WATERLOO — The player, the coach and the athletic director.

The love of sports can get passed from one generation to the next in a family, and that happens to be the case for the Rhodes family.

During any of the three sports season, you can see Chris, Payton, Tina and Easton at a football game on a Friday night, in the gym for a basketball game or out at the baseball diamond to watch Easton play for the Barons.

As the DeKalb athletic director, Chris Rhodes is at almost every home event throughout the year. Payton (Rhodes) Yarian, when she’s not coaching tennis, and Tina Rhodes are helping at the gate with tickets or passing out programs. And Easton Rhodes, a sophomore at DeKalb, is involved in a sport in every season during the school year.

Sports is what drives the Rhodes family. It’s something they have bonded over throughout Payton’s and Easton’s lives.

Even Payton’s and Easton’s names are sports related.

Easton is named after the baseball brand, and Payton is named after Chris’s favorite all-time football player Walter Payton.

The love of sports that was passed down from Chris to Easton and Payton came from a previous generation with Chris’s father Merrill.

“It just seemed like when I was growing up there was always a football game on the TV or my dad was listening to baseball game on the radio at that time,” Chris said. “We were always involved growing up with football, basketball and baseball.”

Chris passed his love and knowledge of sports to his kids by coaching both Payton and Easton as they grew up. He coached Payton in basketball and Easton in football, basketball and baseball.

“The first time I remember with any physical activity was I picked up a baseball bat and hit (Payton) in the face,” Easton said with a few laughs. “That’s kind of where I learned to hit left-handed.”

When Chris isn’t moving from event to event and does get the time just sit back and watch Easton play one of the three sports he’s in or view Payton coach the girls tennis team, he doesn’t get uneasy like he used to when he was their coach. Instead, he’s delighted.

“I’m excited for both of them,” Chris said. “Both of them have been at a field, gym, court, whatever since they were born. Whether it be coming to practice with me or just being at the games that I was coaching.

“Both of them probably showed up at a game less than a week old. So really I don’t know if they had a choice. That was just normal for them to be at one of those places. As they’ve grown up and continued to play, I think as much as I played and as much as I coached over the years, I probably get more nervous for them that I ever did for myself.

The feeling of joy is also a reflection of what Payton and Easton feel when the see their father watching on top of the press box at the baseball field or peering through the fence out at the tennis courts.

“It’s pretty cool,” Payton said. “Ever since I was younger, that’s all I’ve known. So (he’s) definitely a role model in that aspect. Even now when I’m coaching, I go back to how he treated his players and the relationships he formed with his players.”

“It just reminds me of why I’m doing it,” Easton said. “It helps me realize that even though I’m still out there, he always been the reason why I’m playing.”

Even when the Rhodes go on family vacations, there is usually as sports aspect to it. And it started when Chris and brother Marty would go on vacations with their dad.

“We would go to Cincinnati a lot for two or three days and watch the Reds play a whole series,” Chris said. “I think a lot of what we do and I think it is just how we are. That’s what we enjoy.”

This past Christmas Eve the whole family spent the holiday at Soldier Field to watch a Chicago Bears game.

But it’s not all sports all the time for the Rhodes family.

When there’s time, Payton and Chris go to concerts.

“I feel like every birthday, father’s day or whatever, I look at the schedule for sports, then I buy tickets somewhere for a concert,” Payton said.

While seeing Kiss or Goo Goo Dolls in concert is something Payton and Chris enjoy together away from sports, when Chris and Easton want to get away from hustle and bustle of the sports schedule, the volume is quite the opposite.

The two like to go to their favorite body of water and fish a few times a year they can find the time.

So whether it’s in the backyard throwing the ball around or catching a game during some down time in their busy schedule, there will always be a common theme that bonds the Rhodes family together.

“It’s just a place we can all be together,” Payton said. “We all enjoy being around sports.”

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