April 16, 2012
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 — While many Hawkeye athletic seasons are heading toward their final stretch, today marks the start of a new season, the I-Club Spring Banquet Tour. The Polk County I-Club Banquet will kick-off the start of the annual circuit tonight in Des Moines.
The annual tour offers a close-up preview of the upcoming season from University of Iowa coaches and staff at numerous locations throughout Iowa and the Midwest. More importantly, the banquets offer a great chance for the UI coaches and staff to thank the droves of Hawkeye fans that make the drive to Iowa City for Hawkeye events.
“The I-Club tour is a fantastic way for us to connect with Hawkeye fans across the state and the Midwest,” said UI head women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder. “It gives our coaches a chance to say thanks for all the support that the great fans give us throughout the year. Our fans travel numerous times during the year, sometimes late at night or in bad weather, just to see our athletes compete. The least we can do is go to their hometowns for a night and interact with them to say thanks.”
Hawkeye coaches, administrators, support staff and the UI Athletic Development team will make more than 25 stops from now until June. Bluder, head football coach Kirk Ferentz, head men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery, head wrestling coach Tom Brands and recently retired football defensive coordinator Norm Parker are some of the featured banquet speakers.
“I enjoy the I-Club circuit and meeting Hawkeye fans across the state,” said McCaffery. “Last year, every place we visited was packed. I met fans everywhere; it is very personal. You get a chance to meet families, fans young and old. It’s a great opportunity to celebrate Hawkeye athletics and spend quality times with our fans.”
Brands enjoys the opportunities to meet Hawkeye fans in ways that may not be possible at athletic events.
“When you go, people almost apologize because they know that we are on the road a lot, but it is actually refreshing to me to go to the events,” said Brands. “It is very enjoyable. It is about saying thank you, but it is also about building relationships and getting to know the fans as well.
“When I think about these locations, a dozen people come to mind when I think of Cedar Rapids. When you think of Tama, a few more people come to mind. You get to know these people. It is a whirlwind when we are in the arena. When we are at the I-Clubs, it is more relaxed.”
Football and basketball play-by-play voice and Hawkeye fan favorite Gary Dolphin serves as emcee at the majority of banquets.
For the coaches, it is the perfect opportunity to thank the best fans in the nation that create some of the best home advantages in all of college athletics.
“I know our staff enjoys the opportunity to speak at the banquets,” said Bluder. “We can talk about our program and highlight all of the good stories about our student-athletes. We have the best fans in the country, and we get to see that during the I-Club tour.”
For more information concerning the I-Club Spring Banquet Tour, please visit jointheiclub.com.