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IOWA Magazine | March 2018
Forward Momentum
Q&A with basketball star Megan Gustafson
PHOTO: BRIAN RAY/UI ATHLETICS

Megan Gustafson, a 6-foot-3-inch junior forward, has rapidly become one of the most dominant post players in UI historyóand in the nation. This year, the Port Wing, Wisconsin, native has shouldered the load for the Hawkeyes, leading them to their ninth season of 20 wins or more in 11 years, despite injuries to starters Tania Davis and Makenzie Meyer. Owning the Iowa womenís single-season records in points and rebounds, Gustafson scored a career-high 37 points against Purdue in January and broke the UI menís and womenís record in February for career double-doubles. The 2016-17 first team All-Big Ten member also set a single-season conference record for Big Ten Player of the Week honors.

How did you first get involved in basketball?

GUSTAFSON: Basketball was a big part of my family growing up. My parents played college basketball, and my older sister played at Upper Iowa University, so I was introduced at a young age. I loved it from the beginning.

How quickly did you excel?

GUSTAFSON: I grew up in a really small town, so I would often have to help with the grades above me. In second grade, Iíd play with the fifth- and sixth-graders. And in fourth grade, Iíd help out the middle school teams. That helped develop my game really early. In eighth grade, there werenít enough girls out for the team, so I joined the boysí team. That toughened me up.

Why did you choose the UI?

GUSTAFSON: I knew the womenís [basketball] program was amazing. The coaches have been here a long time, so that was important to know they were going to be here. Theyíre fantastic peopleóthey care about me more as a person than as a basketball player. The team is so fun to be around. We care about each other, and we like to goof off. The UI also has a fantastic business programóthat sealed the deal for me.

Do you have any interesting recruiting stories?

GUSTAFSON: Itís a big trek to come to Port Wing. [UI assistant coach] Jan Jensen flew into Ashland, Wisconsin, which is about 45 minutes from my town. She was the only person in the airport, and there was an envelope waiting for her with instructions to get a key for her rental car. She drove 45 minutes through a blizzard to get to my game.

Do you have any pre-game rituals?

GUSTAFSON: My teammate Hannah Stewart braids my hair before every game. She loves doing it. My hair is really long and thick, and I asked her because I knew she could do hair. Itís usually after I get treatments from the athletic trainer and before I put my headband on. Itís kind of a superstition.

How long have you been wearing a headband?

GUSTAFSON: Iíve worn a headband ever since I was little; thatís how people recognize me. Itís almost an extension of myself on the basketball court.

If a movie was made about your life, which actress would play you?

GUSTAFSON: Sandra Bullock or Jennifer Lawrence. I love seeing movies where thereís a strong female lead and seeing how passionate they are.

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