‘Birth of the Cy-Hawk’ Documentary to Premiere Across Iowa

The Iowa-Iowa State football rivalry is one of the most widely celebrated (and hotly contested) sports feuds in the Midwest — and, indeed, the entire country. The annual fall game pitting Cyclones versus Hawkeyes never fails to incite a wave of pride, passion and competition from fans across the state.


And it’s all in the name of one highly coveted prize: the Cy-Hawk trophy.


But this iconic trophy didn’t just come to exist out of thin air. In fact, it almost never existed at all! Unbeknownst to even the most knowledgeable football aficionados, the story of the original Cy-Hawk trophy is an unbelievable, uniquely Iowa story of fan dedication and grassroots innovation. 


And now, that story is finally being told.


Courtesy of the Des Moines Film Society comes “Birth of the Cy-Hawk,” an all-new, Iowa-made documentary directed by Ben Godar that details the incredible true story of how a group of ordinary guys got together to create an iconic trophy.


“Birth of the Cy-Hawk” will make its theatrical premiere in several venues across Iowa in early September, during the week leading up to this year’s Cy-Hawk game. Screening locations include Iowa City, Ames and Des Moines, and each event will feature a presentation of the original trophy. And yes, that means those in attendance will have a chance to hold and take a picture with the iconic Cy-Hawk.


The film features interviews and archival footage with a variety of luminaries associated with the rivalry over the years, including former Iowa State Coach Dan McCarney, Athletic Director Max Urick and sportscasters Ron Gonder and Keith Murphy.


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As for the story of the trophy itself, the film will take viewers back to 1977 — the year in which Iowa and Iowa State renewed their football rivalry after a long 43-year break from head-to-head play. Back then, an ordinary fan named Bob Uetz unwittingly set history in motion when, in anticipation of the 1977 game, he blurted aloud to his family, “There should be a trophy for this game.”


It was his young son who responded, prophetically saying, “Why don’t you do it?”


From there, Bob, along with a small group of his friends — or “bowling buddies,” as they would call themselves — embarked on a wild journey, designing and building a trophy and then finding a way to convince the two universities to adopt it as a symbol for their rivalry.


When it looked like they had run out of options, the group of friends found a glimmer of hope in a most unlikely place: the office of Governor Bob Ray.


“To me, this story of how a group of ordinary guys created the icon of the Cy-Hawk rivalry is a real piece of Iowa history,” said Ben Godar, director. “There’s a lot of laughs in the film, but I hope it also gives these guys their due for creating something that is really important to the people of Iowa.” 


“The beauty of it is it started with the fans,” said former Iowa State Athletic Director Max Urick. “It wasn’t a couple of athletic directors getting together and saying, ‘Why don’t we do this?’ It started with the fans.”


“Birth of the Cy-Hawk,” with an approximately half-hour runtime, will premiere on the following screening dates: 


  • Saturday, Sept. 7: FilmScene in Iowa City, 4 p.m.
  • Monday, Sept. 9: Fenders Brewing in Polk City, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. (special free screening sponsored by Fenders)
  • Tuesday, Sept. 10: Vaudeville Mews in Des Moines, 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, Sept. 12: North Grand 5 in Ames, 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.


For more information, including additional screening details, visit: https://www.cyhawkdocumentary.com/


Link to trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BP-lIfUM2oI