James Townsend: Working for More than One's Self

Becoming a father or mother is one of the greatest experiences of any lifetime. <i>Being</i> a father or mother is even better, though there are challenges. James Townsend is a proud father of a 23-month-old daughter. He loves his child, but due to the fact that he attends Iowa and she lives with her mother in New Jersey, Townsend has missed much of his daughter's life. That will continue for the duration of his Iowa career. Townsend talks about that, and more in this feature from HN.com.

Many of you reading this are fathers or mothers.

Many of you have had to leave your child or children for a duration of time, be it a week long business trip, a tour of duty with the armed services, a divorce, or other things.

I am no different, as I have a 21-month old daughter that I absolutely hate to leave. I nearly get sick from being away from my family for any longer than two days.

Thankfully, I don't have to do that very often. I could not imagine missing months of my child's life, or the majority of her formative years.

Iowa receiver James Townsend has to deal with that pain each and every day.

He has a 23-month-old daughter.

He has missed the majority of her life because he plays football in the Big Ten, thousands of miles away from his baby.

Hawkeye fans have read the rumors over the course of the last year that Townsend was very homesick and was considering transferring to a school closer to home in order to be closer to his baby.

"Things were pretty tough there for a while," a somber Townsend said.

"It's real hard. Every father wants to be with his child. I am miles away and I think about her every day. But now, I can't think about myself anymore. It's all for her, and everything I do is for her. I have to stay focused, and know that I am doing what I am doing at Iowa to make a better life for her."

"It's all for her. Even if the NFL does not work out, my degree will help me take care of her."

However, Townsend says that saying the goodbyes, though they still hurt, are getting easier with the passage of time.

"Time after time, you don't know what you are going to get into when you go home. When I see my daughter, I wish that I could be there more for her. Now when I leave, it gets a little bit easier, as I know I am doing things for her." Townsend said.

"I am hoping that her mother is helping her remember me. I hope that one day she will come to understand that I am out here trying to make a better life for her. I am giving up a lot; I know that. But I just want to give her all that I can, and I think by being here at Iowa, I have the best chance to do that."

Townsend played in a few games last year as a true freshman before seeing his season come to a premature end with a stress fracture injury in his foot.

The 6-foot-1, 185 pound ‘jet' feels that though his playing time was limited last year, it still gives him an advantage heading into year two.

"It's (the playbook, schemes) getting easier. Since I played last year, I have the advantage of being on the field before. There are no more excuses, and I hope that gives me an advantage this year. I still have some things to learn." Townsend said.

When asked what areas he needs to focus on, he was quick to answer.

"Consistency. Just being that guy that makes the plays all of the time, not just making a play and taking one off or drop a ball. Just to help out the team."

"I learned a lot from the older guys, and by them teaching me, I can take that to the field; I am grateful for that."

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Though Townsend was an accomplished track and field star in high school, running a reported 10.4 100-meter dash, there were whispers last year that Bob Sanders was the fastest man on the team.

"I haven't run my 40 yet this year, but Bob knew last year that I was the fastest guy out here," said Townsend, with a grin.

That is not what Bob said.

"He knew it," Townsend quipped. "I know that since I came here, I used my 10.4 time from high school. He knew that side to side that I was the fastest guy out here."

"We all have fun with that stuff, but when it comes down to racing, no one wants to race me, so I try to pick a race with the track guys. It's fun, but I don't have any competition."

Odds are that sometime during the 2004 season, Townsend might make his first touchdown reception at Iowa. When that happens, we wanted to know if he has any special tributes planned for his daughter back in New Jersey?

"I have a tattoo of her name on my arm, so before a game or practice, I kiss my two fingers and tap on it. It reminds me that I am doing it for her." Townsend said.

"She starting to learn some things. Hopefully she will learn to say ‘Go Hawks' before too long."

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