Not All About Basketball in March

March 17, 2011

Hawkeyes at the Hope Lodge Photo Gallery

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — For any basketball team, the most important month of the year is March. Every team strives for that important NCAA Tournament bid. The University of Iowa women’s basketball team received that invitation Monday night, but took a break Tuesday from preparing for its opponent to realize that life isn’t all about basketball. All 12 members of the Hawkeye basketball team spent a few hours Tuesday afternoon at the Russell and Ann Gerdin American Cancer Society Hope Lodge, which provides private guest rooms, free of charge, to cancer patients and their caregivers.

The team helped decorate the Hope Lodge for St. Patrick’s Day, and some student-athletes even showed off their baking skills by making green cupcakes for the residents. The players helped the residents make St. Patrick’s Day greeting cards, “HOPE” key chains and wall hangings.

Sophomore Morgan Johnson, who enjoys volunteering in the Iowa City area, said spending time at the Hope Lodge is important for student-athletes.

“The entire team really enjoys helping out in the community,” said Johnson. “We are very privileged as student-athletes here at Iowa. I think volunteering is one thing that just goes hand-in-hand with being a student-athlete. We all enjoy giving back and spending time at places like the Hope Lodge.”

Sophomore Jaime Printy, along with teammate Trisha Nesbitt, helped a few of the residents create the “HOPE” key chains.

“I think almost everyone has a family member who has battled cancer in some form,” said Printy. “Some of the people at the Hope Lodge are away from their families while they go through treatments. It’s nice to be able to go over there and keep someone company for a while.”

Head coach Lisa Bluder said she is pleased with how involved her team is in the Iowa City community.

“Our team does a great job of going out and helping many different organizations,” said Bluder. “They enjoy giving back, which is very nice to see. We have some players that don’t even ask us how they can help out. They have searched out different places on their own to volunteer. I’m always happy to hear when our players are doing things like that.”

Printy said the location of the Hope Lodge, which is right next to Carver-Hawkeye Arena, makes it even easier to stop by and say hello.

“Every once and awhile someone staying at the Hope Lodge will be walking through Carver,” said Printy. “You stop and say hi, and figure out they are over at the Hope Lodge. With it being right across the parking lot, it’s easy to swing by the next day and just see how they are doing.”

The Hawkeyes leave for Spokane, Wash., today with hopes of two NCAA Tournament wins and a Sweet 16 berth. Win or lose, the team will be back preparing next week. Not just for the next basketball challenge, but for the next chance to lend a helping hand as well.