Flat, boring, isolated—Katie Nasenbenny (2013 B.A.), of LaGrange, Illinois, had heard all the words used to describe Iowa.
“I admit, I believed there really was nothing but cornfields out here after all I’d heard,” says Nasenbenny.
Now a senior on the Hawkeye women’s soccer team, Nasenbenny says it wasn’t long before she realized the stereotypes were wrong, though. In fact, she can trace her love for the UI back to her first visit to campus—the first few hours of that visit, to be exact.
“I remember texting my dad right at the beginning of my campus visit to tell him this was the place for me,” she says. “There’s so much school spirit in this town. When I was injured my freshman year, that spirit was my motivation to get back on the field. It’s inspiring. This place is a gem.”
After her second season-ending knee injury in 2011, Nasenbenny found success, and health, as a Hawkeye. In her 2013 junior year, she started every game for an Iowa team that posted a school-record 15 victories, advanced to its first Big Ten Tournament championship game, and earned the program's first NCAA Tournament appearance. And the achievements go well beyond the field of play.
Nasenbenny earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and communication studies after the conclusion of the 2013 season and began graduate work in recreation and sports management the following semester—work she continues now in her senior season, despite being unable to compete on the field due to a recurrence of her knee injury. An Academic All-Big Ten honoree, Nasenbenny is a recipient of the Christine H.B. Grant Scholarship.
Christine Grant was the first women's athletics director at Iowa in 1973, a post she held until her retirement in 2000, after which point Iowa merged its men's and women's athletics departments. Under Grant’s direction, the women’s athletics department grew to include 12 NCAA championship sports that won a combined 27 Big Ten Conference titles. Grant says putting young women such as Nasenbenny on a path toward leadership roles should be a priority.
“We have to encourage young women to expand their thinking and their dreams,” says Grant. “Once they taste leadership, they latch onto that as something they want to do. And it isn’t just in sports. They carry those leadership qualities with them in all facets of their work and their lives.”
Nasenbenny says she feels especially fortunate to carry on a piece of Grant’s legacy at the UI.
“It is one of the coolest honors to be on a scholarship under Christine Grant’s name,” says Nasenbenny. “I just try to be the best I can be to try to live up to what she has done. Maybe I’ll get there someday!”