Longtime Illinois fans share their favorite memories. Be sure to reconnect with fellow Illini during Illinois Homecoming 2019.
For Paris, IL resident Harry Frost, a love for Illinois sports began with family ties to music.
“My very first Illinois game was in 1961, but it wasn’t until my son joined the Marching Illini that we started going to every home football and basketball game,” he said.
A 1960 Eastern Illinois University graduate, Harry Frost's connection to Illinois turned into a lifelong fandom. Frost continued to attend Illini sporting events even after his son graduated from the university.
For years, Harry and his wife, Gladys, traveled with the teams, following Illinois football and basketball around the country to cheer on the Illini.
“I look back on those experiences and I’ve seen a lot of places and watched a lot of teams,” he said. “And I’ve had a lot of good times.”
During home games, you can find them on the east side of Memorial Stadium on the 40 yard line in their usual seats. At 81, he never misses a game.
“We’ve been sitting there for over 35 years,” he explained. “We’ve slowly moved closer down to the field, but have stayed in the same area. We like the east side. It’s a habit.”
In the Lenschow family, tailgating means family. For over 30 years, 1988 Illinois graduates Kurt and Sue Lenschow have hosted and connected with fellow Illini over food, fun and Fighting Illini football.
“We get pretty creative,” explained Kurt Lenschow. “We’ve had a fish fry going for about 12 years now. We bring in a guy, deep fry some fish and get about 100-150 people coming through to our tailgate.”
From Thanksgiving turkeys to large barbeques, it’s difficult to pick a tailgating memory that stands out among the others, he said. The most memorable part has always been the people.
“Whether it’s getting together with local friends or reconnecting with those we haven’t seen in ten years, it’s always pretty special,” he said. “Staying connected is one of the things that’s kept us coming, even when we were busier while our kids were growing up.”
With two daughters who are current Illinois students, the Lenschow tailgating experience includes the whole family.
“It’s a pretty cool to share with our daughters,” said Lenschow. “As parents, we have limited moments. My wife and I thoroughly enjoy making these memories with the girls, their friends and their families.”
During the game, you can find the Lenschow’s in the west balcony of Memorial Stadium on the 40 yard line, about five rows up. As for tailgating, you can find them among the crowd in Lot 31.
“These friendships are our traditions. We just love being a continued part of it.”