Iowa’s Finest Sports Stars


Based in the Midwest of the US, Iowa is surprisingly home to some of the most prominent sports persons in history. From relay runners to baseball pitchers and a variety of successful quarterbacks, multiple prolific Iowans have achieved an array of MVP awards, Olympic medals, Super Bowls and made their way to the Hall of Fame in Iowa.

For a breakdown of Iowa’s finest sports stars, the below athletes have been profiled to help you identify each person’s area of expertise in sports. Accompanied by their most significant accomplishments and highlights throughout their career. Some of the profiles entail their go-to workout regime and quotes or transcriptions from letters. To provide you an idea of their individual perspective on sports.

Iowas Greatest Sports Stars

Star: Kurt Warner a.k.a the Greatest Show on Turf

Hometown: Burlington

Sport: Football

Position: Quarterback

Accomplishments: Kurt Warner earned his right as one of Iowa’s sports stars when he became Player of the Year twice at NFL. Additionally, a four-time pro bowler, in the past, Kurt would have been a top pick for NFL Fantasy, if you could afford to shell out a considerable amount to fund him that is. And, he also accrued a champions award for the most valuable player (MVP) at the Super Bowl.

Originally an underdog, working at a supermarket in Iowa. Kurt was initially rejected from the Green Packers Training camp. However, this didn’t stop him from becoming one of the best football players the 2000s saw. Undoubtedly, the Greatest Show On Turf is one of the greatest quarterbacks to come from Iowa.

If you’re willing to put yourself and your dreams on the line, at the very least, you’ll discover an inner strength you may not have known existed. – Kurt Warner

Star: Dan Gable

Born: Waterloo

Sport: Wrestling

Accomplishments: One of Iowa’s most successful stars, won the 1972 Olympic freestyle wrestling gold medal at 149.5 pounds. Throughout sports history, Dan Gable has a firm position amongst the best amateur wrestlers in the world.

After wrestling, Dan served his state by teaching and training Iowa to win nine NCAA titles in a row, and fifteen in total. In Dan Gable’s honor, Iowa created the Waterloo’s National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum.

Training regime: Gable worked seven hours everyday day wrestling and training since he was a young teen.

Once you’ve wrestled, everything else in life is easy – Dan Gable.

Star: Bob Feller a.k.a the Heater from Van Meter

Born: Van Meter

Sport: Baseball

Position: Pitcher

Accomplishments: Since 1948, Bob was an eight-time All-Star World Series champion. Bob Feller earned his spot in the Hall of Fame in the sixties because he was one of the greatest best-hand pitchers that had ever existed.

Training regime: Bob laid importance on upper body strength, as he once explained, pitchers tend to invest more time in their lower body strength. His exercise regime mostly consisted of finger-tip pushups and bench dips to strengthen his elbow and protect it from injury.

Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday’s success or put its failures behind and start over again. That’s the way life is, with a new game every day, and that’s the way baseball is. – Bob Feller

Star: Jay Berwanger aka The Flying Dutchman

Hometown: Dubuque

Sport: Football

Position: Running back

Accomplishments: In 1935, Jay was the first footballer to win the most valuable football player’s Downtown Athletic Club Trophy. The Trophy was later called the Heisman.

Although, due to an issue over a contractual agreement from the Chicago Bears, The Flying Dutchman didn’t get a chance to play an NFL game. Jay was still an incredible football player; he was first picked in the first NFL draft! But Jay refused to play pro, because, at the time, the pay was only $500 a game.

Instead, his innate ambition and drive led him to become a successful businessman selling rubber strips for cars. His business was called Jay Berwanger, Inc. Alongside his company, Jay coached in his spare time. When Berwanger decided to sell his company in the 90s, his business generated $30 million a year.

Star: Frank Wykoff aka Flying Frank

Home town: Des Moines

Sport: Running

Accomplishments: Frank was the first man to win three gold Olympic medals during the early 1900s for the 4×100 meter race.

He made his first appearance at the Olympics in Amsterdam in 1928. And played an instrumental part leading his relay team to victory. Four years later, in 1932, his team topped the world record, which led to his second gold medal. And the last medal was accrued in Berlin in 1936. Flying Frank is one of Iowas’ most famous runners and finest sportsmen to date.

Star: Nile Kinnick aka The Cornbelt Comet

Home Town: Adel

Sport: Football

Position: Halfback

Accomplishments: Nile Kinnick won the first Heisman trophy in Iowa by leading his team to a record of 6-1-1.

Nile was notable for his ability to adapt as a strong player in basketball and football, which gained him a position as a star athlete at his school Adel High.

He gained his title as Corn Belt Comet, because of his shifty running style. In 1951, Kinnick was chosen by the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.

In a letter to his younger sibling, Nile wrote about his views on sport;

Do not argue vociferously over a referee’s decision or a difference in the size of dessert but stand solid and unflinching when it is a question of absolute honesty, truthfulness, kindliness, compassion, (or) thoughtfulness. – Nile Kinnick, 18th July 1938.

Iowa’s Finest Sports Stars Concluded

The above doesn’t encapsulate every great athlete from Iowa. Still, it does profile some of their most outstanding sports characters to date.

Since the early 1900s, Iowa has played host to a steady stream of stars possessing exceptional talent. Sportspersons who have subsequently moved on to achieve a variety of awards, medals, and respected positions in not just in the local sports community, or the state of Iowa, but the world.