#SOL16: Joyful Tears

Stifling back a sob, I wiped the tears slowly dripping down my cheeks with my head down. Afraid to make eye contact. Literally in fear of seeing 413 women surrounding me in tears. Seeing it would make it more real.  Certain that the tears would become a river leading to the turf in Kinnick Stadium if I actually saw how many others were also crying.  I could hear sniffles, nose-blowing and out-loud crying.  Superimposed over our anguish was the joyful and vibrant voice of eleven year old Christopher Turnis, Honorary Captain for the Iowa Ladies Football Academy.

Christopher totally rocked his time with the microphone.  Funny. Articulate. A young man  who currently has a feeding tube in order to survive, who has already had one kidney transplant and YET has endured over 40 surgeries and 1000 nights in the hospital who stood in front of an audience to thank his family at home and his family at the U of I Children’s Hospital and Clinics for all their support because he’s never “done anything the easy way”.

It was truly a blessing that we met Christopher at the end of the day.  It was an emotional roller coaster as his mother was the next speaker for the record-breaking crowd in Kinnick’s south end zone before Mary Ferentz announced that the participants had raised over $346,614.  The top prize went to a participant who had raised $8,000 herself.

So what do women really do at a seven hour football camp?

The agenda went something like this . . .


Tours and Instructional Presentations (2 hours):  All – American Room, Weight and Conditioning Room, and Team Room

Lunch at Kinnick

Choices:  Tours of Locker Rooms, Practice the “SWARM”, pictures with the coaches and players, visit with other participants, testing individual  skills and checks on sunscreen and hydration built in.

Introductions:  Coaches and Teams

Drills: Rotations through blocking, passing, footwork, defense, fumble recovery, meeting with special teams . . .

Speeches by Coach Ferentz, Christopher, his mother, and Mary Ferentz

And highlights look like this . . .

The line outside to “ENTER” in order to register when the doors opened!

one Iowa

The positive vibes and signage everywhere!  The intentionality of the daily care of the Iowa Hawkeye football players! (signs in the weight room)

And the infamous visitors’ lockerroom inside Kinnick.

Such an icky, icky pink . . .

And then inside the Home locker room (these walls are not pink – odd tint in the picture)

The players and their own mothers who were part of the day’s activities.

eight Iowa

This picture was special as Coach and I chatted about our gandsons named “John” (mine would be eight months older)!

nine Iowa

And, in fact this was our last family photo with Coach after the 2014 win at Indiana that heralded our family expansion.

Evan Julie and Coach

Former standout Mark Weisman, also from 2014, back with the Hawkeyes this summer.

ten Iowa

And one picture with QB CJ Beathard

eleven iowa

It was an amazing day with valiant young men who treated us all like royalty.  Kind, thoughtful, teachers for the day who inspired us with their growth mindset and fun-loving attitudes.

It was a day to make memories and to consider how it feels to be a novice absorbing new learning in a field full of experts.

“Was that out, cut, and ?”

“Or left over right, cut, and ?”

Thanks to my generous sister!    With her sponsorship and donation, it was a privilege to attend and learn with 413 others at the Iowa Ladies Football Academy.

Interested in learning more?

Check out these sites.

My Wife Plays Football with the Hawkeyes

Iowa Ladies Football Academy

Hawkeye Players Cut Short Vacation for a Good Cause


How have you challenged yourself to try to learn something new?  What did you learn about yourself?  How do you continue to “put yourself in the learner’s shoes”?

slice of life 2016

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  Thank you for this weekly forum!


Joyful is my #OLW!


17 responses

  1. What an inspiring event, Fran! Loved those pictures…and the deep thinking the lessons of the day led you to.

    1. Thanks, Tara! So much more than “just” a day at the football stadium! ❤

  2. Such an emotional post, Fran. So much inspiration weaved throughout your slice. Your day looked beautiful and one to be treasured for a long time. Thanks for sharing! ~Amy

    1. You are welcome, Amy! One day in a life ~ YET so much impact.

  3. Fran, this was a very moving post – inspirational – and very different than what I had expected. The photos really add to your text, and the questions at the end of your piece are going to make me think about my own learning all day and probably for a long, long time. Thank you!

    1. Lynne,
      You are so welcome!
      This piece literally wrote itself although I thought it was going to be MORE of a photo essay than it actually was.

      Thanks for the details about what really worked for you!

  4. This got me a little weepy. I love learning new rings, but I’m not sure football is my cup of tea. On the other hand, a lot of learning append when we move out of our comfort zone.

    1. Adrienne,
      There was so much about nutrition, electronic recording of data, and just the “character-building” of the athletes. The football “stuff” almost seemed incidental!

  5. Allison Jackson | Reply

    Loved this post, Fran! So glad you had an amazing experience! And happy you all raised so much money for a good cause!

    1. Allison,
      I learned so much more than I expected! I am so amazed that the atheletes can learn (go to college classes) AND play football. They both seem to be full time jobs during the fall semester at least!

  6. Very inspiring. The pictures were awesome and I’m happy to see so many people working for such a good cause!

    1. Thanks, Lisa!
      Of course it also means more to understand the background! But I’m glad that you found those pieces!

  7. What an interesting, emotional, and learning filled day, Fran. There are always new things to be learned and interesting ways in which to learn them.

    1. I love that trio you put together! It was an unexpected but such a great combination!

      Learning 24/7 and even when least expected is always a real “treat” and I so want to find the teachers of this student and tell them THANKS! He was amazing! (As were all the football players and coaches!)

      It was a really good example of “A Day in the Life of . . .” ❤

  8. How fun! Thanks for sharing a day that is such an adventure….learning keeps us forever young at heart, while we grow wiser.

    1. Learning . . .
      it’s fun, it keeps us young, helps us grow wiser! So much to love about learning! You are welcome!

  9. […] When I searched my blog posts, I was shocked. I didn’t panic. I called on my #OLW to “be patient.” I continued to search. I was not giving up. And finally with a change in search terms, I found it. This post from seven years ago. Link […]

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