The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa football Kid Captain Nile Kron demonstrates determination to those around him

The Iowa City native was born six weeks premature and recently finished his 11th surgery.
Carly Schrum
Kid captain Nile Kron smiles as he walks out of the Kinnick tunnel during Kids’ Day at Kinnick in Iowa City on Saturday, August 12, 2023.

Kid Captain Nile Kron belongs to a long line of Hawkeye fans. 

Kron’s great-grandparents were season ticket holders, and his father, Rick, named Nile after Hawkeye legend Nile Kinnick. 

“I’ve grown up all my life as an Iowa fan, and the rest of my family are die-hard Hawkeye fans, so it only made sense to name our first Nile,” Rick said. 

Now, as Kid Captain, 6-year-old and Iowa City native Nile will take the field of his namesake’s stadium.

Learn more about Nile’s story here:

Kron, who has spent a lot of his life receiving care at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital, was born 33 weeks premature into his mother’s pregnancy, which caused him to develop scoliosis, a cleft lip and palate, a missing right ear, hearing loss, and a tethered spinal cord.

The Kron family spent 51 days in the hospital before Nile finally went home. Nile’s mother, Brittany, said she could barely sleep for most of those nights. 

“We had some very scary moments during that time in the hospital after I gave birth, to the point where we weren’t even sure if Nile was going to make it home,” she said.

Nile is one of 13 Kid Captains for the 2023-24 Iowa football season. He’s the official Kid Captain for the annual Cy-Hawk game when Iowa faces the Cyclones in Ames. 

“It’s definitely not been easy, but he’s really shown and taught us what it is like to be resilient and determined,” she said. “Nothing stops him, and nothing will.”

Because the game is away from Kinnick, Nile will have his opportunity to get the whole experience of being a Kid Captain when the Hawkeyes take on Michigan State at home on Sept. 30. 

Nile’s health condition has required him to spend many nights at the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital. Niles’s father, Rick, said Nile finished his 11th surgery this summer. 

“We’re grateful that we live so close to the hospital and the care we receive from Nile’s amazing team of doctors,” he said. “It’s fun to see them outside of the hospital, and they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, there’s Nile! How’s he doing?’ And they’ll spend that extra time talking to you.” 

Season tickets for Iowa football games have been in the Kron family since Rick’s grandparents first purchased them while he was a child. In being a Kid Captain, Nile was able to tour the home locker room and walk down the tunnel at Kinnick.

“I think I had just as much fun as [Nile] did,” Rick joked.  

Nile is nonverbal, and he uses American Sign Language to converse with his family. Brittany said the family, including their 5-year-old daughter, Stella, attends ASL classes twice a week. 

“Nile is a happy and easy-to-work-with patient,” said one of Nile’s physicians, Dr. Brian Andrews of UIHC. “For someone with as many congenital anomalies as he was born with, he handles those all gracefully.” 

Besides being a fan of Hawkeye sports, Nile also enjoys spending time with his cousins, swimming, and driving around the neighborhood in his miniature four-wheeler. 

“We just want him to live that normal day-to-day 6-year-old life that his friends and his cousins are fortunate enough to have,” she said. 

Nile was also chosen for a 2022 Champion Family award from UIHC and a 2022 Ace All-Star, which recognizes children who have disabilities. 

More to Discover
About the Contributors
Cooper Worth, Pregame reporter
Cooper Worth is a Pregame Reporter for The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and mass communication. He is also earning a minor in communication studies and an entrepreneurial management certificate. This is his third year at the DI, previously serving as a News Editor and as a News Reporter covering local government in Johnson County for the DI. Cooper interned for the Telegraph Herald in Dubuque, Iowa during the summer of 2023 as a general news reporter.
Carly Schrum, Photojournalist
Carly is a freshman majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication and potentially majoring in sustainability. She works at the Daily Iowan as a photojournalist.