February 16, 2010
From Soc 134 to Physics 221, from the Campanile to rat brain electrodes?, the romance of the Iowa State campus has been bringing couples together for years. And Lancelot and Elaine aren’t the only Iowa Staters with romantic stories to tell. This Valentine’s Week, meet some of the members of ISU’s “Lovebirds,” a club for alumni who met and fell in love at Iowa State:
- Everyone takes Soc 134, right? So is it any surprise that Lee ('00 chem engr) and Rachel ('02 anthropology) Mason got married because of it? “We sat two seats away from each other the first day of class,” Lee writes. “By the last day of class we were sitting beside each other and going out for pizza after class for our first date. We even walked together to Curtiss Hall to check out our final grades.” The Masons tied the knot in 2002.
- Helen Colvin ('04 computer engr; MBA '06; PhD '08 human-computer interaction) was witness to a fix-up in Friley Hall’s “dungeons” dining center in 1999. Her Rowe housemate was introduced to computer enthusiast Chris ('02 MIS; MS '05 info assurance) because “she’s into computers, too.” But, Helen writes, Chris found Helen’s “Linux-running, SCSI hard drive-containing computer to be more compatible with his interest than the friend’s Mac.” The meeting spelled microchip matrimony in 2004.
- Physics 221 can send some students running scared, but it was the class that brought Scott ('04 civil engr) and Christy ('04 nutr sci) Poska running toward one another. They were introduced to be study buddies for the class – a relationship that blossomed into a friendship that found the pair tailgating and playing racquetball together. It wasn’t until two years later that the friendship turned romantic. Within the year, Scott proposed during the couple’s third silent trip around Lake LaVerne. And on May 15, 2004, the Poskas were married on the Campanile lawn.
- Larch Hall’s famous coed arrangements helped match Dan Kenney ('07 health & human performance) with his talkative wife, Monica ('07 comm studies). Monica was losing her voice from "talking so much at sorority recruitment" that she returned to the hall to soothe her throat with some tea. When the women’s microwave was unavailable, she wandered to the men’s lounge, where she found a place to heat up her water. But what she found even hotter was the guy watching the baseball game in the lounge. Fortunately, she wasn't at a loss for words when she met her future husband.
- “My parents met and fell in love at ISU, married 1972, still going strong,” writes Bethany Lawson (’01 FCS ed; M.Ed. ’04). “My aunt Mindy and uncle Jeff met and married while at ISU. My aunt Jenny and uncle Al met and married while at ISU. My husband [Mark (’00 nutr sci)] and I met and married while at ISU. Now our son Nathan and daughter both want to meet their mates at ISU someday. Guess there might really be something to Campaniling…”
- Drew ('07 computer sci) Templeton’s proposal to wife Becca ('08 psychology) sounds like something out of a Cardinal and Gold storybook. After Campaniling, Drew took Becca in front of the Fountain of the Four Seasons, where she found a path and a giant heart made of flower petals and candles. With fireworks illuminating the sky and the band playing “Fights” in the background, Drew proposed to Becca on a romantic Homecoming night.
- Romances can start at Homecoming, too. Jeanne Hansen ('02 art and design & elem ed) and her future husband, Scott ('99 ag business), were both flying solo the night of Mass Campaniling ’98. “Neither my husband or I really had any intention of finding a ‘kissing mate,’” Jeanne writes. “But as fate would have it, we found ourselves standing next to each other and would up being random campanile-ers (a pleasant surprise to us both). We’ve been together ever since!” The Hansens will celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary in August, and to this day their home is decorated with many images of the one and only ISU Campanile.
- Derek Halverson ('02 computer engr) and Elisabeth Bendo ('02 genetics) were classmates in the honors seminar “Predicting Your Future 101;” what they got was more than they could have ever predicted. After discovering they had a mutual interest in a study that involved putting electrodes in rat brains, Elisabeth struck up a conversation and learned that they also both wanted to study in China. So they went together, and it’s where they fell in love.
Are you and your special someone “Lovebirds?” Sign up for Lovebirds (it’s free to all ISU Alumni Association members) and tell your story online.
Catching up: On a match made in Hilton
Lyndsey Medders ('07 health & human performance) rewrote the ISU women’s basketball record books as the Cyclones’ star point guard from 2003-2007, earning all-conference and All-America honors on the court and in the classroom. Throughout her college career she performed on the biggest stages at the highest levels, and she did it all while keeping a major secret: She was in love with her head coach’s son. The romance went public in 2007, and last May Medders married Billy Fennelly ('07 health & human performance), the son of long-time ISU head coach Bill Fennelly who spent three seasons as one of the team’s student managers. Today the Fennellys make their home in Chicago, but their passions for basketball and Iowa State…as well as their favorite professional team, the St. Louis Cardinals…are as strong as ever. Young Alumni News caught up with them in the middle of a busy hoops season.
So, tell us the story of how you met.
Lyndsey: I was on my official visit when I was a senior in high school. I had already committed and was just getting to know the staff’s families. When I got home, [Billy and I] e-mailed back and forth a lot and just got to know each other. We realized we had so many similar interests and just became the best of friends while I attended high school in Los Angeles and he finished his senior year in Ames. When I got to Ames as a freshman, we decided it would be crazy to try and date. So we just remained good friends, staying in touch daily.
Billy: My dad had told me that she was a really good player and that he really wanted her to come to Iowa State, so I put on my charm and she decided to come to Iowa State. Just kidding. She had already committed, but I’ll take the credit for it!
Lyndsey, what was it like dating the coach’s son?
Lyndsey: To be honest, I didn’t think much of it. That’s why that freshman year was good for us. I would see him once or twice a month, but we continued to establish our friendship and get to know each other. [When Billy transferred to ISU from another school] our sophomore year, it became almost harder in the sense that we couldn’t go out in public. This was the hardest part for me. I grew up in L.A., and half my neighbors didn’t know who I was!
We had most of the take-out phone numbers memorized. The hardest part was after games and during holidays when all my teammates were spending the time with their boyfriends. We obviously didn’t. I hate to admit it, but we got good at politely publicly ignoring each other. We got so used to it that, once we left Iowa State, we had to dramatically change how we interacted with one another in public.
Billy, was it difficult dating one of your dad’s players?
Billy: It was very tough. I really did not want people to know; I did not want to put Lyndsey or my dad in a tough situation if the word got out. We had to keep a very low profile because, in Ames, everyone knows Iowa State basketball. People would recognize Lyndsey or me very easily and would start making assumptions and talking. That’s not what I wanted. We had a lot of classes together, and then we would be at practice together. Once practice was over, we just hung out at one of our places. We did not go out in public together.
What did Coach Fennelly think of all this? How about Lyndsey’s teammates?
Lyndsey: He didn’t know for the longest time. Not many people besides our friends knew. It was well hidden from him, and we wanted to keep it that way. The one thing we agreed on from the beginning was it was never right for Coach to have to answer the question, “What do you think of Lyndsey and Billy?” in the media room. It wasn’t his business -- nor anyone else’s, really -- so we kept it that way. He started to figure it out by our junior and senior years, but it was this unspoken understanding we had. As a player/coach, we always had a close relationship. So I think he trusted how we were handling it. Now that I’m his daughter-in-law, our relationship hasn’t changed a ton. I still call him ‘Coach;’ he’s a lifelong mentor of mine; and we still talk a few times a week.
My teammates weren’t too tough on me. One of my first concerns, especially as a freshman, was making sure no one had negative feelings about it or thought I was getting “preferred” treatment. (Trust me, I didn’t!) They got to know [Billy] and weren’t surprised as to why we were together. They all were great about it, and we had a ton of fun.
Billy: To be honest, we never really sat down and talked it out while I was in school. We obviously talked about it after I was done working with the team and had graduated. My mom and dad have often told me they thought I would end up marrying a player.
Were there Cyclone basketball elements to your wedding?
Lyndsey: We had our reception in Hilton Coliseum, which was amazing. It’s the place in Ames that means the most to us for so many reasons. But since it’s traditional to get married in “her” hometown, we made it beach-themed. I think the biggest element was the 500 people there who had touched our lives so wonderfully, many of them due to our numerous Cyclone ties.
Billy: Our wedding party was introduced like a basketball team. Most of Lyndsey’s bridesmaids were former Cyclone athletes.
What are your fondest memories of ISU?
Lyndsey: I have so many memories: shooting in Hilton by myself when it was dimly lit, running out to the amazing fans on game days, spending time reading to young people, attending other Cyclone sporting events, spending time with close friends and teammates. The most special thing about all the memories I have is that Billy was a part of so many of them. While there were minor challenges in dating my coach’s son, he was there at every game and we were part of each other’s lives on a daily basis.
Billy: I met many great people at Iowa State – professors and academic staff members whom I will always be able to count on. I have friends I will stay in touch with for the rest of my life, and my wife with whom I’ll get to spend forever. I do not have ONE great memory. Every time I was on the bench in Hilton Coliseum is a great memory. There is no place like Hilton.
So, what are you doing now?
Lyndsey: I work for Point Guard College, a basketball company that teaches people the game with summer camps and year-round clinics. I travel about 40 weeks of the year, but I work from home when not traveling. I also wrote a book (A-Z Manual of the Recruiting Process) and founded THEreCREWter.com to educate people about the college recruiting process, a lot of this because I truly found the perfect fit at Iowa State.
Billy: I am the Director of Basketball Operations for the Northwestern University women’s basketball team. This is my second year in the position. We love living in Chicago and rooting against the Cubs.
Billy, it seems safe to say that your lifelong exposure to the sport has had quite an influence on your life, including your career choice. What have been some of the best lessons you’ve learned about coaching and basketball from your dad and from your wife?
Billy: I believe that sports can teach someone a lot about life. I have always had a "coach’s" perspective when it comes to sport because I have a congenital heart defect that limited my ability to play some sports past a certain age. I have learned so much from both my mom and dad about life. More of the influences from my dad come from the way he handles himself in the public eye -- the way he treats people. He treats his team and staff like a family. Everyone is accountable for themselves, given a lot of freedom, but expected to carry themselves in certain way that will represent themselves and the university in a positive way. My mom has taught me a lot through being a fan, coach’s spouse, and community leader. She was always there for my brother and me growing up, regardless of where my dad was.
Lyndsey had the unique job/honor to take all these things to the court. She was able to bring players together both on and off the court, whether it was a practice after a loss or a summer team bonding experience. Lyndsey was the point guard and the leader of the team since she stepped on to the court her freshman year. The way she handled herself with media, fan requests, and community service opportunities is something that should get just as much attention as all the accolades she gathered on the court. I have been very fortunate to surround myself with very good people whom I continue to learn from on a daily basis. My parents always encouraged us to be selective with whom we choose to be our friends; I know my brother and I have taken that to heart, and I have done that even a step further with my spouse as well.
How does ISU remain a part of your daily lives?
Lyndsey: We have the obvious connection with the women’s basketball program, but we get the alumni newsletters and contribute annually to the Letterwinners Club. We try to attend a football game a year, and we both check cyclones.com daily for all sporting updates. Most of our lifelong friends are former Cyclones, and a lot of our conversations revolve around ISU.
Billy: ISU is a part of everything we do. We read articles, watch press conference, communicate with coaches, etc. ISU is a special place, and we are both glad that we are alums.
Get the answers
Speaking of acronyms...
In school, FAC meant “Friday After Class.” For alumni, it also means “Friday at the Center” – a happy hour event for Iowa State alumni at the new ISU Alumni Center. The next one is Friday, Feb. 26, and everyone is invited to come by from 5-7 p.m. for live music, snacks, a cash bar, and camaraderie. Because Iowans are still shoveling snow and chattering their teeth, February’s FAC will be a tropical warmup with a steel drum band and hula hoop and limbo contests. Admission is free, and there’s no need to RSVP. But mark your calendar and add FAC on Facebook. Hope to see you on the 26th! Bring your grass skirt!
Goin' to Kansas City
Next month, ISU students, alumni, and fans will do their traditional takeover of Kansas City – the site of the 2010 Big 12 Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships and a favorite Cyclone tradition. Mark your calendar for the men’s tournament March 10-13 at the Sprint Center and the women’s tournament March 11-14 at Municipal Auditorium. As always, the ISU Alumni Association will sponsor spirit rallies and activities for fans throughout ISU’s appearances in the tournaments. Visit the ISU Alumni Association's Big 12 Tournament Web page now through the tournaments for the latest information.
March isn’t the only time of year you can find a Cyclone presence in KC. The ISU Alumni Association Club of Kansas City sponsors events in the area throughout the year, from tastings at Boulevard Brewery and the ISU alum-owned Roasterie Coffee Company to autumn hayrides, golf and bowling tournaments, and football gamewatches. The Kansas City club is one of ISU’s most active groups for young alumni in the country.
“There are a lot of things to do in Kansas City because the club is so active,” says Cory Gruss (‘99 journalism), a gamewatch coordinator for the Kansas City club who has lived in the area for a decade and been active with the club for nearly seven years. “There are a lot of bars here owned by Iowa State alumni or by people from Iowa. And because most of the Big 12 schools are represented around here, you can always catch a game or have a friendly rivalry with an alum from another Big 12 school.”
Gruss says he plans to host college friends and partake in this year’s Big 12 tournament festivities. (“Most people down here take at least Friday off,” he says.) If you’re coming to KC, here are some hot spots Gruss recommends:
- The downtown Power and Light District has become a popular attraction for visitors, especially at tourney time due to its convenient location between the Sprint Center and Municipal Auditorium. (“Go to McFadden’s and get a big beer and the sampler platter,” Gruss says. “$20 will feed a whole group.”)
- Kelly’s Westport Inn has a long tradition with Cyclone fans. “We try to do gamewatches there,” Gruss says. “Alumni from the 80s and 90s seem to have more of a connection with the place because they went to college before the Big 12 tournament started moving around every year. But it’s still a popular place. They sell Iowa State mugs and refill them.” Gruss also says Kelly’s is hoping to have its new rooftop deck open in time for the tourney.
- The Plaza will make any shopaholic happy, but Gruss also recommends the “810 Zone” on the Plaza, a bar that has tons of televisions, an arcade with skeeball and video games, and “good bar food.”
- Even though it’s a bit off the beaten path, Gruss says local ISU alumni like The Brooksider at 63rd and Brookside, which is partly owned by an Iowa Stater.
Become a fan of the ISU Alumni Association Club of Kansas City
- For more than three weeks, state and local authorities have been searching for ISU design student Jon Lacina of Grinnell, who went missing Jan. 22. Those with information about the case are urged to immediately call ISU Police at (515) 294-4428. A $10,000 reward for new information has been offered by the family.
- At its Feb. 4 meeting, the Board of Regents, State of Iowa approved a 6 percent tuition increase for in-state students and a 4.1 percent increase for out-of-state students at Iowa State next year and voted to rescind a $100-per-student spring tuition surcharge contingent upon the Iowa legislature's approval of Gov. Chet Culver's proposal for supplementary appropriations to the three regent universities this fiscal year. If approved, Iowa State's share of the supplemental appropriation would be $10.8 million.
- New research published by ISU associate professor of anthropology Jill Pruetz (pictured, right) has found that savanna chimpanzees have a near human understanding of wildfire.
- ISU alumna Nawal El Moutawakel ('88 physical education) has been named the first female chair of the Olympic coordination commission. El Moutawakel, who was the first African woman, Muslim woman, Moroccan woman, and Iowa State woman to win an Olympic gold medal, will chair the commission for the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Games.
- Last week ISU College of Veterinary Medicine dean John Thomson (DVM '67) announced that he will retire as dean effective Jan. 1, 2011. Thomson will remain a member of the ISU faculty. A national search for his replacement will begin next month.
- This Saturday, Feb. 20, Angie Welle ('03 elem ed) will become the fourth women's basketball player in ISU history to have her jersey retired. The Fargo, N.D., native is ISU's only 2,000-point scorer and still holds the Big 12 Conference record for career field goal percentage.
- This week, the VEISHEA committee announced its 2010 entertainment lineup. Acts will include Motion City Soundtrack, fun, hellogoodbye, Emerson Drive, Leslie & the LYs, the Envy Corps, and Down with Webster.
- With a 30-10 win over Arizona State Feb. 7, Iowa State University became the first school in history to post 1,000 dual meet victories in collegiate wrestling.
- ISU finished 2nd in the Big 12 Conference and 22nd nationally in the fall semester standings for the Learfield Directors Cup (formerly Sears Cup), a national rating of overall athletics excellence.
How'd you do?
1) Union Drive Community Center; 2) Veterinary Medicine, Engineering, Industrial Science, Home Economics, Agriculture; 3) Maple-Willow-Larch; 4) Interfraternity Council; 5) George Washington Carver; 6) Student Admissions Representatives; 7) Young Alumni Council