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Hawkeyes go with the home cooking

[ 0 ] July 13, 2014 |

The phrase “buy here” has been used as a local development initiative by the Iowa City Chamber of Commerce.

University of Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta appears to be listening, or at least it seems that way based on two of his most recent coaching hires.

Iowa City native Joey Woody was hired as the new Director of the UI Track and Field/Cross Country program two weeks ago, while fellow Iowa City native Bond Shymansky was hired as the Iowa volleyball coach in late January.

Bond Shymansky is the ninth head volleyball coach of the Hawkeye volleyball program. Shymansky is an Iowa graduate and Iowa City native.

Bond Shymansky is the ninth head volleyball coach of the Hawkeye volleyball program. Shymansky is an Iowa graduate and Iowa City native. (Special for the Iowa City Press-Citizen)

“I would absolutely characterize it as an exciting coincidence,” Barta said. “It’s a great that they have those backgrounds. But in both cases, I’ve known them. I’ve known Joey Woody since he was a student-athlete at (Northern Iowa). I was an assistant athletic director when he was competing. So I’ve known him a long time. And I’ve been aware of Bond and have known him at some level since pretty shortly after I arrived at Iowa in 2006.”

Coincidence or not, Barta appreciates the opportunity to hire coaches who grew up in the shadow of the university and who are familiar with life in Iowa City. Woody graduated from City High in 1992 and then became a star hurdler at Northern Iowa, winning an NCAA title in the 400-meter hurdles as a senior in 1997.

Shymansky graduated from West High and started coaching volleyball for his alma mater’s ninth grade B team and later coached at City High and Regina before moving to the collegiate level.

“When we recruit student-athletes, we love to have the best talent that either lives in the state or has ties to the university because we just know that increases the chance that they’re going to understand our culture,” Barta said. “And I would say the same thing when I’m hiring a staff member or a coach.

“I won’t hire somebody just because they’re from Iowa or from Iowa City. But if they have all the other number one priorities, than it’s an exciting opportunity and coincidence that in this case they’re both from Iowa City.”

Barta’s job is to hire the best candidate for each position. The fact that two of his last three head coaching hires were Iowa City natives provides an interesting twist, but hardly points to a shift in his hiring philosophy.

“Here’s how I would characterize my number one priority in hiring head coaches, is they have to prove they have the ability to win and do the job,” Barta said. “And then they have to fit our culture: win, graduate and do it right and have all the intangibles and share our culture and philosophy. And I look for that any time that I’m hiring.

“The number one priority is they have to have a proven ability they can do the job in a staff member’s case. And then after that, the fact that both Bond and Joey were both two people I had been familiar with for a long time, added to the fact that they’re both from Iowa City, was just a great coming together of a lot of factors.”

Rarely does an Iowa City native get hired as a head coach for the Hawkeyes.

UI men’s tennis coach Steve Houghton had the distinction of being the only current Hawkeye head coach from Iowa City before Woody and Shymanky were hired. However, Houghton was hired in 1982, so it’s hard connect his situation to the current hires.

Woody plans to use his Iowa City roots to his advantage in his new position. He did the same as a student-athlete at UNI and as a professional track athlete.

“Growing up here and having a lot of family here and having that support system around you just like I did while competing as an athlete, you can’t replace that,” Woody said. “There are reasons why I never left the state of Iowa while I was training as a professional track athlete. Most people leave and go to the South and maybe switch coaches or whatever it is. But I stuck to the plan and had a lot of success because of the support system I always had around me. And I feel the same will hold true being the head coach here as we move this program forward. That support, you can’t replace it.”

Former Iowa two-sport star Tim Dwight was thrilled to learn that Woody had been promoted from associate head coach for track and field to the director. Dwight was two years behind Woody at City, but they both helped to build the Little Hawks into a track and field dynasty under former coach John Raffensperger.

Dwight was a star sprinter at Iowa and a standout receiver and all-America return specialist for the Hawkeye football team. He understands the Hawkeye culture and believes that Woody will thrive in it.

“What a great hire for the Iowa track and field program,” said Dwight, who played in the NFL from 1998 to 2007. “Joey’s experience, knowledge and tenacity, not only as a competitor, but as a coach, has propelled Iowa on to the national scene and now being hired as the director, we should keep experience this success and more.”

Barta hired Shymansky away from Marquette, where Shymansky was riding high in Milwaukee, after leading the Golden Eagles to three NCAA Tournament appearances since taking over the program in 2009. The chance to return home and live and work amongst family was part of the attraction.

“You grow up here, it just becomes a part of who you are,” Shymansky said. “It’s part of your fabric.”

Shymansky joked at his introductory press conference that his Iowa City roots would help increase the volleyball home attendance.

“I know that my whole family will increase the attendance by probably 18 for every match, so that’s good, and they’re all here,” he said. “Both my wife and I are from here, and all of our family is still here, so it’s great to have them on board.

“But I know that the community wants to get behind all of Iowa athletics, and so the community will find a way to get behind volleyball. We want to give them something that they can be proud of, something they can be inspired by, something that can be a great representation for the best things in Iowa athletics and the best things in young women out there competing hard in athletics.”

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Category: Hawkeye news, Uncategorized

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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