BELOIT—Say the name Corleone and, in the movies anyway, you immediately think of a family preoccupied with selling olive oil and being the No. 1 crime family in America.
Say the Roosevelts, the Kennedys or the Bushes and you think families of politicians. If you’re being nice, anyway.
In Beloit, we have quite a few family names which are synonymous with success in local sports.
The idea of compiling a list of the very top names comes from reader Josh Pearson, who responded with not only a thank-you for having selected him to my list of top Beloit Memorial football players I saw play (since 1980), but also a challenge.
“The article made me think of something we used to talk about when I was in school,” Pearson said. “We would debate what we called power sports families. We never debated who was the best family, only who we thought could be considered for the list. This obviously covered generations and included whole families from grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and down to grandkids in some cases.
“A few example names were the Weavers and Listenbees. In some family members you saw greatness and in other family members it might be they were good players that were key members of teams they played on.”
I’ll take that challenge, but I am going to ask readers to help me out with the homework assignment. Even some of the families I think I’m fairly well acquainted with I’m not certain how far the family tree really extends.
For example, take the name Hanaman. There are three in the Beloit Historical Society Elliott-Perring Sports Hall of Fame: Ethan, Steve and Justin, or “Ace” to anyone who follows hockey.
Steve Hanaman actually was inducted first, in 2001. He ranks as one of Beloit’s more versatile athletes, competing in football, basketball, baseball, hockey and speedskating. He’s best known for his exploits on the football field, leading the Big Eight in scoring in 1965 when John Heineke’s Beloit Memorial team went 6-0-1. As a senior, he led it again, earning Player of the Year honors in the league. He scored 92 points that season, which at the time ranked No. 2 behind Jack Gilmore’s 99 in 1937. Hanaman finished with 1,641 yards rushing, then went on to lead the WSUC in scoring in 1970 for UW-Whitewater.
Steve’s father, Ethan, was inducted posthumously in 2006. Born in 1926, he was a standout in football and basketball at Beloit High. His senior year he was named Back of the Year in the Big Eight. He also played baseball for the American Legion and Beloit Redbirds. He played for the Delavan Red Devils, the 1948 Central States Profession Football League champions.
The third inductee, Ace, was inducted in 2014. A prolific scorer for the Purple Knights, he tallied the biggest goal in Beloit hockey history. That goal, his third of the game, came in overtime in the 1999 WIAA State Championship Game and lifted the Purple Knights to a 5-4 win over Stevens Point and their lone state title in that sport.
Of course there are plenty of other Hanamans, starting with Steve’s brothers, Jeff and Scott, who were also fine athletes and went on to coach youth hockey. Ace’s cousin Matt was an exceptional hockey player in his own right, playing for the USHL Wisconsin Capitols 1991-93. Then there’s Kyle Hanaman, who was a 1,000-yard rusher for Turner and a hockey player for BMHS before graduating in 2019.
Get the picture? I feel like I’m leaving a Hanaman or two out already.
So I’m putting out an appeal for help. Pick your favorite power sports family in Beloit. The Taltons. The Weavers. The Pearsons. Connect the dots and give me as much background information as you can muster. We’ll tabulate the results here in my usual totally subjective fashion, adding whatever I can scrounge during my self-quarantine. Those who participate won’t receive ribbons or trophies, but you may see your name in the newspaper.
Send your favorite family histories to email@example.com. Thanks in advance for your help!
• On a somber note, the Beloit bowling community lost a beloved member last Thursday when Mark “Rooster” Vivian passed away after battling cancer.
While I didn’t know “Rooster” well, it’s obvious he had many friends who will miss him greatly. He was a past Beloit Men’s Bowling Association Board of Director and when the men and women merged their associations two years ago to form the new Greater Beloit Bowling Association, he became president. He had also been league secretary for all the leagues he bowled in for over 30 years, including the league his wife’s business sponsored, KRV Accounting.
“He was always volunteering at the tournaments helping out, checking people in and running brackets,” said BDN Holiday Bowling Tournament Director Mike Townsend. “Rooster was just a great guy.”
As Mark Finnegan wrote about his friend: “If you knew Rooster, you knew the finest characteristics of a human. He simply enjoyed life and everyone he was ever in contact with was better off for knowing him.”