The Hawkeye Wave is no longer getting one new song. Instead, the best tradition in college sports is getting a new soundtrack.
Two months after the University of Iowa announced it was asking Hawkeye fans to vote for the next song to accompany the Hawkeye Wave, those fans put the decision into the hands of the patients and families at UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital.
“The interest and passion for the Hawkeye Wave cannot be overstated, and the selflessness of the Hawkeye community proved once again why the Wave is the greatest tradition in college sports,” says Peter Matthes, vice president for external relations and senior advisor to the president. “The response for a new song was incredible, and one suggestion we continued to hear was, ‘Let the kids decide.’ So that is exactly what we will do.”
For every home game the Iowa football team plays inside Kinnick Stadium, the UI Department of Athletics, in coordination with the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital Kid Captain program, will ask that week’s Kid Captain to help select a new song to accompany the Hawkeye Wave.
The Kid Captain program began in 2009 to honor UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital patients and celebrate their inspirational stories. A Kid Captain is picked for each Iowa football game, and each child selected receives a commemorative jersey, special recognition from the hospital and the football team, and other behind-the-scenes activities.
The Hawkeye Wave was introduced five years ago and immediately became a tradition celebrated by the entire country. At every Iowa football home game since 2017, nearly 70,000 fans, student-athletes, and coaches, even from the opposing teams, take a break between the first and second quarters at Kinnick Stadium to exchange waves with patients and families inside UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital.
For nearly every game since its inception, the Hawkeye Wave was accompanied by country music singer Pat Green’s song, “Wave on Wave,” over the stadium’s PA system. On April 21, 2022, the university announced it would seek public input in selecting a new song.
“We felt after five years it was time for the fans to choose the song for the Hawkeye Wave, and the fans suggested we extend that honor to the children,” says Matthes. “The children are the true heroes, so the choice is theirs. That is something we can all agree on, and I cannot thank our fans enough for their input, engagement, and generosity.”