Hearing from Hoiberg

By his own admission, Iowa State University head basketball coach Fred Hoiberg would rather not have been in Fort Dodge Wednesday.

Given his potential alternative – a shot at the NCAA national championship that was thwarted by a March 28 loss to the University of Connecticut in the Sweet 16 – Hoiberg’s reluctance is unsurprising.

“You’re helping my grieving process right now,” Hoiberg, smiling, told the approximately 160 attendees of Corn Belt Power Cooperative’s annual meeting Wednesday at the Best Western Starlite Village Inn & Suites.

For Hoiberg, bringing a national championship title to Iowa State remains a goal – one of many he has worked toward during his life and career that he discussed Wednesday.

Hoiberg’s basketball career, which included 10 years in the NBA following four years with the ISU Cyclones, has been fraught with opportunities, many of which required spur-of-the-moment decisions, he said.

For example, after four seasons with the Chicago Bulls, Hoiberg was set to accept a slot on an Italian team in the Euroleague.

However, mere days before formally accepting the offer, he received a last-minute offer from the Minnesota Timberwolves.

There, he spent two seasons – before his career as a player was cut unexpectedly short.

At age 32, Hoiberg was diagnosed with an enlarged aortic root, which was on the verge of a fatal rupture, he said.

Though open-heart surgery was successful, in the aftermath, Hoiberg requires a pacemaker to regulate his heart beat.

“Adversity really hit me for the first time in my life,” he said.

Initially, Hoiberg attempted to return to the court.

“This wasn’t going to be the end of my career. … I was going to go out on my own terms,” he said.

Ultimately, medical professionals advised him against playing.

His career as a player over, Hoiberg took a job with the Timberwolves’ front office.

In 2010. then-ISU head coach Greg McDermott left ISU to take the head coaching position at Creighton University.

Hoiberg was offered the job – which he said was an opportunity to return to the town where he grew up and a program for which he’d developed a near-lifelong passion.

“Ames was always a second home for our family,” said Hoiberg, who returned to the city with his wife and children every summer to spend time with their parents and run a youth basketball camp.

Hoiberg’s accomplishments in the position are a culmination of the varied experience he gained throughout his career, he said.

But “the best four years of my life were playing basketball at ISU,” he said.