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Before I get into the story of how I became an Iowa fan, it’s important to know one thing about me - I grew up in Illinois as a Northwestern fan. My grandfather went to Northwestern thanks in part to the G.I. Bill after World War II, and he even played in the 1948 Rose Bowl (tuba!), so I always thought that was pretty cool. My parents didn’t go anywhere with any sort of athletics history, so I defaulted to the closest thing I could find, and that just happened to be the Wildcats.
Fast forward to my junior year of high school, when I really realized that I needed to look into colleges, and I was convinced I was going to Northwestern. That all changed, however, when I met a girl who was a year older than me.
She was going to Iowa, and she told me I should, too.
Now, I knew about Iowa. They were at the peak of their powers and fresh off an Orange Bowl victory and Ricky Stanzi was one hell of a handsome American hero, but I wasn’t sold on the idea. Follow a girl to Iowa? When I could go to the school I’d always wanted to attend in a city I’ve always loved?
Obviously, I conceded - I told her I’d take a campus visit because I wanted to go to nursing school and in case you were unaware, Iowa has one of the best nursing schools in the damn country. I told my parents I wanted to visit Iowa City, and they agreed to schedule the visit for the summer once school ended.
Naturally, as all good high school relationships tend to do, ours ended not long after I scheduled the visit day. Should I even go, I wondered? I definitely don’t want to go to a school in Iowa if I’m not going for her.
Who was I kidding? A top-five nursing program in the country? Of course I was going to at least check it out, I’d be foolish not to! Once the date came around, my parents and I packed up and headed to Iowa City, and I even brought this girl I’d been seeing with because she wanted to check it out as well (she ended up going to Nebraska and things didn’t work out, but that’s a different story for another day).
We made the three hour trip from the southwest ‘burbs of Chicago, and when we finally made it, the first building I saw was Art Building West in all of its glory. Next, I distinctly remember turning down Iowa Avenue from Riverside and coming face to face with the Pentacrest. I was in love with the campus immediately and it was so obvious to my parents. I was so stoked that I even thought the dorms were cool.
I ended up going on other college visits to Illinois, Northwestern, Wisconsin, and Michigan, but none of them even compared to the one I took to Iowa. It was quite obvious to even my parents that I wasn’t as enthusiastic about any of the other visits (well, except for when they had James Earl Jones’ voice talk to us at Michigan). In fact, I didn’t complete a single application to any school that wasn’t Iowa. I was accepted to the university and nursing program before I could even start another application, and I immediately knew that I would be taking my talents to Iowa City.
It quickly became an obsession. I followed that 2010 Iowa season with a fervor unknown to me before in regards to college football - when Dan Persa’s achilles ruptured and he threw the game-winning pass to put Northwestern ahead of Iowa in Week 11, I knew my allegiance had flipped when I became distraught that the Wildcats were ahead. While it didn’t turn out to be as good a year as 2009, there were so many great memories from that season that I’ll never forget, such as Tyler Sash’s pick and pitch to Micah Hyde for a TD or the first time I’d ever seen stadium stripes.
Most importantly, the biggest moment from that season that established my Hawkeye fandom came in the Insight Bowl when Micah Hyde put the Hawkeyes ahead with a pick-six in the fourth quarter. MICAH HYDE!
I’ve had so many memories as an Iowa fan and have fully immersed myself into a culture with all of you great people who love Iowa just as much as I do. I got my degree at Iowa, I met lifelong friends at Iowa, and have done so many things I’ll never forget here (and things I’ll never remember). Sure, there’s been disappointment along the way when it comes to my favorite teams, but without the lows, would the highs be as good?
And to think, I have all of these great things thanks to some girl I thought I’d follow to college.
[Quick side story, which is true and loosely related: On my first day on campus as an actual student, I went to the Hawk Shop to buy some textbooks. I was waiting in line to get help, when I tripped over something on the floor. I looked down and saw a stack of books about as high as my shin just sitting there. Tied to the top of it was a slip of paper that simply read the name of the girl who had convinced me to visit Iowa to begin with. I looked around, and she was nowhere to be found. She must’ve seen me and immediately ran away to avoid running into me. I haven’t seen her since, and that’s fine.]
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