Jan. 30, 2013
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 -- Christopher Rickert turned a basketball dream that was once thought of as unattainable into a reality.
Rickert joined the University of Iowa men's basketball program as a walk-on two weeks into his junior season and has been a valuable member of the team the last two years.
"I never expected to do this when I came to college," Rickert said. "I originally thought it was above my reach. I'm grateful for the opportunity given to me by the coaches."
The Sioux City, Iowa, native was a practice squad player for the women's team his sophomore season in 2010-11. Then when the men's team held tryouts the fall of 2011, he jumped at the opportunity.
Rickert said the coaches, players and staff were extremely welcoming from the start. The 6-foot-3 guard said playing three years and winning a state championship in 2009 with Zach McCabe at Bishop Heelan High School was helpful when he first joined the team.
"I had that bridge of already knowing someone on the team," said Rickert. "The first couple days were kind of awkward because no one really knew who I was. But it only took a week or so for everyone to get to know me and start doing scout work in practice and get a lot more involved."
"Everything is completely surreal to me. I have grown to appreciate everything about Hawkeye basketball. Being able to come out each day and make the team a little bit better, even if it's just the scout in practice, I take enjoyment in it, and l love playing basketball."
UI senior Christopher Rickert
Rickert's main contributions are during practice on the scout team.
"Everyone on the scout team does a great job of finding our small victories (against the starters) during practice, but it all boils down to making the team better," Rickert said.
Rickert's favorite moment as a Hawkeye wasn't a personal one, but rather a team-oriented memory.
"My favorite moment would have to be our win at Wisconsin last year," Rickert said. "That was our first big win for our program in a while and experiencing the excitement in the locker room afterwards is something I will never forget."
Head coach Fran McCaffery says Rickert has been a fabulous addition to the program.
"Chris is a spectacular student, a phenomenal worker, and really bright," said McCaffery. "He has to know our offense, and everyone else's offense in the Big Ten, and then run it effectively, and do it at more than one position. That is not easy to do, and he does it very well. He plays with phenomenal energy in practice and really helps our team get ready for the next opponent.
"What I need from a scout team player, or anybody who is a walk-on, is someone who truly wants to be on this team, wants to work hard, wants to prepare, wants to figure out whatever he can do to help this team win, to help the guys on our team get better, individually, and us collectively, and that is what Chris does."
Rickert is on schedule to graduate in May with degrees in business economics and entrepreneur studies.
"I think I'm going to move to Chicago after graduation," Rickert said. "I have a job offer from two different companies. I haven't decided which one I'm going to accept yet."
Rickert said every moment of being a Hawkeye has been a rewarding experience.
"Everything is completely surreal to me," said Rickert. "I have grown to appreciate everything about Hawkeye basketball. Being able to come out each day and make the team a little bit better, even if it's just the scout in practice, I take enjoyment in it, and l love playing basketball."
Rickert and the Hawkeyes return to the hardwood tomorrow night when they host Penn State beginning at 7:02 p.m. (CT) on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. UI students will be admitted free to the game with a valid student ID.