IHSA Traditions Series presented by IPPA: Coal City Water Tower


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IHSA Traditions Series presented by IPPA: Coal City Water Tower

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The Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA) is proud to present the IHSA Traditions Series throughout the 2022-23 school year. The IPPA represents Generations of Commitment to Illinoisans and is proud to highlight some of the most unique high school sports traditions that are passed down from generation to generation within IHSA school communities.

Each month during the 2022-23 school year, the IPPA Traditions Series will feature a storied school tradition and provide a unique perspective on the history and story behind it…

Coal City Water Tower

Small towns pride themselves on tradition and Coal City High School was looking for a unique and special way to celebrate the school’s IHSA Football State Championship after the Coalers completed an undefeated season in 1993 to claim the IHSA’s Class 2A crown.

The head coach of that revered title team, Ken Miller, is said to have been one of the driving forces behind what occurred next…the painting of the town’s water tower to honor the champs.

The previously white water tower in town, located at 480 N. Broadway about two miles northeast of the high school, was painted in Coaler green announcing the team’s state championship status and a new tradition was born in the process.

The water tower nearly got a second coat in 2004 when the Coalers returned to the football title game, but the school's second state championship wouldn’t come until 2010 when the Coaler softball team went 40-0 to win the Class 2A state title. Highlighting the ties that bind small towns, Brad Schmitt played on the ’93 state football team and was the head coach of the ’10 softball squad.

The tradition became a rallying cry for the 2022-23 edition of the Coaler wrestler program, as they sported shirts throughout the season that read “Paint The Tower”.

The Coal City High School wrestling program has a long and storied tradition that includes multiple individual state champions and 10 team state final trophies, but the state championship trophy had alluded the Coalers until 2023. The team made good on their motivational shirts when they bested Yorkville Christian by a single point in the Class 1A IHSA Dual Team Wrestling State Championship bout.

The city of Coal City takes care of painting the state championship team name onto the water tower, so while there is no set date on when the wrestling team will receive water tower status, those traveling on I-55 can check for yourselves this summer should they find themselves near the town of just over 5,500 people 70 miles southwest of Chicago. 


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