Saturday, January 20, 2018

Iowa Proud

I'm going to take a departure from the norm today and not write about beer.  If you'd like to read more on Iowa beer, including my latest review of Single Speed Brewery in Waterloo please check out my friends website   Check out the Iowa beer stories page.

Today I wanted to take a moment to talk about former Iowa Hawkeye basketball player Chris Street.  It's been 25 years since his death, and the loss still resonates for the citizens of Iowa and the Hawkeye fans.  Obviously losing such a great talent at a young age is awful, yet he was more than that.  He was the typical Iowa kid, working hard, being a good person, doing what is right, and he was succeeding.  I think losing not only his talent but someone with his character is why we all still remember him.  I'm not going to lie and tell you I was his biggest fan, I don't watch much basketball. My dad is the Hawkeye basketball fan of the family. Instead, I thought I'd share a short story of when I met him when I was 12 years old that may help show, why his memory is still with us.

I used to go to a summer camp for handicapped kids in Iowa City that was hosted by the University of Iowa's Hospital Schools, a place where I spent a lot of time recovering and rehabbing from surgeries.  For a few years they had this great idea of getting kids together to help them feel more normal.  We'd live in the dorms for 2 weeks with a dedicated counselor that would do fun activities with us, but we'd also have physical therapy and group counseling sessions to help us deal with day to day issues.  It really was a big step in becoming independent, and I was very lucky and glad that I was a part of it.

So what does this have to do with Chris Street?  One of the activities we did was go and watch a summer basketball league game.  Christ just happened to be one of the players.  This was a fun yet competitive league meant to help college players keep up their skills in the off season.  Some of the other kids recognized Chris right away. He came over to our group and talked with all of us and signed some autographs.  This was pretty cool of him, right? Absolutely, and for most of the other players, that's also what they did.  Chris took it a step further.  He invited our group to set next to the players on the bench.  I ended up right next to him, and I don't remember what we talked about, but I do remember him making jokes, being really friendly, and feeling like he really cared.

It came time for him to go back into the game, and he asked me what I'd like to see him do, so of course I asked him to dunk the ball.  A few minutes later he had the ball around the 3 point line, he charged the basket, I missed what happened next because my roommate asked me a question, but the small crowd in the gym went nuts.  Christ runs by with his arms out and asked what I thought.  I told him I missed it!  I was so embarrassed.  He just smiled, turned around, and immediately stole the ball and dunked it again.  It was awesome!  After the game he came back over to us and gave high fives and said his goodbyes.

I know this is a small and silly story, but in that hour and a half that I saw him, he gave me and the other kids in the group something to smile about.  It's this small act of kindness he gave me and the group that made him special, and why 25 years later he's being honored at an Iowa basketball game.  Thank you Chris for being kind, and giving us a good example.  This story is something I think about from time to time and smile, a small moment in his life, but a big memory in mine.

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