Annual Athletic Named Scholarship Event Held

The 16th Annual Named Athletic Scholarship Celebration was held last week in the Feller Club Room of the Dale and Marilyn Howard Family Pavilion, Carver-Hawkeye Arena, bringing together a group of 280 people that included athletic endowed scholarship contributors and student-athletes named to the prestigious scholarships.

This year’s dinner and program featured special remarks from UI Foundation CEO Lynette Marshall, and a very personal story from student-athlete Nick Holmes.

Marshall, now entering her seventh year at the helm of the UI Foundation, quoted Vince Lombardi, who said, “The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence.” She noted that she was in a roomful of people who epitomize a commitment to excellence, and she also said that scholarship support is among the university’s most urgent priorities. During her speech, she introduced a new scholarship initiative, the Golden Pledge program, which will double the impact of gifts made to the athletic scholarship endowment.

Holmes, a senior on the cross country and track teams who hails from Peoria, Illinois shared a story of promise, struggle and triumph. A highly successful and highly recruited high school athlete, Holmes shared his frustrations with being hurt most of his career at Iowa. He relayed how deeply meaningful it has been to have his coaches, the medical staff, and his teammates support him as he has battled back from injuries. 

The distance runner shared a specific story of how committed his head coach, Larry Wieczorek, has been to him and his family. Holmes’s brother Jacob is a Special Olympian – wheelchair bound since he was three years old. When Coach Wieczorek heard of Jacob winning several gold medals at a meet, he wrote a personal note to Holmes’s brother, and also shared with Nick that, “it’s your time now to be like Jacob, and win some gold medals." Holmes - who holds several school records and is set to have a break-out season in the spring -  said he chose Iowa because he knew Coach ‘Wiz’ would be like a second father to him.

Director of Athletics Gary Barta closed the program with his own recollection of a named scholarship celebration when he was a student-athlete.

“I understood scholarship support, but it was not until I was asked to serve as a student-speaker at an event much like the one we are at tonight that I started to understand the depth and breadth of generosity. I was the first in my family to go to college so the scholarship that I earned as a student-athlete was incredibly meaningful to me, and to my family."

Former I-Club intern James Vandenberg, the Mark Falb Quarterback Scholarship and the Hayden Fry Captain’s Scholarship recipient, served as student master of ceremonies at this event a year ago, this year working as an unofficial host.

“This event gives me a chance to say thank you to a lot of people, face to face.  I want them to know that I don’t take their support – financial and as fans – for granted and on behalf of the football team, and all student-athletes, we are grateful. It’s humbling to be an Iowa Hawkeye."

To learn more about making a gift to the athletic scholarship endowment or to view a complete list of the named athletic scholarships, including the student-athletes who were named to each award, please click here.

*photo of Nick Holmes, courtesy of Bob Goodfellow

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