Iowa State senior offensive lineman Kyle Lichtenberg was introduced to Iowa State Athletics at an early age. He basically didn’t have a choice. Both of his parents went to Iowa State and excelled in athletics. His mother, Diane Doles Lichtenberg, was a two-time first-team All-Big Eight selection on the volleyball team (1980-83), and his father, Mark, was a member of the football squad (1980-82).
It wasn’t until a special trip to Ames as a youngster, however, when the Bettendorf, Iowa native fully realized his rich Cyclone heritage. On one particular day his parents brought him to Beyer Hall. Back in the day, Beyer Hall housed portraits of Iowa State’s Athletes of the Year winners from its inception in 1947. He was stunned to see two immediate family members on the wall.
“I remember my parents taking me over to Beyer when I was a kid and they showed me my mom’s Athlete of the Year photo,” Lichtenberg said. “I thought that was pretty cool, but then my mom was like, ‘well, this is also your great uncle.’ It was really neat to see two family members up there.”
The great uncle, Diane, who was ISU’s 1984 Female Athlete of the Year, was referring to was Max Burkett. Burkett was a first-team All-Big Seven back for the Cyclones in the 1950s and was honored as ISU’s Athlete of the Year in 1954. In 1968, Burkett was voted as one of ISU’s greatest football players through its first 76 years.
It’s easy to see how Lichtenberg was initiated into the Cyclone way of life throughout his childhood.
“Ever since I started playing sports at a young age, I was very aware that my mom played volleyball and my dad played football at Iowa State,” Lichtenberg said. “I was always a Cyclone.”
Lichtenberg is also aware he got his humility and competitiveness from his mom.
“She’s so humble and never talks about how good she was,” Lichtenberg said. “I would come up to her and talk about how she was one of the best volleyball players in Iowa State history and she’d say, ‘No, no I wasn’t.’ She’s a really competitive person, though. Whenever I go home she wants to play board games and a bunch of other stuff. My dad refuses to play her.”
Lichtenberg is right. His mom was pretty good. In fact, Diane Doles held virtually every volleyball school mark when she graduated in 1984. She also was a pioneer. Diane was ISU’s first superstar in volleyball when it made its transition from AIAW membership to the NCAA, helping pave the way for future success for the program. Her .285 career hitting percentage still ranks fourth in school history and she was inducted into ISU’s Letterwinners Club Athletics Hall of Fame in 2002.
Lichtenberg was there as a sixth-grader for his mom’s hall of fame induction ceremony, but he has been busy making his own mark and legacy in his time as a Cyclone. Lichtenberg started all 13 games last year and is one of three returning starters on the offensive line for the Cyclones. Though his parents weren’t shy about their allegiance to ISU, they let their son make his own decision when it came down to picking a school to play football at.
“My parents said to keep an open mind and wanted me to take visits at a place that would be the best fit for me,” Lichtenberg said. “I went to Colorado State because we were visiting my sister, Ashley, who was playing volleyball at Northern Colorado at the time. I had already committed to Iowa State and then Coach Chizik left. I ended up taking an official visit to Iowa, just to look at my options, just in case. The night I got back, Coach Rhoads called and I knew right away that I was sticking with Iowa State. I guess I was pretty biased toward Iowa State the whole time. I want to be an engineer and they have a great engineering program here. It was just hard to find a better match.”
A match spanning three generations.