Northeast Iowa I-Club Spring Banquet
Oelwein’s Luigi’s Restaurant and Lounge played host to the annual Northeast Iowa I-Club event on Wednesday, April 27. This event rotates between Manchester, Decorah, and Oelwein and has a loyal following from each of these communities. The event typically hosts about 225 people, but this year’s event was host to almost 300. NEI’s I-Club presidents Wayne Saur and Anthony Leo hosted a great evening with a very active social hour and steak dinner to follow.
The evening featured The Gazette’s Scott Dochterman as the evening’s emcee. The emcee is by no means immune to good natured ribbing from the speakers at I-Club events…this event was no different. Dochterman’s media affiliation may have added to the allure of the opportunity for those who spend so much time in the media’s glare. Dochterman told quite a few jokes about Iowa State and Wisconsin fans, coaches and teams, which were well received but were many in number. He also made a comment about how long head men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery had spent on recruiting, lamenting how it had extended his “busy season”. When Fran got to the podium, he commented that “Scott wondered when I was going to be done recruiting. I wondered when he was going to shut the heck up!”
Fran went on to give a great update about the team, the future of the program and a special thank you to the people of Iowa for welcoming him and his wife Margaret and their four children. He said that he told his kids before they moved that they were going to meet some “amazing, kind and interesting people” and that that has proven itself to be true. Head wrestling coach Tom Brands said that he loved Luigi’s because it reminded him of the bar that his grandfather owned and Norm Parker said that Luigi’s was “his kind of place”. He spoke of a bar in his hometown in Michigan not unlike Luigi’s called the Rainbow Room which sits across the street from a Gold’s Gym. He said he’d seen four people over the years being taken out of Gold’s Gym after heart attacks. He said he’d never seen anyone taken out of the Rainbow Room with a heart attack, so he was sticking with the bar.
The event closed out with comments from Athletic Director Gary Barta, assistant women’s basketball coach Shannon Gage and Executive Director of Development for the UI Foundation Matt Henderson, who made a special thank you to the I-club members of Northeast Iowa for their support of UI athletics.