So it became a daily thing with Bill and I talking and having a cup of coffee each morning. During those talks he told me about his life and I found out that he was on the 1944 championship team from Iowa State that played at the final four as a freshman!!!
The 1944 Iowa State NCAA final Four team is, without a doubt, one of the greatest units in the history of Cyclone basketball, and Bill, who is 93 years old, was a key player in their success.
Here’s the story…..
It was a tumultuous time in the United States in 1944, as war was ravaging in Europe and the Pacific. The majority of young males in the US were serving their country and it was no exception at Iowa State, where enrollment dropped significantly.
Because of the strong engineering programs, ISU was one of several schools that offered Naval Training programs. The Navel cadets could train under ISU’s V-5 and V-12 engineering curriculum and be eligible to participate in athletics for the Cyclones regardless of age or previous college graduation.
Bill was one of these cadets.
How the Cyclones made the NCAA Tournament in 1944 is a fascinating story. Because many members of the team were involved with Naval responsibilities it looked like Iowa State couldn’t participate because the cadets could be away from their base longer than 48 hours. The Cyclones eventually got permission to go, and was one of eight teams to make the NCAA Tournament.
Cyclones lost to Utah and Bill remembers it as their worst performance of the season. Something that could have played a part with their performance was they received word from the Navy, their couldn’t go to New York to play in the finals, the Naval people said we couldn’t be off the base for more than 48 hours, so we couldn’t play in the championship game even if we won!
So we contacted Iowa State and they rolled out the red carpet for him and his family. He was given, a bag full of goodies and met with the ISU staff, his daughter and granddaughter and families attended the TCU game (unfortunately ISU lost) and they enjoyed lunch and were to meet with the coach at the post game conference but by the time Bill and family we escorted down there it was over but the day was very special for Bill and see by that smile he won’t forget this night for a long time.
Thank you for the Dare to Dream Program!