All In The Family: Adam LaFleur Gopher gymnast Adam LaFleur's father Tim was an All-America at Minnesota. But Adam began his career as a walk-on.
By Jennie Clark and Andy Seeley University of Minnesota Athletic Communciations
Tim LaFluer was one of the most outstanding gymnasts ever to compete at the University of Minnesota. He was honored with the Nissen-Emery Award, which is given annually to the nation's outstanding senior gymnast, in 1978.
Now, 31 years later, Tim's son, Adam LaFleur is a member of the University of Minnesota men's gymnastics team.
No great shock, right? Surely, the son of a gymnast of Tim LaFleur's caliber just walked into the Gophers' gym and became a star right away.
While Tim was an outstanding gymnast at the Minnesota, getting on the team was no walk in the park for Adam. However, there was some walking involved. Adam had to walk on just to be a part of the Gopher program.
"Both my parents went here," Adam said. "So when I was growing up, I just wanted to be a Gopher."
Adam used that desire to compete for Minnesota to motivate him. With that desire and his great work ethic, he has quickly proven his worth to the Minnesota squad. Head coach Mike Burns has been nothing short of impressed with Adam.
"It's great to have a kid that comes in and you're not expecting him to compete until maybe his junior year even," Burns said. "And here he is, in his sophomore year, and he's in the lineup."
The work ethic and desire may have come directly from his father, according to Burns.
"I've heard stories about Tim," Burns said. "He used to coach a local club 15-20 years ago. From the stories I've heard he was a tough sucker. He wouldn't take any guff from anybody. I think that really rubbed off on Adam and the way he approaches things. He approaches it really aggressively and realizes that failure's not an option. I think he gets that from his Dad Tim. It's great to have it. It's paying off. His hard work and his attitude is a great recipe for success for Adam."
Being a gymnast - and a Gopher - almost seemed predestined for Adam. Not only was his father a Gopher gymnast, so was his mother Randi.
"Adam's got gymnastics in his blood," Burns said.
"I was kind of born right into it," Adam said. "I kind of lucked out, though, because I really like it. When I was really, really little he (Tim) used to coach. I used to go in (the gym) and play around. He would have me do tons of stuff. I'd show off for the parents and stuff. I was the cute little kid running around.
"Both my parents have been pretty supportive of me," Adam added. "They've been pushing me my entire life."
Fast forward more than a decade. Earlier this season, Tim and Adam were in a gym together again. Only Adam wasn't that cute little kid anymore and instead of Tim pushing him, he was competing with him. The father-son duo was actually competing on the floor at the same time.
Minnesota hosted its annual Alumni Meet back in November and both LaFleurs took part in the meet. Adam clearly enjoyed competing against Tim, even if the elder LaFleur showed him up a bit.
"It was pretty competitive," Adam said, smiling. "There was a little bit of trash talking going on. I think he can still beat me on high bar, unfortunately."
Talk about a chip off the old block. Not only is Adam following in his father's footsteps in the gym, he's doing it in the classroom as well.
"I'm majoring in electrical engineering," Adam said. "That's kind of because of my dad, too. He graduated here with an electrical engineering degree."
As a coach, Burns is thrilled to have the LaFleur family remain involved in Gopher gymnastics. He also empathizes with the road Adam has had to take, going from a walk-on to a key contributor.
"I think the LaFleur family has just been an amazing story here in Minnesota in the gymnastics family," Burns said. "Tim's been a great supporter of the program for years and years. The LaFleurs are a great bunch of people.
"I'm really happy for what (Adam) has done for himself," Burns added. "He was determined to make this lineup. Right now, he's pretty much secured in the vault and floor. I was a walk-on when I went to school, so I kind of have a soft spot for these guys. I know what it takes to not be recruited and come into a situation where you're not really expected to do anything. Then you step up and make it happen. It's one of those American success stories that you love to hear about."