The game of football brings together people from all types of upbringings.

The Iowa football team is a microcosm of that with guys who have a variety of backgrounds. Hawkeye Headquarters reporter Adam Rossow tells us about one player who will be forever grateful to his mother.

Tristan Wirfs is a mama’s boy.

“I’ve given her a hug before every game, so it’s kind of like a routine now, a ritual almost,” Wirfs said.

A connection rooted in sacrifice.

“Money and time were the two biggest things,” his mom, Sarah Wirfs, said. “Wanting to be everywhere you could for them.”

Sarah Wirfs has raised Tristan and his younger sister in Mount Vernon, Iowa for the better part of two decades.

“As I got older, I kind of started to understand the struggles that she was going through and how hard she was actually working, you know, to allow us to do the things we wanted to do and allow us to have the things that we had,” Tristan said.

And help her kids overcome the person that was rarely around.

“You see all your friends playing catch with their dads and everything. And I’m playing catch with the fence in my backyard, wanting that,” Tristan said.

Tristan’s father has never been a part of his life. But that need for dad evolved into disdain and eventually indifference as Wirfs matured.

“For me there wasn’t any emotion tied to it, he’s just a person,” Tristan said. “He was never around, so it’s like I don’t really have any emotional connection. If he wanted to be there, he would.”

Sarah’s family helped fill the paternal void and more.

“We lived with my grandma in the trailer park up until kindergarten and that’s when we moved into our house in Mount Vernon,” Tristan said. “Mom would be at work, grandma would watch us, mom would come home at night.”

“It was just amazing having my whole family close,” Sarah said. “They were giving rides, helping out groceries sometimes. My family was a huge impact on our lives.”

The results of a lifelong sacrifice on display through number 74.

“Getting to be able to do that, from where we were to where we are now, it’s pretty special,” Tristan said.

“It is very emotional,” Sarah said. “I cry almost every time I see him coming down the tunnel on the big screen. You always feel like you’re not enough, you know, especially being single. It’s just the best feeling in the world to know that they were listening and it had an impact on their lives.”