Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, "Be stromg and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall put them in possession of it. It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed." (ESV) (Deuteronomy 31: 7,8)

This week Des Moines is hosting the first round of the NCAA tournament at the Wells Fargo Arena. This is a coveted event and tickets have been sold out for many weeks. But that is not the only game in town. Just down the street a few blocks, Cowles Commons has it's own form of madness. They call it "Hoops and Hops."

I am probably not telling you anything you do not already know, but Des Moines has a way of doing things unique. They also do things first class. Our great city was so fortunate to be selected to host the NCAA tournament Thursday through Sunday. While the sold out crowd was enjoying the live action games at Wells Fargo Arena on Friday, we were watching one of our Iowa teams (SUI Hawkeyes) on the four huge screens at Cowles Commons. This event called "Hoops and Hops" was free, but figuratively speaking it was also "sold out". We were packed in like sardines cheering our own Iowa Hawkeyes to a 79-72 win over Cincinnati.



Today, March 22, was a special day for me. I hadn't been on an outing for several weeks. Then Darcy and Jordyn (our daughter and granddaughter) popped in for a surprise visit. We all went downtown to check out for ourselves just what was going on at Cowles Commons. I knew this event had been hyped up on TV, but I never thought I would be there.

What! Food trucks and basketball all on the same playground--how does it get any better than that?

Outdoor basketball at the Commons. You don't have to qualify for this--just bring your ball and play.

Waiting to get in the big tent where the NCAA action is--see below.

My View for the Month: The NCAA  tournament is usually full of surprises, not only for our Iowa teams, but for all teams. Some of the higher ranked programs fall early and even some the experts pick to win it all are eliminated early. But the basketball season is about over and here is my take-home summary. I think all of these young people are such a good example of patience, perseverance, endurance and strength and many will continue to be a role model for our Iowa youth. Not just for now, but as an encouragement for our young people to get involved in lifetime sports and other physical activities.  

Fun, food. and games at Cowles Commons on this beautiful March day.