Ten Iowa athletes reflected on the past and looked toward the future Friday as the Iowa athletics department took its show on a virtual road.
The group of seniors were guests on the first Hawkeye Events Live, a series of once-a-week online video discussions that because of the COVID-19 pandemic is replacing the statewide tour Iowa coaches and athletes traditionally have participated in each spring.
Coaches Kirk Ferentz, Lisa Bluder, Tom Brands, Fran McCaffery and Vicki Brown will follow Iowa radio play-by-play voice Gary Dolphin as featured guests in upcoming weeks, fielding questions not only from host Laura VandeBerg but from the online audience as well.
Friday’s participants learned football players Landan and Levi Paulsen are planning a fall hunting expedition to Wyoming, women’s basketball player Makenzie Meyer will take dental school admissions exams next month and that baseball pitcher Grant Leonard and track athlete Daniel Murphy will forgo the opportunity for an additional year of eligibility offered by the NCAA after their spring sports seasons were canceled.
Both Leonard and Murphy plan to enter the workforce, although Leonard said his entrance will be determined by what transpires next month in baseball’s shortened 2020 draft.
Wrestler Pat Lugo talked about continuing to chase his Olympic dreams as a member of the Hawkeye Wrestling Club and volleyball player Emily Bushman discussed beginning law school classes at Iowa in the fall but maintaining a strong interest in the program she was a part of as the Hawkeye volleyball team moves its matches to a newly-constructed arena in Coralville.
Field hockey standout Ryley Miller, soccer player Claire Graves and gymnast Gina Leal joined the others in talking about their Hawkeye experiences.
Meyer joined the Paulsen twins in encouraging young people to experience as many things as they can at the high school level before zeroing on one sport they choose to concentrate on in college.
“Try everything,’’ Meyer said. “When you get to college, there will be time to focus on one and put the work in. You will need to you will be competing with tough, competitive athletes, but in high school enjoy it all.’’
Landan Paulsen recalled receiving a text message from Iowa football strength and conditioning coordinator Chris Doyle shortly after offseason work began in the winter prior to his senior season last fall.
“I remember the text well. He said he felt we had a chance to have a really special year and he couldn’t have been more right,’’ the offensive lineman said. “That text laid the foundation for everything that happened last season. We might not have been the largest senior class, but nobody had better chemistry and cohesion than we did.’’
Those bonds were a common theme of many of the Hawkeye student-athletes as they talked about spending the past four-to-five years together.
“You work together every day. They become your family,’’ Bushman said.
Lugo discussed that same type of bond developing within the Iowa wrestling team last season and how he hopes to help that bond continue to develop in the future.
“I remember the guys who gave back to me and now it’s my turn to give back and help the guys who will wrestle next year,’’ Lugo said. “Some of those guys, as I train, they will help me, too. You’re always a student of the game.’’
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