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.

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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!

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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.”

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Jackson Has Own Memories Of Foxcatcher

Jackson Olympics

Story written by Iowa State Athletics Communications student assistant Brad DePrez

The roller coaster tale of John E. duPont, Mark Schultz, Dave Schultz, and the most notorious wrestling club of its time, Foxcatcher, was brought to the big screen in Bennett Miller’s box office smash Foxcatcher. Boasting a cast of Hollywood superstars like Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum, Foxcatcher made waves amongst wrestlers and non-wrestlers alike.

The story delves into the triumphs and tribulations faced by the Schultz brothers, John du Pont and all of Foxcatcher Wrestling.  It also captures what is ultimately one of the greatest tragedies ever felt by the wrestling community.

To go along with the award-winning cast, three-time All-American and 2010 Iowa State national champion David Zabriskie makes an appearance in the film, playing a member of team Foxcatcher.

This film, which was nominated for five Academy Awards, has even deeper ties to the Cyclone wrestling program than Zabriskie’s big-screen debut. From 1990-1995, Iowa State head coach Kevin Jackson competed for Foxcatcher.

In 1990, one of the greatest freestyle wrestlers in the history of the sport, Dave Schultz, approached Jackson and convinced the 1987 NCAA runner-up national champion to join the hottest team in international wrestling.

“Dave Schultz was probably the biggest draw (to Foxcatcher),” said Jackson. “It was also a club that could fund you in a way so that you didn’t have to worry about providing for your wife, family and kids. You could just focus on being an athlete.”

Jackson joined the squad of 30 senior-level athletes at the Foxcatcher Farm in Pennsylvania. He did not live on the farm full time, though. He continued to train and serve as an assistant coach for the Iowa State wrestling team during this time.

When Jackson did venture out to Pennsylvania to train, he was hosted by du Pont, a wrestling enthusiast, philanthropist and ultimately team Foxcatcher’s financial crutch. The Foxcatcher Farm was located on the du Pont family’s land, and this is where the top wrestlers from around the United States came to train.

Iowa State's five Olympic Gold medalists (l to r: Cael Sanderson, Glen Brand, Dan Gable, Kevin Jackson, Ben Peterson) reunite in 2007. Jake Varner joined the elite club in 2012.

Iowa State’s five Olympic Gold medalists (l to r: Cael Sanderson, Glen Brand, Dan Gable, Kevin Jackson, Ben Peterson) reunite in 2007. Jake Varner joined the elite club in 2012.

“I stayed at the big house, du Pont’s house,” Jackson said. “It was the perfect training situation for me. I’d go out there and not have to worry about anything. Every night we’d have a sit down dinner. He’d ring the bell and his maids would bring in the next course. No distractions. I didn’t have to worry about food, and I had great training partners.”

Jackson ate almost every dinner with du Pont while he trained on the farm, and held numerous conversations with the philanthropist. It was not difficult at all for Jackson, or any of the other wrestlers on the Farm, to inquire that there was something different about du Pont.

“He came from a different world than blue collar wrestlers come from,” Jackson said. “We recognized that he was different. He was a paranoid schizophrenic. I think the drugs and alcohol exaggerated it as well.”

Jackson recalls several conversations that he had with du Pont about odd aberrations that he would see on the farm. This was not an extraordinary encounter to have for those that regularly interacted with du Pont.

“He would talk about how his father worked for Disney,” Jackson said. “He said that there were a bunch of illusions on the farm, and that when it rained you could see the characters.”

These illusions and aberrations became so enflamed that du Pont believed that there were tunnels in and under his house, and that people were spying on him.

“He had wrestlers climb in between the walls to see if they could fit in there,” Jackson said. “He really believed people were spying on him. What really tipped the scales is when he started caring the gun around.”

Although Jackson describes his time on Team Foxcatcher as civil and pleasant, his dismissal from the team was not. Along with the rest of the black athletes training at Foxcatcher, Jackson received the boot from duPont’s world-renowned wrestling program in 1995. Jackson said that duPont’s heightened paranoia and schizophrenia were to blame for his ultimate demise with the Foxcatcher program.

Foxcatcher focuses mainly on the competition years from 1984-88, while Mark Schultz was in the prime of his wrestling career. Jackson narrowly missed scrapping with the 1984 gold medalist, as he was just starting his senior-level career, joining the circuit in 1987.

Although they never competed with each other, Jackson says that he had first hand experience of what Mark was capable of doing on the mat.

“When I was a younger collegiate athlete, I’d go to training camps and (Mark) would be there and he’d beat up on me,” Jackson said. “Even though we’re not that far apart in age, he still probably could have competed in my era.”

Dave Schultz and Jackson had a much different relationship, and it was one that radiated both on and off the mat. The two elite wrestlers were training partners, best friends and as Jackson put it, “brothers.”

“With Dave, it was always a good time,” Jackson said. “We worked real hard, but we were always laughing or smiling about something.”

Dave Schultz’s love and passion for the sport of wrestling was something that Jackson truly admired. His efforts to coach and better his teammates and training partners were far-reaching, especially in Jackson’s development as an elite wrestler on the world stage.

“He was one of the few guys that could devise and develop his own technique, and it would work,” Jackson said. “He was a genius in that respect. If it weren’t for Dave, I never would have developed my par terre defense. He was instrumental in my development.”

In 1996, du Pont would tragically shoot and kill Dave Schultz on the property of Foxcatcher Farm.

“I’ll never forget it,” Jackson said. “Melvin Douglas called me up, and he said, ‘du Pont did it. du Pont shot Dave.’ Right away, I knew that it was true, and it hit me like a ton of bricks.”

This was the one scene in the film that particularly struck Jackson. It was also a bit of déjà vu for him, as he had already experienced this scene through a phone call that he had with Nancy Schultz, Dave’s widowed wife, shortly after Dave’s death.

“That was the most troubling part of the movie for me, because I knew how it happened,” Jackson said.  “When I called (Nancy) after Dave’s death, that’s exactly what she told me. She said that du Pont shot him from the car, there was a security guard outside of the car and then Nancy came out of the house and he pointed the gun at her.”

Dave Schultz’s funeral served as a memorial for all of the wrestling community to take part in, and it was one that Jackson described as a surreal experience.

“Every time you’re at a big time wrestling event, and there’s all the people associated with our sport, Dave’s always there,” Jackson said. “It felt like Dave was going to pop up at any time.”

Around the time of his death, USA Wrestling was working on getting Schultz off the Foxcatcher farm, and bringing him on full time as the first USA Wrestling freestyle head coach. Before the plans were finalized, however, du Pont shot and murdered him. Two years later, Kevin Jackson was named USA Wrestling’s first freestyle head coach.

“That job was created for Dave Schultz,” Jackson said. “The plan was to get Dave out of Foxcatcher, and get him to USA Wrestling at Colorado Springs to do kind of the same stuff that he was already doing. It was already in the works. It was going to happen.”

The sport of wrestling and the USA national team lost so much when they lost Schultz. He was one of the greatest minds to ever compete or coach the sport. Jackson says that they lost all of that, on top of Schultz’s passion and love for wrestling that was matched by none other.

“This hit the whole world, not just the United States,” Jackson said. “From a technical standpoint, we lost everything. We lost our best technician. For him, wrestling was fun it was creative. It wasn’t the grind that these kids make it out to be. It was something that we loved to do and that he loved to do.”

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Lisa Kreiner: Making A Difference After Iowa State

This summer we are taking some time to catch up with some former Cyclones to see what they’ve been doing since graduating from Iowa State. Our first Alumnae Spotlight is Lisa (Kreiner) Bishop, who spent four years in northern Iraq with her family teaching. In Iraq, they founded a basketball league called “Highest Hoops.” She recently moved back to Iowa and just accepted a position as the head women’s basketball coach at Solon High School.

Highest Hoops

After graduating from Iowa State in 2005, Lisa (Kreiner) Bishop went on a path that most graduates don’t take. Her path wasn’t planned, but it’s one she wouldn’t trade.

It all started when she moved to Iowa City in 2005 with her husband, Andy, and felt the urge to move overseas and reach another culture. With a large international student population in Iowa City, the two began having a heart for the world and eventually discovered an organization based out of Nashville that sends Americans to northern Iraq.

“There’s a lot of international students here in Iowa City and just the more we were growing in our faith, the more we felt like we wanted to go overseas and that’s something that God was kind of calling us to do,” Bishop said. “We were just kind of open to the idea but had no idea where or what that would look like.”

In April of 2010, Lisa and Andy packed their bags and moved to Duhok, Kurdistan, Iraq, with their then- 13-month old son. The couple would both serve as teachers in a Christian school in Duhok, with Lisa teaching art and Andy teaching science and humanities.

Highest Hoops

The family spent 10 months a year in Iraq and returned to the United States for two months in the summer. They would become immersed in the Duhok community and connected with many locals during their four years in Iraq.

Highest Hoops

“We have a lot of memories from our time over there,” Bishop said. “There were just a lot of really special friendships. There is cultural frustration—don’t get me wrong— and it wasn’t easy by any means, but the relationships that we had were ones that we will never forget and friends that we will never forget and lots of memories.”

After two years in Duhok, they got an idea to start training the youth to play basketball in order to encourage more community outreach. Lisa noticed that many of the young girls in Duhok didn’t have an outlet outside of school. Most of them went to school and returned home to help their mothers around the house. There simply weren’t any organized activities for girls in the town.

They started off as a four-week clinic to focus on life skills and basketball fundamentals with kids at their school. They also reached out to other local schools in the area and visited about 20 different schools around town and invited them to participate in youth basketball training.

That’s how “Highest Hoops” was born.

Highest Hoops

For a year and a half the couple trained children from across Duhok to play basketball.

“Starting Highest Hoops was one of the greatest opportunities God has given me,” Bishop said. “It was a chance to use the gifts He has given me to love and serve others so that He is given more glory in a land that has been broken by war and hate. I believe that some of the Highest Hoops players have been “paying it forward” and helping their country in small ways since we have left.  I’m very thankful to have been involved in something that truly makes a difference in that part of the world.”

Highest Hoops

After four years in Iraq they decided it was best to return to America. They started training locals in Iraq to take over coaching in their absence so the program would continue.

Highest Hoops

Just two weeks after returning to the United States, they got word that ISIS invaded parts of northern Iraq and the town of Duhok was now the home of 500,000 refugees who had fled from the terrorist group. Many members of the community also began fleeing to Turkey, Canada and Lebanon among other places to ensure their safety. Refugees who were unable to flee the country took shelter in schools, gyms and construction sites.

“Things just kind of got crazy at that point, and I don’t even think we can— even though we lived there two weeks prior to that happening—even really fathom what the city was like at that point and how much fear and what they were going through,” Bishop said.

With basketball on a temporary hiatus, the young students have not abandoned Highest Hoops altogether. Instead, in light of the circumstances, they implemented the life skills the Bishops preached, about being a good person, making good choices and helping others.

“A lot of them, which is really encouraging, have gone to the refugee camps and served in that way,” Bishop said. “A lot of the players that we were training, they have a heart to serve others just because of other things that we have tried to pull into their lives and encouraged them to look beyond themselves and into other people. That has kind of been how they have continued is nothing to do with basketball, but by really loving on the refugees that are there.”

After returning to Iowa, Bishop saw a posting for the head girls’ basketball coach at Solon High School. She was immediately intrigued as she has always wanted to be a high school coach.

“[Coaching at Solon] also wasn’t really in the plan,” she said jokingly. “When we moved back, we knew that we wanted to be part of the Solon area. We are both from smaller towns, like Solon, so we found a house in Solon. I have been a stay-at-home mom for the most part. I did a little bit of basketball, a little bit of teaching, but my main role has been to be a stay-at-home mom which has been amazing, but then this opening for the head varsity job opened up and it was something that I feel like I have wanted to do, was be a varsity coach ever since I was a freshman in high school. So my husband and I just talked and prayed a lot about it and we just feel like this is an opportunity that would be a really good fit. So I applied and I got offered the job.”

Part of her eagerness to coach high school basketball stems from seeing the opportunity to not only teach basketball but to be a mentor for the athletes.

“I’m really excited to get the opportunity to work with the girls and work with basketball but feel like I have a heart for life skills and to be a good role model and a mentor for the girls as well as being a basketball coach,” she said.

A lot of her coaching style is modeled from her what she learned from her high school coach and also Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly, who coached her from 2001-05. What she appreciated most about Fennelly was that he cared the student athletes off the court. He always asked about school and family.

“[The way he interacted with us] was just something I appreciated because I loved basketball, but it wasn’t my life,” she said. “He modeled that really, really well. By him showing that there’s more to life than just basketball and showing that he truly loved and cared for us for who we were and not just what he felt like we brought to the program. He really cared for us as young adults and just by him investing in our academics and our family life and really caring for us, doing the right thing, and treating people they way you want to be treated.”

She admits she uses a few of Fennelly’s motivational taglines when she coaches and plans to continue the trend at Solon. Her go-to is “Stick together, play hard, have fun,” which was in the locker room during her time at Iowa State.

Between moving to Iraq, starting a basketball league and becoming the head coach at Solon, the last 10 years have been a whirlwind for Bishop and her family. However, it goes to show that sometimes the best things in life aren’t planned.

Posted in Women's Basketball | Tagged | 1 Comment

What’s Your Mark?

It’s been another banner year for the Iowa State men’s and women’s golf programs. Both teams are ranked in the nation’s top-40 and are advancing on to NCAA postseason play, which begins on Thursday for the Cyclone women.

As the teams prepare for NCAA Regionals, we asked each player how they mark their golf ball for competition. As you will see, each player as their own superstitions and personality. Click on each individual photo for an up-close view.

M.J

M.J. Kamin – Freshman, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

“I put two black brackets on the sides of the number because my dad did two brackets on top of the number. I thought it would be funny if I filled in the box. I have always stuck with the two brackets. I also put a putting line on the side. A lot of people do circles, but lines aren’t very common.”

Celia Barquin

Celia Barquin – Freshman, Puente San Miguel, Spain

“I always like to have my name on the ball. I make it really big so I don’t hit another player’s ball. It’s happened a couple of times in my life. If I make it bigger, I know it is my ball.”

Nattapan Siritrai

Nattapan Siritrai – Freshman, Bangkok, Thailand

“I like to put a crown because it means champion.”

Chonlada Chayanun

Chonlada Chayanun – Senior, Nakhonratchaslma, Thailand

“I put my real name, my nickname and my initials on the ball. I like to have a lot of things on the ball to make it special. When you see golf balls from long distances mostly you just see white, but mine is like blue and white. I always know where my ball is. I tried to stop doing it, but I can’t. It’s me and I have to keep doing this.”

Cajsa Persson

Cajsa Persson – Junior, Jönköping, Sweden

“I put three stars in different colors. I don’t have a real reason for it. It’s simple to do, it goes quick and it’s kind of colorful. I have been doing this for about six years. It’s my standard thing. I have never had any problems identifying my ball. I’m not like Celia.”

Collin Fostergraphic

Collin Foster – Junior, Waukee, Iowa

“I put a line over the Bridgestone and then two little dots and make a big I. I started marking my ball like this before regionals last year and played pretty well, so I decided this is going to be my mark for now on. It’s pretty simple to make, and it looks pretty clean, which I like.”

Jack Cartergraphic

Jack Carter – Sophomore, Columbus, Ohio

“I’ve had the same mark and template for a while and it’s got a plain circle on it. I think my game is pretty simple and I like things simple, so it’s just a circle right under the name of the ball. By the number I’ve got a cross. To me golf is a gift from God. To be able to play for him is a blessing.”

Scott Fernandezgraphic

Scott Fernandez – Senior, Granada, Spain

“I started marking my ball with a smiley face, just to kind of keep a nice atmosphere on the course. Every morning you need to smile and enjoy the moment. It’s been helping me enjoy my rounds. I said to myself at regionals that something is missing to this smiley face. I needed to be a bit more aggressive, so I added some teeth to kind of bite those birdies. It represents enjoying the moment, and I think I’m doing a good job of that.”

Nick Vokegraphic

Nick Voke – Sophomore, Auckland, New Zealand

“I started doing this probably the late half of 2011. I have three dots next to the number. I remember I hit a golf ball into the water and after the round someone came up and said, ‘This is your ball.’ That’s why you mark it and I thought, ‘Oh wow, I better stick with that,’ and I ended up winning that tournament.”

Ruben Sondjajagraphic

Ruben Sondjaja – Sophomore, Sydney, Australia

“I’ve got red markings on my golf ball. Red signifies Iowa State. I put 413 for my favorite bible verse, Philippians 4:13. My faith is very important and kind of grown on me since I’ve been over here (United States). I have been doing this for a long time. It’s just a cool verse that I really like and I hold onto while on the golf course.”

Jorge Utrillagraphic

Jorge Utrilla – Freshman, Zaragoza, Spain

“I put two Js one above the other, just behind the lettering on the ball.  You have to differentiate your ball from the others, so what a better way to differentiate than putting your initial of your two names. The first J is for Jorge and the second J is for my grandpa. I started doing this about three years ago and it works pretty good.”

Sam Daleygraphic

Sam Daley – Senior, Wynnum, Australia

“I put on my golf ball the Southern Cross. It’s from Australia and on our national flag. It just reminds me where I’m from and who I’m playing for. I’m proud of my family and a proud Australian.”

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The Life And Times Of Tim Van Galder

Van Galder, Tim_2

Former Iowa State quarterback Tim Van Galder has a fascinating story to tell.

Van Galder is a man who can claim his college football team scrapped its traditional offensive schemes for his immense talents, ultimately etching his name into the Iowa State and Big Eight record books.

He’s a man who excelled in two sports while at Iowa State, catching the eye of ISU Hall-of-Famer Cap Timm by chance and subsequently molding him into an all-conference pitcher on the baseball diamond.

He’s also a man who enjoyed a wonderful post-graduate career in professional football and sports broadcasting, rubbing elbows with a slew of American sports icons along the way.

So, who is Tim Van Galder?

For starters, Van Galder is now an Iowa State Athletics Hall-of-Famer. He earned the ultimate achievement bestowed upon his alma mater’s athletics department on April 13 when it was announced he was a member of the six-person Class of 2015.

It was a phone call he wasn’t prepared to receive.

“Wow, it is a tough emotion to describe because I thought my days of being inducted into any kind of Hall of Fame were over,” Van Galder said about receiving the news of his enshrinement. “When I got the call from the senior associate AD (David Harris), I was obviously shocked and I think they must be running out of folks to go back 50 years. But nonetheless, it’s a wonderful honor.”

A Trend-Setter At Iowa State

Van Galder laid the groundwork for his charmed life when the QB enrolled at Iowa State in the Fall of 1963 after a season at New Mexico Military Institute.

The Madison, Wis., native, who was nicknamed “Spider” by his teammates, had a cannon of an arm, but college football in that era was a grounded game where teams sparingly threw the ball and mostly relied on a pounding rushing attack.

ISU was no exception, as Hall-of-Fame football coach Clay Stapleton had molded his squads around the single-wing offense, a formation which featured four-back sets and few passes.

A natural drop-back passer, Van Galder didn’t fit, and the 1964 season was a disaster.

“They (Iowa State) threw an average of 2-4 times a game and were just a running football team, just like the entire Big Eight Conference was,” Van Galder remembered.  “We didn’t throw it a ton. As an example, in 1964 there wasn’t one drop-back pass in the entire offense. Everything was roll-out or sprint-out. In high school, all I did was drop-back. My sophomore year I was pretty much lost and my statistics I think back that up. I was pretty much last in the conference in every category.”

Changes were coming in the off-season. Stapleton saw talent in his strong-armed signal-caller and decided to start passing the ball more.

Ditching his old schemes, Stapleton geared his offense toward the arm of Van Galder. A star began to shine in 1965.

“He (Stapleton) basically did change the offense for me,” Van Galder said. “When this new coach came in my sophomore year (Tommy Steigleder), he convinced Stapleton to alter the whole offense to a drop-back offense, and that’s what I had been used to. That’s when instead of throwing 3-5 times a game, we started throwing 15-20 times a game.”

Flanked by a pair of outstanding receivers in All-Big Eight performer and future NFL star Eppie Barney and Tom Busch, Van Galder posted record-setting numbers. He led the Big Eight in both passing (1,418) and total offense.

Having a target like Barney to throw to certainly helped Van Galder and the Cyclones. ISU finished 5-4-1 and was in consideration for its first ever bowl bid until falling at New Mexico, 10-9 in the season finale.

“In my sophomore year, he (Barney) was a defensive back,” Van Galder said. “In my junior year, they moved him to wide receiver, which was a hell of a break for me and obviously panned out. He could really fly and he could catch the ball and was fun to play with. He was a great guy, too.”

“My junior year, I thought we were really competitive,” added Van Galder. “Going into the last game we got upset by New Mexico. Had we won the game, we had a chance to go to the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, but, hey, it didn’t work out.”

Van Galder broke virtually every school passing record in his senior season in 1966. He once again led the Big Eight in both passing (1,645) and total offense (1,749), shattering school marks in both categories. His total offense tally eclipsed the Big Eight record and ranked 12th nationally.

In his second-to-last game, Van Galder destroyed ISU’s single-game passing mark by becoming the first Cyclone ever to throw for over 300 yards in a game (335) in a 27-24 loss at Arizona.

He ended his ISU football career by playing in the East-West Shrine Game.

Cyclone Star On The Diamond

Van Galder’s heroics in baseball happened by accident.

During spring football in 1964, Van Galder injured his shoulder. Barely able to lift his arm, he couldn’t bat or field as a member of the freshman baseball team. Instead, he was just regulated to tossing soft throws in batting practice.

The following season, ISU head baseball coach Cap Timm had a transfer third baseman, the position Van Galder played, pegged to take over at the spot. Timm remembered Van Galder’s ability to toss strikes in batting practice.

“Cap told me, ‘Well, I’ve got my third baseman and I saw last spring that you could throw strikes,’” Van Galder recalled. “He told me I could make the team as a pitcher. Low and behold, I started the first game of the season against Kansas State and had a good game. I would practice spring football from Monday through Thursday. On Friday, I would pitch the first game of the double-header and play in the field in the second game. I would then go back to football practice on Saturdays. I only got to play baseball one day a week.”

Timm’s observation was astute. Van Galder was named First-Team All-Big Eight as a pitcher in 1965, ending the season with an impressive 1.57 ERA, six complete games, 45 strikeouts and a 4-3 mark.

“He was the greatest, nicest coach I have ever had in any sport,” Van Galder said about Timm.

Iowa State’s Last No-Hitter

Van Galder played one more season of baseball in 1966 where he will forever be an answer to an Iowa State trivia question. On May 6, 1966, Van Galder became the last Cyclone pitcher to throw a no-hitter, helping the Cyclones defeat Colorado, 4-2.

Van Galder struck out six batters, issued six walks and two runs crossed the plate, but none of them were earned and zero Buffaloes could muster a hit.

“I would make a bad pitch and they would hit it right to somebody,” Van Galder said humbly about the historical game. “There is so much luck in that (throwing a no-hitter).”

Box score from Tim Van Galder's no-hitter.

Box score from Tim Van Galder’s no-hitter.

Moving On To The NFL

Van Galder’s accomplishments on the gridiron attracted interest from many professional teams and was eventually drafted by both the NFL (St. Louis Cardinals) and the AFL (Houston Oilers).

After choosing the NFL, Van Galder spent two seasons on the Cardinals’ practice squad where he was able to take graduate courses at nearby Washington University.

Because of Van Galder’s commitment to the Army’s ROTC program, he had a two-year obligation to fulfill for Uncle Sam. He opted to take a break from his football career.

“When you are in ROTC, normally you take care of your two-year active duty right after you graduate,” Van Galder said. “When I was thinking ROTC, professional football might have been the furthest thing from my mind. After the second year with the Cardinals, I thought I had to get these two years out of the way. So I dropped out of graduate school and went in for two years. I spent one year in Korea and one year in Oklahoma.”

With his Army commitments fulfilled, Van Galder returned to the Cardinals’ practice squad for one more season.

Little did he know he was about to make history again.

Beating Johnny U

Toiling on the practice unit for a number of seasons, Van Galder began to impress the St. Louis coaching staff. His hard work paid off when the former Cyclone earned the starting QB job for the Cardinals as a 28-year-old rookie in 1972.

“You have to remember, I played not a bunch, but in some exhibition games, so I had a little experience,” Van Galder said.

The Cardinals would begin the 1972 campaign on Sept. 17th and their first opponent was going to be formidable. Van Galder would be going head-to-head against one of his childhood heroes in Johnny Unitas and the Baltimore Colts at Memorial Stadium.

Van Galder would navigate the Cardinals to a 10-3 road upset win in the season-opener, completing 10-of-15 passes for 110 yards with zero interceptions.

The win over the Colts shocked the NFL. The Associated Press ran this story following the game.

Tim Van Galder has qualified for the National Football League’s pension plan for football players. It could mean a lot larger pension than the one he’d have gotten if he had remained in the Army.

The 28-year-old rookie- by NFL rules- directed the St. Louis Cardinals to a 10-3 upset of the Baltimore Colts Sunday as pro football began its 1972 season.

“Not only was this my first regular season start, it qualified me for the NFL pension,” explained Van Galder, who upstaged one of the game’s old pros, Johnny Unitas. He spent three years on St. Louis’ taxi squad and two years in the Army before getting into a regular season game. – Associated Press

Van Galder was the talk of pro football. He will always remember beating Johnny U.

“It was a little overwhelming because as a kid I watched a Colts game with Unitas the year they won the NFL title in 1958,” said Van Galder. “Now fast-forward 14 years later and I’m going to start against him. I couldn’t believe it. In the first quarter I’m standing next to one of my teammates and I said, ‘You know who’s playing out there? It’s number 19. It’s Johnny U.’ I was like a little kid. It was just so neat. As things turned out, we won the game and that was kind of my 15 minutes of fame.”

Van Galder started the first five games of the Cardinals’ 1972 season, becoming the first of only four players in Iowa State history to start a game at QB in the NFL – David Archer, Sage Rosenfels and Seneca Wallace joined the club later. The Cardinals’ coaching staff opted to hand over the reins to the offense in mid-season to Jim Hart, who remained the team’s starting QB for the next nine seasons.

Van Galder was let go at the end of the season.

“It was my own fault,” Van Galder admitted. “I didn’t say the right things. They were deciding to keep me as a back-up and I didn’t give them what they wanted to hear. I should have told them that I’ll be the best back-up quarterback in the league. I wasn’t smart enough. As it turned out he (Hart) ended up having a hell of a career. No question, one of the best quarterbacks in franchise history. I enjoyed my time with the Cardinals and I tricked them long enough to send me a pension check.”

Van Galder, Tim2Cards

Tim Van Galder started five games at QB for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1972.

Broadway Joe

When he was cut by the Cardinals, Van Galder had already begun positioning himself into another career in sports broadcasting. He stayed in St. Louis working with KMOX-TV as a sports anchor beginning in 1973.

However, NFL teams still needed quality QBs, and calls kept coming. The first came from the Cincinnati Bengals where an innovative offensive coordinator named Bill Walsh was starting to perfect his “West Coast” offense.

“I went there for a few weeks, but it didn’t work out,” Van Galder said. “He (Walsh) was a neat guy. He explained everything. When he put in a new play, you understood what he was trying to do. He was great. Anyhow, that didn’t work out so I came back to St. Louis and started doing TV full-time.”

The 1973 season was coming to a close and the New York Jets began to show interest. Joe Namath was out for the season with a separated shoulder and the Jets back-up, Al Woodall, also went down with a knee injury.

The Jets were frantically seeking a back-up for third-string QB Bill Demory until Woodall returned. Enter Tim Van Galder.

“I get a call from the Jets because their quarterbacks were out with a number of injuries,” Van Galder recalled. “Namath was out for the year and Woodall was banged up and going to be out at least three weeks. They needed somebody to backup Bill Demory. I went to my boss at the TV station and got it arranged for me to go to New York to finish off the season.”

Namath, or the aptly-named Broadway Joe for his off-the-field exploits, was one of the most polarizing figures in professional sports at the time. Soon, Van Galder would be thrust into his legendary world.

“The second day I was there, Joe comes up to me and says, ‘Tim, where are you staying?’” Van Galder said. “I was only going to be there three weeks and I told him I was staying at one of the assistant’s apartment. He said, ‘Well hell, you’re more than welcome to stay with me.’ I thought to myself, ‘Me, with Joe Namath?’”

One could only imagine the stories Van Galder has about his three-week stint as roommates with Namath. He offered this one up for us.

“My wife came out to visit me for a few days,” Van Galder said. “I got home one afternoon and we were all shooting the breeze in Joe’s apartment. I asked him where a good spot we could get a bite to eat. He said, ‘Oh, you got to go to this great place on Lexington.’ I said, ‘Great!’”

Not thinking that Namath needed company, Van Galder never imagined to ask him if he wanted to come along. The next moment stunned Van Galder.

“It was so cute and I wish I had a movie of it,” Van Galder remembered. “He was kind of moving his head back and forth and he says, ‘Do you think it would be okay if I came too, if I went to dinner with you two?’ I said, ‘Of course!’ He says, ‘Great, I’ll get a date.’ The next part was just like the movies. He pulls out this little black book and he starts paging through it. He picks up the phone and calls a girl, and I can only hear his end of the conversation, but I remember hearing him say, ‘Yeah, I know I haven’t talked to you in six months.’ We all went out on a double-date and had a great time.”

Van Galder will always cherish the brief bond he made with Namath.

“My God, he couldn’t have been a nicer gentleman,” Van Galder said. “He was the most down to earth, nicest fella you would ever want to meet.”

The NFL ON CBS

Van Galder officially hung up the cleats after the 1973 season and went back to work at KMOX-TV as the sports anchor. He stayed there until the mid-1980s.

As the NFL started to grow in popularity, so did its exposure on national television. NFL television contract revenue began to skyrocket and the demand for broadcasting games followed suit.

CBS owned the rights to NFC games and was seeking color analysts for its broadcasts. CBS zeroed in on Van Galder, who was a perfect choice. He was already working in the profession and he had knowledge of the game.

“I worked two games in 1975, one with Don Criqui and the other with Al Michaels,” Van Galder said.

Van Galder was slated for more games in 1976. His partner that season was a young up-and-coming broadcaster named Bob Costas.

The pair had already formed a friendship the year before. Costas’ first job after graduating from Syracuse was the play-by-play man for the American Basketball Association’s (ABA) St. Louis Spirits on KMOX radio.

KMOX housed both its television and radio departments in the same building.

“His (Costas) very first job out of college was with the Spirits on KMOX,” Van Galder said. “We were in the same building. They were just one floor above. I got to know him really well. My nickname around here was TVG. I nicknamed him, YBC, young Bob Costas. To this day, he’s listed as YBC in my phone.”

Van Galder enjoyed covering NFL games with Costas.

“He’s a great guy and so talented,” Van Galder said. “It was so easy to work with him. My deal was I wasn’t such a big name and I probably wasn’t that great at it either. But, all you are doing is telling folks what they just saw. It’s not science, but it was fun.”

Returning To Ames

Life has settled down for the 70-year-old Van Galder. He certainly has packed in a ton of excitement in his seven decades.

He recently moved back to the town that gave him so many memories in St. Louis. If you want to reach him, try driving by a golf course. That’s where he spends most of his days with his golfing buddies sharing memories of the past.

If he is on the course, don’t try calling him. The phone is left in the car when he’s playing.

Van Galder admits he has returned to Ames on just a few occasions since graduating from Iowa State in 1967.

He will be back for the Hall of Fame ceremony on the weekend of Oct. 16-17. He wouldn’t miss it for the world. In fact, he had already scheduled a trip to Ames that weekend prior to receiving his prestigious honor to reunite with some old friends.

“What is ironic, I was planning on coming back that weekend to hook up with a bunch of fraternity guys,” Van Galder said. “They (Iowa State) are also going to have a 50-year reunion for the 1965 team that same weekend. Wow, it’s going to be neat to see everybody again.”

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