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In a spinoff of our 'UI 150 & Beyond' project, we asked 10 former Illini coaches now living elsewhere to tell us about the first spot (other than a sports facility) or story that comes to mind when they think back to their C-U days.


HAMBLY (2009-16)

Six NCAA volleyball tournament invites at Illinois, won national title in Year 2 at Stanford

"I love watching live music. One of my favorite places to visit and listen to live music was The Canopy Club. I loved catching Trampled by Turtles, Joe Pug and especially Andrew Bird there.

"One time, I was with my brothers-in-law and we just finished a concert on a Saturday night after midnight. This was before Uber. We called a taxi and waited for 30 minutes for a taxi that never came. So we went to find one.

"The only place where there was activity was on Green Street — on campus. So we are walking down Green Street at about 1 a.m. and all I am thinking is: Please, don't get recognized by anyone.

"Of course, three college students run up and want to get their picture taken with me. I was horrified, worried about this being posted somewhere on social, and my boss firing me on Monday morning.

"We ended up hiding in a fast food place on Green, almost laying down peering into the street with just the top of our heads showing, looking for a taxi to chase down Green Street and get home.

"We were there until around 2 a.m. When we finally found a taxi, we literally sprinted down the street to catch it. Finally home. Thank goodness for Lyft and Uber."


F (2000-03)

35 Big Ten wins, three NCAA tournament berths in three years before leaving for Kansas

"In Champaign, the place I probably enjoyed the most, other than my home and my workplace, was Tumble Inn.

"It's still there and it's probably still a cash cow. I loved tumbling in and I very rarely stumbled out, but it is a great place."


FERRO (1999-2001)

Led women's soccer to its first two NCAA tourney appearances before leaving for Miami

"Aunt Sonya's, no question. It was (former coach) Jill (Ellis') and my soccer satellite office.

"My order: a waffle with powdered sugar — and a pen please, for our training plan."


NER (1997-2004)

Good times ('01 Sugar Bowl), bad times (0-11 in '97) as football coach

"During the season, Fridays were the only day I was home in the morning so I would drive our girls, Cally and Madi, to school at Westview Elementary.

"I would let them out and as they were walking into the building I would yell out 'Girls' — and they just kept walking and I kept yelling it until they would turn around and acknowledge me, usually after three or four times.

"Everyone else looked and laughed but our girls weren't amused. They were a little embarrassed. Nancy Bridges, who worked in the office, told us later that they would watch from the office laughing. Our girls laugh about it now. It's funny what kids remember.

"Another memory: In 1999, we were preparing to play Michigan, which was ranked ninth in the country. Michigan was favored by 24½ points.

"Our kids had been begging for a four-wheeler and I told them if we beat Michigan, I would buy them one.

"(Wife) Wendy gave me the evil eye and even though I believed we could win the game, I told her I think we're OK. We were 0-3 in the Big Ten at the time.

"Well, we came back from a 27-7 deficit midway through the third quarter and the kids got their four-wheeler the next week. We still have it.

"This was the same game that Chancellor (Michael) Aiken was late to our team bus to the game and I told (then-Associate AD) Dana Brenner: 'Leave him.' After the game, Dana said: 'It's a good thing you won.'"


AMS (1986-92)

Craig Tiley's predecessor more successful as an Illini tennis player (three-time team MVP) than coach (70-85 record)

"My most impactful memory of U of I was actually on my recruiting trip in March of 1979.

"I saw the Quad for the first time and thought to myself, 'This is what a college looks like.' I signed the next day.

"Later, as a college student, I also drove through the Quad in the snow to impress a girl.

"It didn't."


N (2000-15)

2010 Big Ten coach of the year launched softball at Illinois, going 488-369-2 in 16 seasons

"I had a ton of fun with a wide range of people out at Stone Creek in Urbana, developed by our great friends from The Atkins Group: family, staff, teams, players, colleagues and friends.

"Some of our biggest recruits — Jenna Hall, Danielle Zymkowitz, Meredith Hackett, Pepper Gay — committed to us after a great dinner at what was then Kennedy's.

"As a huge fan of Christmas, (husband) Shawn and (kids) Macy, Courtney, Ashley and I would have the team over to our house at Stone Creek, where we would play vicious games of spoons and players would show off their acting skills with skits they wrote and directed.

"My staff, led by Donna DiBiase, loved to run from campus down the beautiful tree-lined streets of C-U like Pennsylvania to my house for a summer staff retreat at the golf course. Our super supportive family would come from Chicago to visit and after Mass at St. Pat's and breakfast at Courier Café, they loved walking around our neighborhood, or sledding down some hills.

"The people sure made the place and everyone should spend some time out at Stone Creek."


KOVIC (1988-91)

4 football bowl trips in 4 years before leaving for Texas

"One place I frequented many days for lunch or dinner was Timpone's restaurant, where we always took special guests and visitors.

"I would simply say, 'Fix dinner for me,' and the rest was history.

"One favorite game we played was when Ray (Timpone) would decant a wine and have me guess what it was. He got a good laugh because I usually got it wrong.

"I hope to visit again."


LER (1985-2008)

11 Big Ten women's track team titles, 11 Big Ten coach of the year awards, 13 Olympians

"I didn't go out too much when I was there as the job was pretty much year-round busy.

"The one place I did try to go to for lunch every couple of weeks was the Fiesta Cafe."



Only women's swimming coach in program history with a winning record (59-37)

"Is there a better example of Americana than sitting outside eating a frozen dessert on a summer night? I loved Custard Cup, especially the turtle sundae.

"I think I had a reaction to the custard — maybe early issue with gluten — because on the way home, I would always start sneezing.

"But it was worth it, no doubt."



North Texas' winningest women's tennis coach took five Illini teams to NCAAs in nine years

"Both my kids — Priya, 19, and Siddhartha, 14 — were born in Carle Hospital. I remember vividly the Lamaze classes — we met Bob and Julie Asmussen there — and having a good laugh learning to change diapers and to deal with our wives' contractions.

"Above all, we will never forget the wonderful Midwest hospitality and care we received from the doctors and nurses at Carle. We are forever thankful for their help in delivering two healthy and happy babies."