Morris Still Driven To Excel

Morris, Monte_GeorgiaState_2014-15_36

Monté Morris had a lot of success in high school. He led the Flint Beecher Bucs to back-to-back state titles and was named Michigan’s Mr. Basketball. Still, he didn’t get an offer from instate schools Michigan and Michigan State and eventually decided on Iowa State as the best place to further his education and basketball career.

That certainly worked out for Iowa State and it has worked out just fine for the player that teammates call “Big Game.”

For Morris, who arrived on campus in June of 2013, it wasn’t about proving anyone wrong. He has a strong belief in what he can do on the court.

“I know personally what I can do, what I’m capable of doing on a basketball court,” Morris said. “You know that when you lace up, you control it.”

In his first two seasons, the 6-2 point guard has led the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio. His career A/TO ratio sits at an eye-popping 4.69. He increased his scoring from 6.8 points as a freshman to 11.9 as a sophomore. He’s one of the Big 12’s leaders in steals averaging 1.6 per game in his career.

So just what has allowed the court general to become one of the nation’s top players at his position?

He says he’s matured in his approach to the game.

“I think I’ve matured a lot in my work ethic,” Morris said. “You know, it’s not just about getting a team workout in and going home, but instead it’s shooting for an hour and a half after. When I first got here I was just trying to fit in instead of trying to be better than those guys.”

He’s a surefire name you’ll find on the Bob Cousy Award Watch List when it is announced this fall. But he’s still striving to be better.

Better for his mom. Better for his grandmother, who passed away in late June. And better for that young boy that grew up with a dream.

That is what drives Morris.

“First off, it would be eventually providing for my mom. My grandma passed away recently and that is something that drives me. I’m just trying to make my family happy and proud. I want to someday fulfill my dream that I had as a young boy, to play at the next level. That is what drives me and I’m not going to stop working.”

Morris’ evolution as a player will continue with a new coach, one that has put a pair of point guards into the NBA already. He’s being pushed every day by new Cyclone leader Steve Prohm to be a better player, a better person and a better teammate.

The approach is taking Morris back to his Beecher days, something that quickly brings a smile to his face.

“Coach Prohm has kind of taken me back to my high school days,” Morris said. “He counts on his point guard a lot. He expects a lot from me and he expects me to have a great day, every day. Our relationship is good and I feel like it is going to be great in November. He wants me to go get the ball. It really does take me back to my high school days and I’m looking forward to giving the nation a little replay of how that was.”

Morris is proud of the way the team handled the coaching change.

“I realized that we are just tough young men. Resilient, really,” Morris adds. “A lot of people probably would have tucked their tail and tried to make moves but this group stuck together. Everybody is on the same page and that really told me a lot about the type of season we can have.”

He says the team has learned from its mistakes a year ago, which included a loss in their opening game of the NCAA Tournament.

“The way we approached the game, the day before, everything was just not the way we should have handled that situation,” Morris says while shaking his head. “You are going to get any team’s best shot at that point and we realize that now. These are business trips and we have to stay focused and have everyone buy into their roles.”

You can still hear the disappointment as he speaks.

“The night you think someone isn’t that good, that you can cruise, that is the night you lose,” Morris said. “You have to stay focused.”

It is a task that Morris takes to heart. Especially in Big 12 play where the competition is at its best. So he’ll do his homework, help his teammates do their homework.

“I know that for me, I have my hands full every night in this league going against great guards,” the All-Big 12 Second-Team pick a year ago said. “I have to be prepared. I have to know them better than they know me.”

That is what being a point guard is about after all.

“I love that as the point guard I am able to control everything,” Morris said. “There are pros and cons to it. You get the praise and you get the blame. I understand that. But you are in control of everything. That’s how you want it to be as a player.”

Did you know?
Only seven times in NCAA history has a player led the country in a statistical category three seasons in a row. Morris will try to become the eighth (assist-to-turnover ratio). No one has ever done it four times.

Stan Modzelewski, Rhode Island – Scoring Average (1940-42)
Oscar Robertson, Cincinnati – Scoring Average (1958-60)
Pete Maravich, LSU – Scoring Average (1968-70)
Jerry Lucas, Ohio State – Field-Goal Percentage (1960-62)
Todd MacCulloch, Washington – Field-Goal Percentage (1997-99)
Blake Ahearn, Missouri State – Free-Throw Percentage (2004-06)
Paul Millsap, Louisiana Tech – Rebound Average (2004-06)

Follow Iowa State Men’s Basketball on Twitter, @CycloneMBB. Follow Matt Shoultz, men’s basketball contact for Iowa State, on Twitter, @mjshoultz.

Posted in Men's Basketball | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Summer Hoops Update

It’s been a busy summer for the Iowa State women’s basketball team. With so much to talk about now that we have entered the month of July, I thought we would do a summer hoops update to get you caught up.

Billy Fennelly attends prestigious Nike Villa 7 Consortium

Assistant coach Billy Fennelly was invited to attend Nike’s Villa 7 Coaches Symposium this summer. The goal of the symposium is to connect top assistants from across NCAA men’s and women’s basketball, who have hopes of becoming a head coach, with administrators.

This year was the 10th anniversary of Villa 7, which took place in the NCAA offices in Indianapolis, Indiana. A total of 30 women’s basketball assistants attended the invite-only event along with 50 men’s assistants and roughly 50 administrators.

“Yet again, Nike proved why they are the premier brand in all of sports,” Fennelly said. “The Villa 7 assistant coach symposium was a phenomenal experience, and I feel privileged to have been a part of it. The interaction between fellow peers and administrators is truly one of a kind. I am honored to be invited and have the opportunity to represent Iowa State and continue to make the Cyclones the best we possibly can.”

Jadda Buckley and Claire Ricketts receive medical redshirts for 2014-15

Jadda Buckley and Claire Ricketts were granted medical redshirts for the 2014-15 season.

Ricketts fractured her wrist in the Cyclones season-opener against USC Upstate, which sidelined her for the season. Buckley on the other hand, suffered a stress injury in her right foot which plagued her throughout the non-conference season. Buckley competed in nine games for the Cyclones last season before pursuing a medical redshirt due to the lingering injury. Buckley’s injury forced her to play limited minutes in most contests she appeared in.

Buckley will enter the 2015-16 season as a redshirt sophomore, while Ricketts will be a redshirt freshman.

Carleton to serve as torchbearer for Pan Am Games

 Incoming freshman Bridget Carleton was selected to represent Canada Basketball and serve as a torchbearer in the Pan Am Games Torch Relay on Thursday afternoon.

Carleton will carry the torch for about 200 meters in Toronto for the torch relay, which has spanned the entire country as a part of a 41-day relay.

For more information on the torchbearers click on this link. Also, stay tuned to our Twitter account for updates.

TeeTee Starks and Meredith Burkhall move to Ames

Freshmen TeeTee Starks and Meredith Burkhall have officially moved to Ames and enrolled in classes. Carleton, the third member of the 2015 class, will join the Cyclones in August after fulfilling her Canada Basketball commitments. The 2015 recruiting class was ranked in the top-15 in the nation, which is the highest-ranked recruiting class in program history.

Iowa State ranked among the nation’s best in attendance once again

Hilton Coliseum proved once again to be one of the top venues in the country when it comes to college basketball. The Cyclones were one of just eight schools in the country with men’s and women’s basketball programs ranked in the top-20 in attendance. Iowa State women’s basketball checked in at No. 4 in the nation, while the men’s team came in at No. 20.

ICYMI: Check out this article on Seanna Johnson and her new found motivation for next season.

https://cyclonesidebar.wordpress.com/2015/07/01/seanna-johnson-someone-to-play-for/

Also, earlier this summer I chatted with Lisa Kreiner about her life after Iowa State basketball:

https://cyclonesidebar.wordpress.com/2015/05/07/lisa-kreiner-making-a-difference-after-iowa-state/

Be sure to follow Iowa State women’s basketball on Twitter (@CycloneWBB) for the latest news on the team.

Posted in Women's Basketball | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seanna Johnson: Someone To Play For

Johnson, Seanna_Texas_2014-15 (3)

“God gives his hardest battles to his strongest soldiers.”

That is the motto that Iowa State guard Seanna Johnson and her family are choosing to live by these days. The last month has been a whirlwind after learning that Jarvis Johnson, the youngest son in the Johnson clan, was not medically cleared to play basketball at the University of Minnesota after being diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM).

Jarvis was a top basketball recruit and held offers from Baylor, Michigan State and Wisconsin among others before choosing to stay at home to compete for the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Jarvis learned the news after completing medical testing after moving onto campus for summer classes. The news was released by Minnesota on Monday, June 16. The Johnson’s are hopeful that he will be medically cleared in the future.

Seanna and Jarvis share a tight bond – one so tight that people often refer to them as twins. The two both wear No. 12 on the basketball court, which is a trend they picked up from their older brother Curtis, who used the number during his playing career. The two are just 14 months apart and their mother, Tanisha Johnson, often refers to them as peanut butter and jelly or her Kobe (Bryant) and Shaq (O’Neal).

“He pushes her to be her best and she pushes him to be his best,” Tanisha said. “They have a phenomenal relationship because they’re so close together. Everyone thought they were twins for so long.”

In their days growing up in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, the two spent a lot of time in the gym. However, it was Jarvis who was typically the encourager to get better in the gym.

With so much shared time together in the gym, it was only natural for both siblings and the entire Johnson family to have a tough time comprehending that Jarvis’ career was possibly over.

Jarvis broke the news to her via a simple text, “I’m done.” She won’t forget those words or what he said when she phoned him after. The first time Seanna walked onto the gym in the Sukup basketball practice after learning the news she cried.

“He texts me every day,” Seanna said. “I cried every time he’d text me for the first few days because he’d say, ‘You’re my hero. Thanks for keeping playing.’ I would think, ‘I don’t want to do this.’ I just walked in the gym and cried.”

It was difficult for her to believe that the little brother and best friend that would motivate her each day to play could no longer play the sport they both loved.

“I felt guilty because he loved the game more than anybody,” she said.

A lot of thoughts crossed her mind after she learned the news. She contemplated quitting basketball because the thought of playing when her brother couldn’t was too much. She wondered how it was even possible to enjoy the sport anymore.

After the initial shock was over she knew she had even more motivation to play for Jarvis, who she calls her hero. She even got a tattoo to remind herself. It was the words Jarvis used on of his first posts to social media after finding out he could no longer play basketball, “God gives his hardest battles to his strongest soldiers.”

Her new tattoo is not her first however. Several years ago she got another one that reads “I believe in miracles.” That tattoo signifies the day her brother passed out during a basketball practice and went into cardiac arrest. After several minutes, Jarvis was revived and rushed to the hospital.

He remained hospitalized for weeks with a bleak prognosis.

Jarvis would eventually return to the basketball court and the brother sister duo would earn a combined seven state titles for De La Salle High School.

As Cyclone fans already know, Seanna would make Cyclone history in her first two seasons after crashing the boards and becoming the fastest Cyclone to reach 500 career rebounds, hauling in 500 in just 59 career games. She would nearly average a double-double with 11.7 points and a Big 12-leading 9.2 rebounds per game in her sophomore campaign.

After Jarvis was initially declared medically ineligible, Seanna told her mother she would use this as motivation to improve her game for the two of them.

“I know she is super excited for the season to start and take it to the next level,” Tanisha said.

With this added motivation, the sky is the limit for Seanna as she enters her junior season with the Cyclones. Though she isn’t sure exactly how else she will continue to honor Jarvis during her final two seasons, she knows she will continue to play for him and has the backing of her Cyclone teammates who have taken to social media to support both Seanna and Jarvis. The hashtag #DoItForJarvis has already garnered hundreds of mentions on social media.

 

 

 

Posted in Women's Basketball | Tagged | 1 Comment

Vroman Remembered For Spirit, Toughness

Jackson Vroman, who passed away Monday, was a fan favorite in his two seasons at Iowa State.

Jackson Vroman, who passed away Monday, was a fan favorite in his two seasons at Iowa State.

The news that former Iowa State basketball star Jackson Vroman passed away on Monday was a hard pill to swallow for Cyclone fans.

Vroman was one of the best centers to play for the Cyclones in recent years, averaging 13.2 points and 9.5 rebounds in his brilliant two-year (2002-03, 2003-04) career in Ames. He was also a career 55.8 percent shooter from the field.

The two things I remember most about Jackson was his free spirit, and his incredible motor. He was one of the most interesting characters to put on a Cyclone uniform, and one tough competitor. When it came to game time, Vroman was “All In.”

Vroman was a nomad in his childhood. His father, Brett, played basketball at UCLA and UNLV before a long professional hoops career in all regions of the world. Jackson lived in Europe and spent time in Alaska, California and Utah.

Vroman, who was a late comer to basketball, played in the NBA for the Hornets and Suns before a career in Europe.

Vroman, who was a late comer to basketball, played in the NBA for the Hornets and Suns before a career in Europe.

Vroman was primarily a soccer player and didn’t get into basketball until his senior year in high school. At 6-10 and lightly recruited, Vroman attended Snow Community College in Utah to give hoops a try.

It was at Snow CC where former Iowa State head coach Larry Eustachy saw an unfinished product who never took a play off. Eustachy offered him a scholarship on the spot.

“He’s my type of guy,” Eustachy said about Vroman in a Des Moines Register article. “He’s relentless. He doesn’t know the meaning of quit. I was told about this guy who never really played in high school, but was a hard-playing guy. That’s my type of guy.”

Vroman’s high-energy style and relentless effort on the boards made him an instant favorite of Cyclone Nation. He was also flamboyant, which helped his legend grow further. He grew his hair long and dyed it pitch black in his first season. Soon members of Cyclone Alley donned wigs to mimic his style and called the group “Vromie’s Homies.”

Donning his jet-black hair, Vroman goes for a rebound against Jackson State in 2002-03.

Donning his jet-black hair, Vroman goes for a rebound against Jackson State in 2002-03.

Every rebound was his. That was how I recollect my two years covering Vroman. I never saw a player tip rebounds to keep the ball alive in order to secure it better than Vroman.

He was the first Cyclone in 24 years to lead the conference in rebounding when he topped the Big 12 on the boards in 2003-04 at 9.6 rpg.

And he was tough. Man, was he tough. He never wanted to come out of a game, even when he lost a tooth.

“During a game he was hit in the mouth,” said Vic Miller, Iowa State’s longtime athletics trainer for men’s basketball. “He ran to me, spit out his tooth, and hustled back on defense to complete the play. The legend grew from there.”

One of my favorite memories of Vroman was the play he made in the now famous “John Neal Game” vs. Iowa during the 2003-04 season. Neal, a seldom-used walk-on, became the hero of the contest when he buried a pair of 3-pointers down the stretch to help the Cyclones rally to beat Iowa, 84-76.

Neal’s second 3-pointer with 2:02 left in the game tore the roof off of Hilton Coliseum and gave the Cyclones a 76-70 lead. The play was instigated by Vroman.

Curtis Stinson missed a tear-drop and Vroman fought off three Hawkeyes to grab the carom. Without hesitation, Vroman bulleted a pass to Neal in the corner before the defense could get set up. Neal nailed the trey and the game was virtually over.

After the game I met with assistant coach Bob Sundvold.

“That was the play of game,” Sundvold told me. “How he got the rebound in the first place was incredible. Then to have the intellect to know where the shooter was after he got the ball, only the good ones can do that.”

Vroman drives for a lay-in against UNI in 2003-04, a season in which ISU went 17-1 at home.

Vroman drives for a lay-in against UNI in 2003-04, a season in which ISU went 17-1 at home.

People forget that the 2003-04 Cyclone squad was very good. Vroman, as a senior, earned Third-Team All-Big 12 honors that season while averaging 13.9 points and 9.6 rebounds. The Cyclones lost just one game in Hilton Coliseum (17-1) with their only blemish coming to Final Four-bound Oklahoma State.

Iowa State ended the season at 20-13 and advanced to the NIT semifinals.

Vroman continued to improve offensively throughout his career at ISU. His soccer background made his footwork sound and he developed nifty post moves with the help of being ambidextrous.

Some of his memorable games included a 20-point, 18-rebound performance vs. Colorado and a 17-point, 19-rebound outing at Kansas. In his final game as a Cyclone, he grabbed 20 rebounds vs. Rutgers in the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden.

If there was one deficiency in Vroman’s arsenal it was his free-throw shooting. As a career 51.2 percent foul shooter, he never felt comfortable at the charity stripe.

The last play of his ISU career basically summed up his comedic nature and his woes at the line.

With the Cyclones down 83-81 with 0:52 seconds left to Rutgers, Vroman grabbed his 20th board in traffic and went down to the ground after being fouled.

He didn’t get up.

Miller ran onto the court to see what was wrong.

“I go out there and I asked him if it is a cramp,” Miller said. “All Vroman said was, ‘There is no way I am shooting these free throws.’ I then started to assist him like he was having cramps. Wayne (Morgan) and the referee came out to see what was wrong and the referee decided a replacement was needed to shoot his free throws. That story always makes me laugh.”

Classic Vroman.

Posted in Men's Basketball | Leave a comment

A Weekend To Remember

2015 Fantasy Camp

2015 Fantasy Camp

They came from near and far.

From Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Wilmette, Illinois. Philadelphia. Hudson, Iowa. McKinney, Texas.

All with a shared passion. Iowa State men’s basketball.

The Cyclone program held its first Fantasy Camp this weekend, an event designed to be the ultimate fan experience.

It didn’t disappoint.

“The overall experience was unreal,” camper Ryan Workman of Cedar Rapids, said. “From the coaching staff breaking down film of your games to the current players being your coaches for three games, it was an experience I’ll never forget. For any Iowa State basketball fan, this is the camp for them.”

The camp was open to fans 25 years old and above. Campers were able to interact with Coach Prohm, Coach Hoiberg and staff members, as well as Iowa State student-athletes.

The 16 participants were split into two teams, which were picked during a draft on the camp’s first night. Naz Long and Matt Thomas coached one team, while Monté Morris and Hallice Cooke led the other.

“The interaction with the players was awesome,” Workman said. “Having players coach you that are going to be a part of a top-10 team in the country next year was an experience of a lifetime. Having Naz Long and Matt Thomas as coaches, there were times I felt they were competing for a Big 12 title. They were that into the games.”

The camp cost included a 2 night stay at the Hilton Garden Inn with breakfast, lunch and dinner provided. The participants received plenty of Cyclone gear, including: a pair of Nike shoes, a home & away uniform, three sets of practice gear, five dri-fit shirts, socks, headbands, wristbands, a Nike pullover and Iowa State camp t-shirts. They also received an autographed ball.

The campers had the rare treat of getting to meet both the former coach and the current coach.

“It was fantastic,” Kelly Ellis of San Antonio, Texas, said. “It was really better than advertised because we not only got Coach Hoiberg, but we got Coach Prohm as well. The players were terrific. It was a wonderful experience and I hope to come back next year.”

The campers were among the first Iowa State fans to get to interact with Coach Prohm since he arrived in Ames a couple weeks ago.

“He’s humble and gracious,” Ellis said. “He really reminded me of the second-coming of Coach Hoiberg with his personality.”

The weekend wrapped up with a visit from a special guest as former Cyclone Melvin Ejim showed up at Hilton Coliseum for the final day.

Melvin Ejim surprised campers by showing up on the camp's final day.

Melvin Ejim surprised campers by showing up on the camp’s final day.

The teams played a game at Hilton Coliseum and had time to take pictures with the coaches and players before heading home.

Posted in Men's Basketball | Leave a comment

What A Ride It Has Been

An era ended yesterday, but rest assured it isn’t the end.

I was fortunate to be able to work with Fred Hoiberg and his team the last two seasons and what a ride it was for me those two years.

Back-to-back Big 12 Tournament Champions. 53 wins. 23 Big 12 wins. Multiple All-Americans and All-Big 12 Players. A Big 12 Player of the Year. A Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. A Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.

The list could go on and on and on.

As part of my tasks, I’m assigned with running the @CycloneMBB Twitter account. I’ve seen reactions to Coach Hoiberg’s decision to become head coach of the Chicago Bulls that have been on both sides of the spectrum.

That’s okay. The reason the emotions are so high is because you care. You care again because of Fred Hoiberg.

The fourth game I worked as men’s basketball contact, Iowa State beat No. 7 Michigan with Johnny Orr in attendance. I went home thinking it was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. I was living my dream.

A few weeks later the team came back from 18 down to beat Northern Iowa. Then Georges Niang got all crafty and made a reverse layup to beat Iowa in a top-25 showdown that left Hilton Coliseum in frenzy. There was a trip and title at the Diamond Head Classic and before I knew it we were 14-0, the best start in school history.

Amazing things continued to happen. On Feb. 3, we stormed into Stillwater and won for the first time since 1988. Of course it was in triple-overtime. And of course it was on Big Monday. Because why not?

That weekend, while still recovering from returning home after 3 a.m. on Tuesday morning, Melvin Ejim went nuts for a Big 12-record 48 points against TCU. Unfathomable.

In the regular-season finale against Oklahoma State, it was again Naz Long who saved the day.

Then the Cyclones went down to Kansas City and Cyclone Nation simply took over. ISU steam rolled its way to a Big 12 Tournament title. Georges got smacked in the face, Cyclone fans everywhere purchased band-aids they didn’t need. Man, was that fun or what?

The excitement continued into the tournament and a trip to the Sweet 16 was the result.

That summer, Fred danced.

There was a ton of promise as we headed into the 2014-15 season, Hoiberg’s fifth at the helm.

A 25-9 mark, including 12-6 in conference play, culminated in ISU earning the second seed at the Big 12 Tournament. Another trophy came home to Ames. It didn’t end the way we all wanted, but altogether it was still a lot of fun.

There was ESPN GameDay live at Hilton Coliseum, where Cyclone fans showed why they are the nation’s best.

Who can forget the five wins after trailing by double-digits? The senior night come-from-behind win was like nothing I’ve ever seen.

We’ve had quite the run, Cyclone Nation.

I think the best thing, however, that Coach Hoiberg provided us was the opportunity to cheer for such quality young men. I can only speak to the guys I have worked with, but they’ve been nothing but terrific. They’ve handled an extremely difficult situation with class and dignity.

They’ve all got big hearts. They all love Iowa State and their teammates just as much as the man that drew them to Ames. That much was evident with their tweets to the man that has molded them at Iowa State.

That high character is why I’m not concerned about the future. Whichever coach ISU Athletics Director Jamie Pollard and President Steven Leath decide to hire will be getting a team full of guys that are playing for the name on the front of their jersey according to Naz Long.

“We play for the school, we play for the name on the front and we let Jamie make that decision. We are students. We have to go to school and play ball,” Long said. “The decision is theirs to make and we’ll play hard for the new coach.”

It is the lead of four-year players like Long and Niang that will carry the Cyclones through this coaching change.

I said to someone the other day, “If you would have been told that you can have Fred Hoiberg as your coach for five years only and the results would be what they were, would you have changed a thing?”

My answer is not in a million years.

As John Walters tweeted yesterday, he picked us twice.

How lucky were we?

Thanks for picking us twice, Coach Hoiberg! Good luck with the Bulls!

Posted in Men's Basketball | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Cyclones Form Bond With Special Olympics

Peters, LeviSpecialOlympics15

Community service is a big part of the Iowa State student-athlete experience. Just ask Special Olympics Iowa.

Iowa State’s partnership with the Special Olympics Iowa has been a wonderful relationship. The Special Olympics Summer Games are annually held in Ames and Iowa State University. The athletics department embraces the opportunity to volunteer their services.

With over 2,600 athletes competing, more than 3,000 coaches/volunteers are needed to put on the event. Cyclone athletes are right there to lend a hand.

A slew of Iowa State athletes from multiple sport teams offered their time and service for the 31st Special Olympics Iowa Summer Games held last weekend on the Iowa State campus.

Iowa State men’s basketball player Naz Long was chosen as the guest of honor at the opening ceremonies where he declared the beginning of the games. He joined former Cyclone hoop stars Craig Brackins and Melvin Ejim as past keynote speakers at the opening ceremonies.

It was a special honor for the Cyclone leader on the hardwood.

“It meant a lot to me to be the honorary chair for this event (Special Olympics Iowa),” Long said. “The event was not about me, it was about the Olympians. To be able to ‘high five’ each and every athlete as they came through the tunnel and to see them so happy was truly amazing. They deserve every bit of the opportunity to compete. I love their heart and the charisma. They inspire me.”

Senior men's basketball player Naz Long gives a pep talk.

Senior men’s basketball player Naz Long gives a pep talk.

Iowa State’s commitment to Special Olympics mirrors the mission of the Big 12 Conference. Since its inception in 1996, the Big 12 Conference has proudly partnered with Special Olympics and continues to work closely with the statewide Special Olympic organizations.

Lana Voga, a member of the state board of directors for Special Olympics Iowa and past chair of the event, has witnessed a 30-year collaboration between Iowa State athletes and the Special Olympics.

It’s been a relationship where both parties truly benefit.

“You can’t really explain how the Iowa State athletes interact,” Voga said. “They get so wrapped up and so enthused, and it doesn’t matter if they are doing a sport clinic or awards. To Special Olympic athletes, Iowa State athletes are who they look up to – fellow competitors. But I also think it’s important for the Iowa State athletes, because it’s a humbling experience for them. I think they gain far more than they give.”

Iowa State linebacker Levi Peters, who enthusiastically volunteered his time at the competition, is possibly the best person to back up Voga’s comments.

Just like his “All In” attitude on the gridiron, Peters wanted to make sure he made an impact on the lives of the athletes he interacted with. Observers are still trying to figure out who had a better time: Peters or the athletes.

“It was a very rewarding experience,” Peters said. “Just seeing the excitement in their eyes when I handed them my jersey was incredible. My schedule had me listed for an hour and a half. I stayed an extra two hours because I was having so much fun. I didn’t want to leave.”

IMG_3818

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment