Iowa Writes

From Letters to a Young Iowan

Dear Young Iowan:

If I were to give you a single gift, I would make it something real...something like a basketball. And not just any basketball—it would have to be one I used way back in the day. It may not have a lot of monetary value, but the sentimental value is priceless. At some point you'll be trying to decide whether or not to go out and hit the actual hard courts or stay inside and pound the Sony virtual courts. Hopefully, this ball, ratty as it is, will bounce you in the right direction.

I give you an old worn-out ball to remind you to get in the game. I know, I know—you're thinking I've totally lost cool points, that I'm getting ready to start a lecture. And I am, sort of. I'm just a little worried that in the world you're living in you're not really a participant.

Between iPods, video games, cell phones, and laptops, I fear you don't really have much time to get in the game. The fact is there's nothing that can compare to being on the court as an actual player. Nothing compares, honestly, to the buzzer sounding in your ear when you are pushing your body and mind to their natural limits...all for the pursuit of a real-life, real-time goal. Competing on a team also does so much for your character. You learn how to work with others, how to communicate, how to plan for success, and how to bounce back from failure. Those are the very things you need to succeed in the game of life.

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting


Associate head coach of the University of Iowa women's basketball team and Iowa Girls High School Basketball Hall-of-Famer, Jan Jensen serves as the recruiting coordinator for the Hawkeyes and also works with the post players, efforts which have helped guide Iowa to six straight postseason appearances and a Big Ten Tournament championship in 2001.

Editor Zachary Michael Jack compiled Letters to a Young Iowan (Ice Cube Press, 2007) by inviting prominent Iowans to contribute their advice to the next generation.

Ice Cube Press

This page was first displayed
on February 06, 2008

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