Greenway: Small-Town Boy Does Well

Sept. 29, 2003

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared on, the official world wide web site of the Big Ten Conference.

During last week’s Big Ten football teleconference, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz closed his weekly comments by inviting to the call, the Big Ten co-Defensive Player of the Week, Chad Greenway. Typically, reporters from across the nation long to talk to the star quarterback or running back, but they were all in for a treat with Mr. Greenway.

After stating that Greenway was a “delightful young man,” Ferentz told the media to ask his sophomore linebacker about hog farming.

“As far as work ethic is concerned, I’ve learned a lot from my father. He’s probably the strongest and hardest worker I have ever met.”
Iowa linebacker Chad Greenway

That’s certainly an icebreaker isn’t it?

But for Greenway, it wasn’t tough to talk about at all. In fact, the first reporter explained to him that Ferentz told the media to start firing questions at him about his home life. Greenway fired right back.

“Well, we had about 4,000 pigs,” he said from the start. “We had 100 cows and we farm 1,200 acres.”

Everyone loves the good’ ol boy, right?

The 240-pound Hawkeye hails from Mt. Vernon, S.D., a town of just 365 people.

It’s the kind of town where the number of churches outnumber the gas stations. A kind of town where volunteers are the only personnel inside the lone firehouse. A kind of town where there aren’t enough kids to play a full 11-on-11 football in high school.

But it’s that kind of town that instills the hard work ethic, the firm beliefs, and strong family values that Greenway displays each day of his life.

“As far as work ethic is concerned, I’ve learned a lot from my father,” Greenway explains. “He’s probably the strongest and hardest worker I have ever met.”

Greenway has displayed the work ethic he learned from his father both on the farm and on the field. The former Mt. Vernon High School quarterback and defensive back played nine-man football through his prep years, while starring on the basketball, baseball and track and field teams as well.

It was football though where Greenway found his niche. He was a three-time South Dakota all-stater and the Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior. All Greenway wanted to do was continue on in football. He just wanted a chance, and that’s what Iowa offered him.

“If they would have wanted me to play quarterback, I would have played quarterback,” he said. “I would have done whatever they wanted me to do.”

In 2001, Greenway was redshirted for his freshman campaign, but he earned the Team Leader Award on defense. The following year he suffered a knee injury near the end of spring practice and was forced to have major re-constructive surgery.

So it was back to the farm he went, rehabbing his knee by working with his father.

“I think that helped me from a work ethic point of view when I had to get back on the field after having a knee injury.”

To no surprise, Greenway made it back on the field after missing the first four games of the 2002 season. He saw limited action in the final eight of the last nine games, and was also one of two redshirt freshmen selected to the team’s Leadership Group.

This season however, Greenway is proving that a small-town kid can make it big. Greenway ranks among the Big Ten leaders in tackles, a number that was bolstered by back-to-back 17-tackle games in Iowa’s final two non-conference games of 2004.

Greenway and the Hawkeyes return to action Saturday when Iowa entertains Michigan in this year’s Homecoming game. ABC will televise the game live beginning at 2:30 p.m. (Iowa time).

In fact, Hawkeye fans have continued to praise Greenway for his efforts this season on various Iowa fan websites. Message boards have become accustomed to posting thoughts such as Greenway “hits like (Chicago Bears linebacker) Brian Urlacher,” or “moves from sideline to sideline as quick as (Baltimore Ravens) Ray Lewis.”

Chad Greenway has worked hard to get to where he is today. Not only has he made his head coach Kirk Ferentz proud, but all 365 patrons back in Mt. Vernon, S.D. should be smiling wide as well.

And certainly no two more than his parents Alan and Julie Greenway, that’s for sure.

Ferentz gave his word on the phone call, and my was he right about Chad Greenway.

What a delightful young man he is.