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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 — Growing up in Minnesota, University of Iowa women’s basketball freshman Kayla Timmerman had heard how passionate Iowan’s are about their Hawkeyes. Timmerman saw that passion firsthand on the way to Iowa City for an unofficial visit and her love for the black and gold began.
Timmerman was being courted by numerous Division I schools, each one asking her to take a visit. Timmerman had heard good things about Iowa, so her and her family threw on some gold Iowa t-shirts and headed down I-35 from Plymouth, Minn. to Iowa City during the fall of 2009 (Timmerman’s sophomore year of high school) to visit the campus and watch the Hawkeyes take on Arizona in Kinnick Stadium.
During a pit stop at a gas station near the Iowa-Minnesota border, a few Hawkeye fans questioned the Timmerman family’s apparel.
“One random guy saw us and said ‘you aren’t going to the football game are you?'” Timmerman said. “My dad told the guy that we were actually going to the game. The guy responded, ‘well didn’t you know it’s a blackout game?’ That’s when I found out about Hawkeye pride.”
Timmerman couldn’t believe a fan base could be so concerned about t-shirt color choices. The encounter made her even more excited to get to Iowa City. She wasn’t disappointed.
“Driving into the city and just seeing all the Hawkeye flags up, you knew it was gameday,” Timmerman said. “Having a community that builds off athletics was really cool to see.”
Timmerman made a mental check mark next to “community support” on her list of things to look for in a potential college. The next point was taking a look around campus.
“Iowa stuck out to me and I really didn’t know why at the time,” Timmerman said. “When I visited, something just felt right.”
Good feelings about the campus and community had Timmerman leaning towards Iowa. Once she met the Hawkeye coaching staff, her decision became much easier.
“The coaches are family,” Timmerman said. “They are so understanding, even more so now that I’m actually here. Some coaches make it their way or no way at all. It’s not like that at Iowa. The team is so united and everyone is really close.”
Timmerman was just a sophomore on her first unofficial visit and wanted to make sure that Iowa was the right place. The feeling that she couldn’t explain when she was on campus stayed with her throughout the process. She made her decision as a junior.
“With a few weeks left in my junior season, I woke up one morning and felt like I had to make a decision,” Timmerman said. “I wanted to commit to being a Hawkeye.”
Now that Timmerman is officially a Hawkeye and enrolled in the school she fell in love with, she is focused on finding ways to contribute right away.
“I think I can help by playing a good inside-outside game,” Timmerman said. “I’d like to think I’m pretty strong inside and I can bring an outside presence with my 3-point shot.”
Adjusting to Division I basketball as a freshman always comes with a steep learning curve. Timmerman is willing to help in other ways that aren’t related to the X’s and O’s on the court.
“It’s a big change and I need to step up my game,” Timmerman said. “But I really pride myself on being a team player. No matter what happens, on or off the court, I’m always going to be there cheering for my teammates.”
Timmerman has been waiting to be a part of the Hawkeye family since that pit stop on the state line nearly three years ago. Now that she is officially a member, it’s no surprise what she is looking forward to the most.
“I was talking to my family the other night about my first week at Iowa,” Timmerman said. “I can’t wait to run out of the tunnel with all of those great fans around. I’m going to get pretty excited about that.”
Timmerman won’t need to worry about wearing a certain color t-shirt when that day arrives. She will have a Hawkeye uniform waiting in her locker instead.