Sporting tattoos in Hawk nation
An athlete’s body is a temple, the cliché tells us. Some athletes awake at 6 a.m. to squeeze lifting into their packed day. Others swim laps before the Sun rises to burn off the mist, proverbial or real. And some hit the pavement at the calm of night.
Athletes condition their bodies to perform. They also deal with media inquiries, meet with coaches, and travel with their teams on the road. And for some of them, their bodies are canvases for their identities, their tattoos an avenue for individual expression as varying as their distinct personalities.
Many Hawkeye athletes have inked their bodies to tell their stories.
With a name such as Angerer, one can’t help but imagine the guy inked and shredding rubber on a Harley.
And Pat Angerer doesn’t deviate from this idea too much. He has seven tattoos and gets his two-wheel fix on a moped.
His first tattoo is befitting for what the star linebacker has become known for: Hawkeye football. It’s a Tigerhawk on his left shoulder that he got after committing to Iowa in his senior year of high school.
“Basically, I just wanted a reason to get a tattoo,” he said.
Since then, Angerer hasn’t stopped.
He got a tribal design on his ribs a few months later after a nudge from his brother, Chris, whose love for body art parlayed into the purchase of a tattoo gun. After that, Angerer was his canvas.
“This was, like, his first tattoo,” the health and sport-studies major said, pointing to the 4-inch wing hidden on his inner left bicep. He said the wings represent freedom.
Then, the three Angerer boys got a spade with four skulls to represent their family bond. Pat Angerer also left space above his heart for his parents, inking their signatures on his chest.
He describes his family as closely knit and patriotic. Thus, it comes as no surprise that he got an American flag. The vivid red, white, and blue colors gracing his right bicep are still fresh, nearly 2 months old.
“The most important things are family, God, and country, and that is sort of what I live by,” Angerer said.
Caitlin Carlyle has always loved the water. Growing up in Dension, Iowa, which has a population of 7,300, the sophomore dreamed of swimming at the collegiate level.
The tattoo on her back is a reminder of the swimmer’s struggle to come to Iowa.
“I have two symbols on my lower back,” she said. “One means ‘Strength,’ and one means ‘Water,’ and they kind of just represent what I’ve gone through.”
Similar to her road to Iowa, the swimmer’s tattoo was not a smooth journey.
“It was awfully painful,” Carlyle said. “I could feel it every time it went over my spine, and it was awful.
“I was biting into my hand — it had marks in it the next day.”
Because it was her mother’s idea for Carlyle to ink up, she was there to calm the 18-year-old.
“My mom got a tattoo as a 40th birthday present from my brother, and so for my 18th birthday, she was like, “Well … we should get you a tattoo,’” Carlyle said.
Iowa basketball forward Jarryd Cole decided to get a tattoo to commemorate his transition to adulthood.
In 2007, Cole went with teammate David Palmer for the freshman’s first. Cole’s selection of his initials on the back of his arms was strategic — something his parents wouldn’t be too upset with.
Palmer got his initials inked first, but Cole is quick to remind people who was the originator.
“It was my idea first,” he said, flashing a jovial grin. “I was kind of hesitant to get it. I’m not going to say scared, but I was hesitant to get them. So he got his, and then I got mine.”
He views his decision as a solid one. Don’t tell his father, though.
“I still haven’t actually verbally told him,” Cole said, throwing his head back in disbelief. “If he’s seen them, he’s seen them.”
After his first tattoo healed, Cole decided to pay homage to his faith with a cross covering his bicep.
“The whole concept of the tattoo is that through God, I am forgiven.”
Why he chose the shoulder? “It was big enough to put on,” he joked.
Cole, who writes poetry when not on the hardwood, foresees his next tattoo involving a scroll, but he has not decided on what text to use. Asked if some of his own work might make the cut, the English major laughed.
“Maybe, maybe some of my own poetry. We’ll definitely see.”
The distance between New Zealand and Iowa spans the world’s largest ocean, putting Verity Hicks a long way from her home in Pukekohe.
To remember her country, she got stars tattooed on her foot.
“The stars actually are a part of our New Zealand flag,” she said. “It is a constellation in the Southern Hemisphere called the Southern Cross, which is right above New Zealand.”
The sophomore, who led the Hawkeyes in the 200 and 500 freestyles, didn’t tell her family about her new ink. They found out another way.
“I actually put pictures of it up on Facebook, and my Mum saw them before I got home,” Hicks said. “She just kind of said, ‘Oh yeah, it’ll be there forever.’ ”
She is contemplating her next one.
“I’ve been thinking about maybe getting a Tigerhawk or something to represent Iowa, just because I am proud to be a Hawkeye,” she said.
Iowa wrestler Brent Metcalf is scared of two things: needles and bumble bees. So, the only reason the junior decided to get inked was because of his older brother, Chase.
“It was a tattoo that really was forced upon me,” he said.
The Metcalf brothers had just won Michigan state wrestling titles while at Davison High School, and Chase wanted to celebrate. He persuaded their mother to allow Brent, a freshman at the time, to get the family’s crest tattooed. The boys got the tattoos together.
Brent Metcalf hated every second of it.
“I remember watching my brother do it, and he sat there and had like a smile on his face,” Metcalf said and laughed. “[He] talked and relaxed the whole time. I was like in pain, ready to cry. “It was miserable.”
By the end of the experience, Brent Metcalf came to a solid conclusion.
“I’m probably not the toughest tattoo receiver in the world,” he joked.
Now, years later, the tattoo has a different meaning. Chase died in a car accident in September 2005. Brent Metcalf’s tattoo forever links him with his older brother.
“Looking back how it is now, what it means now, I guess I am more glad that I went through that and that I have it,” he said.
Ryan Morningstar grew up in Iowa, where, as we well know, corn and wrestling reign. The All-American, who placed third at 165 pounds during the NCAA championships in March, dedicated his first tattoo to the Hawkeye wrestling program. Iowa wrestling is rich in tradition, which is why Morningstar inked a “vintage” Hawkeye on his shoulder, with “University of Iowa Wrestling” bordering the Hawk.
“I thought that was the necessary one to get if I was going to get a tattoo,” he said.
He isn’t looking to add any more body art to his collection.
“Maybe add to the one I have,” he said. “But I’m probably done.”
Although Morningstar is tough, he doesn’t want to experience the pain again.
“It hurt the whole time,” he said, joking.
Alex Seydel is brimming with potential. She always has been. The soccer midfielder has been a major contributor to Iowa during her three years, and Hawkeye soccer coach Ron Rainey has Seydel slated as the player to watch come fall.
To remind the junior of her ability, the dominant right-footer has the word “potential” in Czech — her family’s ancestry — tattooed on her left ankle.
“Specifically, on my left foot, because that is technically not my strong or my natural side,” the junior said. “That’s the side that has the potential; that’s the side that can be just as good as the right.”
The San Diego native got the word tattooed more than a year ago, just in time for her spring-break journey back West.
“My mom actually saw it from about 15 feet away while she was talking to some random stranger in the airport,” she said. “She was like, ‘Alex. I thought you were going to get one that you could hide.’ ”
The future lawyer or businesswoman may be in the professional world soon, but she is already anticipating her next tat.
“I wanted to get my next one within a week of getting this one,” she said ecstatically, pointing to her ankle.
To a quarterback, the throwing arm is the lifeline of the profession. For Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi, that arm is prime real estate. After his biggest fan, his aunt Annette Collins, died of cancer in 2006, he thought of no better place to remember her than inking her name on his arm.
“I thought it would be a good spot to have it,” he said. “Somewhere I could always see it, and it would be visible for my family to see it when I was playing football.”
He went with his cousins to memorialize Aunt Annette in ink.
Stanzi’s latest tattoo is positioned across his back; he prides himself on being extremely patriotic (His BlackBerry cover is the American flag).
“I had the idea to get ‘Made in U.S.A. 1987’ on my back,” he said, smiling. “… That’s pretty much the story on that one.”
Ray Varner is fast. He became a Nike All-American, a state hurdle champion, team captain, and MVP during his senior year at Warren Township High School in Wadsworth, Ill. No wonder Varner’s first tattoo was dedicated to the superhero with super-speed — the Flash.
“I got it to just give myself a little confidence about running,” he said.
The Flash’s emblem, positioned on his shoulder, was something he had wanted since studying superheroes as a tyke.
Unfortunately, in Varner’s first season with the Hawkeyes, he suffered a leg injury. The Iowa hurdler returned to ink to bolster his confidence in his running.
Varner had wings tattooed on his ankle, a tangible imitation of track’s universal symbol.
“I felt like the tattoo would take away the pain, just kind of take away the pain mentally,” he said.
Although his first tattoo is that of a superhero, Varner is not immune to pain, especially that of a needle dragging across bone.
“Oh yeah, oh yeah. That one really hurt,” he said, grimacing. “I was there for a while, so right on the bone on both sides of my ankle. It’s pretty brutal.”
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