“This has been our way of going out to say thank-you.  The Cyclone Nation has responded.  We get to do what we want to do because of what you Cyclone fans do. We know that and we will never forget it.” Iowa State athletics director Jamie Pollard to Cyclone fans in Waterloo Tuesday, the last stop on the 2007 Cyclone Tailgate Tour.

 

WATERLOO, Iowa -- In an interactive age, Iowa State athletics director Jamie Pollard wanted an interactive event to catch the imagination of Cyclone fans across the state as spring headed toward summer.  Last fall with Pollard’s blessing, ISU director of special events Ryan McGuire and special projects coordinator Diane Shearer began planning for a “new school” type of statewide campaign that would allow families and Cyclones of all ages and stripes to mingle and meet ISU staff and coaches up close.

 

“When we started planning this, we really didn’t know how it would be received,” McGuire said. “We knew that Cyclone fans are loyal and very supportive, but until the first stop on the Tailgate Tour, we weren’t sure.”

 

The question was been answered in concert by the overflow crowds at the six Tailgate Tour stops. Tuesday’s event, at the Cattle Congress in Waterloo, was the last stop on the tour after previous visits to Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Sioux City, Council Bluffs and Mason City.  With season tickets and National Cyclone Club memberships running at an all-time high, the events served to demonstrate the depth of Iowa State’s athletic support across the state of Iowa.

 

“I love this format,” said Iowa State fan Fred Tripp of Waterloo Tuesday. “Everyone has the opportunity to meet Jamie and the coaches face-to-face. This event has brought people out who have never had the chance to see someone like Cael Sanderson and talk with him for a few minutes.”

 

The six stops, though in different parts of Iowa, had one thing in common, an enthusiastic atmosphere. Fans filled every tent for the short program that was built around free admission, free games for kids and the no cost opportunity to meet ISU coaches, student-athletes and fellow Cyclone fans in a social situation.

 

“Actually, we have been overwhelmed by the response of Cyclone fans,” McGuire said. “The people in the communities we have visited, in the hospitals, the Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs and retirement communities were so grateful when we visited.”

 

Each visit included the presence of Iowa State student-athletes, many from their home regions of the respective Tailgate Tour stops.

 

“The best thing about this for us is the opportunity to meet the people you see filling Hilton Coliseum or Jack Trice Stadium when you look around during a game,” said ISU women’s basketball head coach Bill Fennelly.  “These are the people who fuel Hilton Magic.  These events have allowed us to meet and talk with these great fans and meet their kids.”

 

Pollard geared the events toward grooming young Cyclone fans of future decades, most of whom were romping around on the inflatable games staffed by Iowa State players and coaches.  Many are currently too young to fully grasp much more than a love of Cy, which they will remember in pictures years down the line.  But the seed has been planted, in children who frolicked in No. 7 Bret Meyer jerseys and those wearing shirts of all colors bearing 10-20 signatures of coaches and players representing all 18 Iowa State sports.

 

Tuesday’s event was a homecoming of sorts for ISU head men’s basketball coach Greg McDermott, who returned to the Cedar Valley to a friendly reception by staff and patients at Waterloo’s Covenant Medical Center.  It was all still a little new to Iowa State head football coach Gene Chizik, but he was catching on fast.

 

“Our support is truly statewide,” Chizik said. “I’ve been impressed by the number of people who took time out to come and see us.  For me, what Jamie has said from the start is true.  It’s a Cyclone state.”