Documenting father-son relationships in athletics is a topic the media has reported on since sports became popular in the early 20th century. The fascination in how competitors have been handed down their athletic genes and learned from their fathers always makes interesting conversation.
Mother-son athletic relationships, however, hasn’t been as well documented. For many years, this just wasn’t possible because women weren’t afforded the same opportunities in athletics as men. In 1972, Title IX was introduced, and this all began to change.
Title IX was an educational amendment passed in 1972 which stated, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”
Its passing has been instrumental in the incredible popularization of women’s athletics which we see today. And because of it, more and more college athletes are having the benefit of their mothers as role models in athletics to look up to, including members of the Iowa State football team.
Kyle Lichtenberg, David Irving and Jake Rhoads are just a few of the Cyclone gridders who can attest to this. All three were brought up in families with mothers who competed in college sports, and all of them received valuable lessons from their athletic moms.
Lichtenberg’s mom, Diane Doles Lichtenberg, was, and still is, considered one of the greatest volleyball players in Iowa State history. The 1984 Iowa State Female Athlete of the Year and member of the 2002 ISU Letterwinners Hall of Fame Class, Diane still ranks fourth all-time in career hitting percentage in Cyclone history (.285).
Lichtenberg, a senior, and a returning starter on the offensive line for the Cyclones, noted how humble and competitive his mom is.
“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.”
Irving, a 6-7 junior defensive tackle, can also thank his mom for giving him the competitive bug. Irving’s mom, Kim Thompson, played basketball at California from 1985-87.
She was a huge influence in Irving’s athletic career.
“I pretty much learned everything from her, the mental and physical side of sports,” Irving said. “She first taught me baseball then I moved on to basketball. She always coached as much as she could from the sideline. If it wasn’t for her, I probably would have been staying at home and playing video games. She then wanted me to focus on one sport, so I picked football. We didn’t have much money for college, so it was a goal to earn a scholarship.”
Rhoads, a freshman on the Cyclone football team, grew up in an extremely athletic family. Obviously, we are familiar with his father, Paul, the head coach of the Iowa State football team. Paul was a star football player at Missouri Western from 1985-89. Paul met his wife and Jake’s mom, Vickie, at Missouri Western, where she was also an athlete.
Vickie played basketball at Missouri Western (1987-91), and Jake learned just as many lessons in athletics from his mother as he did from his father.
“I think most of me and my brother’s athleticism comes from my mom, and my dad will admit to that,” Jake said. “With my dad being really busy with his job, she was the one that took us to practices and all of that. She was very helpful in helping us enjoy sports.”
And you can thank Title IX for that.