Aug. 30, 2014
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 -- Each year in college athletics, seniors graduate and freshmen enroll, creating new team dynamics all across the country.
The University of Iowa women's basketball team spent the last three mornings together discovering its new team dynamic, and strengthening the bond among one another.
Oddly enough, this did not take place on the floor of Carver-Hawkeye Arena or the practice facility inside the Dale and Marilyn Howard Family Pavilion, but rather at the Ashton Cross Country Course and the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex as the Hawkeyes participated in the 'Crazy For the Hawks Challenge' put on by the University of Iowa Army ROTC.
"We put the team through a series of events over three days," said Master Sergeant David Stoen. "The first two days lasted two hours, the final day four. Friday was a culminating event with physical and mental challenges where we elected team leaders. They were given brief instruction and were then required to communicate effectively to overcome the necessary obstacles."
Last year, the Hawkeyes won 27 games, equaling the second-most in program history. Iowa made its Big Ten-best seventh-straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
At the outset of last season, the team participated in "The Program's Judgment Day," a similar series of physically and mentally intense exercises that promote leadership and team cohesiveness.
Many players pointed to 'The Program' as the beginning of that successful journey, so a comparable event was organized to kick off the 2014-15 campaign.
"We came together after 'The Program' last year, and we learned some great lessons from the ROTC this year: communication, working together, dealing with strengths and weaknesses," said sophomore Ally Disterhoft. "Overcoming obstacles together is huge for building team chemistry. It was hard work, but it was fun, and that is what you want."
"It was fun and challenging, and it was good to see us come together as a team and finish the tasks they put in front of us," said freshman Whitney Jennings. "Communication is vital, especially on the basketball court. As a group we supported each other and were able to push each other beyond what we thought we were capable of."
The Hawkeyes are appreciative of this opportunity, despite its challenges, knowing they can carry these lessons into the season.
"This is such a great program for us to build together as a team," said senior Melissa Dixon. "Everything we learned here, we can carry over into the season. If we can complete difficult workouts we overcame during this program, we can enter the season knowing we can beat anyone."
"We are grateful for this opportunity," said Disterhoft. "We got a lot out of the past three days that we will take with us heading into the season."
The regular season is still a couple months away, but the bond is already strengthening.
"We bonded over the past three days as a team," said Jennings. "It was important for us freshmen to be incorporated into the team more. I am excited to get the season started."
The Hawkeyes open the regular season Nov. 14, hosting USC Upstate at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Tickets are available by visiting the ticket office at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, calling 1-800-IA-HAWKS, or online at hawkeyesports.com
"They are a very cohesive group," said Master Sergeant David Stoen. "They are cheering for each other, and have that competitive spirit."