Iowa City native, Tim Dwight, began his football career as a Hawkeye before he charged on to play professionally for multiple NFL teams around the country. Through his many transitions over the years, Dwight has always stood by his philosophy of preparation, “be ready, that’s what I would always say,” Dwight explains.
After almost a decade in the NFL, Dwight recognized an opportunity to leave his football days behind him. “I was ready to be done,” says Dwight about the transition.
Dwight recognizes that he had an easier time than many professional athletes adjusting to life outside of the stadium because he immediately threw himself into a career that roused the same passion in him that he felt towards playing football. “I wanted to find something that was new, I wanted the challenge,” says Dwight.
The former wide receiver discovered the green energy industry early after the end of his NFL career and instantly identified his connection to working towards spreading awareness of green energy technologies and sustainability. “I like this, it makes me feel better,” says Dwight about his new line of work “I want to empower people to do this for themselves.”
Dwight compares the challenge of being “the new kid on the block” in the green energy industry with the same obstacles he faced when first starting out as the “new kid” in the NFL, but it was a challenge he welcomed just the same, and this time he has even more to gain, “I feel like I’m helping people,” says Dwight about his new life.
Fast and unexpected transitions from team to team and city to city are a regular part of life for a professional athlete, the largest and most difficult of these transitions often being the final move out of the NFL, but for Dwight, the right move came at the right time and he thinks himself better for it. “I saw the opportunity, and it’s just taken me on this path,” Dwight reflects happily.
Every time Kinnick Stadium roars with excitement as images of the Iowa Hawkeyes walking down the infamous stretch of tunnel flash on the big screen high above the crowd, another university team has already been hard at work for hours.
Jim Berg has been directing media and instant replay operations in the belly of Kinnick Stadium for fifteen years, and even with all that experience, Berg admits, “the hardest part of the whole day is getting to the game.”
Hours of preparation and planning go into every Hawkeye home football game and Berg counts on his staff to pull through every weekend. In a cramped cement room with no windows beneath the stadium, Berg and his team of seven control all aspects of Kinnick Stadiums media screens and audio. Over $800,000 worth of equipment is put to use to bring fans instant replays, live statistics, and the beloved Pancheros’ “Burrito Lift.”
Berg explains that he does most of the talking on game day, directing and calling cues to his staff. It’s a fast paced and high-energy job and Berg says there is a lot of what he likes to call, “friendly yelling.”
There is not a lot of turnover amongst the small staff, though Berg claims there is high demand for positions on his crew. The loyalty of his staff has allowed for Berg to communicate almost instinctively with his team without words through body language and mere eye contact. “Everybody has to know where we’re going when and how we’re getting there,” explains Berg.
Berg arrives at the underground studio around 6:00 a.m. for a typical 11:00 a.m game and immediately sets to work. There are few rules in Berg’s studio, the most important he says is no drinking, “If I can wait, you can wait.” The studio receives many visitors throughout the season, and it is important that they crew keep a professional appearance. “We do feel like we’re on display sometimes,” says Berg, joking that the staff often compares their office to living in a zoo, “people come down to see what we’re all about.”
Berg has not missed a home football game for Iowa since 1982 when he first came to the University of Iowa and joined the marching band as a part time student. Today, he continues to lead a dedicated staff who are thankful to have a job doing something they love, “we always remind ourselves that its sports,” says Berg.
Among the scores of buttons and switches hugging the corners of every inch of the room, a big red “Easy Button” toy sits amongst the switch boards, which Berg says comes in handy when things get difficult. The key to having a successful environment is to not get bogged down about mistakes, because that only leads to more mistakes says Berg.
By the time the Hawkeyes reach the field, the big screen and instant replay staff have already been in playing their own game for an hour and a half. The anticipation is always there to make sure the crew has set up everything correctly before the game even starts, “the kickoff is almost a relief,” says Berg.
Iowa City, IOWA—David Patton sprang up from his office chair to point out a framed newspaper clipping on the opposite wall. Tracing his finger over a photograph of huge shafts of rock, reminiscent of a tree hit by lightening, which stretched into the sky, he quickly recalled the familiar routes of the vertical climb before proudly pointing out a small figure clinging to the rock face, “That’s my wife there.” Patton settled back into his seat and continued the account of his first trip up those cliffs, the day he saved a man’s life.
It’s all come full circle for Patton, who grew up in Iowa City, and graduated from the University of Iowa where he worked with the almost non-existent Outdoor Program as an undergrad. “There was no rental center, no trips, and no building,” recalled Patton.
After graduation, Patton and his new fiancé, whom he met in the Outdoor Program at Iowa, rented out their house, moved into their truck, and embarked on a 10 month road trip around the country doing what they loved, rock climbing,
Patton has been rock climbing since he was fifteen years old, allowing the sport to become his passion and major part of his life’s work. The sport requires more than just physical strength, it’s breathing, footwork, and mental control. “It’s a personal challenge, I like connecting to myself,” explained Patton, “the trick is not to be scared, but motivated by the fear.”
Over the past few years Patton played a key role in the planning and building of the new $350,000 climbing wall in the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center (CRWC). “That’s my baby,” said Patton who was there for every part of the process from choosing the company to creating the different routes of the wall. Patton recalls that the build team was shocked when he stepped in to direct the project; rarely is there anyone involved on the users’ end.
Patton knew it was important to create a climbing wall for climbers of all skill levels because the sport is so personal. “Whether you are on the hardest or the easiest route, you are still challenged in the same way,” explained Patton who finds that being able to stay connected to the beginning level is what makes you stronger.
As a guide, Patton advocates for teaching others on the trip the skills they need to take care of themselves and admits “I don’t want to be the guide.” Every trip Patton leads is based around safety, fun and education. “It’s the life skills that transfer back to everyday life at the end of the process that matter,” notes Patton saying that often the hardest part of a trip is when it ends.
Safety is always a concern with outdoor adventures, and Patton’s Wilderness First Responder (WFR) training has come into play more than once.
Patton pounded his hand on his desk to mimic the loud thud of a man’s body hitting solid rock and faintly called out “we’ve got a man down” the way a fellow rock climber had years ago. Recanting how he left his own group to save a man he didn’t even know, Patton’s eyes were focused as he bent over in his chair remembering how he hovered over the fallen climber, creating make-shift braces before lowing him down the cliffs.
“I mean, this guy was dying.”
“And you saved him?”
“I saved him.”
For Patton, outdoor adventure programs and trips are about the experience, the debrief, what has been learned, and what can be improved. Finding flaws in the system is only half the battle (though Patton jokingly claims his own is flawless). Each new experience takes a person back to the beginning where they started out. “The more you get into it, the more you don’t know,” says Patton.
IOWA CITY, IA—UI Sophomore, Dave Svac, does not remember his first hockey game, but that is because he was only six months old the first time his parents suited him up to go see a Pittsburg Penguins game. “My mom was scared to death that I would get hit with a puck,” explains Svac, whose life today brings him in and out of hockey rinks year-round.
“I was the quiet one in the locker room,” admits Svac who joined the University of Iowa Hockey Club Team his freshman year, but this humble demeanor did not stop the young athlete from stepping right up into the position as president of the club.
Svac insists his motivation behind stepping up to the large responsibilities comes from his deep rooted desire to improve the team and strengthen the organization. Almost the entire board was made up of graduating seniors and Svac says “I wanted to make sure that as a club that we didn’t break down after they left.”
Since his time helping to run the club team, Svac says he has focused a lot of his energies on giving back. The club hosts youth hockey camps throughout the year where players are not required to act as instructors, but many choose to participate as encouraged by Svac’s positive mentality. “I want them to have the great experiences that I had.”
Svac, like many amateur and professional hockey players, began his career on the ice when he was only four years old. Svac notes the importance of starting out early and developing the necessary core skills of the game (like skating) is another aspect of why he enjoys the youth hockey programs the club offers.
“In their eyes [the kids], we’re NHL players,” says Svac, who explained that between the relationships they built with the young players who attend the camps and the support from the parents, it’s just a great feeling to be a part of their experience. The club team even hosts miniature autograph signing sessions at the end of the camps, which are always well received by the youth.
Looking ahead, Svac continues to express his positive attitude towards building the club and building the name. Several projects are in the lineup for the team, some more readily attainable than others including the addition of a charter bus contract with Lamers Bus Lines for all away games this upcoming year.
The biggest jump for the hockey club team is going to that of attaining Division 1 and then NCAA status. Svac acknowledges that even this first step is at least ten years down the road, but that has not impeded his desire to motivate the team forward. “Keep everybody positive and get them to see the bigger thing,” says Svac in regards to his future trials as president of the club.
Hockey has always been a huge part of Svac’s life, who appreciates the opportunities he has been given to share the sport with his family and friends growing up. Today his focus is on giving back to his team and working to accelerate the club program forward towards its lofty goals down the road past his time here at Iowa. “It doesn’t matter that it’s not for us,” explains Svac “I’d rather be the one that started it.”