By Mike Hoffman
**Originally published in Nov. 2 football game program against Samford**
Of all the traditions that make a Citadel education unique, one of the most enduring is that of legacies. The history of the college is rich with shared experiences among family members, sometimes across several generations.
Cadet-student-athletes are a big part of that legacy, and the history and record books are full of family members who have succeeded in competition, in the classroom and in their lives following their four years at The Citadel.
There are way too many to name here, but a few immediately come to mind. Lee Glaze was a football and baseball star and the 1986 Southern Conference Athlete of the year while brother Gettys starred on the 1990 College World Series team and was the 1992 conference pitcher of the year.
Cousins Pat and Ed Conroy were among the best basketball players of their respective eras, with Pat going on to become a world-renowned author and Ed a college coach, including a 20-win season with the Bulldogs in 2008-09.
Fred Jordan is the winningest baseball coach in SoCon history with 746 and son Kyle was a four-year starting shortstop from 2007-10. With the arrival of women’s sports, brother-sister combos became the newest legacy, particularly in cross country and track and field, with Carol and Rich Hamlin and Katheryn and John Gatewood being prime examples.
Here are three stories of current cadet-student-athletes who are continuing The Citadel legacy in their own families.
Following Big Brother
Kevin Thornton, a junior from Fayetteville, N.C., is a member of the football team. He originally enrolled at Lenoir-Rhyne before older brother Tyler, an offensive lineman for the Bulldogs from 2007-11, convinced him that The Citadel would be a fitter fit for him. Tyler is now serving in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan.
“Tyler was absolutely a big influence on me. He is not only a big brother but also a role model. He told me this was a hard lifestyle, but it’s what he wanted. It teaches you how to grow up and be a man. We have the same core values and like what this place does.
“We learned about discipline from our dad and his experience in the Army. Because we lived in it for so long, the idea of the military didn’t shock us so much. Tyler was on an ROTC scholarship, and I’m pursuing an Army contract now. Growing up in a military family has shaped us in what we wanted in our lives and led us to where we are now.
“Tyler is following our season very closely, but when we talk he just wants to hear about me, about things back home and how the dogs are doing. He’s always been a big supporter of mine.”
Family That Goes Way Back
Bret Hines, a sophomore third baseball on the baseball team from Hanahan, S.C., is the latest in a long line of Citadel men. His grandfather, Tom Etheridge, graduated in 1961 while father Lee was a pitcher before graduating in 1985. More recently, brothers Bryce and Ryan (Class of 2013) were also pitchers for the Bulldogs.
“As soon as Bryce and Ryan committed to come to The Citadel, it was an obvious decision to follow not only their footsteps but also my dad and granddad. It seemed like the right thing to do. We all wanted to come here and play.
“Our dad and granddad never really pushed it on us. Ryan went to Newberry but decided that the better move for him would be to come to The Citadel. (Associate head coach David Beckley) then offered Bryce, and he knew that’s what he wanted to do. I wanted to be like them.
“Honestly, I didn’t like (The Citadel) while growing up. I didn’t want to be in the military, and I didn’t want to follow my dad; I wanted to do my own thing. But as I got older and saw what they do here and I heard some of Ryan’s funny stories, it kinda grew on me. It also helped having my brothers here to help show me the way.”
Blue Thru and Thru
Elliott Sperr is in his fourth season as a member of the tennis team and is expected to play high up in the Bulldog lineup this spring. A native of Charleston and graduate of Porter Gaud, Sperr had a strong Citadel influence growing up. Although his father, Pete (Class of 1981) was not an athlete, his pride in his alma mater runs deep.
“The Citadel was an everyday thing in our house. We have a room where the only pictures are Citadel pictures. We have portraits of a football helmet and Spike. Dad is always wearing Citadel stuff. I grew up going to football, basketball and baseball games. I have always had The Citadel as part of my life.
“It was a foregone conclusion that I was going to school here. My dad said you can go wherever you want, but the check is going to The Citadel. So you make your decision. It was a smooth transition for me because I didn’t have to go to another town. I was able to stay here and be close to my family.
“Playing tennis here has been an awesome experience. My father comes to all our matches. The happiest I ever saw him was at my first home match. He thought it was the coolest thing that I was playing and representing the school he went to.”