Jack Cichy's sisters used to pick on him all the time he was growing up. Then he actually grew.

"He was always the wormy little brother until about a year and a half ago," Steve Cichy said of his son, an up-and-coming linebacker at Hill-Murray. "Then he turned into a 6-foot-3, 190-pound kid. Now Tessa kind of looks up to him and goes, 'I'm not going to mess with you anymore.'"

When it comes to sports, that's how it is in the Cichy family.

Sisters Tessa and Rochelle made their mark in the Pioneers basketball program.

Their father Steve, a former Notre Dame football standout, is known for a blocked-punt return for a touchdown in the 1979 Cotton Bowl. Their mother, Lisa, played one year of college basketball at Marquette. Steve's brothers, Mike, Nick and Joe -- the latter a two-time All-American -- played football at North Dakota State.

Their late grandfather, Sid Cichy, was a legendary high school football coach in North Dakota and National High School Sports Hall of Fame inductee.

"But it was probably my 5-foot, 105-pound mom that toughened us all up," Steve said.

His son is carrying on the family's competitiveness as a key cog in Hill-Murray's defense. Jack says he's a bit undersized, but coach Brooks Bollinger sees his linebacker's tenacity and football instincts every day.

"Total disregard for his body," Bollinger said. "The kid's just a natural football player. I knew from the first time I saw him get in the linebacker stance and the way he approached everything this summer that he's a heck of a player."

Ever since Jack started playing in the third grade, his father -- a hard-hitting, defensive-minded player in his day -- would mentor him.

"He'd tell me how fun he thought it was to hit and I built off that, because at that time, I started feeling the exact same way," Jack said.

He leads the Pioneers in tackles, including 22 against South St. Paul two weeks ago.

All of the football-playing Cichys were on the defensive side of the ball, including Jack's uncles at North Dakota State.

"You take pride in being tougher than the guy on the offensive side, and during the course of the game, you get to show that," Steve said. "I think Jack has learned a lot from his uncles and maybe a little bit from me."

Like his sisters, Jack also plays basketball. Tessa, a senior, is regarded as one of the state's top players and a big reason that the Pioneers finished 30-1 last year.

After years of typical sibling rivalries, they've grown close and now often work on their court skills together.

"When we would play together, someone could end up in tears when we were younger," Jack said. "Now, it's more of just helping each other out. We both realize, between us at least, we don't need to have competition and that we're both in it together."

While Tessa has generated a lot of Division-I basketball buzz, Jack hopes to keep playing football after high school, even as a walk-on.

With such a successful father and family, Jack says he feels some self-imposed pressure.

"When I was younger, I used to think about it a lot," said Jack, who writes his grandfather's initials on his wristband before every game.

"I don't do it as much anymore. It's kind of motivation because I want to be just as good, if not better than he was."