High school players inspired by Iowa Hawkeyes’ trip to Final Four

They believe that the hype around the Iowa women making it to the Final Four transcends regular fandom and is making strides for women's sports.
Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 10:35 PM CDT
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NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa (KCRG) - Off the court, Liberty High School basketball players Bella Tafolla, Haley Schroeder, and Jasmine Barney joke and have fun, but during a game, it’s all focus.

“Basketball is something I’ve always grown up about,” said Tafolla.

When asked if they’ve been watching the Iowa Hawkeyes women’s basketball team as they’ve progressed through the NCAA tournament and made it to the Final Four for the first time in 30 years, the girls laughed.

“How do you not watch them? Like, I think everyone’s watching them,” said Schroeder.

It’s natural these girls would say that— they’re basketball players who live within minutes of Carver-Hawkeye arena. However, they also believe the hype around the Iowa women making it to the Final Four transcends regular fandom.

“A lot of people, like, don’t even know where our state is or— Iowa doesn’t do much. We’re not very popular and all that. So when we have people all around the world know, like, Iowa’s one of the Final Four, I think it speaks volumes. And I think it’s really exciting,” said Schroeder. “I think a lot of people... who may not have been basketball fans, especially women’s, are definitely fans now.”

That phrase “especially women’s” speaks to something these girls have seen in their own athletic careers already.

“We can be really good but you won’t see students sections at our games,” said Schroeder.

“We could be one of the like, the best high school girl’s basketball team there is and the boys could like— not to be mean— but like, they couldn’t be as good, but people would still come to their games because like, ‘Oooh they can dunk,’” said Barney.

Seeing a women’s team generate buzz is another reason these girls are rooting for the Hawkeyes, but in the end they said it’s just exciting to see girls like them, girls who play how they do: for the love of the game.

“I’m playing for the people on the court,” said Barney.