Iowa’s senior day is always an emotional one for several reasons. It’s the final home game at Kinnick Stadium as the Hawkeye seniors say their goodbyes.
The players don’t swarm, they come out of the tunnel to the center of Duke Slater Field with their families waiting for them.
For sixth year senior Joe Evans, who began his career as a walk-on, he doesn’t want the experience to be about him.
“I want all the focus to be on my parents,” Evans said. “Me running out to them — they’ve gone through so much. “Me being here as a walk on helping me out my first couple years by helping me pay for college so I want all the focus to be on them and really not ever to be on me to be honest with you.”
For Logan Lee, it’s about the chance to do everything an Iowa Hawkeye football player does one last time.
“Every part that we celebrate just the winning together in Kinnick, the swarming together in Kinnick,” Lee said. “The waving together at Kinnick — you’re going to have to think about that like, ‘Wow — it’s this last time doing it’.”
Punter Tory Taylor will have a few immediate family members traveling all the way from Melbourne, Australia.
“It’ll be a pretty emotional day,” Taylor said. “I’m just trying to stay locked in to the emotions of the game within itself.”
Wide receiver Nico Ragaini did a senior day last year — as did Joe Evans — yet he’s not sure what to expect in his final home game as a Hawkeye.
“I don’t know what I’m expecting to feel because it’s not my last game,” Ragaini said. “I’m sure when I’m out there and running out there for the senior day thing, it’ll probably be emotional, but I don’t know. Hopefully it isn’t and I’m just like locked in and ready to play.”
Linebacker Jay Higgins shared a message he would tell his freshman self when he first stepped on campus.
“It goes fast,” Higgins said. “If you do a good job of learning everything, you can continue to show up and work hard every day and the things that you want — your goals, your dreams — you’ll have opportunity at the end of the road.”
As for balancing the emotions of playing a football game 10 minutes after a heartfelt experience, head coach Kirk Ferentz still doesn’t have the answer after a quarter-century of senior days.
“It’s hard,” Ferentz said. “It’s easier to talk about it and say, ‘Here’s what you ought to do,’ but I think it’s kind of interesting to hear like the first time they come up in the swarm is usually a pretty emotional thing for them and their parents. Then you close it out at the end of your career the other way and you come out without a swarm and get introduced. It’s probably more moving.”
“I’ve done it as a parent three times. Yeah, it’s a pretty special thing. So there’s going to be those highs and lows that they’ve got to go through, and then somehow they’ve got to scramble and recover. I think we have five, eight minutes or so to get their stuff back together.”
“It’s easier said than done, and it is emotional. I wish I had the answer. 25 years, still searching.”