‘Hawkapalooza’ hopes to inspire pre-game Hawkeye hysteria

BY ROBBIE LEHMAN | JUNE 12, 2009 7:26 AM

The newly founded Student Committee on Athletics has been brainstorming creative ways to enhance student sports participation at Iowa, something that has seen a decline in recent years.

The committee’s latest project is “Hawkapalooza,” a pep rally and concert to be held on Sept. 3 in Hubbard Park. The event’s goal is to drum up excitement before the football team’s home-opener with Northern Iowa on Sept. 5.

Senior committee member Tim McLaughlin said the organizers focused on pep rallies.

“When this committee started at beginning of spring semester in 2009, we made an original list of objectives, and one of the things was to have pep rallies before athletics events,” he said. “We thought that starting this year would be a good idea for football. We thought doing a concert at the end of it would be a good idea to get people excited about it.”

The group got the ball rolling on the idea by receiving financial commitments from several university departments, including $5,000 from the athletics department, $5,000 from UI Associate Provost Beth Ingram, $10,000 from UI President Sally Mason, and $30,000 from the UI Student Government.

“My leadership team and I felt strongly that this is an event that clearly deserves our support,” Mason said in a statement sent to The Daily Iowan. “Hawkapalooza is an ideal opportunity to honor our students for their valuable contributions to our university and the community, to contribute to our vibrant campus life, and to enjoy some well-earned entertainment in a safe and secure environment.”

Associate Athletics Director Paula Jantz believes the event will be a huge success.

“The athletics department is really excited about the opportunity to work with Student Committee on Athletics,” she said. “This will be a wonderful chance for students to gather before first football game and an opportunity to unify the student section and get excited about university athletics. We think it’s a tremendous positive for our program.”

Hawkapalooza will be open to the entire university and Iowa City community, but the spotlight will be on students. Though the football game against UNI will be its main emphasis, McLaughlin, who is a former DI reporter, said it will not be geared toward football alone.

“We also want all of the fall sports teams to be involved because it would be a good opportunity for all sports to showcase themselves,” he said. “We’ve heard through the grapevine that all teams are really excited about this, and they would come and utilize it.”

The committee is in the process of finding coaches and athletes to speak at the rally. With the help of the spirit squads, band, and drumline, there will be a focus on learning cheers to be used on game days.

For the concert, the committee has hired SCOPE to acquire the musical talent. The date, a Thursday, was chosen because it tends to be a good day of the week to catch musicians on their way to shows in larger cities on the weekends, McLaughlin said. Another reason was so that the football team could attend and also not to interfere with FryFest, which takes place the following day.

Because this is the first event of its kind, Jantz doesn’t have any specific expectations.

“It’s always great to try new things,” she said. “We believe the committee will do a great job of advertising and getting word out. It’s something new so expectations are hard to establish, but no matter what, it will be a positive activity and great to be involved in.”

What Hawkapalooza really comes down to, McLaughlin said, is tradition.

“Our No. 1 goal is to make it a tradition, to make it stick in future years,” he said. “I think there exists a lot of passion and pride in Hawkeye athletics among the students; it just seems that we need a better way to channel that. Events like this will provide a perfect opportunity to do so. Hopefully, it leads to similar events in the future.”

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