Teachers, coaches say Ventura’s style is still the same

Aubrey Fisher

Fingering through the pages of the 1969 Roosevelt High School yearbook, school faculty admit time has done little to change the new governor.
Though three decades have passed since Jesse Ventura, then known as James George Janos, roamed the halls of the Minneapolis high school, the biggest change may be his name.
Former teachers and coaches said Ventura’s honesty and devotion have withstood time, as has his award for best physique.
Patrick Feely, who was Ventura’s football coach and psychology teacher, remembers him as average in both the classroom and football field.
“I think the average person elected him because they made the connection between themselves and Ventura as an average person,” Feely said.
He said Ventura struggled at football. Ventura needed more strength to play the defensive end position he wanted to play, but eventually played on the varsity team his senior year, Feely said.
“I think he enjoyed football a lot and got better as he played. He wanted to learn about the sport,” Feely said, adding that he believes Ventura will take the same approach as governor.
Feely’s wife, Susan, got to know Ventura through planning the school’s pep rallies.
“This sounds silly, but I honestly don’t remember any bad qualities about Jesse,” she said. “He was not the type of student to have problems with others.”
While she said he was not as outspoken as he is today, Susan Feely said, “He didn’t need your blessing or approval to do something.”
Besides playing football, Ventura was also on the swim and track teams, as well as being involved with an organization that encouraged high school students to be members of the local YMCA.
As captain, Ventura was the only state-qualifying swimmer on the team his senior year, said John Sylvester, a recently retired teacher at Roosevelt.
“To be both a swimmer and a football player, he had to be devoted,” said Jack Osberg, one of Ventura’s former football coaches.
Many people from Ventura’s past have faith in his ability to govern.
“I expect him to do a great job,” Osberg said. “I really believe him. He is an honest man and I’m excited to see what he’ll do.”