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The ultimate Hawkeye softball fan

BY MITCH SMITH | APRIL 29, 2010 7:30 AM

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Getting to know Chris Hotchkiss is as easy as reading his license plate, “HAWX247.”

Often seen sporting Tigerhawk sunglasses and an Iowa T-shirt, the Granger, Iowa, native can be found sitting on the third-base side of the Pearl Field stands whenever the Iowa softball team has a home game.

If you can’t find him, you can definitely hear him. He leads fans in I-O-W-A cheers or sings “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the fifth-inning stretch.

“I’m just way into the Black and Gold,” the Iowa City resident said.

That may be an understatement.

Hotchkiss, 48, has attended home softball games since 1995, which has earned him the distinction of being the team’s “Superfan.”

A former high-school baseball player, his super-fandom began when he and a friend decided to travel from central Iowa to the Hawkeye softball diamond.

In his first season, during what he said was a “big game,” he felt the stadium was a little too quiet and needed a “kick-start,” so the 1983 Iowa alumnus got out of his seat and led the fans in an I-O-W-A cheer.

From there, a Hawkeye softball tradition was born.

He’s attended three of Iowa’s College World Series appearances and has made it to “99 percent” of the Hawkeyes’ home games over the 15-year span. He also regularly attends Iowa football games and women’s basketball games.

Before moving to Iowa City in 1999, Hotchkiss even used to drive to Newton, Iowa, to listen to road games on the radio because it was the only place he could get reception.

Hotchkiss has seen several great moments in Iowa softball history in his time. He said his favorites were watching the 1997 team finish 22-0 in Big Ten play and seeing Iowa head coach Gayle Blevins win her 1,000th game.

Blevins and her players acknowledge Hotchkiss’ role and realize how important he is to the squad.

“Some programs are lucky enough to have a guy like that — who sits in the crowd and fires up the crowd all the time,” Blevins said. “We’re one of those fortunate places.”

While Hotchkiss relishes the role, the superfan knows he doesn’t do it alone. He said the rest of the fans are like a “team up in the stands” that will support him by cheering for the Hawkeyes.

“The ladies appreciate the support,” he said. “That’s the key to it all. The ladies genuinely appreciate the fans. Not just me — the fans.”

Not only do the Hawkeye players and coaches enjoy his support, others do as well.

Hotchkiss frequently tailgates with fans and parents before games in the Pearl Field parking lot, a ritual he loves, because, he says, it helps build fan camaraderie.

“He leads the fans. And the fans enjoy it,” said Bill Daumen, father of Hawkeye senior Heidi Daumen. “He willingly accepts the role, and everybody looks forward to seeing him. He’s a gregarious guy.
“He is Hawkeye softball. That’s what it’s all about. He’s a great guy, and he just loves the game.”


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