SAN DIEGO — One of the greatest traditions in college football will take place Thursday at the Holiday Bowl, when (22) University of Southern California and (16) University of Iowa will clash at SDCCU Stadium. Teams, officials and fans will take a moment during the game to pause for something much bigger than football.
What began as an innocent social media post two years ago has quickly grown into one of college football’s most iconic traditions.
“The end of the first quarter rolls around, everyone turns around in the stands and starts waving,” said Nate Wieting, a senior Hawkeyes tight end. “It’s goosebumps on your neck, tears in your eyes.”
It’s known as the Iowa Wave. At each home game, the Hawkeyes football team and those in the crowd turn away from the field to wave to kids watching from the windows of the nearby children’s hospital that overlooks the stadium.
“Sometimes you catch yourself looking around the stadium, just looking around and see everybody waving and it just looks so cool and it looks nice and that’s what it’s about,” said Cedrick Lattimore, a senior Hawkeyes defensive lineman. “We wave to those that support us.”
For head coach Kirk Ferentz, the wave hits close to home. Five years ago the Ferentz family lost Savvy, a granddaughter who was born prematurely.
“It just strikes a nerve every-time,” said Ferentz. “We’ve had some grandkids that have needed some attention there too so there’s just wonderful people up there, the work they do is just unreal and again, there’s just a real sense of community and it’s so much like sports. Obviously the consequences are much more serious than winning and losing but there’s a lot of parallels there.”
The inspirational show of support now comes to the Holiday Bowl for the first time. The plan includes showing the children’s hospital in Iowa City via video board at the end of the first quarter. In addition, tickets have been purchased for patients from Rady Children’s Hospital to attend the game and participate. USC also plans to involve the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.
“Something like the wave, to see it from it’s origin and to see what it’s grown into and to see the national attention that it deservedly gets, it’s an incredible experience and one for sure that I’ll tell people about for the next 20 years from now,” said Wieting.
A tradition worth sharing for years to come.