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5 Iowa City residents explain what Hawkeye football means to them


As the first weekend of September approaches, so does the start of the University of Iowa’s football season. Depending who you ask, game days in our “Big Ten” town are either infamous or famous, and while the Hawkeyes are heroes to some, other residents eye upcoming home games with annoyance, if not down-right dread.

For much of the student population, though, this year’s season carries a special significance: the beginning of UI Junior CJ Beathard’s career as starting quarterback. As the notoriously respectful and gregarious student athlete takes the helm, the public image of Iowa football and the climate around Kinnick Staduim may change for the better.

There was no better time to ask Iowa City residents what football means to them. Here are their spontaneous responses.

1. Katy Meyer, Chef/Owner at Trumpet Blossom Café

Family history and football are connected for Meyer, a vegan restauranteur — photo by Mal Zook
Family history and football are connected for Meyer, a vegan restauranteur — photo by Mal Zook

“Basically it just means that we see who our dedicated customers are for brunch on certain weekends. Some people don’t want to leave their homes if there’s a home game on a Saturday, and yeah, I kinda can understand that. But the flipside is basically the reason that I came to the University of Iowa— my grandpa was a huge football fan and had season tickets for thirty years. He lived in Illinois, so when Iowa would beat Illinois, he was known to put Hawkeye bumper stickers on Illinois fans cars. It was super fun.”

2. Hayley Achenbaugh, UI Sophomore

Achenbaugh studies ethics, public policy and philosophy at UI —photo by Madeline Riegel
Achenbaugh studies ethics, public policy and philosophy at UI —photo by Madeline Riegel

“Iowa football to me is kind of the entire Iowa legacy. I came from a super, ‘Go Hawks!’ town. You see flags everywhere, you see decals everywhere, and going here, well, University of Iowa football is the University of Iowa. That’s just what it is.”

3. John Witte, UI Graduate Student and Communications T.A.

Football season tests Witte’s patience — photo by Mal Zook
Football season tests Witte’s patience — photo by Mal Zook

“I’ve never even watched a game on TV. A lot of people seem to enjoy it, though. I’ve had some nice football players in my classes. But it’s the least important thing in my life, I think maybe ever.”

4. Dr. Julia Oliver Rajan, PhD, Professor of Spanish Studies

Dr. Rajan talks to students about the way football culture is blended and contorted — photo by Mal Zook
Dr. Rajan talks to students about the way football culture is blended and contorted — photo by Mal Zook

“Iowa football means crazy fans going all over Iowa. It means enthusiasm, happiness. It is a good time when there is football in Iowa. You see more movement, more people coming from other states, other cities. It’s a time to spend with friends and family. So it’s a happy time, I think. Football in Iowa is happy time.”

5. Joe Sparks, new UI alum

Like many native Iowans, Sparks has been an avid football fan since childhood — photo by Mal Zook
Like many native Iowans, Sparks has been an avid football fan since childhood — photo by Mal Zook

“Iowa football has meant a lot my whole life. I grew up in Iowa, grew up watching Iowa play when I was younger — Tim Dwight, Drew Tate, players like that. My whole life it’s been important, and now that I’ve graduated from Iowa it means even more. I’m glad it’s football season.”


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