IOWA DERECHO 2020

Led by Dallas Hobbs, Iowa athletes across country raise money for derecho relief

Ogden column: Cedar Rapids Washington grad now at Washington State embraces activist role

Washington State defensive lineman Dallas Hobbs, rolling between balloons as he celebrates a 28-26 win over Iowa State i
Washington State defensive lineman Dallas Hobbs, rolling between balloons as he celebrates a 28-26 win over Iowa State in the Alamo Bowl in December, has relished his role as an activist. (Associated Press)

Three months ago, Cedar Rapids’ Dallas Hobbs was just another college football player hoping this coronavirus pandemic wouldn’t affect his junior season at Washington State.

Then it got worse.

Then racial injustice reared its ugly head ... and got worse.

Then, on Aug. 10, Hobbs’ hometown — and many other communities in Iowa — was devested by hurricane-like winds.

Hobbs had to do something. He couldn’t sit back and watch college players get exploited. He couldn’t idly stand on the sideline as Black people were being mistreated. And he couldn’t hear stories about damage in Cedar Rapids and shrug it off.

“It’s been a crazy two months,” Hobbs said earlier this week while waiting for his flight home from Pullman, Wash. “I didn’t think I’d be at the point I am now ... an activist.”

It may not be what he expected, but it’s a role he’s embraced and thrived in.

He was among a group of Pac-12 players who threatened to sit out the 2020 football season unless their demands were met. Chief among those was a healthy and safe return to the playing field. The Pac-12 has since suspended fall sports.

The #weareunited campaign gained national attention and Hobbs was interviewed by ABC’s “Good Morning America” and ESPN’s “Outside the Lines.”

Now, he’s hoping to bring similar attention to his home state.

Hobbs — and 25 other Iowa athletes scattered across the country — recently put together a two-minute video he hopes will raise awareness for the devastation and funds for a number of nonprofits helping in the recovery.

He and Dylan Boles, a defensive end at Stanford from Adel who was part of the Pac-12 group, reached out to their fellow Iowans and within a week the video, edited by Hobbs, went live.

“I knew about half or so. Dylan knew the other half and (Michigan State QB) Rocky (Lombardi) helped,” Hobbs said.

Boles wrote the script and “we put a chat together” and each athlete selected their spot. KCRG provided video of the damage.

“We just threw it all together and had everybody record” their part, Hobbs said, adding it took three or four hours to edit.

“It was a really quick turn around.”

Eastern Iowans in the video are Andrew Todd, Nolan Potter and Ethan Copeland of Cedar Rapids and Cole Mabry, Emma Koch, Colin Anderson and Dillon Doyle of Iowa City. Beau and Rocky Lombardi, as well as Braeden Heald — representing Cedar Rapids and West Des Moines — also took part, as did former Iowa men’s basketball player Cordell Pemsl, now at Virginia Tech.

The “big goal” is to raise $10,000, but Hobbs said “anything helps.”

As of Wednesday, more than $800 had been raised for organizations like Horizons, the city of Coralville’s food pantry, the Archdiocese of Dubuque Derecho Relief Fund, the United Way of East Central Iowa, Feed Iowa First, Table 2 Table and “hopefully many more.”

The GoFundMe page notes “The destruction of the derecho has affected many homes, businesses and schools ... Iowa is in need of help.

“And although we are all across the country away from home, we still claim our roots in Iowa. We are all one family. Proud Iowans. ... Together, we are Iowa strong.”

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This new “activist” role fits Hobbs well, but the 6-foot-6, 285-pound defensive end still wants to be a football player, too.

“I definitely still want to play,” he said. “I just want to make sure we find the best way to do it.”

Comments: jr.ogden@thegazette.com

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