Jerry ‘Champion’ Fajkus (1924-2017)

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    Jaromir (Jerry) Fajkus was born in Czechoslovakia in a time of great political upheaval, Jerry Fajkus grew up playing soccer and later continued playing while serving in the Czech Army.  After being released from the Army he went to Germany in 1948 fleeing the Communist regime.  He played soccer in the amateur league in Germany where he honed his skills as a left defense player, a position he would play all his life.  It was in Bad Kreuznach, Germany where he met a young lady (Elizabeth) who later would become his wife of 60 years. 

    He had many friends in the United States particularly in Chicago and so in 1956 he came to the US and upon arriving in the Windy City he immediately started to play soccer first for Slovak AA and then later for Sparta A&BA.  Soccer being such an important part of his life it provided Jerry with many opportunities for involvement.  And he did get involved in just about every capacity which one can imagine, particularly with Sparta with whom he has been affiliated for over 45 years: he has been a  Player, Field Manager, Laundry Manager, Referee, Trainer, Secretary, Treasurer, Vice-President and President.  In 1968 with the help of Laddie Gajda (another Sparta legend) they formed the Small Fry Soccer League in Cicero and Berwyn.  The league remained independent for eight years before being relinquished to the Clyde Park District to administer.  He also contributed beyond the club level serving as Secretary of the ISSA for two years as well as referee assignor for the National Soccer League for three seasons.  He was also a board member of the Metropolitan Soccer League when it was created in 1981.

    Jerry and his wife Elizabeth had two sons, and he provided support for the training needs of his children from Elementary School until College.  He coached the under twelve, under fourteen, under sixteen and first team of Sparta between 1969 and 1983.  His effort did pay off. 

    His older son Charlie was a high school All-American both his junior and senior years at Wheaton Central High School.  He then went on to Indiana University leading them to being NCAA National Runner-Ups twice (1976, 1978).   Charlie then was drafted by the Chicago Sting of the North American Soccer League in 1979 eventually being inducted into the Illinois Soccer Hall of Fame in 1992, as he played for the 1981 Sting, the Soccer Bowl Champions of the NASL.  Charlie later played professionally with the Golden Bay Earthquakes and Kansas City Comets before returning for the Chicago Sting’s final season in 1988.  Charlie also earned four caps for the US Men’s National Team.

    His younger son Willie played with Sparta from 1969-1993, starting at age 7 (with the U12’s).  Willie played collegiately at both College of DuPage and Illinois Benedictine College but had more success coaching.  Willie won IYSA State Cup Championships with Sparta U19 boys as well as the U14 and U16 girls.  Since 1997 he has coached at College of DuPage and still does so being involved in both the men’s and women’s intercollegiate programs.  Even into his 90’s Jerry would attend most of DuPage’s home matches and provided free commentary for the fans, whether or not they asked.

    In 1973 he started both an indoor and outdoor soccer program for the Wheaton Park District.  After starting Wheaton’s Park District program in the following years started the soccer programs for Naperville and the Tri-Cities (Geneva, Batavia, St. Charles). Despite the massive time commitment he never took a salary for any of his work for the Park District or elsewhere.  He remained director of the Wheaton Park District soccer program for nearly ten years.  In that short period of time Wheaton’s program grew to over 400 youth players.  He always referred to the boys he coached as ‘Champion’ and the girls he would call ‘Suzy.”   Because of this he was nicknamed by others as Champion.

    On January 31st 2015, shortly after his 90th birthday, the Wheaton Park District honored him by naming their indoor soccer field in his honor.  Jerry ‘Champion’ Fajkus Field is located at the Central Athletic Center in downtown Wheaton. 

    Jerry passed away on November 14th 2017 at the age of 93.  A Jerry Fajkus scholarship fund has been created at College of DuPage as well as at gofundme.com – the family asked for donations to these funds in lieu of flowers.

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