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Former Hawkeyes asked to honor John Streif in special way

[ 0 ] February 19, 2013 |

So just what has John Streif meant to the University of Iowa’s athletic department?

“I don’t even know where you begin,” said Tom Davis, who spent 13 seasons as the Hawkeyes’ head men’s basketball coach. “He did everything.”

Streif, an Iowa graduate who spent more than four decades serving the athletic department with dedication and unselfish affection, retired on Jan. 2.

In this October 2009 photo, former Iowa basketball player Ronnie Lester, left, and former basketball coach Lute Olson, right, share a moment with John Streif, center, who had worked with the 1980 Iowa Final Four team. (Rodney White / Register file photo)

In this October 2009 photo, former Iowa basketball player Ronnie Lester, left, and former basketball coach Lute Olson, right, share a moment with John Streif, center, who had worked with the 1980 Iowa Final Four team. (Rodney White / Register file photo)

If anyone deserves a parade it’s Streif, but he doesn’t care for pomp and circumstance. When he was honored at a luncheon for his outstanding service in May of 2010 at the Iowa Memorial Union on the Iowa campus, Streif gave a moving speech. Afterwards, he told Davis and others there would be no more speeches.

So former Iowa basketball player and Iowa City businessman Mike Gatens is spearheading an effort to honor Streif in another way. Gatens is asking former Hawkeye athletes to contribute to a fund to buy Streif a new car.

“We would like to honor John one more time in our own special way for all he did for us personally,” Gatens wrote in a letter that went to lettermen and athletic officials last week.

As a university athletic employee, Streif had a car provided to him. After retiring, he purchased a new car. The donated funds will cover the payments. Any money raised beyond the cost of the car will go to Streif. Davis knows that Streif will not be happy about it.

“He’s just got to grin and bear it,” Davis said. “I don’t see any downside to it, other than John. He’ll be upset, but in the right way. He won’t want a fuss made over him. But he’s done so much over the years. It’s just amazing.”

Streif spent most of his career as an assistant athletic trainer, but also became travel coordinator for football and men’s basketball in 1980. Streif oversaw team managers. He took care of officials before games at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, whether it was taping ankles before the tip, offering an icebag afterwords or lining up transportation. He took care of visiting coaches.

But Iowa players and coaches were always the most special people in Streif’s life.

Streif has received a lot of well-deserved public adulation over the years, something he’s not comfortable with. The awards he’s received in his field of duty would easily fill pages of a resume.

But there’s also an endowed basketball scholarship that was created in his name in 1994. He was named a co-recipient of the Chris Street Award in 1997. Former star guard Ronnie Lester donated $100,000 toward the recent Carver-Hawkeye Arena renovation project so the training facility could be named after Streif.

The car fund is designated for lettermen, but Davis said that fans who knew or respected John’s work can also get involved.

“We decided we should make it public because there are a lot of fans and a lot of people out there that aren’t going to be contacted otherwise that would love to send John a card,” Davis said. “They don’t have to send money, but at least they could be a part of it. I think that’s what John would appreciate.”

Cards or cash donations can be sent to: John Streif Car Fund (Attention: Adisa), West Bank, 229 South Dubuque Street, Iowa City, Ia. 52240.

“A good man,” Davis said.

 

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Category: Hawkeye news

About Rick Brown: Rick Brown covers men's basketball for The Des Moines Register and Hawk Central. He's married and the father of two. He also covers golf for the Register. View author profile.

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