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Robert Neustrom-Born to be a Hawkeye

Hawk Talk
In 2005, Don Lund took Robert Neustrom down on the field at Kinnick Stadium to watch the Iowa football players swarm out onto the field. The Hawkeyes beat Indiana, 38-21, that afternoon.

Robert Neustrom’s story starts in the 1930s on the family farm in northwest Iowa, 10 miles southeast of Moville, when Bob Neustrom, Robert’s grandfather, would listen to Iowa football on WHO.
Bob’s favorite player was Ozzie Simmons, a break-away running back from Texas, who starred for the Hawkeyes from 1934-1936.
Flash-forward to 1962 when Bob, his two sons Tom and Bobby, plus Uncle Bob Thomas and son Barry would load up the 1956 Oldsmobile and drive to Iowa City Saturday morning to watch the Hawkeyes play.
They beat Ohio State that day, 28-14, and the Neustroms drove home to Moville that night.
Two weeks later, the Hawks beat Michigan, 28-14, at home.
That’s the only time Iowa had ever beaten Ohio State and Michigan in the same season.
Robert has a great bloodline for athletics.
Bob, his grandfather, was a star shortstop and running back for Anthon High School, in the late ‘30s.
Robert’s oldest uncle Tom, who passed away in 2001, was a four-year starter in baseball, a three-year starter and a MVP in football. He also ran track at Woodbury Central, in Moville, from 1963-66.
When Tom was in eighth grade, he pitched a no-hitter one week and a perfect game the next week.
Bobby, who graduated in 1969, was a three-year starter at linebacker and fullback in football.
When Bobby was a sophomore, the Woodbury Central Wildcats went 9-0, the first ever undefeated team for WC in football.
Robert’s dad Tim and his twin brother Terry helped lead the Moville Reds to a state championship in baseball in eighth grade.
Tim was 7-1, Terry, 10-2, and they both batted over .400.
When Tim and Terry were seniors at Woodbury Central in 1971, the Wildcats went 9-0 and were ranked second in the state in football.
Tim led the state in passing and the twins were first team all-conference, Tim at quarterback his senior year, Terry at split end his junior year.
Robert’s uncle, Kelly Neustrom, was a four-year starter in baseball, a three-year starter in football, and a two-year starter in basketball at Woodbury Central.
Kelly led the state in passing two years in a row,1975-1976, and was all-conference in all three sports.
Robert’s youngest uncle Kirk was a three-year starter in football at quarterback, wide receiver and defensive back.
He also played baseball, ran track and enjoyed the rodeo.
In 1980, Kirk’s senior year, the Wildcats made it to the playoffs for the first time.
Both Kelly and Kirk played football at Wayne State, in Nebraska.
Kelly played quarterback, was a three-year starter, and was first team all-conference as a senior.
Kirk was a three-year starter at defensive back.
When Robert was 10, his dad Tim brought him to a Hawkeye football game in 2005 and they stayed at my place, in North Liberty.
The Hawks played Indiana that October Saturday afternoon at Kinnick, won 38-21, and Robert was hooked, a Hawkeye for life.
Tim, his twin brother Terry and I grew up in Moville, were good friends, and graduated from Woodbury Central in 1972.
They were my classmates in fourth grade, got me on the Iowa Hawkeye bandwagon and I never got off.
I was covering Iowa at the time for the North Liberty Leader when Tim and Robert came down and I took Rob down to the field with me to take pictures.
We went out to the 50-yard line when the players came out of the tunnel with the swarm and Robert was more than impressed.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Robert. “I remember when you took me out on the field thinking I was just going to get on the sideline and then you took me out on the 50.
“I thought maybe I was going to look around and then I see 70,000 people in the stands. Then, I saw the swarm coming right at me. That was cool. That was unbelievable.”
Robert asked his Dad on the way home, to Moville, if Iowa had a baseball team.
Tim said they did, but, “You don’t hear of them much; they haven’t had many good years.”
“I remember telling him,” Robert recalled. “I’m going to help them win one, one day.”
Boy, was Robert right.
Robert’s first seven years coming to one Iowa football game a season had the Hawkeyes going 7-0.
His first love was baseball, but he was a three-year starter in football, playing quarterback as a junior.
He started a wide receiver and defensive back his senior season.
His senior year, Robert set the school single season record with 55 catches, scored 11 touchdowns and also set the single season record for most receiving yards.
Rob was first team All Western Iowa, as a senior, and was third team all-state as a punter, averaging 39 yards per punt.
Robert was all-district in his sophomore year as a defensive end.
With Robert’s size (6-3, 210) and speed, I think he could have played wide receiver for the Hawkeye football team.
Robert also started on the North basketball team his senior season.
North went to state Robert’s three seasons playing varsity. They were beaten out at the state tournament by West High when Connor McCaffery was a sophomore, in 2016.
Baseball was the big lefthander’s best sport, he was all-conference first team three years in a row.
Robert batted .375 his freshman year, .415 as a sophomore, .540 as a junior and .472 as a senior.
He was named Iowa Gatorade Player of the Year his junior season, finishing with 19 doubles and 48 RBI.
“I think my batting average was better than my shooting percentage in basketball that year,” Robert said with a smile.
He was a two-time Super Team All-State in his junior and senior seasons.
Surprisingly, Robert didn’t have many offers for any sport.
This is the first part of a two-part story on Robert Neustrom, a three-year starter on the Hawkeye baseball team in right field.
Next week, I’ll talk about how Robert’s dream came true when he became a Hawkeye.
Robert was named preseason Big Ten Player of the Year by Perfect Game and Baseball America.