116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Todd Twachtmann was a four-sport athlete at Marion — “one of the finest athletes in the greater Cedar Rapids area,” according to his Hall of Fame bio.
Lisa Becker was a prolific basketball player for Larry Niemeyer’s Cedar Rapids Jefferson girls’ team, averaging a whopping 58.7 points per game as a senior.
They also were the first winners of The Gazette’s Athlete of the Year award, which is celebrating its 40th class with a series of articles this week.
The 2022 finalists were announced Sunday — Maia Bentley of Mount Vernon, Audrey Biermann of Western Dubuque, Macy Daufeldt of West Liberty, Ryley Goebel of Center Point-Urbana and Hannah Stuelke of Cedar Rapids Washington for the girls’ award; Kole Becker of Lisbon, Jahsiah Galvan of West Liberty, Austin Hilmer of North Linn, Gable Mitchell of Iowa City High and Wyatt Voelker of West Delaware for the boys’ honor.
The winners will be announced this Sunday.
Yesterday’s winners are not a lot different from today’s class. They, of course, represent the best in Eastern Iowa, at least our sliver of this side of the state.
But they also run the gamut of talent, from the multisport standouts like Twachtmann — who excelled in football, basketball, golf and baseball — to those who shone bright in one sport like Becker and last year’s female winner, swimming star Aurora Roghair of Iowa City West.
“I like the fact that I was a four-sport athlete,” Twachtmann said recently.
After graduating from high school, Twachtmann went to Dartmouth and played football and baseball as a freshman before focusing on baseball and academics. He won Dartmouth's Kenneth Archibald Prize “for the best all around athlete with regard to moral worth and high standing in scholarship.”
Becker, now Lisa Porter, went on the play at the University of Iowa, scoring 1,335 points from 1983-1987. The Miss Iowa Basketball winner helped the Hawkeyes claim their first Big Ten women's basketball title and earn their first NCAA tournament berth.
Both earned Master of Business Administration degrees and Twachtmann has been with Rockwell Collins for 33 years. Two of his three children work there now, too.
Porter focused on her family and faith after meeting her husband, Michael Porter Sr., while playing with Athletes in Action.
The two have eight children, including professional players Michael Jr. and Jontay. She told The Gazette’s Mike Hlas a few years ago “basketball's not defining my kids. Faith is the most important thing for me and our family.
“We look at basketball as an opportunity to have an impact, and God certainly blessed my children with the gift in that area.”
Still, she admits basketball — and Niemeyer — helped her meet her husband.
“I don't think I'd have ever met my husband or been in a basketball environment like Athletes in Action had I not had the opportunity to play for Coach Larry Niemeyer,” she said. “I wouldn't have been playing at that high a level. I often reflect on the role he's had on my life.”
Twachtmann, too, continued to excel in sports after graduating from college. He was one of the top amateur fast-pitch softball players in the country, winning six Amateur Softball Association national titles and playing for the United States in international competition.
“It felt good to put on the USA uniform,” he said.
These days, however, he’s found another passion — golf.
“I like stuff that involves a ball,” he said with a laugh.
“I gave away all my (softball) stuff and bought golf clubs. I used to take vacations for softball. Now I take them for golf.”
Sports — whether it be a single one like basketball or several that may or may not involve a ball — helped these two achieve greater things outside the lines. It may not have defined who they were, but it definitely played a role in who they are today.
And being The Gazette’s Athlete of the Year, Twachtmann said, “was a great honor (being) deemed one of the best athletes in this part of Eastern Iowa.”
He still hears about it even today — especially this time of year.
“I get texts or emails every year when the Athletes of the Year come out,” he said.
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