Eta Mu Chapter of Sigma Chi at Eastern Illinois - Work Hard, Play Hard

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Jeff Fifield ’76 Still Practicing, Playing Tennis, and Lovin’ Sigma Chi

Work Hard, Play Hard

Having his own dentistry practice, Jeff Fifield ’76 spends a lot of time at the office. But when he’s not working, you can find him on the tennis court, much like his days at EIU (when he had a scholarship for the sport). But there was one other place at EIU that held a special place in his heart—the Sigma Chi Chapter House.

Jeff was first introduce to Sigma Chi by Craig Freels ’74, a member of the fraternity and one of the top players on the tennis team.

“I was impressed with the fraternity and quickly became friends with many Sigs,” Jeff explains. “Bruce Hunt ’73 and Kevin Sullivan ’74 were guys that had great influence on me as a young freshman—mostly good. When I pledged, Craig was my big brother... still is!”

Having formed such great relationships, Jeff moved into the house his sophomore year and gained a great group of guys as housemates.

“It didn't matter the time of day, you could always find someone to go do something,” he explains. “You have to live in the chapter house at some time during your college career to get the full feel of the fraternity.”

Come junior year, Jeff decided to live off campus, but that didn’t stop him from engaging with the fraternity as much as anyone else.

“I roomed with Jeff Arnold ’75, Kevin Sullivan, and Mark Lobmier ’75,” Jeff says. “Our apartment was an unofficial social annex to the fraternity house. Periodically, we would have running prank battles with the guys in the house.”

Later on, Jeff's brother, Phil Fifield '81, became a Sig at EIU and served as consul for a period of time.

"Craig Freels and I influenced enough tennis players that five out of the top seven players where Sigma Chi," he adds.

Today, Jeff is grateful to Eta Mu for the many memories and lasting friendships.

“I have kept in touch with many of my brothers,” he explains, “but my little brother, Doug Oberle ’77, and I have remained best of friends—next to my wife. About once a year, we go on vacation together. This year, we went to Grand Cayman. In November, we are going to stay with Doug for four days while my son, Sean, and I play in the National Father & Son Senior Clay Court Tennis Championships in Sarasota, FL.”

Turns out, Sigma Chi even had a hand in Jeff’s marriage. It was none other than his big brother, Craig Freels, who introduced Jeff to his future wife, Vickie, during their years at EIU. Now, they’ve been married for 40 years and have two sons and two great grandchildren. They moved to Austin, TX about 20 years ago.

“After graduation from Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine, I moved back to my home town of Galesburg, IL and practiced there for 19 years,” Jeff explains. “Then, my wife convinced me that I didn't need to shovel snow anymore. So we moved to Austin, were I have practiced dentistry for the last 20 years.”

It should not come as a surprise to the guys who know Jeff that he’s still taking every opportunity he can to play tennis. Though the responsibility of having his own practice limits the number of tennis tournaments he’s able to participate in, he manages to make it to a few.

“In 2014, I played enough tournaments to get ranked #2 in Texas in the men’s 60 &over singles division,” he says, proudly. “Sean and I were ranked #2 USTA national ranking in the Father & Son Senior doubles division.”

So there you have it. Jeff seems to have nailed down the “work hard, play hard” motto. He even donates some of that hard-earned money back to Eta Mu in the hopes of giving the next generation the opportunities for which he is so grateful.

“The lifetime friendships you make with your fraternity brothers really are priceless,” he says.

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