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Spencer Haldeman is one of three Dubuque County natives on the University of Northern Iowa men’s basketball team, which is touring Italy this week.

BY JIM

LEITNER

TH sports editor

The University of Northern Iowa men’s basketball team got quite the jump start on its season this week.

The Panthers departed for Italy on Friday and will spend 10 days overseas. They will play three games in Italy.

“We’re really excited to take this trip to Italy,” said senior Spencer Haldeman, a former Western Dubuque all-stater. “It’s crazy the places basketball will take you and the experiences it gives you. It will be great to play against a different type of basketball and see a different part of the world with my teammates.”

According to NCAA rules, Division I teams can travel abroad once every four years, so each member of the program has the opportunity to experience the different culture once in his collegiate career. The NCAA allowed the Panthers 10 additional practices in preparation for the trip.

“These trips are tremendous growth opportunities for our players, coaches and program,” UNI coach Ben Jacobson said. “This is a terrific time for us to engage in a new culture, learn about traditions and visit some amazing places in Italy. We also hope to connect and leave a positive impact on the young people we meet and compete against. Our team has worked hard over the past two months to get ready for next season. This trip will be an important part of our preparation. We look forward to a great trip.”

The Panthers played in Verona, Italy, on Saturday and will play in Vinenza, Italy, today. They conclude game action Wednesday in Rome, where they will spend three days before returning home.

The Panthers return 10 players, including Haldeman and former Dubuque Senior all-stater Luke McDonnell, from last year’s team. The incoming freshman class includes another former Senior all-stater in Noah Carter.

DYERSVILLE NATIVE TO SERVE AS IOWA KID CAPTAIN

A Dyersville, Iowa, girl will serve as a Kid Captain for the University of Iowa football team at Kinnick Stadium this fall. Aubrey Bussan-Kluesner, 8, will have the honor for the Nov. 16 home game against Minnesota.

The Kid Captain program began in 2009 as a partnership between the University of Iowa’s Stead Family Children’s Hospital and the Iowa football program to honor current or former pediatric patients and celebrate their inspirational stories. The 13 Kid Captains for this season will receive a commemorative jersey and special recognition from Stead and the Hawkeyes. The children also received an invitation to a special behind-the-scenes tour of Kinnick Stadium this month.

KIDS DAY AT KINNICK SET FOR NEXT WEEK

The University of Iowa football team will hold its annual “Kids at Kinnick” presented by the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital, on Saturday, Aug. 10.

Gates will open at 11 a.m., with the team’s practice scheduled to begin at noon. Team members will sign autographs for kids only at approximately 11:30 a.m., along the front of the west and south stands. Free schedule posters, schedule cards, magnets, and rosters will be available inside all open gates. Fans are discouraged from bringing additional items to be autographed.

Prior to the action on the field, activities will be held in the Krause Family Plaza, which opens to the public at 9 a.m. Hawkeye fans are invited to visit the Kids Zone for inflatable games, face painting, temporary tattoos, other prizes and a chance to meet Herky the Hawk. The Iowa mascot will be available for photos from 10:30 to 11 a.m.

Free parking will be available on hard surface lots, while normal ramp fees will be charged. Concession stands will be open, with items being sold at discounted prices.

Fans attending Kids Day should enter Kinnick Stadium at Gates A (south end zone) and E (west side). Regular season game-day search procedures will be in place and fans will be allowed to sit in the south and west stands.

Email More than the Score items to Jim Leitner at

jim.leitner@thmedia.com

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