Guest Column: Hawkeye Traditions


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In 1959, some 1,100 UI students and alumni traveled across country by train to watch Iowa beat California, 38-12, in its second Rose Bowl. Among those excited Hawkeyes were two particularly special people — my mom and dad.

My parents, Lloyd Courter, ’58 B.S.C., ’59 J.D. [deceased] and Sally Hahn Courter [L], ’59 B.A., got to know each other on that 42-hour train journey. Their first date took place at the Rose Bowl. My brothers and I joke that we owe our very existence to the Iowa football team. 

In fact, the University of Iowa is a black-and-gold thread that runs through my family’s history, stitching together numerous shared memories and experiences.

As with many alumni, Hawkeye football weaves strongly through our lives. What a thrill to walk into Kinnick Stadium every fall, full of optimism and feeling part of a community united by common bonds. I’ve attended games as a child, as a UI student, and now with a family of my own.

I went to my first game at Kinnick in 1968 at the age of 7 — an incredible experience (Iowa beat Northwestern, 68-34) that hooked me for life. Later, in the pre-renovation Kinnick, we paid $2 to sit in the “knothole” section of wooden bleachers in the south end zone. In 1982, continuing the tradition that helped kick off our family, my parents took us to watch Iowa play in the Rose Bowl.

While the Hawkeyes lost, 28-0, to the Washington Huskies, that game remains a treasured memory for me and countless other fans, as it signaled the rebirth of a proud but dormant program and created the legend of the Iowa fans’ huge bowl following.

Today, I have four season tickets for me, my wife, and our two kids. Our seats are located right behind my mom, who attends with my youngest brother, his wife, and their three kids. Every home game is a family affair. We took our kids to the 2014 Outback Bowl, and I hope one day they’ll become the next generation of Courters to follow the Iowa football team to Pasdadena.

In 2009, I kept up another family tradition by following my dad into service on the UI Alumni Association Board of Directors. Since then, I’ve become more aware of all the ways in which the Alumni Association helps create and nurture these meaningful ties among alumni and with their alma mater. Whether through the pages of this magazine, on Facebook or Twitter, at a pregame Hawkeye Huddle, in a Lifelong Learning event in Iowa, or on an Iowa Voyagers tour abroad, the association helps alumni share, celebrate, and strengthen their Hawkeye pride. 

At such events, I enjoy looking around and witnessing people creating or celebrating their own memories — ones that are simultaneously personal and collective. In the years ahead, I hope you’ll continue to make the UI Alumni Association part of your own Hawkeye traditions.

Jeffrey Courter
head, UI Alumni Association Board of Directors

The association helps alumni celebrate meaningful connections and warm memories.

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