Singing for the President

March 26, 2010

Iowa Football Practice Photos (Thursday, March 25) media-icon-photogallery.gif | Vandervelde singing the anthem camera-black.gif


Editor’s Note: The following article first appeared in the March 26 edition of the Official Sports Report (OSR) for the University of Iowa. OSR is a daily e-newsletter exclusively about the Iowa Hawkeyes. Click HERE to learn more.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The top 10 `cool things in life list’ for University of Iowa senior Julian Vandervelde added a new entry Thursday when he sang the national anthem prior to a speech by President Barack Obama at the Field House on the UI campus.

Vandervelde, a native of Davenport, Iowa (Central High School), is a 6-foot-3, 300-pound offensive lineman for the Hawkeye football team. He is a three-time letterwinner.

“I put this in my top 10, just because I would really have to think about all the great days I’ve had,” Vandervelde said.



He said Thursday’s vocal performance ranks with his first day as a member of the UI football team, playing for the first time in Kinnick Stadium, and participating in the (2000) Little League World Series.

“There are just so many things I’ve been so blessed by God to do and this ranks up there,” Vandervelde said.

Vandervelde, a religious studies and English major, began singing early in elementary school, but he has never been enrolled in a vocal class at the UI. He had one rehearsal Wednesday evening and he said Thursday was similar to the other times he has sung the national anthem in front of large groups.

“I was a little bit more nervous than usual beforehand, but we had rehearsed several times before, so we were real comfortable with what we were doing,” Vandervelde said. “I’ve done the national anthem before and I kind of put myself in the mindset that as long as I don’t forget the words, everything will be OK.”

“Once you get out there, it’s kind of like a football game. The nerves build up, but once you’re on the field, it all just goes away and you’re just playing ball. In this case, it is just singing.”
UI senior offensive lineman Julian Vandervelde

Vandervelde met President Obama, and the highlight for the Hawkeye was a handshake and posing for a photograph with Obama.

“I told him it was an honor to meet him; he said I did a great job and I took a picture,” Vandervelde said. “Just shaking his hand was a real thrill for me. I was a big Obama supporter, my grandma has a life-size cutout of him that she dresses up for holidays, so to be able to shake his hand was a real honor.”

Time — or lack thereof — prevented Vandervelde and the President from talking Hawkeye football.

“I wanted to invite him to practice, but it seemed like his schedule was pretty packed,” Vandervelde said.

The exciting day began after Vandervelde parked at Hillcrest Residence Hall and walked to the Field House.

“The press entrance was kind of hectic,” he said. “They had the sniffing dogs out, Secret Service everywhere. I hadn’t seen anything like it before.”

Once on stage, Vandervelde compared the performance to a Saturday afternoon on the gridiron.

“Once you get out there, it’s kind of like a football game,” he said. “The nerves build up, but once you’re on the field, it all just goes away and you’re just playing ball. In this case, it is just singing.”

Vandervelde is listed as the starting left guard for the Hawkeyes, who completed their second day of spring practice a few hours after the President’s visit. Vandervelde said he would like to sing the anthem before the Senior Day game Nov. 20 against Ohio State. Until then, he and his girlfriend will continue with one of their favorite singing pastimes.

“I want to hit all the karaoke bars all over the US,” Vandervelde laughed. “I’m a huge karaoke fan. Some of the guys around here say I should do American Idol sometime and that might be in the future. We’ll see.”

Vandervelde is a two-time academic all-Big Ten Conference selection. He was named first team academic all-district VII in 2008 and second team last season.

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