James Allan, UI Athletic Communications, 319-335-9411
The University of Iowa men’s basketball team will celebrate the life of Chris Street on the 20th anniversary of his death Saturday against Wisconsin.
“There will be tremendous emotion in the building,” says UI head coach Fran McCaffery. “Anybody that was from that era will remember him, and the fact that we’re celebrating his life more so than remembering his death, that’s the critical thing.
“That’s what the Street family wants us to do, and what our guys will do is try to play the game the way he played.”
McCaffery showed current Hawkeyes a portion of an archival video before practice earlier this week to give them a better understanding of Street’s impact.
“We showed that to them so they could hear people talk about him and see footage of him,” McCaffery says. “So they could try to get a feel for what it was like when everybody found out.”
A native of Indianola, Iowa, Street was a junior when he was killed in a traffic accident after a team meeting on Jan. 19, 1993. Current Hawkeyes say they were touched by the video, and it gave them a better perspective of who Street was as a player and person.
“It was really good for all of us to see that,” says senior Eric May, who was a year old at the time of the accident. “I didn’t know the full story of it, but I knew what it was about. To see how many lives he affected and how he did it was special to watch.”
Sophomore Aaron White has heard about Street since arriving on campus, and the video reaffirmed his perceptions of the former Hawkeye.
“I’ve tried to learn about him more than maybe some of the other players because of how highly he has been talked about,” White says. “Watching a video like that, you see not only was he a great basketball player with all of his potential, but he was a great person. He left a great impact on a lot of people.”
Knowing what he knows now, May says it means a little bit more when he walks past the memorial plaque when heading into the locker room each day for practice.
“It means that much more,” he says. “You stop a little longer and look at it and really appreciate what he did for this program.”
“They walk by that memorial right in front of our locker room, and you wonder how much they think about that,” McCaffery says. “They see it every day. They knew who he was, they knew what he meant, they’ve read that. I think they have a much better feeling now.”
With a sold out crowd of 15,400 anticipated inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena, May says the team can feed off the crowd’s energy.
“I am sure it will be emotional,” May says. “We have to rise above that and use it as fuel and play even harder.”
“It’s going to be great to celebrate his life in this game,” White says. “We’re hoping to remember his name and his life on Saturday.”
The game is set to tipoff at 7:06 p.m. (CT), and it will be televised on the Big Ten Network.