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Why I’m a Fan of the Iowa Hawkeyes: I Slept Under the Bleachers at Kinnick

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This Purdue alum’s Hawkeye roots run deep.

NCAA Football: Nebraska at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

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My Hawkeye fandom runs from before I was even born. My Dad grew up in Ottumwa as a die hard fan. The only school he applied to was Iowa. He tells stories of taking a college exam while listening to a Hawkeye football game on his transistor radio and driving around Washington, DC so he could pick up the WHO signal for Hawkeye games. Though I was born in Northern Virginia, I was born a Hawkeye.

Shortly after we moved back to Iowa, my Dad returned to the University to get his MBA. He was able to get student tickets and would take me to football games. I would fall asleep pretty regularly so he would just set me under the bleachers. On the walks back to the car (at Hancher, always at Hancher), I would pretend to be asleep so he would just carry me. My first actual memory of the Hawkeyes is the triple overtime loss to Minnesota in 1995 (I think, but that seems like an awfully low score).

Like many others, the 2005 Capital One Bowl sticks out. I was watching it with my Dad, uncle, and cousins. When Drew Tate connected with Holloway, we all jumped around and somehow my father ended up tackling me.

While I didn’t go there, my fandom for the Hawkeyes was sealed a couple times in college:

  1. My best friend and I made the trek to Iowa City to watch the 2008 Penn State football game. It remains my happiest memory watching a live Hawkeye event.
  2. I had a friend on the Purdue basketball team give me tickets for their game against Iowa over break. Despite all logic pointing towards a burgeoning Purdue fandom - they were great, Iowa was horrible - I found myself having to contain my excitement for Iowa throughout the game, culminating in some visible writhing during the greatest play of all time.

Anymore, Iowa sports continues to serve as a touchstone for my Dad, and increasingly, my brothers. While only one of us three sons attended Iowa, the conversation around the teams brings a singular happiness (or sadness). Simply put, Hawkeye sports is family.

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