Thursday, September 6, 2012

Proud to be a Hawkeye!

Okay, so her Mama is proud to be a Hawkeye and that means that she is going to be stuck being a Hawkeye.  Hopefully she is proud of it at some point in her life.

I was born and raised in Iowa.  I didn't step foot outside of states that borders Iowa until I was 23 years old beyond a school sponsored trip to CO my sophomore year in high school and a college spring break to Florida to stay with my friend's grandparents in Naples.  At 23, I met E and took my first plane trip alone to visit him when he lived in NYC one month before September 2001.  I was the quintessential Iowa farmer's daughter with caveats.  Though we didn't own a farm, I helped my dad with my fair share of farm chores on others' farms & while growing up, it was my dad's dream to own his own farm.

Growing up, there was never a question of who's your favorite sports team.  I like to say that I was born an Iowa Hawkeye fan.  I don't remember cheering for any other team.  My first Hawkeye memories weren't of the '86 Rose Bowl team, but of being allowed to stay up late on a school night to watch the Twin Towers of Michael Payne & Greg Stokes (Twin Towers has a completely different meaning now), Roy Marble & BJ Armstrong of Iowa basketball!  My mom was working second shift, so Dad would let me sit on the couch and cheer on the Hawks.  In the early and mid 80's, the Hawkeye basketball team was pretty darn good, making a trip to the Final Four in 1980 (which I don't remember as I was 2) and multiple trips to the NCAA tournament, with back-to-back years of March Madness success (Elite Eight '87 & Sweet Sixteen '88 appearances) under Marble & Armstrong.

I also remember the hype of the '86 Rose Bowl.  Back in the day, when we were able to get Pizza Hut carryout, it was a highlight of the month and they sold a '45 (remember those?) for the Hawkeyes' trip to the Rose Bowl.  It was sung by the Fabulous Fryers, in reference to our coach Hayden Fry -- side A was "Bringin' Home the Roses" where we were going to "bring them ole' Huskies down" and side B was the "Hawkeye Hut Hut" which was a disco-esque song about cheering on Iowa.  I can't even remember how many times I would replay that '45 on my little Barbie recorder player.  Unfortunately, the '86 Rose Bowl wasn't much of a game and we weren't on the happy end of the stick.  But that didn't dampen my love for Iowa football.

In my younger years, I would set up my own little tailgater in my living room on a Saturday afternoon.  I would grab my bean-bag, a bowl of popcorn and a couple of Pepsi's in a cooler of ice and watch the Hawks.  I would usually be disappointed as after those late 80's teams, there wasn't much to cheer about for a while.  But I would still set up, optimistically thinking this would be the game where we were come away the victors.

When I entered into high school and it was time to start thinking about college, I didn't even need to think.  I didn't go on a campus visit.  I didn't look into any other colleges.  I only applied to one.  Thankfully, the University of Iowa would take me.  The first time I stepped foot on campus was in July of 1996 during my orientation weekend when I enrolled for my fall classes.  I was a true Hawkeye!  I will openly admit that I didn't choose Iowa for academic reasons.  I finally wanted to be a part of Hawkeye football & basketball in person.

My first two years of college, my friends and I didn't miss a football game.  I even found a friend that knew "Bringin' Home the Roses"!  We wouldn't leave the student section until the final buzzer sounded, regardless of the score or the weather.  After those initial two years, tailgating seemed to occupy more of my time and I stopped buying season tickets -- growing pains, I guess.  I also went to a couple of basketball games.  They usually happened during the week and it was hard to get away with all of the "studying" I was doing.  Eventually life caught up with me and I dropped out of Iowa.

Then I met a boy, moved to Jersey, and lost my zest for the Hawks.  I didn't lose just that -- it's easy to lose yourself in the fast-paced East Coast way of living.  I was always proud to tell people that I was from a small town in Iowa, but I didn't HAVE to watch every football game -- in fact, I couldn't watch ANY football games that first fall as we didn't have a tv and even when we stole our cable, no Big Ten network.  It's such a shame because that first season away was 2002 -- a historic season for Iowa football.

In fact, during my time in Jersey, I missed the 2005 CapitalOne bowl.  I missed "The Catch" because I was in the Catskill mountains, spending New Years with my husband and his friends.  But I did get back-to-back calls from my mother and my brother (within seconds of each other).  Both conversations didn't even start with a hello -- I'm not kidding when I say that both mother and brother said immediately upon my answering shouted into the phone "Did you see that catch?!?!?!?!?"

When I found out we were moving to Cleveland for E's job, excitement doesn't begin to describe the feeling.  Back in BIG TEN COUNTRY!  More correctly, I live in Buckeye country, which is sometimes insufferable   But I'm back among my own -- people that love their college sports team.  Let's face it...  The Browns, Indians, & Cavs aren't a whole lot to brag about.  And my first season back, the 2009 football season was enough to bring back my fanaticism for Iowa sports-- talk about a crazy, amazing season!  Love it or leave it -- USA #1! (Had to throw in a little of my man Stanzi...)

In moving back to Cleveland, by chance, we found the Northeast Ohio Iowa Alumni Association.  Our first two seasons here, I didn't miss a watch party.  And I was able to attended three games (one in Ann Arbor, two in Kinnick) with a fourth coming this year on Black Friday back in Iowa City.  The NEO club is also where I found my two closest friends in Cleveland, SaraBeth & SherriBeth.  They have been my rocks and the Hawkeyes led me to them.  We may all be going our separate ways, but we will always have Mario's.

And now that little Finn has arrived, I want my love of the Hawkeyes to filter down.  Now despite all the teasing that goes on about how she was born in Buckeye country and is therefore a Buckeye, please know that there is black-&-gold blood pumping through that little girls' veins -- because Mommy said so.

There is an Ohio fan-call (kind of like a bird-call) where one fan will yell out "O-H" and the rest of the fans will complete it with "I-O".  I use my knowledge gained from going to college well and yell "I-O" and finish it with a "WAAAAA" complete with the old college cheer motions.  Trust me when I say this, I WILL teach her how to correctly finish the "O-H" with an Iowan twist before she can speak full sentences.

And when she grows up and decides which college that she wants to attend, I will let her freely choose where she wants to go (but if she doesn't choose Iowa, I'll kick her heiny!  just kidding...)

I hope that she will remember our game day traditions as fondly as I remember staying up late with my Dad watching Hawks hoops.  Autumn Saturdays are always going to be black and gold Saturdays, even if we aren't watching the game.  Her first cheerleading costume will be black and gold.  And maybe, just maybe, her first choreographed dance will be to "Hawkeye Hut Hut".

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