IOWA CITY — Kirk Ferentz was asked to win it all.
No, it wasn’t a hyper-charged face-painter. A Camp Courageous camper asked the Iowa football coach to “beat all the teams.”
“That’s a good idea,” Ferentz said. “I’m going to repeat that to all the players.”
The annual Hawkeye Day for Camp Courageous had to move inside of Kinnick Stadium because of Friday’s thunderstorms, but campers lined up for autographs from Iowa seniors, toured the opponent’s pink lockerrooms and, when the weather finally cooperated, spent some time playing catch with Hawkeyes on the Kinnick turf.
One camper motioned pointed to his ankle and asked quarterback Ricky Stanzi if he was OK. Last fall, about 60 yards from this spot, Stanzi suffered a high-ankle sprain that needed surgery.
“Ow,” camper Brian said.
“Yeah, that hurt,” Stanzi said with a smile. “But I’m OK now!”
Camp Courageous is a a year-round recreational and respite care facility for children and adults with mental and physical disabilities, brain injuries, hearing and visual impairments, autism, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, and special needs.
And they’re big Hawkeye fans.
“This is one of those experiences that will never be forgotten by the campers who attend,” said Charlie Becker, executive director of Camp Courageous. “We have campers who have a hard time falling asleep the night before.”
Brian wore a Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls basketball jersey and a Hawkeye hat out on the Kinnick field. Stanzi said, yes, Michael Jordan is No. 1.
Brian immediately pointed to his Hawkeye hat and said the Hawkeyes are No. 1.
“Anytime us players and get out here and show these guys the lockerroom, spend some time with them and get to know them, they’re all great kids,” Stanzi said. “They have such great hearts. They’re fun to be around, they really are. I’ve had a blast meeting the people and their families.
“The biggest thing is seeing how important Hawkeye football is to them. We get caught up in the game, you don’t get a chance to take a step back and realize how much impact it has on the fans, these young kids.”
Campers arrived to Kinnick at noon, just in time for thunderstorms to hit. No biggie. They enjoyed a lunch in the concourse under the south stands.
Soon after, it was downstairs for autographs, everything from Orange Bowl posters to T-shirts to min-footballs.
The Hawkeyes’ penmanship was tested on them all.
“It’s fun to be out here with these guys and see the smiles on their faces, get away from the workouts (strength and conditioning) coach (Chris) Doyle has been killing us with and help out the community,” defensive end Adrian Clayborn said. “I think I’m having more fun than these guys.”
You should know that these are very astute Hawkeye fans. The running theme from campers Friday was “beat Ohio State.”
“We’ve had a lot of those today,” Ferentz said. “That’s a popular request.”
Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi talks about Iowa’s outreach to Camp Courageous and talks to camper Brian, who was still concerned about Stanzi’s ankle. Iowa made a lot of fans Friday.
Here, Camp Courageous camper Courtny asks Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz to “beat all the teams.” Ferentz said the Hawkeyes will give it a shot.
Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn talks about what it means to spend some time with campers from Camp Courageous, a year-round recreational and respite care facility for children and adults with mental and physical disabilities, brain injuries, hearing and visual impairments, autism, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, and special needs.
Iowa football seniors sign autographs for Camp Courageous campers at Kinnick Stadium on Friday, June 18.