Running back to Bethel: It's a family tradition

November 15, 2012 | 11 a.m.

Marshall Klitzke and his father have both left their mark on Bethel football 

Sports | Jared Nelson 

Running back to Bethel: It's a family tradition

Marshall Klitzke's lightning speed has made him a dangerous member of the Royals' rushing attack this season that featured Brandon Marquardt, Jesse Phenow and Derek Waldbillig. | Matt Kelley

Few people are more influential in a young man’s life than his father. A father instills morals and teaches lessons to his son with the hope that he will grow into a successful man of integrity. Tom Klitzke and his son Marshall Klitzke share more than a home and a last name; they share a passion for Bethel football. 

Tom was a running back for the Royals under Chub Reynolds from 1976-1979. He amassed 2,250 yards on 577 carries and still remains in the top 10 for rushing yards in Royals history. Tom regards his time at Bethel as some of the best years of his life. 

“My experience was great,” he said. “I feel fortunate that I came in at a time when the program was at its peak, both in terms of spirituality and football.”

Tom said this connection between football and spirituality is still a large part of the program today.

“There have been many physical changes since my day, with bigger, faster and smarter players,” he said. “The similarities are what the program is being built upon: men of God.” 

Marshall is a just a freshman, but he already feels deeply connected to the Bethel football program.

“My dad has been taking me to games since I was a little kid,” Marshall said. “I kind of always knew that I was going to end up here. I didn’t really look anywhere else.”

“I never really pushed Bethel,” Tom said. “But deep down I believed in what was happening here, and I knew it was a well-led program. I think watching the great games over the years may have triggered [Marshall’s] interest in coming here.” 

Now that the younger Klitzke is continuing the family tradition in blue and gold, he is enjoying a successful season. Marshall finished the regular season as the Royals’ leading rusher with 353 yards on just 55 attempts for a whopping 6.4 yards per carry. He hopes to continue his high level of play and perhaps surpass his father’s mark on the all-time rushing list. 

“With [Brandon] Marquardt and [Jesse] Phenow both going down with injuries early in the season, I had to step up, and I’ve been able to show what I can do,” Marshall said. 

Tom has always played a big role in Marshall’s career, coaching him all through high school. Marshall credits his father with his development as an athlete and a young man. 

“At a young age, [my dad] got me into the weight room and training hard,” Marshall said. “He always pushes me to do the extra stuff, and I still get texts from him all the time, encouraging me to find the cracks and seams [when running the ball] and to focus on the little things.” 

Tom gives credit to the coaches and team leaders that have been a part of Marshall’s life and made him the player and man he is today. He is confident that Marshall’s dependability, work ethic and desire to learn will lead him to a successful career with the Royals. 

Tom said, “I pray that Marshall gets from this program a lifetime of memories, great friendships, and a deep faith and love for God.”

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