Feb. 14, 2013
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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.
By BRADY JOHNSON
IOWA CITY, Iowa — After a long period of anticipation and excitement, student-athletes on the University of Iowa men’s and women’s golf team practiced in the James M. Hoak Family Golf Complex for the first time on Tuesday. Although they were more than ready to get back to work at the facility Wednesday evening, they took a break for a well-deserved cause.
The University of Iowa hosted the James M. Hoak Family Golf Complex dedication to a crowd of over 100 guests, including alumni, fundraisers and other members of the Hawkeye family. University of Iowa President Sally Mason, director of athletics Gary Barta and both men’s and women’s head coaches spoke to the crowd, echoing many of the same sentiments.
The event provided many of the fundraisers and supporters of the project a chance to tour the facility for the first time, and also allowed all of those benefiting from it to give a proper thank you.
“This is somewhat overwhelming,” said UI head men’s golf coach Mark Hankins, addressing the audience. “To see all the people in this room that had a piece in making this project possible is very special.”
Before the speakers took to the podium, the crowd had a chance to observe everything that went into the complex, and there certainly wasn’t a shortage of things to marvel at. The complex includes a 4,200-square foot performance studio which features an indoor putting and chipping green and two indoor-to-outdoor heated practice bays. The complex also sports a locker room and head coaches’ office for both the men’s and women’s teams and a team lounge area.
Both the men’s and women’s teams opened their spring season last week. The Hawkeyes will now begin practicing in the facility, which takes them to the cutting-edge of indoor training capabilities.
“As a University, we strive for innovation and forward movement in everything we do,” said Mason. “We aspire to maintain our position on the cutting-edge, and this facility certainly takes us to the cutting-edge.”
When speaking to the crowd, Barta recalled Hankins’ desire to bring this project to life and how his vision and persistence led to the project becoming a reality. It took much more than that, as alumni of the golf programs and Hawkeye supporters — many of which were in the room — stepped up to the cause and made a donation and raised the necessary funds.
The complex is named in honor of James M. Hoak, a three-year letterwinner of the men’s golf team from 1938-1940. In honor of his accomplishments and leadership, members of the Hoak family and friends combined their efforts to make a $500,000 gift in support of the $2 million project. The Hoak family’s efforts, combined with that of many other donors, were paramount in getting the facility constructed.
“(Hoak) is a special person to so many people,” said Hankins. “It’s very appropriate to name this facility after him not just because of the gift he and his family provided, but because of what he stands for to the university and to the golf program.”
As far as the student-athlete’s reviews are concerned, head women’s golf coach Megan Menzel was proud to announce that her team was thrilled with the finished product.
“The players came in for the first time yesterday, and their first impression were all over the map whether they were most excited about the locker rooms, the architecture or the putting green,” said Menzel. “One of our freshmen came up to me and said, ‘This is the future of college golf — this is going to get great players to come here.’ To have a freshman recognize that right away is really fitting.”
The facility will provide unmemorable benefits to Iowa’s student-athletes, most notably the opportunity to not only continue practicing in the cold winter months, but even improve. With the coaches’ locker rooms under the same roof, each coach will have much more time to work with their players. The complex will also provide significant convenience to the teams, who will now be able to work on any aspect of their game in the same location.
Hankins pointed out in his speech that the facility will also benefit each student-athlete academically. Student-athletes can fit their workout around their academic schedule, knowing they can access the complex from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
“To say we’ve been excited to get out here would be an understatement,” said sophomore Ian Vandersee. “It has been an exciting year watching this grow up, and to be here now and see the finished product is awesome. We’re very excited and humbled to have this.”