Diamonds and Ice


Hawkeye coach supports UNI

Got University of Iowa baseball coach Jack Dahm to give his feelings on the possibility of Northern Iowa losing its baseball program after this season. The school has said it will drop the sport due to financial concerns if $1.2 million is not raised by next week.

According to www.supportunibaseball.com just over $250,000 has been pledged thus far. The site also has e-mail addresses of governor Chet Culver for others to complain about the decision.

Coach Dahm has known UNI head coach Rick Heller for quite a while, considering Dahm used to be head coach at Missouri Valley Conference rival Creighton.

“I’m very disappointed,” Dahm said. “Rick Heller is a good friend of mine. We’ve heard the rumors for years that Northern Iowa was going to drop baseball. There are no positives that come out of this – for college baseball or for baseball in the state of Iowa.

“You look at the number of kids we have from the state of Iowa. The opportunities to play Division I baseball in this state have been cut in half. There are a lot of talented kids in this state, so I’m very disappointed.”

Dahm said he had recently talked with Heller about the situation. Iowa and Northern Iowa are scheduled to play each other twice in April, including the Corridor Classic at Cedar Rapids’ Memorial Stadium.

“I know Rick is still working hard. I actually talked to him (last Thursday),” Dahm said. “He’s trying to find a way to get this done. I know he’s made some progress, and I hope they find a way to keep baseball there. Those players deserve it. Rick Heller and the coaching staff deserves it. The alumni deserve it. They’ve played baseball there for so many years.”

Dahm said he was disappointed at the timing of the announcement, coming on the heels of UNI’s first games of the season in early March.

“I wish they’d have given them a little more time to raise the money,” he said. “It has kind of been thrown on (Heller’s) back right now in a not very realistic time frame. Let him know. Don’t make it public, let him know he’s got to go out and do this. Unfortunately, they put him in a very tough spot. They put a lot of pressure on him.

“He’s trying to make this season special for his players, and yet he’s got so many (other) worries, trying to raise $1.2 million. That’s tough. And it’s probably not fair to put him in that spot.”

Dahm complimented Heller as a terrific coach.

“I tell you what, he’s done more with less,” Dahm said. “What he does at Northern Iowa, not being fully funded, the budget is very small, they have to raise a lot of money. Rick Heller is just a tremendous, tremendous baseball coach. And, again, those players do an incredible job over there. I hope they all find a way to keep it.”

 

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How about RoughRiders-Waterloo play outside at Memorial Stadium?

Just came across an online story about the Omaha Lancers of the USHL moving back to Omaha’s Municipal Auditorium next season. The team had been playing in a new arena across the Missouri River in Council Bluffs. The story also mentioned how Omaha and the rival Lincoln Stars might talk about playing a game outdoors in the next couple of years, borrowing a successful page from the NHL’s book.

The Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Black Hawks played at Wrigley Field on New Year’s Day, which was a smashing success. Last season, the Buffalo Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins played at Ralph Wilson Stadium, home of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills.

So how about the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders and Waterloo Black Hawks agreeing to play a game or two outside? Maybe play one game here at Memorial Stadium next season and one at Waterloo’s Municipal Stadium the following season?

It would take a lot of work, but you would think it would generate tremendous buzz in both communities, help the sport of hockey and the USHL. You could donate most of the ticket proceeds from the game to flood relief in C.R. and Waterloo.

What do you all think? Good idea or pipedream? The possibilities have me kind of excited.

Winter Classic Hockey