Feb. 8, 2010
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Just 24 hours before one of the toughest games on the schedule — a 3:30 p.m. date Sunday, Feb. 7, in the Arena against Michigan State, Lisa Bluder put her UI women’s basketball team through one of the most important drills of the season. This drill, however, had nothing to do with shooting, defense or lifting weights. It was about sharing and communicating.
The Iowa women’s basketball team hosted children and their families from the Shelter House after practice Saturday. The Shelter House, located in Iowa City, provides temporary housing and supportive services for homeless families in the area.
Children ranging in age from three to 15 stormed the court after the team finished practice, and latched on to their favorite Hawkeye player. Team members even lowered some of the hoops so the youngest of kids could experience dunking a basketball for the first time. Associate Head Coach Jan Jensen, who serves on the Shelter House Board of Directors, then organized team races and handed out candy to the children. The team hosted a pizza lunch and Valentine’s Day cookie decorating after spending 45 minutes on the court with the children.
“I believe this is so important,” said Kafi Dixon, program manager of the Shelter House. “It gives these kids something to aspire to. Its fun and the kids really look to these women as role models. It’s an exciting event.”
Bluder also believes it is important for her team to host such events.
“Our coaches and players are very fortunate,” Iowa’s veteran head coach said. “It’s important for these players to share their talents and abilities with people who might not have the same opportunities. I couldn’t tell who had the bigger smiles today; the players or the kids. Everyone was having a lot of fun out there.”
Freshman Trisha Nesbitt echoes her head coach’s comments.
“It’s important for these players to share their talents and abilities with people who might not have the same opportunities. I couldn’t tell who had the bigger smiles today; the players or the kids. Everyone was having a lot of fun out there.”
“We need to be there for people in the community,” Nesbitt said. “We are very blessed to have the skills and the chance to be Division I athletes. Community service projects are just as important to us as competing on the court.”
Dixon is also thankful to have a great connection with the Iowa women’s basketball team and coaching staff. The Shelter House has made numerous visits to Carver-Hawkeye Arena in the past, and the members are always appreciative of the efforts.
“We’ve always had a close relationship with the team,” Dixon said. “They’ve been a great supporter of the Shelter House and our families.”
After Saturday, it’s safe to say the Iowa women’s basketball team added a few fans to “Bluder’s Bunch.” But, for the players and coaches, it’s not about adding fans. It’s about sharing and giving. And that’s why it’s great to be a Hawkeye.