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Berwanger Statue Inspires Dubuque Athletes

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DUBUQUE, Iowa - Jay Berwanger was a 1932 graduate of Dubuque Senior High School. He's known nationally as the very first winner of the Heisman Trophy. Each year that award honors the top college football player in the nation.

The Berwanger statue is the final piece of the $10.5 million renovation project at Dalzell Field. That upgrade included replacing the track, bleachers, press box and the football field. That field is home to both Dubuque Senior and Hempstead High Schools.

Knowing Jay Berwanger once walked onto the same field carrying a "Rams" helmet, is not something Senior High School Football Player Parker Hammel takes lightly.

Hammel said, " I believe I first heard about him in 7th grade. I knew I was going to Senior, and it's one of the reasons I wanted to be running back too. "

After hanging up his cleats at Senior, Berwanger became a two time All-American at the University of Chicago, where he earned the Heiseman award.

Coach Pat Murphy has been involved in Senior Rams football for 40 years.A legend in his own-right, Murphy says it's Berwanger's character he tries to emulate as a coach.

Murphy said, "sometimes you get all worked up in the wins and losses. But basically it all boils down to doing it the right way. And That's what (Wilbur) Dalzell and Berwanger did. "

A replica of Berwanger's Heisman is on display in the high school's trophy case. It serves as another reminder for all athletes to remain mindful of how they behave during competition.

Hammel said, "it goes beyond just the field or the court or wherever you're playing. Character is going to push you forward in life. It's what's going to make you successful in life. That's what the coaches and players teach each other here. "

Simple pieces of metal molded into the memory of man who's legacy stands the test of time.

The one cent sales tax covered the cost of the stadium renovation. The Berwanger Memorial was funded entirely on private donations.