As a three-sport state champion during his days at Iowa City West High, Nate Kaeding understood what it meant for different parts of the state to host final events. He won two state football championships in Cedar Falls, a couple state basketball titles in Des Moines and a state soccer crown in Muscatine.
Recently, many of the Iowa state championships have been moved to Des Moines. That rubbed Kaeding the wrong way.
"Obviously I'm partial growing up in Iowa City and living in Eastern Iowa, but with Des Moines grabbing all of these high school sporting events it seems like they're getting a monopoly," the former Iowa Hawkeyes all-American kicker said. "I don't think that's the right thing to do from a state wide perspective. You look at a town like Marshalltown, (the state baseball tournament) was their huge thing. They had parades and all.
"You're taking that impact away from smaller communities and giving it all to Des Moines. I understand the central location, but that's a neat thing for a community to have. I think it would be neat to spread it around the state and have each place enjoy that benefit as each year comes around and have them take ownership and pride."
Instead of just having an opinion, Kaeding decided to see if he could level the playing field. He started a golf tournament in his name last year with half of the proceeds going to the Iowa City/Coralville Sports Authority (the other half is earmarked for Hope House). This year's event was scheduled for Friday, June 15, at Brown Deer Golf Club.
The Sports Authority bids on amateur sporting events, like the state high school championships, to bring them to Iowa City and Coralville.
"I know a lot of people in the restaurant business and the hotel business in town," Kaeding said. "They get a lot of business through the university, but any more they can get through amateur sports it's for the better for everybody that lives in Iowa City and Coralville."
Though there isn't a celebrity for every foursome in the golf tournament, a group of them will be in the field. Former Iowa special teams' standouts Jason Baker and Rob Houghtlin will be on hand as will Kaeding's San Diego Charger teammates Mike Goff (Iowa), Derreck Robinson (Iowa), Mike Scifres and David Binn along with team play-by-play voice Hank Bauer.
For more information on the Nate Kaeding Drive-Putt-Kick Golf Tournament, please visit: www.iowa-sports.com/golftournament.asp. Spots remain.
Next month, Kaeding will continue giving back to the community with the Second Annual Training with Kaeding and Gallery all-sports camp with former Iowa teammate and current Oakland Raider Robert Gallery. All proceeds go to Hope House, a facility similar to the Ronald McDonald House for children that provides lodging for adult cancer patients at University Hospitals.
The camp, which is being held from July 10-12 at Iowa City West High, offers instruction in football, basketball and soccer. It's a departure from camps that focus on a single sport.
" I know that from a technical standpoint it's important for kids of younger ages to get involved in camp so they learn how to hold a football; to learn all of the different skills of football," Kaeding said. "I just remember growing up and playing all of the sports, pick-up games, and just having fun with your buddies. Kids today are forced into too many structured situations. They have their private coaches. I remember the fun of just playing the games and that's what I wanted to gear it towards. "We get the kids out and they just have fun for three days. That's what kids are supposed to do. We also throw in a little bit of skill development because we do have a lot of good teachers out there. We have NFL players and we hire up to 60 certified local high school sports coaches. We have current and former athletes in Iowa football, basketball and soccer."
The camp also focuses on more than athletic performance.
"We do character development lessons twice a day," Kaeding said. "Character Counts counselors come in from around the state and run these programs. It actually gives a structured setting to sit them down in a classroom situation and reinforce the importance of teamwork and responsibility and honesty, the things you learn through sports. It kind of gives a good stage to do that at a camp like that with a lot of their role models being there to reiterate the importance of being a good person along with being a good athlete."
Kaeding came up with the idea for this camp as a way of giving back to his community and preparing for the future.
"The camp is kind of my pet project because I graduated from the college of education," he said. "I was thinking about something of substance I could do to help kids. I do the kicking camps, but that doesn't get the sort of reach or the depth of an impact that I want to provide. I know it's only three days, but the way we run it, it's going to have a significant impact.
"I took a continuing education class at the University of San Diego that gives you certification in character education. It's one of the only two or three in the nation as a certified character educator. I want to get involved in education when I'm done playing as a coach and an educator from that standpoint. It kind of helps me hone those skills."
This year's camp counselors include former Iowa football players Kaeding, Gallery, Sean Considine (Philadelphia Eagles), Chad Greenway (Minnesota Vikings), Matt Roth (Miami Dolphins), Bob Sanders (Indianapolis Colts) and Jared Clauss. About six current Iowa football players also are expected as well members of the Hawkeye basketball and soccer teams.
For more information on the camp, please visit www.kaedinggallerycamp.com.