My alarm went off at 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning. You may be thinking, “Poor Derek, Saturdays are for catching up on all the sleep you miss because of school.” Well, you’re not wrong, but you’re still wrong. Why? Because it is HAWKEYE GAME-DAY!
Finally, the time has come for Hawkeye Football, and I could not be more excited about it. I have been a Hawkeye fan since I can remember. I’ve been to games before becoming a student at Iowa, but actually being a Hawkeye and attending these games is a whole other experience.
After waking up so darn early on a Saturday, I got my Iowa Football shirt on. On the back it has the Iowa Classic A.N.F. label. For those who are unaware of what this acronym means, it is ‘America Needs Farmers.’ I brushed my teeth, had a Pop-Tart, and headed out the door with my roommate.
My roommate and I met up with a group in front of Daum Residence Hall (on the east side of campus) and made the trek all the way to Kinnick Stadium (on the west side of campus). To some people, the walk is boring and long. On Hawkeye game-day, it is such a festive walk. People are all decked out in black and gold, hootin’ and hollerin’, and just celebrating their love for the Hawkeyes. It makes the walk seem shorter than it actually is.
We finally arrive at Kinnick Stadium and before our eyes is the sea of black and gold. You hear all different types of music. From old style country to modern day hip-hop, everyone is having a good ‘ole time. The smells consist of burgers, breakfast, and well, pretty much anything that can be grilled. If you want some free food, take advantage of this opportunity. Not only will people give you a plate of some good grub, but they will welcome you because you’re a Hawkeye.
The term ‘Iowa Nice’ really comes into play on game-day Saturdays. You see fans, no matter what team they are cheering for, come together to have a good time before the game.
After we arrive and check out the game-day scene, we decide to get in line for the student section tickets. It is about 8:45 a.m. when we get our spot in line. They let in the students an hour and a half early, and since the game started at 11 a.m., we were let in at 9:30 a.m.
Those 45 minutes went by so quickly. Everyone is excited to get in the stadium so the chatter about the game keeps you occupied.
The goosebumps arose when they played a ‘hype video’ on the south end-zone scoreboard. It replayed highlights last season, displayed all of the die-hard Hawkeye fans, and finally, former Iowa defensive lineman Mike Daniels shouts, “We fight for Iowa!”. Man, I have goosebumps just typing it out.
Everyone goes crazy. You can literally feel the sound of 70,000+ fans scream as the Hawkeyes band together to ‘swarm’ the field hand in hand. The song ‘Back in Black’ blares, everyone is on their feet clapping to the beat. It is game time!
Before the National Anthem is played, the crowd hears the famous Heisman Acceptance Speech from the legend himself, Nile Kinnick. So many things get me riled up for Hawkeye Game-day, but this has to be the most thrilling. Some people even have it memorized. I am going to make myself memorize it before my time being a student ends.
The flags are off the field, the coin is flipped. It. is. GAMETIME.
There are so many cheers that were new to me. Being in the 2nd row, I had a pretty nice view of the game and the overall atmosphere. My favorite cheer, however, is the ‘I-O-W-A’ cheer that takes all of Kinnick Stadium. After every score, the spirit squad raises a flag with your designated letter. So, if you are seated nearest the ‘I’ flag, as I was, you form your body into the letter ‘I’ and yell as loud as you can ‘I!’. The whole stadium follows, spelling Iowa. It goes on for a couple minutes at least, and it sure is deafening.
The Hawkeyes took the win against a solid Wyoming team, with the final score being 24-3. I’m proud to say that I am 1-0 while sitting in the student section.
Now, during this week I’m writing this post, is ‘Beat State Week’ or ‘Hate Week’. Why? Well, we face our in-state rivals, the Iowa State Cyclones. If you are a Hawkeye fan, you know how much this game means to us. It gives us bragging rights for a year and makes Iowa officially the ‘Hawkeye State’. It really doesn’t do anything officially, but we like to make it feel like we are better.
In my hometown, the Hawkeye to Cyclone fan ratio is split pretty evenly. Here in Iowa City, it is all Hawkeyes, go figure. Actually, you’d be surprised how many Iowa State fans go to the University of Iowa. One student I met is a die-hard Cyclone fan, but works as a video-team member for Hawkeye Football. Ironic, huh?
Speaking of my hometown, one of my bus drivers is a HUGE Cyclone fan. He would always give me grief about choosing to go to Iowa instead of Iowa State. He even made up his own acronym: I.O.W.A. = I Oughtta Went to Ames! Pretty clever, even for a Cyclone fan. Frank, if you read this, we ought to see who wins! Go Hawks, beat State!
Overall, the game-day experience is everything I imagined it would be. The environment is so electric, you don’t even have to try to feel it. Even if you don’t like football, I highly suggest going to a game. You’ll have a fun time no matter your knowledge of the game. It is sure something I will remember forever. It made me proud to be a student here, to be black and gold, but most importantly, a Hawkeye!