Photo Above: (IOWA CITY, IA: Iowa fans wave to the kids in the Iowa Children's Hospital between the first and second quarters during a college football game between the Indiana Hoosiers and the Iowa Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA. This is known as the Hawkeye Wave (Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire), Icon Sportswire via AP Images)
College sports have numerous traditions. If you’re at Clemson, you know about Howard’s Rock. Seven minutes before the game starts, the team tours the stadium. They hold at the top to gather their powers before running at full speed down “The Hill” to the turf.
If you’ve ever attended or seen a University of Wisconsin football game on TV, the entire stadium jumps between the third and fourth quarters to the song “Jump Around” by House of Pain.
The tradition that is considered the best in the country is the Hawkeye Wave. When the first quarter is over at Kinnick Stadium, more than 70,000 people turn to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. In unison, everyone waves to the kids receiving treatment and the families watching the game.
On the top floor of the hospital is a Press Box. Patients and families come together here to watch Iowa football home games because there is an almost perfect view of the field below. Kids often tape posters or signs to support the team in their rooms, which fans can see from their seats.
If it’s a night game, fans turn on their cell phone lights to wave to the kids watching the game so that this tradition is never missed.
Fans Were Asked to Vote on a New Song for the Hawkeye Wave
Social media helped to come up with the idea of the Hawkeye Wave. When the institution reached out for ideas about what they could do during the game, one fan suggested that they could think of a way to cheer up the kids in the hospital. [ ]
Although the Kinnick Wave is relatively new as a sports tradition, it is already evolving into something better. In 2022, each home game will feature a “Kid Captain” who is admitted to the pediatric hospital. They’ll get to choose the song that accompanies the Hawkeye Wave.
In April, the University of Iowa asked fans to vote on the next song they wanted to accompany the Hawkeye Wave. Since its inception, the tradition has had Pat Green’s song “Wave on Wave” play across the PA system while everyone turned to send their greetings to the pediatric hospital most of the time.
“We felt after five years, it was time for the fans to choose the song for the Hawkeye Wave,” said Peter Matthes, VP for external relations at the University of Iowa and senior advisor to the president. “The fans suggested we extend that honor to the children.” [ ]
The Kid Captain program preceded the Hawkeye Wave. It was started in 2009 as a way to honor patients at Stead Family Children’s Hospital. One patient is picked for each Iowa football game, receiving special recognition from the team and facility, along with a commemorative jersey. Several other behind-the-scenes activities also happen.
This program’s goal has always been to celebrate each child’s inspirational story.
Mind-body connections that involve positive thinking have shown wellness benefits for people of all ages. It can improve an individual’s outlook, no matter how dire the diagnosis might be. That process starts by simply smiling more. [ ]
The Kinnick Wave certainly does that when kids get to experience it for the first time. “The response for a new song was incredible,” said Matthes, “and one suggestion we continued to hear was ‘Let the kids decide.’ So, that is exactly what we will do.”
“The associations between positive attitude and health are complex, but promising, and merit further investigation,” says Dr. Firdaus Dhabhar, a behavioral science and psychiatry expert at the University of Miami. “The connection between mind and body in health and healing has been appreciated since ancient times.” [ ]
The Kid Captain Is Open to Current and Former Patients
At the University of Iowa, the Kid Captain program is open to any pediatric, current or former, who is 18 years old or younger. It is a unique program because only a parent or legal guardian can nominate a child for it.
Kids of any age can be nominated to be an away game honorary Kid Captain. Because of sideline safety concerns, children six years of age or older can be a home game Kid Captain.
Going into the 2022-23 football season, over 150 children have gotten the opportunity to participate in this program. Stead Family Children’s Hospital maintains a Hall of Fame to commemorate the event. [ ]