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IOWA Magazine | 10-28-2022

For Iowa Basketball Standout Monika Czinano, Med School Can Wait

5 minute read
The Hawkeye senior post returns with high hopes for her fifth and final season.
Monika Czinano holding Big Ten Championship Trophy Photo: STEPHEN MALLY/HAWKEYESPORTS.COM Monika Czinano holds the Big Ten tournament champions trophy last season, after Iowa defeated Indiana in Indianapolis 74-67.

In eighth grade, Monika Czinano broke multiple bones in her leg and arm in an ATV accident. Itís an experience she has not forgotten.

ďI was in the hospital for a full week and bed rest for an entire month,Ē says Czinano, a fifth-year senior on the Iowa womenís basketball team from Watertown, Minnesota. ďBut I loved the hospital atmosphereóthe structure, the knowledge, and just everything going on. Iíve known since then I wanted to go into health care.Ē

Czinano, a biology major and three-time All-Big Ten selection, put her medical school plans on hold for one year so that she could return to an experienced starting lineup. Last year, the Hawkeyes won the Big Ten regular season and postseason tournament but lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Iowa Magazine talked to Czinano about her goals for the season, experience as a Hawkeye, and thoughts on gender equity in sports.

Last season didnít end the way you wanted. How did its abrupt end fuel your preparation for this year?

How last season ended really stung, but I like to think it was one of the better things that happened to us. Itís been the best motivator any team could wantóespecially with everyone back and being at full force again. Coming into this season, I wanted to get better on the defensive end of the court. Weíre pretty solid offensively, but we can always get better on defense. If we all get a little bit better, we will be a better team.

Your starting lineup is unchanged from last season. How does that experience help your team accomplish your goals?

Itís phenomenal. All of us are so comfortable with each other on and off the court. Weíre able to give each other constructive criticism and know that itís from a place of loveóand that weíre not attacking each other. Weíve been growing together for a long time. Thereís a lot of trust.

On Dec. 10, you get a chance to face your sister, Maggie, when Minnesota comes to Iowa City. What does that mean to you?

Iíll be excited to see her and for her to come to Iowa City. Itís really cool to have her in the Big Ten and also have someone in your life who is able to understand what youíre going through. If both of us are on the floor at the same time, Iíll probably cry. I love her so much, and seeing each of us accomplish our dreams, itís something Iíll never take for granted.

Who are some individuals who have helped you advance your game?

Megan Gustafson (19BBA) was the catalyst and spark for getting me to where I am today. Every post player Iíve gotten the opportunity to compete against has given me something, taught me a lesson, and has helped improve my game. [Associate head] coach Jan Jensen is a guru. Sheís just so smart with the post position and knows how to motivate. We have the best support system. From our managers to my teammates, theyíve all pushed me in a way that I didnít know I could be pushed and helped me improve in so many ways.

Monika Czinano making a layup Photo: STEPHEN MALLY/HAWKEYESPORTS.COM Monika Czinano scored a team-high 30 points in the Hawkeyes' victory over the Hoosiers for the 2022 Big Ten tournament title.

What has been your favorite memory at Iowa?

There have been so many great memories and moments, but if I had to pick one, it would be winning the Big Ten Tournament last season. Afterward we were eating pizza together, and all of us were just a little stunned that we went to Indianapolis and made Iowa historyówinning both the regular season and conference titles for the first time. Just having that moment with my fellow seniorsóKate Martin (22BS), Logan Cook (22BA), and Tomi Taiwo (22BA)óthat was really great. I hope there are a few more great moments to come.

As a Division I student-athlete, you have the ability to inspire other young women in sports. What do you hope they learn from you?

As a teenager, I was taller and stronger than all of the boys, and I didnít have anyone that I could look up to or relate to. I would tell other young girls that itís beautiful to be big and strongóitís something you donít have to hide. I also wear my heart on my sleeve when I play basketball, and itís OK to do that. If I can inspire even one young person, thatís enough for me.

Iowa is celebrating 50 years of womenís athletics this year. What does Title IX mean to you, and what work is still yet to be done for gender equity in sports?

Playing basketball is something that I love, and I canít imagine it not being an option. Head Coach Lisa Bluder has told us a lot about Dr. Christine Grant (70BA, 74PhD), and I know sheís such a huge role model for many of us. Iím so lucky to be where Iím at today. Being a woman who can be strong and put that to use on the courtóIím indebted to everybody who has come before me to pave that path. Fifty years isnít that long ago and learning more about Title IX has been very eye-opening. Thereís still a lot of work to do in terms of getting women in sports and getting women in leadership roles as coaches and athletic directors. Weíre making steps forward, and thatís what matters.

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50 Years logo

Milestone Year

Iowa is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Title IX and Hawkeye womenís athletics this year. Learn more about the UIís proud history of leadership and equity in womenís sports.



50 Years logo

Milestone Year

Iowa is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Title IX and Hawkeye womenís athletics this year. Learn more about the UIís proud history of leadership and equity in womenís sports.


Join our email list
Get the latest news and information for alumni, fans, and friends of the University of Iowa.
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