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GROUNDED with Connor Hollenbeck

GROUNDED with Connor Hollenbeck

In March, the Iowa Barnstormers players and coaches were traveling to their first game on the road while the staff was busy in Des Moines finalizing details to welcome fans to Wells Fargo Arena for the home opener the following week. Reports of Covid-19’s rapid spread were covering the news channels, causing worry for what was to come of the 2020 season.

In what seemed like a blink of an eye, businesses began closing their doors and concerts and sporting events were postponed or canceled. The Indoor Football League was given no choice but to halt the season for the safety of the teams, staffs, and fans.

The Iowa Barnstormers were not able to take off, the season was grounded, and as quarantine swept across the nation so were the players, coaches, and staff.

Gearing up for his second season with the Iowa Barnstormers and his first season as an official Veteran of the Indoor Football League, Connor Hollenbeck was en route to the first game of 2020 when the season came to an abrupt end.

With so much uncertainty about what would come of sports in 2020, Hollenbeck and his teammates headed home and into quarantine. Not letting the loss of the season or the lockdown get in the way of his goals, Hollenbeck continued training in sunny Florida.

“I mainly focused on my diet and staying healthy,” said Hollenbeck. “I learned what foods and drinks work best for my performance and the right times to take them based on how I feel or what I’m looking to accomplish.”

Like all athletes, Hollenbeck had to find new ways to stay active and stay in shape without access to a gym.

“I have been getting creative with my home workouts and have bought some equipment such as resistance bands. I also was able to run, bike, and play catch in my yard daily. I stepped up my diet even more during the pandemic and I am in the best shape I have ever been in.”

Focusing on diet and exercise has only contributed to Hollenbeck’s preparation for the 2021 season.

“I got lighter and stronger at the same time. I have also caught a lot of footballs daily so it has just become even more second nature. I have stayed on a steady routine throughout the whole pandemic.”

While Hollenbeck has not taken his sights off of football, he has picked up some new hobbies in his spare time.

"I learned how to disc golf during quarantine and it has actually become one of my favorite hobbies. I enjoy the competitiveness of disc golf and also the nature aspect, I've gotten to go to many nice places and play. I've also been learning about cars and doing my own work on my SUV. Working on cars teaches me patience and appreciating my own hard work. It is very satisfying fixing the problem or seeing the hard work you put in pay off. I also save a lot of money working on it myself."

Hollenbeck has been able to keep himself busy throughout quarantine, but like many has also had his struggles. He noted that he has missed face to face human interaction the most. 

"The most difficult thing was not being able to see my family as much as I usually do. I have a big family and now two nephews who I can't wait to see again."

So what is the first thing he plans to do when things get back to the new normal?

"First thing I would like to do is visit family and friends, but most likely it will either be going bowling, to the movies, or to a restaurant. I would also like to get a workout in with some teammates to start getting back into the football routine."

Hollenbeck is eager to return to Des Moines for the 2021 season, stating that he is ready to have a great camp and start the season 1-0.


What shows did you binge?
"One Piece"

How is your Animal Crossing Island?
"Never heard of it"

What are your favorite quarantine snacks?

Did you bake any kind of bread in quarantine?
"I baked oatmeal cookies if that counts."

Did you learn any TikTok dances?
"Pop Smoke – Get Back"

Did you go to a drive-in movie or concert?
"Yes, I saw Rambo."

What is the most creative workout you did?
"Lift water jugs."

Did you build anything during quarantine?
"A tee box and golf net in my backyard."

Share your favorite quarantine meme.
"Any meme with Spongebob."


Written by: Juli Pettit

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