DES MOINES — Fred Hoiberg and his team climbed, all 298 steps, to the top of the Capitol and walked outside to the golden dome where the fourth-year coach stood in the middle of his team and snapped a selfie.
Mark down one final memory for the 2013-14 season.
“To experience something like this, I thought was really cool,” Hoiberg said after his team was honored by the House and Senate. “To get on top to the dome and go outside, even though it was 300 steps up there and the old coach almost passed out on the way up, it was pretty cool to see up there from the top.”
Iowa State was the center of attention at the Capitol on Monday, honored by both the House and Senate for its season, which included a Big 12 Championship and its fourth-ever Sweet 16 appearance.
‘The Mayor’ spoke to lawmakers from both the House and Senate after both resolutions were approved with resounding ‘ayes’ from those in attendance.
“Is politics less stressful than coaching?” Hoiberg asked the Senate jokingly. “I’ve got this nickname ‘The Mayor’ and I’m thinking about what to do with it.”
Hoiberg praised the support from across the state throughout his team’s season, including a visit to the locker room from Gov. Terry Brandstad and U.S. Rep. Steve King along with a phone call from U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin before the team’s NCAA tournament trip to New York.
He talked about his team’s successes and wondered to the gathered lawmakers what might have been had Iowa State not lost Georges Niang in the postseason to a broken right foot.
“If fully healthy I fully expect we would have won that game,” Hoiberg said of his team’s loss to UConn in the Sweet 16. “That would have been us cutting down the nets in Dallas. But hey, it happens.”
Hoiberg said he opted not to attend the Final Four, changing his plans to instead go to his cabin with his wife.
“[It was nice] just to be able to sit up there and decompress and think about the season and everything we accomplished,” Hoiberg said.
Those accomplishments included a 14-0 start to the season, the best mark in school history and nine victories against top-25 opponents to go along with cutting down the nets in Kansas City, the Cyclones Big 12 champions for the second time ever and first time since 2000. There was also the third-straight NCAA tournament appearance that had Iowa State in the Sweet 16.
After years of walking to games in Ames growing up, Hoiberg said he lived out his childhood dreams with his team’s postseason run in 2013-14.
“To be able to share all the special moments we had this year was really a dream come true for me because of the passion I’ve had for Iowa State University since I was just a little kid,” Hoiberg said.
Hoiberg and his players were the primary attractions, being mobbed for photos and autographs on the floor of both the House and Senate after the resolutions were read to applause.
The day’s big moment, though, was its final adventure.
“I think it was climbing those 300-some odd stairs all the way up to get a nice view of Iowa, all of Iowa,” said Niang, who made the trek with a walking boot still on his right foot.
Players and coaches cringed at the sight of the narrow, winding stairs. Dustin Hogue ducked to fit in the door and Matt Thomas said it was no big deal compared to his high-roping days in fifth grade.
The selfie at the top acted as one final snapshot and a stamp on an already memorable season for the Cyclones.
Hoiberg stood back down on the floor of the Capitol afterward.
“I really am shaky,” he said, this time not joking.
While Hoiberg was the center of attention Monday, ISU fans need not worry about him leaving Hilton Coliseum behind for the political arena any time soon.
“I have the nickname ‘The Mayor,’ but I want nothing to do with your world,” Hoiberg told lawmakers. “I want nothing to do with politics.”