Softball: Wilhelms looking forward to 'family reunion'
Sprinkled on Mundelein's softball diamond during the Mustangs' glory days were great players and nearly as many Wilhelms.
At the helm stood Dad Wilhelm. His three sons manned their stations. While Perry Wilhelm coached Mundelein's star-studded softball team during the mid-1990s, his three athletic young sons were eager to help out any way they could. Kyle, Brett and Brian all had jobs.
Oldest son Kyle kept the score book for his dad.
"Kyle was the 'guru' of the book," Brett, who was in charge of the scoreboard, said with a laugh.
Come Tuesday, a mini family reunion will take place on the field where Perry Wilhelm's Mustangs once dominated opponents. For the first time, Perry's Stevenson Patriots play Brett's Mundelein Mustangs in a father-vs.-son coaching matchup.
"I'm looking forward to it," said Perry, who after retiring as Mundelein's athletic director following the 2015-16 school year accepted the Stevenson softball position last fall. In 1994, his Mustangs finished third in the Class AA state tournament. They earned a repeat trip to state two years later.
"I think it'll be a lot of fun. We've already gone to a (coaching) clinic together."
"It'll be weird," Brett said. "But it'll be a good, weird feeling. I grew up watching him coach, so I guess I'm different from a lot of other male coaches in that I grew up in a softball world."
A lot of what Brett preaches to his Mustangs softball team is what his dad preached to his old Mundelein teams. What Brett wants out of his program is exactly what his dad wanted out of his program.
"So to coach against somebody I've grown up wanting to be like and who I've admired in the coaching and teaching world, that will be fun," said Brett, who graduated from MHS in 2004, played basketball for his dad and is in his sixth season as the Mustangs' softball coach. "With that said, I'm excited about this (Mundelein) team and, regardless of who my dad or whoever else is coaching, we (as a team) still got a goal in mind, and that's to win conference."
If Mundelein is going to win the North Suburban Conference championship this spring, Brett's Mustangs won't do it with Lindsey and Katie Prezells, Tiffany and Toni Campbells, Jackie Starkeys and Lynn T'Niemis. Those were the days. Those were the teams. Those were the players.
Today, it's still about the girls between the white-chalk lines.
"It'll be nice coaching against my dad, but at the same time it's not about me or him," Brett said. "It's about the groups each of us have."
Son knows best.
"People say, 'Oh, that's a war,' " Perry said. "But I've never approached coaching that way. Some of the best parts about coaching are the relationships you make with the other coaches. Obviously (Brett and I) want to try to win and have some bragging rights, but at the end of the day, for both of us, it's about, 'How well can you get your team to perform?' "
Tuesday will be special for both father and son, whose softball teams play each other again on May 1 at Stevenson.
For old times' sake, maybe Kyle, who's now Lake Forest's girls basketball coach, can keep the book Tuesday.
"It was cool for all of us kids growing up," Brett said. "It was something we looked forward to all day, even though it was girls softball and we were all a bunch of boys. We just loved being around our dad and the groups he had.
"This program has had some very successful seasons," Brett added. "I'm glad I got to be a part of it growing up."
Those were special days. More special ones lie ahead.
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