Shrine Bowl, Iowa Summer Games attract athletes, fans

Jordan Wickstrom

Independence Day, the MLB All-Star Game and this year’s World Cup are just a few of the biggest events that take place during the month of July; the month that has seemingly always been the one where all great outdoor events take place.

But for Iowans, there are a few weekends in July where everybody seems to come together to take part in the Iowa Summer Games — not because they feel pressure to do so, but because it is a great way to get outside and enjoy the summer weather.

“I think the Iowa Summer Games are great for the state and great for the school,” said Dave Dippold, senior in hotel and restaurant management. “I stopped by, watched some archery, watched some soccer and some tennis and enjoyed it all because it’s easy for a lot of people to hang out inside, but with these games, you’re really enjoying the summer.”

For West Union native Mindy Balk, the weather was not the only reason to take part in the games.

“It’s great to get outside, watch some of the things going on and show some support for my son, Gary,” Balk said.

Balk was in Ames because her son was selected to play in the Iowa Shrine Bowl. And while the Shrine Bowl is a separate event from the Iowa Summer Games, Balk is quite familiar with the event because her son competed in the 2009 shot put event.

“He threw shot put last year, and he took second,” Balk said. “He was actually involved in football, wrestling in the winter, track and field in the spring and, up until a couple of years ago, he was part of the swim team in the summer.”

While a lot of people flocked to the football practice, others took in other events; not necessarily as fans, but because it offered a chance to get their mind off some things.

“Obviously it’s not a great time for anybody,” said Nick Johnstone, senior in marketing. “As a student, it’s kind of nerve-racking to know you’ll be facing such a bad job market after you graduate. So being able to just hang out outside and watch an event or two can be nice.”

Next week will mark the final week for the games, but this summer’s games have already been a success. After a strong showing during the weekend’s events, support for the games continues to grow and will likely only increase.

“It’s wonderful because the best part is everyone can participate,” Dippold said. “I mean, come on, where else can you find a 70-year-old man playing soccer on one field and then a 12-year-old playing soccer on the next field over?”