Hawk Fans Celebrate Under the Sun before 'Huddling'

Dec. 30, 2008

TAMPA, Fla. — Fans of the University of Iowa football team – here enjoying the days leading up to the 2009 Outback Bowl – flexed their collective muscles Tuesday, turning out in large numbers under the brilliant sun of another gorgeous day in the Sunshine State and under the roof of Tampa’s spacious Convention Center.

Clearwater Beach had a distinct black-and-gold look to it during the afternoon hours as thousands of Hawkeyes stormed the white sands at the Outback Bowl’s annual “Beach Day.” They were treated to spot-on landings by four parachutists, “Captain Jack” and his “Black Pearl,” performances by the marching bands of both the UI and South Carolina, Iowa’s opponent in the New Year’s Day game, and a pair of victories in the tug-of-war between the team’s two cheerleading and dance squads.

Oh, yeah. Toss in a pie eating contest, an appearance by UI Head Coach Kirk Ferentz and weather that would make the Florida Tourism Bureau blush with pride – 76 degrees and not a cloud in the sky – and you have another perfect day in Iowa’s march to game day.

“It was total domination, black and gold everywhere,” said Luke of Coralville, who checked out the scene from a dock that jetted out into the Gulf of Mexico.

Hours after kicking sand on the beach, a crowd that pushed 8,000 gathered for the annual Hawkeye Huddle. The night included visits by UI President Sally Mason and UI Director of Athletics Gary Barta and later-than-expected-because-of-the-traffic appearance by the UI Marching Band.

The highlight of the evening was the introduction of the parents of the student-athletes in attendance by the event’s emcee and the voice of the Hawkeyes, Gary Dolphin, and an appearance by Iowa team captains Shonn Greene, Matt Kroul, Rob Bruggeman, Gavin McGrath and Mitch King, who gave the crowd an inspired pep talk that put on full display the senior’s “Hawkeye Pride.”

“I love this night. I love being around other friends and fans of the Hawkeyes and celebrating a year’s worth of hard work by our coaching staff and student-athletes,” said Steve of Clear Lake.

“Go Hawks! That’s all I want to say. Go Hawks,” offered Jim of Dubuque.

Tuesday was a great day to be a Hawkeye in Florida…except, of course, for those visitors from the Heartland who didn’t wear enough sunscreen.

To view a 34-image photo gallery from Tuesday’s practice and Bowl Beach Day — available exclusively on hawkeyesports.com — CLICK HERE.

Fans of the Iowa Hawkeyes who live in the Heartland or in the Sunshine State or in all points between should note that the UI Athletics Ticket Office is accepting ticket orders for the 2009 Outback Bowl. Click here to purchase your tickets online. Fans can also purchase over the phone by calling 1-800 IA-HAWKS or over-the-counter at the UI Athletics Ticket Office in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.