By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Nothing says Iowa-Penn State football game week like baskets full of diapers, toilet paper, and baby wipes.
Maybe not every year, but this season for sure.
The two Big Ten Conference rivals compete Saturday beginning at 2:35 p.m. (CT) in University Park, Pennsylvania. In the week leading up to the game, the schools are teaming up to shed light on domestic violence since Oct. 27 is the final football game day during the Domestic Violence Awareness Month of October.
So when Iowa Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (ISAAC) president Ben Colin, a member of the men’s swimming and diving team, walked into the team room at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center on Monday, he was met by two baskets full of baby products, toiletries, and kitchenware that will eventually be donated in the Iowa City area.
The project fits nicely into ISAAC’s mission.
“There are two big things that come out of this,” Colin said. “This is a project that will benefit someone else; a lot of the projects we do are driven toward student-athletes and helping them at Iowa. This is giving back to the community, which is a big part of one of our three major goals of leaving a legacy and helping people around Iowa City.”
The Hawkeyes are not only bringing awareness to domestic violence, but they are also contributing tangible items to the Iowa City Domestic Violence Intervention Program in Iowa City.
This is the first year Iowa has participated in the program that was inspired several years ago by the Penn State Student-Athlete Board. Nittany Lion senior football offensive lineman Charlie Shuman is president of Penn State’s Student-Athlete Board. He and Colin have discussed the project many times over the past few weeks.
Eventually, the goal is to have all 14 Big Ten Conference institutions donate items to a local domestic violence shelter in the month of October. This month at Iowa, there are several drop-off spots around campus where student-athletes can leave donations; a majority of sports teams are participating in the project.
While all the items collected on campus will be donated locally, one commemorative basket that includes Hawkeye paraphernalia will be ceremonially presented to Penn State on Saturday when the Hawkeyes and Nittany Lions meet in football.
“It is a great opportunity to be involved in this,” said Iowa running back Toren Young, who is leading the drive for donations from the Hawkeye football team. “It’s nice to see both Penn State and Iowa athletes donating to this worthy cause.”
In turn, Penn State will present Iowa with a commemorative basket of its own, that Colin hopes will be displayed in the Gerdin Athletic Learning Center.
Regardless of what the scoreboard in Beaver Stadium reads after Saturday’s game, partnering to bring awareness to domestic violence is a competition with no losers.
“It’s a big deal and a good thing for both schools to come together,” Iowa offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs said. “There is too much domestic violence in our society, you see it on the news all the time. It feels good to raise awareness on the topic.”