Vergil Fletcher built Collinsville basketball and shaped the lives of hundreds of athletes in his 32 years at Collinsville High School.
The respect Mr. Fletcher, who died in 2009 at age 93, gained in the community extended beyond naming the high school gym, and the street that runs in front of it, after him. He is still revered as a great coach and a great man. The mere mention of his name draws reverence in this basketball town.
Evidence of this reverence was on display recently, when the Collinsville High School boys basketball team – all born about 20 years after Mr. Fletcher coached his last basketball game – volunteered to help Mr. Fletcher’s widow, Violet, move out of her house when it sold unexpectedly while she was in South Carolina visiting a daughter.
When the house sold, the Fletcher children, all of whom live out-of-state, contacted Jane and Jerry Soehlke to see if they could find help on short notice. When the request reached CHS Boys Head Basketball Coach Darin Lee, the Fletchers had found their help.
The entire team left after practice on Dec. 31 to meet the Fletcher’s daughter Marci Yates. The players moved the large items out of the house and into a temporary storage unit, Lee said.
The experience, Lee hoped, would be good for the players and the Fletcher family. “It gave the players a little sense of history,” Lee said. “Hopefully it gave the Fletchers a little sense of full circle to have the Kahoks basketball team there.”
Sara Soehlke Doherty, Jane and Jerry’s daughter, and the person who passed the request to Lee, said the Fletcher family is very grateful for the team’s help and very impressed with their willingness to help the old coach.
Out of gratitude, Yates gave Lee several of Mr. Fletcher’s books and old photographs to keep in his office.