Monticello is where Art Sievers lives. He was born and raised there.
“And never left,” he says proudly.
Don’t buy it.
Sievers has left a lot … mostly to drive to Normal. His address may be Monticello, but Redbird Arena and Hancock Stadium are home as well. Before that it was Horton Field House.
Since arriving at Illinois State University as a freshman in 1966, Sievers has worked on the stat crew and for the media relations staff at ISU home football and men’s basketball games.
He missed one football season. Otherwise, he’s been at every home game in both sports for the past 50 years. Only Reggie Redbird has seen more ISU games than Sievers, a 67-year-old bachelor whose pay has been in game tickets he doesn’t need/use.
A longtime consultant in facilities and services for the Monticello school district — “They pay me basically to be the facilities manager,” he said — Sievers doesn’t make the Monticello to Normal round trip blindfolded. That would be showing off.
Just know he is familiar with every inch.
“It’s an hour (each way) on a good day,” he said. “It’s 51-and-a-half miles from the back parking lot at Horton to my driveway.”
That’s thousands of miles and gallons of unleaded for an alum with a bachelor's in social science and master's in education administration. It’s a lot of cars, too.
Sievers isn’t sure how many he’s gone through, but ...
"I always buy a big one,” he said. “I want the deer to be in worse shape than I am after the collision.”
ISU has 41 men’s basketball players who have scored 1,000 or more points. Sievers has been at court side or in the press box for the careers of 34 of them. Similarly, the top five rushers, passers and receivers in ISU football history have amassed their totals with Sievers in the house.
For us media dregs, Sievers has long been a friendly face and guiding hand. He anticipates our every need and can field most any question. If he doesn’t have the answer, he knows who will.
We need all the help we can get. Having Sievers on our side is a gift from above.
The best part? His presence is not limited to ISU events.
Sievers also has helped with Illinois High School Association state final events since the early 1970s. He is a regular at state volleyball and basketball (boys and girls). He also has worked state wrestling, state football and was an official at the state track meet for 35 years.
“When I got to be 65, I thought standing out in the hot sun all afternoon (at state track) was not a good idea,” Sievers said. “So I got myself moved in and running a computer where the air conditioning is.”
Again, good plan.
Sievers is all about planning, right down to his wardrobe. Despite being colorblind, his ever-present shirt, tie and suit always seem to match.
“Coded numbers,” he said.
Sievers’ willingness to serve has led to induction into four Halls of Fame. His dedication and selflessness are unique.
“It’s been a good life for me,” he said. “I’m not ready to give everything up. As long as my health holds, I’m more than willing to continue.”
That’s a win for Monticello, ISU, the IHSA … for everyone, really.