By Ben Lamaak, CycloneFanatic.com Contributor & former Iowa State lineman
Hello again Cyclone fans! Its Feb. 14 as I’m writing this is and Pro Day is fast approaching. The date has been moved from March 21 to the 22nd, so preparation has taken a new fine detailed approach. I’ve picked up all the main objectives and points on the drills. It is now time to focus on the small things that can make them that much better. Any-who, I’m not sure where this blog is going to go, so let’s see what I can muster up.It was such a coincidence today when I was in the locker room after we were done working out. We had just been talking about our bowl game experiences down in Tempe and ironically enough, the younger members of the team were watching the game in the locker room. That whole week down in Arizona has got to me one of my highlights from my playing days. It was the only bowl game I went to in five years at Iowa State, so the memories are still vivid. I remember the day we got invited to play in the Insight Bowl. Mike O’Connell, Jake Williams, Austen Arnaud, Zac Sandvig, Drew Mitchell and myself were all in my bedroom at our house waiting to hear from the coaches to see where we were going. The instant we heard Arizona, the room erupted with excitement. No offense to the other bowls and locations, but Arizona seemed like a perfect fit for the holidays. That whole bowl week was so special and exciting. We flew out of Des Moines the day after Christmas. Just getting to Ames on Christmas day was a trip for me. We had been hit with some snow and ice that day and I wanted to try and beat a storm that was heading our way in Cedar Rapids. I was only about 15 miles from Cedar Rapids were I found myself doing a 360 into the ditch. The roads were in decent condition, but I caught a piece of black ice and started to lose control of my car. Not being able to control my car at 60 MPH is one of, if not the scariest thing that has ever happened to me in my life. Thankfully enough, I didn’t get hurt and a lady behind me was kind enough to bring me back to the outskirts of Cedar Rapids. From there, I caught a ride with Mike O’Connell and safely made it back to Ames.The day we arrived in Phoenix was awesome. We were greeted by hundreds of people, a mariachi band and they even had red carpet rolled out for us. That was a luxury and quite the experience for everybody. Just a team full of humble kids from Iowa State University, walking the red carpet was a bit odd. That first day in Arizona we didn’t practice, but we dusted the dirt off of our cleats with some running and stretching at a local high school where we were practicing. That night, Coach Rhoads was gracious enough to give us a 3 a.m. curfew so a lot of us went out and explored the nightlife that Scottsdale had to offer. Let me tell you, that place was the total opposite of Ames. We had our first practice that next day. That was a sight to see, but the coaches said we had one of our best practices of the year.We had some fun experiences down in Arizona. One night we ate at a famous steakhouse. It was amazing. Another day, we went go-karting at a huge indoor speedway. They weren’t the normal go-karts that you see at a adventure park. They were the professional ones that went about 40 MPH. It was hilarious to see some of the biggest guys on the team climb into those things. The night before the game we went to the pep-rally at a country western town and it was a great showing by the best fans in the country! Winning the game was probably the most rewarding thing about the trip. It was the reason we were down there. We got to have a lot of fun, but we still knew it was a business trip. It was the best game we played that year, but we battled and came out of top of Minnesota 14-13.We weren’t lucky enough to have those privileges this year. In my mind, we were a capable bowl team. We lost two very close games against Kansas State and Nebraska. We went out to Boulder, Colo. and just didn’t have it that day. I think that we were prepared to play that day, but Colorado got the best of us. I think losing that last game in Jack Trice and not being bowl eligible is what made it so hard to swallow. Last year’s seniors were able to go out on a high note. The whole bowl experience was so fun, but not being able to go to one was very emotional. Our goal every year is to win championships. Last year, we won a bowl championship. I believe that what Coach Rhoads and his staff has instilled that teams to come will win championships. We might not have the most talent on the field, but no one will ever out work us or out smart the Cyclones. That’s the philosophy we play by and I am excited to see the future teams carry that out.Well that wraps up another blog. It has been a fun experience to write these things. I have the freedom to write about whatever I want. I hope you enjoy reading these blogs, but who knows. You can find me on Twitter at Bmaak63. Feel free to drop me a question or idea and I will answer it in my next blog. GO CYCLONES!