Iowa head coaches using social media to encourage mask wearing

As COVID-19 continues to be a concern, University of Iowa coaches have taken to social media to promote wearing masks to try to flatten the curve and protect fall sports seasons.


Megan Conroy

Coach Rick Heller takes the field during the game against Bradley on March 26, 2019 at Duane Banks Field. The Hawks took the victory, 4-2.

Will Fineman, Sports Reporter

While fall sports remain uncertain as concerns with COVID-19 continue, many University of Iowa coaches have come forward on social media to promote wearing a face covering to help prevent the spread of the virus.

In a video posted on the Iowa Hawkeyes social media pages earlier this month, Iowa football head coach Kirk Ferentz gave a message to Hawkeye fans urging them to mask up and fight for Iowa.

“When I think of our fans, I think of the very best Iowans,” Ferentz said in the message. “We are calling on Hawkeyes everywhere to come together to fight COVID-19. We need you to wear face coverings, keep your distance from others, and wash your hands often.”

Using the hashtags #MaskUpIA and #FaceMasks4FallSports, coaches for winter and spring sports have turned to Twitter and Instagram to encourage Hawkeye fans to wear masks as well.

Seventh-year Iowa baseball head coach Rick Heller was one of the first Iowa coaches to come out on Twitter supporting masks. A picture of Heller sporting a black face covering was posted on the Iowa Baseball Twitter account in June.

“I think that it is common sense that we all need to do whatever we can do to help slow down the virus,” said Heller. “We want to see fall sports have a chance to play because of the economic impact that it would have not only on our department but Iowa City and everyone around here.”

RELATED: Interactive: COVID-19 testing data from Big Ten athletic departments

The Iowa Hawkeyes Instagram account posted a photo recently in support of masking up for Iowa that showed seven Iowa head coaches wearing masks.

The coaches in the photo included Heller, volleyball coach Vicki Brown, gymnastics coach Larissa Libby, soccer coach Dave DiIanni, softball coach Renee Gillespie, golf coach Tyler Stith, and women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder.

“I am not on social media as much as others, but I have seen quite a few [coaches] that are doing it, and I think each one is doing what they can in their communities even if they are not on social media,” Heller said.

Iowa soccer head coach Dave DiIanni has been very vocal on Twitter about the importance of wearing masks to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Women’s soccer is one of the first Division I sports to compete in the fall, and the season may be at risk because of the pandemic.

DiIanni has been featured in a gold Hawkeyes mask on the Iowa soccer Twitter page using the hashtag #FaceMasks4FallSports and has also posted a picture of himself in a black mask on his personal account promoting the message.

“For me, it is just about safety and protecting my family and myself, but also protecting my student-athletes and my coaching staff,” DiIanni said. “I am doing whatever I can to be safe and healthy and help ensure that not only a fall season, but a winter season and a spring season happen.”

DiIanni has also retweeted graphs showing Iowa coronavirus statistics in an effort to urge others to wear face coverings.

“I wouldn’t dare to tell people how to live their lives,” DiIanni said. “For me, it is just about promoting what I believe is a health and safety opportunity to help slow the curve.”