Groundbreakers all, the fifth class of Whitefish Bay Athletic Hall of Fame inductees all carved out their own roads, all blazed trails for others to follow and set standards that in some cases will be all but impossible to break, but all worth aiming at.
They include all-around athlete Cathy Nichols Markson (class of 1979), late football coach Jim Tietjen (1972), the state's best female high school gymnast ever, Elizabeth Weber Fairweather (1997), and arguably the school's best male swimmer ever, Doug Lillydahl (1986).
The induction ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 23, in the high school Link.
Markson's credentials are impeccable. She was named Whitefish Bay High School's Sportswoman of the Year in 1979. In her high school career, she earned nine varsity letters: two in swimming, two in volleyball, four in basketball and one in track. She led the basketball team to four consecutive conference championships, was named conference player of the year as a senior and was one of 100 girls from across the country named prep All-American.
She swam her first two years in high school and then switched to volleyball her final two years. Despite that limited volleyball experience, she went on to letter in the sport at Wake Forest University.
Furthermore, she married longtime Bay girls basketball coach Dave Markson, who assisted in the recent renaissance of the sport and even served as head coach for one successful season. Furthermore, two of the Marksons' sons turned out to be star athletes at Bay, as Steve was a state champion in cross country (team) and track (individually in the 800 meters and as anchor of the 4x800 relay) while Charlie was a Major League Baseball draft choice.
Tietjen was a favorite son who came home and made good in an immense way. He was a member of the class of 1972 at Bay and, after graduating from UW-Whitewater, he taught and coached at local high schools before returning to Whitefish Bay to coach in various capacities from 1985-96. He became the head coach of the football team at Bay in 2002 and held that position for 14 seasons.
The team won North Shore Conference championships in 2012 and 2015, and made 10 WIAA playoff appearances, including nine consecutive from 2007-15, highlighted by the run to the Division 2 state semifinals in 2012. Tietjen earned North Shore Conference coach of the year honors three times and was inducted into the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association (WFCA) Hall of Fame in 2014. Opposing coaches marveled at his ability to get the best out of teams that were often small in number and small in size.
He died after a short but courageous fight against brain cancer in November. The wait in line at his wake was 1 1/2 hours long, a testament to the loyalty and admiration that he earned.
When one thinks of Bay gymnastics, many think of energetic, demanding and highly successful coaches Robert Bradley and Mary Liniewski, but Weber Fairweather was ground zero, the foundation for all the success that followed.
She was the preeminent high school gymnast of her time and still holds the WIAA state record for the most state gymnastics championships won, despite the fact she started competing during her sophomore year. Weber Fairweather won 10 individual state titles, including all three all-around crowns, and two team titles in 1995 and 1996. In 1997, the team came in second.
She attended the U. S. Air Force Academy, where she was a four-time varsity award winner. She was on the championship team at the USA Gymnastics Championships in 2001, the second-place team in 2000 and was a two-time gymnastics NCAA All-American on the vault and bars, in 2000.
Lillydahl was a dominant swimmer at both Bay High School and Stanford University and prior to the arrival of Garrett Weber-Gale at Nicolet about 15 years after his graduation, an argument could be made for him being the most talented sprinter in North Shore history.
In high school, Lillydahl was a three-time WIAA state champion in sprint events, won at least one conference individual championship every year, and still holds three individual pool records and four school records. Lillydahl's winning 50-yard free time in 1986 placed him in the top 10 in the nation (21.01 seconds) and he also won the 100 free in 1985 (46.11) and 1986 (45.84). His 100 free in 1986 was at the time the second- fastest effort in state history in the event.
At Stanford, he won one Pac-10 Conference individual championship and five relay titles. He was also a member of the 1987 NCAA championship swim team. Lillydahl taught and coached at Stevenson High School in Illinois, leading the team to runner-up finishes in the state meet and was twice named Coach of the Year.
—Background information courtesy of Bay AD John Gustavson