April 2018

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Page 24 of 188

25 I t is not every day that you get to meet the NBA's all-time leading scorer, but the University of Iowa women's basketball team had that opportunity in Hancher Auditorium on March 25. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a six-time NBA champion, New York Times best-selling author, and an activist, spoke to a packed Hancher Auditorium in a lecture entitled "From Kareem to Kaepernick: A History of Political Activism in Sports." e event was sponsored by the University of Iowa's Division of Student Life and moderated by Dr. Melissa Shivers, Iowa's Vice President for Student Life. Abdul-Jabbar spent the hour-long discussion telling stories about his career both on and off the basketball court, and encouraging the audience to step out of the box in order to create change. "Make friends that look very different from you and friends that come from all different places," Abdul-Jabbar said. "Make friends that look a lot and think a lot differently than you…I think that is a great benefit to our country." It was a message that hit home for Iowa junior All- American Megan Gustafson. "It was really cool to be able to hear him speak right here on campus," Gustafson said. "I loved listening to what he had to say. He didn't just speak about basketball. He spoke about being a leader and a social activist. He talked about the importance of making friends with different types of people, having unique experiences, and being able to stand up for what you believe in. I thought that was really beneficial and impactful." Following the event, the Hawkeyes were invited to attend an exclusive meet-and-greet session to meet and take pictures with Abdul-Jabbar. It was an experience the entire team won't forget, including Gustafson, who spent a majority of her summer studying Abdul-Jabbar's infamous skyhook. "I have modeled my own hook shot off of his," said Gustafson. "I decided to watch videos of him when I was home last summer. When I came back to Iowa City and told Coach J (associate head coach Jan Jensen) that I had been studying his film she got excited, because she did the same thing growing up. We started watching even more videos of him. I worked on that hook shot a lot last summer and I'm going to continue to do that. "It is pretty special to be able to meet someone that has inspired you. It was an honor to meet him and tell him that I had studied his game film." While Abdul-Jabbar's on-court abilities have helped Gustafson improve her game, the opportunity to hear about his off-the-court influences is what she will remember most. "I have had amazing opportunities on the court, but I've had them off of the court as well," Gustafson said. "To get the chance to hear him talk about life outside of basketball is something I won't take for granted. Getting to hear people speak about putting their voice out there in order to see change in the world is so impactful. I'm thankful for the experiences that I have had here at the University of Iowa."

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