“I was shown that it’s not just a man’s game or field, and most of the best life lessons I got from athletics and the amazing coaches I’ve had and known over the years.”
What teams/sports do you follow?
Iowa State everything, particularly basketball! I also follow the Minnesota Lynx in the WNBA since Bridget Carleton was signed, and the Seattle Storm due to being family friends with the head coach. I’m not as engaged with other sports, but I do consider myself a Packers fan. This year my family assigned me the Toronto Blue Jays for the MLB.
How did you become a fan?
My mom is a huge Packers fan, so that was handed down. Everyone in my family cheers for a different MLB team so they decided I needed one of my own. For ISU, I’ve been around the athletic department literally as long as I can remember. We moved to Ames when I was only 2 and the only people we knew initially were the Fennellys so we naturally just got to know a lot of other people related to the university. By the time my mom went back to work coaching in 2002, I was six years old, so I remember just always having this awesome connection and the incredible role models of the women’s basketball team. No matter where I live, whether she’s still coaching, any of that, I’ll still love the Cyclones. Growing up in a coaching family and playing for a lot of years myself, I’ve also met a lot of her coaching friends and will cheer for them if I see they’re playing!
Tell me about your favorite sports moment.
This one is actually really easy because it JUST happened. Senior night 2020 was against Baylor which is always just a bummer because, obviously, Baylor is generally going to be the hardest game on the schedule. The impressive thing about the culture at ISU is that due to the work ethic of the staff and players and the innovation that Coach Fenn consistently brings, there’s almost never the feeling of being “out” of any game. That being said, with one of our top players Kristin Scott out and Baylor rolling as usual, things didn’t look great. I had been scheduled to do the game on the radio with none other than John Walters, so from my perspective, the worst case is I get to honor the seniors and do a game with a hero of mine. What actually happened was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever witnessed. The seniors made the most random starting lineup I’ve ever seen, but managed to keep the game close the first 5ish minutes of the game. From there, the normal starters (minus Kristin) survived blow after blow by Baylor, including foul trouble in the post leading to a MAYBE six-foot forward guarding one of the top post players in the country- and holding her to barely score! The second quarter ended with ISU not having hit a field goal for the entire 10 minutes and still being within striking distance. I said at half that either they’d come out and smack Baylor right away with a run or else the game was over. ISU came out with an 8-0 run, stayed close, and won on a last-second free throw. I sobbed on the air and made my mom high-five me as she walked to the handshake line.
The moment would’ve been special anyway, but since the Big 12 and NCAA tournament were canceled not long after, that ended up being the last time this team played together, and it was probably one of the biggest wins in school history.
Tell me about your least favorite sports moment.
I’m a Cyclone fan, so how much time do you have? Losing early in the NCAA women’s tournament in 2019 was hard just because we had a great team and I loved those seniors so much. The infamous Niang broken foot year where everyone was predicting a run, I had actually made plans with a friend to go to the Final Four if we made it there, going so far as to get a hotel room that we canceled soon after.
How have sports impacted you and your life?
Sports have been everything to me. It was never just a hobby in my house. Basketball is my mother’s career and a constant no matter the season. I was shown that it’s not just a man’s game or field, and most of the best life lessons I got from athletics and the amazing coaches I’ve had and known over the years. Now being back in the field doing radio, I get occasional reminders that there are some awful people that will discriminate against female athletes or women who cover athletics, but mostly I’m heartened by how much progress has been made even in my own time in the industry. In addition, as a 6’1 woman, if I hadn’t had so many gorgeous, confident, extremely tall women around from the basketball team growing up, I probably would’ve had issues with my height. Thanks to their examples, my biggest grievance is not being able to find pants that are long enough. I’m really fortunate to have grown up in the Cyclone family and I wouldn’t be the same without that.
Is there a particular athlete who inspires you? Why?
I have a couple! Bridget Carleton is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen at ISU and so unassuming about it. To meet her, you’d never know she’s a soon-to-be Olympian and one of the quickest rising players in the WNBA. She’s an incredible teammate and has taken every setback and opportunity in stride. It’s never about her but about the greater good of the team. I think if more people had her attitude and willingness to work together, the world would be a much better place. There was also a player named Mary Fox when I grew up, now Mary Fox Fischer, who I just latched onto as a kid. She’s gorgeous, funny, and was a terrific player. Once I decided she was my favorite she always entertained me and never let on that I was annoying or a burden which, let’s be real, I must have been at some point! Now several years later, we still stay in touch as adults and I try to remember her kindness and patience when I’m around kids!
What is your hottest sports take?
Women’s sports aren’t boring, you’re just sexist. Don’t dismiss it before you even watch. If you truly don’t enjoy it, shut up on social media about it.
If you could say one thing and know the entire sports world would listen, what would it be?
College athletes are barely removed from being kids. Even if they’re on this massive stage, they’re still young and learning. The abuse from adults, especially “fans” on social media that’s been normalized in recent years HAS to stop. There’s already a mental health crisis in this country and allowing things like this to be given a pass because “they’re just passionate” or “it’s just my opinion” is unacceptable and, frankly, disgusting.
Jamie Steyer is a recent Iowa State graduate, current Iowa master’s student, eternal artist, writer, and photographer.