All in the family
Tom, Darrin and Casey Fletcher are far from the only multi-generation family members to make their mark in University of Illinois sports history. Here are other notable examples of Illini athletes who kept it all in the family
Bill and Doug Altenberger
Bill started as a sophomore guard on the 1954-55 Illini basketball team and lettered all three of his varsity seasons. Son Doug was a sharp-shooting guard who lettered four times (1983-87). Doug ranks among the top 25 in UI career points and remains the program’s leader in career three-point shooting percentage (47.2).
Ted and Becky Beach
After helping Champaign High win one state title and finish second twice, Beach rejoined his high school coach, Harry Combes, at the UI. There, Beach earned two letters (1950-51) and was a key member of the 1951 Final Four Illini as an honorable-mention All-American. His daughter, Becky, took her shots on the golf course, lettering from 1976-78 and winning Big Ten medalist honors in 1976.
Terry and Bill Cole
Another father-son two-sport Illini tandem. Terry earned four letters in football and started 20 games at defensive end from 1980 to ’83. In his final season, the Peoria native helped Illinois reach the Rose Bowl. Bill lettered four seasons in basketball (2008-11), the forward serving as a team captain as a junior and senior.
George and Pat Donnelly
This father-son duo each earned three football letters as defensive backs. In the 1964 Rose Bowl, George made two interceptions and a touchdown-saving tackle on a kickoff return to help Illinois defeat Washington 17-7. Pat, who lettered from 1988 to ’90, went to three bowls and played on a Big Ten co-champion in 1990.
Bruce and Bryce Douglas
Two generations. Two sports. Bruce finished his basketball career in 1986 as the Big Ten’s all-time leader in assists and steals. The Quincy native remains No. 1 in steals and currently ranks second in assists. His son, Bryce, is an incoming freshman defensive lineman from Plainfield Central High.
Ralph, Rod and Pete Fletcher
Ralph Fletcher was a three-year letter winner in football (1918-20) who coached at his alma mater for more than two decades. A football assistant from 1942 to ’63, Ralph contributed in basketball, too, earning a letter in 1919 and serving as an assistant coach in 1943. Ralph also coached his two sons in golf, Rod and Pete each lettering in 1950, during 23 years at the helm of that Illini program. Rod, of course, made his biggest impact in basketball. The Champaign High graduate helped Illinois to back-to-back Final Four appearances (1951 and ’52) and was a consensus first-team All-American as a senior.
Phil and Rob Judson
Phil and twin brother Paul were already a part of state basketball lore by the time they joined the Illini, having led tiny Hebron High School to the 1952 IHSA championship. Phil twice lettered for the Illini (1955-56), then saw son Rob follow him to the UI to play the sport. A four-year letter winner (1977-80), Rob set a program record for career free throw percentage (.875) that still stands. He later returned to his alma mater to serve as an assistant coach from 1996 to 2001.
Ray and Janice Kimpel
Golf was the sport of choice in this family. Ray lettered from 1948 to ’50, and his wife, Betsy, coached their daughter at the UI. Janice also was a three-year letter winner (1975-77) and qualified for the AIAW national tournament in 1977.
Bill and Kyle Kleckner
This father-son football duo each played safety and each earned three letters. Bill lettered from 1972 to ’74 and Kyle from 2003 to ’05. Kyle started four games as a senior.
Don and Doug Laz
The Laz name is synonymous with the pole vault. Don won a silver medal at the 1952 Olympics by clearing 14 feet, 9 1/4 inches, finishing behind fellow former Illini Bob Richards. One year earlier, Don captured the NCAA outdoor title with a vault of 14-9 3/4. Son Doug Laz concluded his Illini career in 1977 as the school record-holder in the outdoor vault, having twice reached 17-4 1/2, and he remains among the UI’s all-time leaders. Doug was a two-time place-winner in the NCAA Outdoor Championships, finishing sixth in 1976 and fourth in 1977. Between them, the Lazes won a total of eight Big Ten indoor and outdoor pole vault titles.
Terry and Ella Masar
Terry was kept plenty busy as a punter during three letter-winning seasons in football (1969-71). In 1971, he launched 85 punts, still a UI single-season record. With 198 career punts, he ranks sixth on the all-time school charts. The Illini could count on him to be consistent, Masar producing single-season averages from 38.2 yards to 38.8. His contributions as a punter and halfback in 1971 earned Masar team MVP honors. Daughter Ella also left an imprint with her foot, scoring 27 career goals and 74 career points in soccer from 2004 to ’07. Each ranks among the top six in program history. The Urbana native’s 13 career game-winning goals are third-most by an Illini, but Masar was far more than a scorer. She racked up 20 career assists, No. 2 in UI annals.
Mason and Matt Minnes
Offensive guard Mason lettered in football from 1970 to ’72. Among his teammates were longtime NFL offensive linemen Larry McCarren and Doug Dieken. Son Matt lettered as a punter from 2002 to ’04, joining with current New York Giants punter Steve Weatherford in that role.
Bob, Tim and Jake Norman
Bob set the bar high for this three-generation Illini family, winning NCAA titles in wrestling in 1957 and ’58 as a heavyweight. He was a Big Ten titlist those same years. Son Tim played an equally physical sport, moving football defenders out of the way while earning three letters (1977, ’78, ‘80) as an offensive tackle. Tim’s son, Jake, followed his grandfather’s lead, lettering four times (2007-10) in wrestling.
Bill, Mike and Andy Small
A two-generation, multi-sport Illini family. Bill excelled in basketball, earning All-America honorable-mention honors in 1963 with a Big Ten co-championship team. The guard/forward also was an All-Big Ten honoree in 1962 and ’63. Son Mike was a four-year letter winner in golf (1985-88), finishing as the Big Ten individual runner-up for a conference title team as a senior. The 1988 first-team All-Big Ten selection competed professionally before returning to his alma mater in 2000 to coach, and he has built a national power. Mike’s 2012-13 Illini won a fifth straight Big Ten title, an NCAA regional crown and finished second in the NCAA Championships. His brother Andy’s game was baseball, the shortstop lettering from 1989 to ’92 and helping the Illini to two Big Ten tournament titles and two NCAA tournament appearances. Besides excelling in the field, Andy stood his ground in the batter’s box, racking up 44 hit by pitches — still No. 1 on the all-time school list.
Bob, John Sr. and John Jr. Wright
The Wrights are the only three-generation family in Illini football history. Bob lettered in 1935 as an end, although he’s best remembered as the coach of the UI men’s track and field team from 1965 to ’74. Bob was inducted into the Illinois Track and Cross-Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1982. His son, John Sr., concluded his career in 1967 as the program leader in career receptions and reception yardage, and remains among the top six in both categories. John Jr. also was a wide receiver, lettering from 1990 to ’92 and leading Illinois in receptions in 1992.
Kenneth and Ken Jr. Zimmerman
Kenneth was an end and halfback who lettered from 1936 to ’38 for legendary Illini football coach Bob Zuppke. Ken Jr. lettered as a halfback in 1961 and ’62, earning team MVP honors the latter year. He also lettered in fencing and was a member of Max Garret’s 1962 Big Ten championship team.