When we played Penn State last year, the atmosphere inside Kinnick Stadium was absolutely electric. Both of us were undefeated, but it was Penn State who was ranked 4th in the country. Our stadium was covered in yellow with fans, and with four seconds to play, it actually seemed like we were going to pull off the upset. We led 19-15, and as Penn State called a timeout for one last play, our fans were getting ready to celebrate.

 

With the ball at our 7-yard line, the Nittany Lions certainly had a chance, and as time expired Trace McSorley threw the game-winning touchdown pass for Penn State. All the built up energy inside the stadium just evaporated into thin air.

 

It was a really hard time mentally, but I was able to look at my faith and say “it's not the end of the world, it's going to be okay.” I am fortunate enough to have two Christian parents I could talk to about it, and they told me to just weather the storm and keep doing what I've been doing, and give 100 percent effort, no matter the situation. That's not for your own gain, they told me, but it shows others that the talent you have been given is working for something greater than yourself.

 

If that wasn't enough to put things in perspective, visiting the University of Iowa Children's Hospital will take care of that for you. The hospital was built right next to our stadium last year, and one of our fans came up with a really cool idea – at the end of the first quarter, everybody in the stadium should turn around and face the hospital and wave the to the kids watching our game.

 

The first few times that it happened I didn't know what was going on, because I was talking to coaches about the game plan, but after that I began to take notice that something special was going on. The best part is I didn't just get to wave to the kids. I got to visit them.

 

Being at the hospital gives you a whole new perspective, and it's really enlightening when you notice what they're going through and what they deal with on a daily basis. When I walk in the room, you just see their faces light up, and you think that person has a great attitude about what they're going through, and they try to find the best in everything they can.

 

I took that attitude with me, when my body was being pushed with workouts or my mindset was being pushed with adversity in a game.

 

I can tell you that by the time our team faced Ohio State last year, when they were 7-1 and ranked 6th in the country, I was already a different person than when the season started.

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Thomas Hager