Feb. 13, 2012
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa baseball team had a record crowd at its Steak Fry last night at the Bella Sala Event Center in Tiffin.
The Steak Fry is an annual fundraiser to help generate money for the baseball program, but more importantly, to get the community and the players excited about the start of the upcoming baseball season.
This year, head coach Jack Dahm moved the event to a Sunday afternoon after listening to feedback from others after last year.
"We had over 500 people here tonight," said Dahm. "Moving it to a Sunday afternoon, where not much else is going on, really helped attendance."
Dahm said the Steak Fry really emphasizes the involvement of the kids in the community that are interested in the game of baseball.
"You always want to get off to a good start, but our goal is to get better every day and compete. That is the most important thing. We want to win every weekend, get 2-of-3. If we do that, we'll have a pretty good season."
UI head coach Jack Dahm
"The change from the Lead-off Dinner to the Steak Fry was more about getting kids involved," said Dahm. "This year we had a terrific turnout with over 100 kids at the event; previously we would only get about 5-10 young kids, and we want to get them involved and excited about Iowa baseball. The event was a huge success."
The kids had an opportunity to enjoy free hot dogs, and get autographs and photos with the Hawkeye baseball players.
Dahm said the players enjoy this event just as much as the kids.
"It was fun for them because they are able to get out in public, meet a lot of fans who support them and sign autographs for the kids," Dahm said. "It was a fun evening."
Senior first baseman Phil Keppler enjoyed the evening's festivities.
"This was great," said Keppler. "It's was nice to see a lot of kids here who like the game of baseball. It was great to see and talk to our fans that support us throughout the year."
"There were a ton of people here tonight," said senior left-handed pitcher Jarred Hippen. "It was fun to sign autographs for the kids and kick the season off with this great event."
The money raised from the Steak Fry and the program's annual golf outing, which is held each September, go directly to the baseball program.
"The money goes toward baseball equipment, things around the field and travel costs," said Dahm. "We were able to take a trip to Missouri this past fall and are going to have a trip to Hawaii in 2014. Anytime that we are raising money we are able to put it into a fund that we can use for our trip to Hawaii in a couple years."
The start of the season is only four days away and Dahm said the team has been working extremely hard in practice the last three weeks.
"Not only have our guys been working extremely hard in practice, but they have been focused," he said.
Dahm believes preseason practice has gone better than expected mainly due to the internal competition and having warmer temperatures.
"I'm not sure if our practices have been good because we are two-deep at almost every position or because we were able to get outside for three days a couple weeks ago and practice," Dahm said. "That definitely helped; it kind of jumped started our guys, especially from an offensive stand point.
"We are very excited about the upcoming season. Our guys are extremely focused this year. It is probably the most focused group we have had since I've been coach at Iowa."
Dahm would like to set the tone early and get a good start to the season, but what is most important is improvement.
"You always want to get off to a good start, but our goal is to get better every day and compete," said Dahm. "That is the most important thing. We want to win every weekend, get 2-of-3. If we do that, we'll have a pretty good season."
"We are ready to get out there and play baseball," said Hippen. "We're ready to go."