A race against rivalries: The ROTC Cy-Hawk tradition


Kelby Wingert/Iowa State Daily

ISU Army ROTC runs the Cy-Hawk game ball throughout Iowa in 2014. The ISU Army ROTC meets the University of Iowa Army ROTC in Tama, Iowa every year to hand off the game ball and have a picnic lunch together.

Sara Petersen

Iowa State University and the University of Iowa have found a way to bring their rivalry together: patriotism.

The Army Reserve Officer’s Training Corps program at Iowa’s rivalry universities come together each year before the annual Cy–Hawk football game to show support of the ROTC community. 

On Friday, the Iowa State Army ROTC started their day early with a 6 a.m. run around campus. The cadets then hopped on a bus and traveled to Colo, State Center, Marshalltown and Tama. At these different towns, the students ran about two miles or less to places like elementary schools, veterans homes and parks.

The way the Iowa State ROTC accomplishes this is through a set of short mile runs through small Iowa towns where the two rival universities then meet in the middle.

“The students do a great job of executing this event,” said Lt. Col. Ethan Dial, head of the Iowa State Army ROTC. “They have to plan every detail out, and they start months in advance.”

The last stop for the cadets was in Tama, where they met the ROTC students of the University of Iowa. Both ROTC groups ran to a park where they were served lunch by the Hawkeye Country Club.

“This event is a great opportunity to join rivalries together in support of veterans, military and the community,” said Anders Chelgren, senior in industrial technology and Battalion Commander in Iowa State’s Army ROTC. “It’s really an honor to have such great support from the communities in Iowa, such as all the venues in the towns that open their doors to us.”

Not only do the Iowa State Army ROTC cadets have the opportunity to bond with community members, other cadets and veterans, they also get to bond with one another.

“This event has a lot of high energy in it,” said Zach Fuessley, senior in materials engineering and cadet in Iowa State’s Army ROTC program. “It’s a long bus ride to each little town, so there’s a lot of time in which you get to bond with everyone.”

The Army ROTC cadets enjoy all aspects of this event, from meeting the kids at the elementary schools to bonding with the University of Iowa ROTC cadets.

On Saturday, a football was passed from two Iowa State cadets to two University of Iowa cadets on the field in Iowa City.

“It’s a privilege to do this at the game of the year,” Chelgren said. “We are so fortunate in Iowa to have such patriotic sports fans who love supporting our ROTC units.”