December 2015

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121 M ichael Hart sees life through a different lens because of four years as a student- athlete at the University of Iowa and a month teaching and coaching in Vietnam. Hart, from West Branch, Iowa, is a senior on the Hawkeye men's track and field team. He spoke at a UI Athletics Department All-Staff meeting Nov. 18 in the Feller Club Room in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Hart explained what it means to be a Hawkeye before shedding light on three weeks in Vietnam as part of the Coach for College program. Attending the UI seemed typical for Hart. His mother, Jacqui, graduated from Iowa and like Michael, was in the College of Education. His father, Doug, graduated from Iowa. His sister, Kelsey, was a member of the Hawkeye cross country and track and field teams. She received an undergraduate degree from the University of Iowa, where she is currently enrolled in medical school. "I come from a family of Hawkeyes and it has been important to us our entire lives," Hart said. Even though Hart became an athlete at the University of Iowa, it wasn't in the sport he first dreamed. He grew up in football-crazed West Branch, home of All-American Marv Cook and current Hawkeye linebacker Bo Bower. "I always wanted to play football for the West Branch Bears, play football for the Iowa Hawkeyes, and then play football for the Green Bay Packers," Hart said. "ere is still hope, you never know. I guess my eighth grade special teams highlight reel didn't make it into the hands of coach (Kirk) Ferentz because I never got that call, so track became the next goal." Instead of getting a call from Ferentz, Hart heard from former UI director of track and field Larry Wieczorek. Instead of a football scholarship, he was offered a chance to walk onto the track and field team. And he was elated. "It is a dream come true to be able to put on a uniform and represent Iowa and run my heart out for this university," Hart said. Since competing for the Hawkeyes, he has shaved 24 seconds off his mile time. "I still have more work to do," Hart said. Hart calls out-working opponents "the Iowa way" and cited the No. 4 wrestling Hawkeyes' 18-16 win over No. 1 Oklahoma State in the Grapple on the Gridiron as an example. "I don't think it was an upset," Hart said. "We knew Iowa wrestling was going to go out there and take it to them. Even some of our wrestlers who lost, those Oklahoma State guys they lost to got beat physically. We out-conditioned and out-worked them and that is what it means to be a Hawkeye." He then turned his focus to the UI football program that hours aer the wrestling match improved to 10-0 with a 40-35 win over Minnesota in primetime. Hart pointed to how Ferentz- coached teams annually outplay their recruiting rankings. "I saw a stat with all the football recruits for the top 5 teams in the nation and (Iowa has) eight four or five-star star recruits," Hart said. "Ohio State, Clemson, Alabama have like 50 or 60." An elementary education major, Hart spent part of the summer in Vietnam, teaching physics and coaching volleyball to local middle school-aged children. His goal was making sure the students were appreciative of what they already had in life. "ese are kids who go home and shower when it rains," Hart said. "It was hard for me to sit there and teach them to be grateful when I'm coming from the University of Iowa, the greatest college in the country." Because of the experience of Coach for College, and unbeknownst to the Vietnamese, Hart said he learned as much or more than the students he taught. "ey took a lot from it and cried at the end when we had to leave," Hart said. "But they didn't know that they were teaching me more than I could ever teach them. I'm forever grateful for that experience and to the university for providing student-athletes that opportunity to go over there and do that." Hart also realized that wherever he goes in the future, if it is a foreign country or a teaching and coaching assignment in the United States, that he

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