Amid ESPN's 'GameDay,' Iowa State-Iowa showdown, fans mark a birthday, a lucky break, a somber anniversary
A birthday wish for a loved one, a lucky break for a chance of a lifetime, a memorial — game day in Ames was many things to many people ahead of Saturday's annual Cy-Hawk showdown.
Jack Zink, 9, of Newton, was with his family Saturday morning, waiting for ESPN's "College GameDay" pre-game program to go live just south of Jack Trice Stadium.
Zink was carrying a sign that wished a happy 86th birthday to his grandpa, Larry Minner, "ISU's biggest fan," who couldn't be there on Saturday.
Amber Zink, Jack's mom, said Minner went to school at ISU and was an usher for many years.
It was Jack's first "GameDay," grandpa knew he would be there, and he said if grandpa happened to see his sign on TV, he hoped he would like it.
As for the No. 9 Cyclones, who were scheduled to play the No. 10 Hawkeyes at 3:30 p.m. in Ames Saturday, Jack had a very optimistic prediction of a 154-0 final score in Iowa State's favor.
'It's exciting, very exciting': The Field of Dreams comes to Ames
Evan Bollinger, an Iowa State freshman from tiny Fenton, Iowa, gave what he said was a realistic score of 24-21, Cyclones.
What was probably a bit more surreal was that Bollinger and friends had been randomly chosen to be on camera for "GameDay" — set to follow Cy through some staged corn stalks and smoke, harkening to this summer's earlier Field of Dreams game in Dyersville, between the New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox.
"It's exciting, very exciting," Bollinger said a few seconds before he was given the cue to charge through the stalks, streamers bursting into the air ahead and T-shirts launching out into the crowd.
Amid Cy-Hawk festivities, a reminder of tragedy
From a field of dreams to a field of flags — as the sun rose, earlier on the morning of the game, the fields just east of Jack Trice gave a somber reminder that the day was also the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
About 50 cadets from Iowa State University's Air Force ROTC Detachment #250 placed flags in the wet grass, one flag for each victim of the attacks — Americans and those from around the world.
The idea came from U.S. Air Force's Capt. Eric Davis, who is also an assistant professor of aerospace studies at Iowa State.
Davis said in an earlier news release that "Most students were not born yet or were very young during the attacks. I think it's important that they be able to see the loss that occurred."
"The location, near the football stadium, was selected to reach a wider audience during the biggest football event in the state," he added.
Major Andrew Carper echoed the sentiment Saturday morning.
Carper, who served two tours in Afghanistan, said he hoped Iowans enjoyed the game but that they's take a moment to remember those who were lost, too, and give a thought to the families who couldn't all be together today.
All of the flags placed Saturday will be donated to the Iowa Veterans Cemetery. Carper said the flags representing victims from more than 90 other nations would be mailed to their respective embassies in the U.S.
Phillip Sitter covers education for the Ames Tribune, including Iowa State University and PreK-12 schools in Ames and elsewhere in Story County. Phillip can be reached via email at email@example.com. He is on Twitter @pslifeisabeauty.