Iowa River Dance

March 24, 2011

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 — Like the Jefferson’s before them, the Hawkeyes are moving on up to the east side — at least temporarily. Displaced by the Carver-Hawkeye Arena renovation, the Iowa volleyball team has crossed the Iowa River to train for the 2011 spring season at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center.

Unfortunately for the Hawkeyes, there’s no reason to roll out the welcome mat or unpack the U-Haul.

Since moving out of Carver-Hawkeye Arena, the Hawkeyes have navigated a campus trail that includes stops at the CRWC, UI Rec Building, Paul W. Brechler Press Box and Kinnick Stadium. And that’s just in a day’s work. This weekend, when they host a play-date with Western Illinois and Truman State, the “home” match will be played at yet another facility — the UI Field House.

But in typical Hawkeye form, they’ve taken it all in stride with a big picture mentality.

“We’re in three of four different facilities, but they’ve all been great,” said head coach Sharon Dingman. “The players understand it’s only for a semester and they also understand the reason we’re doing it.”

They’re doing it, of course, so Carver-Hawkeye Arena can be transformed into a modern day first-class facility — complete with renovated locker rooms, an 11,000-square foot strength and conditioning space and a practice facility the size of two full basketball courts.

“When we get back into Carver it’s going to be unbelievable,” added Dingman. “It’s going to be amazing. The players don’t mind this transition at all.”

“I think it was a little bit challenging at first,” freshman Rachael Bedell said of the revolving facilities. “It was kind of a hassle to get around everywhere, but now we understand this is our routine, and we’re getting used to it.”

Part of that routine is also in a transition period. The Hawkeye used the first half of spring training to focus on individual drills and skill development. That changed on Monday when the Hawkeyes resumed team activities in preparation for the upcoming spring competition. Following Saturday’s home matches, the Hawkeyes hit the road for tournaments in Madison, Wisc., Valparaiso, Ind., and Minneapolis.

“The team practices have been a blast,” said Dingman. “We all live for those team practices. As much as the coaches enjoy the individual skill practices, I think the players enjoy the team practices.”

“During the first part of spring, by the time you got into the grove of things, it was over,” said Bedell. “Now it’s kind of nice to have longer practices and be able to focus on getting better. We’re really trying to work on cohesiveness with each other. It’s been a little while since we’ve actually played together, so we’re trying to get ready to play against other teams.”

This weekend’s competition won’t exactly resemble an Iowa home match, but the players are comfortable hosting collegiate competition in the Field House.

“It’s different,” said junior Megan Eskew. “But we’ve played in the Field House before and we understand the challenges we face today will be worth it in the end.”

“This is my third spring with this team and my first playing a spring date at home, so we’re really excited about that,” said Dingman. “We’re in the Field House, and it’s not Carver, but we’re sleeping in our own beds and we’re able to maintain a routine. We’re really looking forward to it and hopefully some of our fans will come out and get a glimpse of what the Hawkeyes might look like next year.”

The Hawkeyes host Truman State at 2 p.m. and Western Illinois at 4 p.m. Saturday. Both matches will be played in the south gym of the UI Field House. There is no charge for admission.