"These Kids Are Our Program's Future"
MASON CITY, Iowa – Iowa State coaches have seen both ends of the spectrum. Recruiting takes college coaches into all kinds of situations. Iowa State football coach Gene Chizik broke the ice with an audience of young people at the Francis Lauer Youth Services Wednesday, stressing everyone in the gym had someone who cared for them no matter what their circumstances. The stop preceded the Mason City stop on the 2008 ISU Tailgate Tour in the All Seasons Building on the North Iowa Fairgrounds.
Francis Lauer Youth Services has been a part of North Iowa communities for more than 35 years. The facility possesses the expertise and knowledge to assist children, families and individuals with a variety of needs. The center provides individual counseling, emergency shelter for children, group foster care in a safe, supportive and structured environment.
Chizik, athletics director Jamie Pollard and the rest of the traveling party of coaches and staff engaged in a 45-minute question and answer session. The ISU football coach stressed that life is full of challenges.
“Everbody here, our coaches and all of you have faced major challenges,” Chizik said. “I see it everyday with our players and coaches. The most important thing is to not let those challenges get you down and let the people who care about you, help you. Everybody has issues and challenges in their lives.”
Sandy Redeker has worked 22 years at Francis Lauer Youth Services and directs its shelter services. The value of Iowa State’s visit was not lost on her.
“The kids prepared for this, with cheers and T-shirts,” Redeker said. “Our kids really enjoyed it.”
The Tailgate Tour stop drew hundreds of Iowa State fans who had the opportunity seek autographs from Cyclone football players and heard from Chizik, Pollard, Iowa State women’s basketball coach Bill Fennelly and men’s head basketball coach Greg McDermott.
Pollard drew loud applause when he directed the crowd’s attention to the Hy-Vee Trophy won by Iowa State’s student-athletes in a huge margin against Iowa’s athletics teams.
Pollard then noted that nearly every Cyclone fan considers themselves extremely important to the Iowa State athletics program.
“But the most important people in this program are all of the kids here tonight,” Pollard said after inviting the children up to the podium. “They are the future of our programs.”
The Tailgate Tour was in part designed to allow children to be welcome at the event and play on the inflatable games supervised by Iowa State student-athletes. It has succeeded famously.
The Tailgate Tour continues Thursday in Minneapolis, Minn.