Happy Birthday, Coach Winckler

Happy Birthday, Coach Winckler

Lavere "Liz" Astroth

Seventy-two years ago today, Illinois’ Lavere “Liz” Astroth went 4-for-5 in an Illini baseball season-opening victory at LSU. A two-sport letter winner, Astroth lettered in 1939, ‘40 and ’42 for Coach Wally Roettger’s Illini “9” and in 1939,  ’40 and ’41 for Bob Zuppke’s football squad. He twice played in the College All-Star Football game. Two of Astroth’s Illini teammates included future Major League Baseball star Walter “Hoot” Evers and football great Alex Agase. Born Feb. 23, 1921, in Alton, Astroth graduated from East Alton-Wood River in 1938 and served in World War II. Astroth began his coaching career at Hoopeston High in 1946, moved to Urbana in 1951 and then to Glenbard West in 1953. He became Glenbard East’s first athletic director in 1958. From 1967 until his retirement in 1991, Astroth was a chief administrator for the IHSA, including his last 13 years as Executive Director. He oversaw the addition of state finals in 12 girls’ sports and was involved in expansion to multiple classes in basketball, which then spread to other sports. Astroth also helped establish the football playoffs and organized the IHSA’s first TV network. He died Jan. 23, 2011, in Kansas City, Mo., at the age of 89.

Illini Birthdays
Today: David Edwards, football (51)
Monday: Jenna Carosio, soccer (23)
Tuesday:  Gary Winckler, track coach (61)
Wednesday: Rick George, football (53)
Thursday:  Ken Gillen, football (53)
Friday: Morris Virgil, football (30)
Saturday: Brian Schullian, baseball (40)

By Mike Pearson, author of Illini Legends, Lists & Lore and assistant athletic director at Miami (Ohio)

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