearances that ended with trophies and produced the only state championship in 1985-1986. That Teutopolis team finished a perfect 33-0.

"It was certainly a great night and I can't tell you how gratifying it was to be a part of it," Crawford said. "I think the accolades need to go to the people who organized this thing.

"There had to be a ton of work that went into contacting all of the people that they contacted and to organize it in a way that they organized it; there were a lot of man hours put in, and I know I certainly appreciated and I think the other coaches and the fans appreciated it, too."

Crawford also enjoyed seeing some of his former players who have since moved on to other states.

"I saw some guys who I hadn't seen in many years and some of them traveled a great distance. You have a really special bond and sometimes, from the player's side, it can be a love-hate relationship, but it's a pretty special bond."

From 1958 to 2007, Teutopolis had two coaches: Carie and Crawford.

Crawford discussed what his predecessor meant to him.

"When I came into this program, the program had been in great hands. My initial goal was to keep this tradition going," Crawford said. "(Carie) was the athletic director and helped me a great deal. He was a big influence on me and a great person."

Both Carie and Crawford are inductees into the Basketball Museum of Illinois. Carie was inducted in 1988; Crawford in 1998.

Crawford said that he and Teutopolis were just a "good match" for one another.

"I don't think any coach is going to succeed unless he has good players who are willing to buy into the program and willing to work and that was certainly the thing here. The kids bought into the program; they worked and their parents expected them to work and certainly during my coaching tenure, I can tell you that I've always felt that if I had not worked those kids hard," Crawford said. "I don't think those people would have wanted me to be around here.

"It was a good match."

To Crawford, it wasn't just the stat-stuffers that made an impact on his career, though; it was everyone who was on the bench in general, too.

"A lot of players get a lot of ink and a lot of scorers get a lot of ink in the paper, but sometimes, the most valuable kids on your team are the kids that send at the end of the bench and don't get to play very much, but he's there every night making everybody else better and there were a lot of faces I saw in that crowd that night that fit that bill."


Reeder has been the head coach for the last six years, replacing Jason Hanson, who coached from 2015 to 2018.

He has won 133 games so far in his tenure.

"I'm so blessed to be a part of this," Reeder said. "I had goosebumps all day. I barely slept last night. It was a cool experience and I'm honored to be a part of it."

Like Carie, Reeder also wasn't surprised to see the outpouring of support.

"It wasn't surprising at all," Reeder said. "Our community shows up in a big way all the time, and I wasn't expecting anything different for our 100-year celebration. A lot of people have put a lot of time into this program, not just players. It meant a lot to see that many people pack our gym."

Reeder helped lead Teutopolis to its fourth state appearance this past season. His team went 29-8 and finished third in the Class 2A State Final Tournament.

Contact EDN Sports Editor Alex Wallner at 618-510-9231 or