Hope football team take part in iconic Kinnick Wave

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IOWA CITY – Spending time in a children’s hospital is not something no one hopes to do.

It can be a horrific experience, leaving children and their families isolated from the rest of the world. But six Saturdays in the fall each year, patients at the University of Iowa Stead Children’s Hospital, which overlooks Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium, know they’re not alone. It’s when 70,000 fans, players, coaches and staff turn to the hospital at the end of the first quarter and wave, just to let them know people are thinking of them.

While the iconic Big Ten Stadium was not crowded last Friday, there were around 100 people on the pitch. The Hope College football team were traveling for their road game at Coe College in Iowa and head coach Peter Stuursma was able to pull some strings, allowing the Flying Dutchmen to make their visit to Kinnick.

After their walkthrough, they decided they wanted to participate in the tradition of the Hawkeyes. Since it wasn’t a game day for Iowa, they weren’t sure if any kids would be looking out the window. But that didn’t stop them from trying.

“We made our own little wave, not to steal their tradition, but to really recognize it,” Stuursma said. “Our guys are lucky to go out and play a game and that was our little way of paying homage to [Iowa and those kids]. ”

Hope football team greet the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital from the field at Kinnick Stadium

The Flying Dutchmen lost to Coe the next day in a 28-21 heartbreaker. The loss was a tough pill to swallow, but the opportunity they had the day before was a bright spot the team could take from the road trip.

While the wave was the highlight of the entire Iowa experience for the team, being able to set foot on a Division I, the Power Five field was something a lot of guys never thought they had the chance. to do. Ryan Young, a junior corner for the Flying Dutchmen, said the scale of it was absurd.

“When we first went out, my first thought was that the pitch itself was tiny compared to the massive stadium and all of the stands,” said Young. “But when I got up there, the grass is so comfortable you could have slept there.”

Eric Hoogland, a close second-year student, grew up in a large Hawkeye family. He has attended more than a dozen matches sitting in the stands of the stadium. But Hope’s excursion to Kinnick was something the Grandville native will hold onto forever.

“It was a dream come true to be able to walk through the tunnel and down onto the field, the same field that so many of my favorite Iowa players have played on and that I grew up watching,” said Hoogland. “It was also great to be able to greet the children at the children’s hospital, one of the great traditions of college football.”

These are the things that college football is all about. Winning and losing are important to Stuursma and the rest of the squad, but it’s also about making memories with the guys you tie your leggings with.

That’s why Stuursma wanted his guys to be able to hit the pitch so badly at Kinnick last week.

“We try to give our guys experiences that they normally wouldn’t have,” Sturrsma said. “I want to look for opportunities for our guys to see and do different things and our guys enjoyed that.”

Young already had a prolific career at Hope as a defensive back and has a memory full of unforgettable moments on the pitch in just two full seasons at Hope. But in 20 or 30 years, when he looks back on his days in orange and blue, the first thought that comes to his mind won’t be a big interception or a winning tackle, it will be to look up and wave.

He does not know how many children saw the gesture this Friday afternoon. Whatever the number, if only one child saw him and understood for just a moment that he was not alone in his fight, it was worth it.

“Even though there was only one kid up there seeing us, I hope that means the world to them,” Young said. “It was really great.”

—Contact Assistant Sports Editor Will Kennedy at [email protected] Follow him on twitter @ByWillKennedy and Facebook @Holland Sentinel Sports.

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