East Central Iowa · Iowa Icons

A Showdown of Iowa’s Bravest in Our Own Backyard

Dangling above the Hills firehouse was the days main antagonist. A Waterball fight of the ages was looming...
Dangling above the Hills firehouse was the day’s main antagonist. A Waterball fight of the ages was looming…

Hills, IA: Johnson County

Over the Mother’s Day weekend, team Goodvin decided to just stay put. Let’s chill and stay local and we’ll come up with some plans for the next road trip. And then we look out our kitchen window. We’re still the “new family” on our block and getting acquainted with the happenings that Hills, IA, produces. Just about 20 yards away were the local volunteer firefighters rigging up a familiar jug on tight metal wire. I knew it was time to move our truck that was parked on the road. There was about to be a fight!

Today's Waterball festivities were hosted by the proud Hills, IA Fire Department. The Hills volunteers rolled our the welcome hoses, but they were also ready to defend their home turf!  https://www.facebook.com/hillsfiredept?fref=ts
Today’s Waterball festivities were hosted by the proud Hills, IA, Fire Department. The Hills volunteers rolled out the welcome hoses, but they were also ready to defend their home turf!
https://www.facebook.com/hillsfiredept?fref=ts

IMG_1069

Mayweather-Pacquiao title bout on pay-per-view? That sounds like a cute little get together. An extremely high water pressured shoot-out between 15 towns in rural Johnson County? And I don’t have to hitch a ride to Vegas or skip eating for 5 days to pay for the TV coverage? And it’s literally in my own backyard? Well, hell yea! Now you’re talking my language and stirring up the collective curiosity of all involved with The Iowa Gallivant! Bring this bout on!

Bragging rights were on the line in Hills, IA over the weekend. A Waterball battle to kickoff the long season ahead.
Bragging rights were on the line in Hills, IA, over the weekend. A Waterball battle to kickoff the long season ahead.
Ladies first! The women's teams started the day off to show Hills how to muscle their way into this fight.  Alyssa Pratt, Krista Hulseberg, Ashlee Plotz of Williamsburg competed mightily on the day. Hills sent in a ringer right out of retirement named Doreen Strabala. Do not take any of these ladies lightly. They'll run your water fighting butt right out of town if you're not prepared.
Ladies first! The women’s teams started the day off to show Hills how to muscle their way into this fight. Alyssa Pratt, Krista Hulseberg, Ashlee Plotz of Williamsburg competed mightily on the day. Hills sent in a ringer right out of retirement named Doreen Strabala. Do not take any of these ladies lightly. They’ll run your water fighting butt right out of town if you’re not prepared.

The fight started promptly at 1:00 in the afternoon and the day produced perfect conditions. Little to no wind, partly cloudy skies to keep the heat down and zero drops of rain to keep spectators away. We invited the visitors on to our grass with their lawn-chairs and coolers. Oak Street was soon filled with the sounds of cheering, laughter, playful taunting, and cans of beer and sodas cracking open. Onlookers from Hills came to watch their friends while fans and families from every town represented at the competition rooted on their firefighters. They came to Hills from all over the state- Riverdale, Shell Rock, Rowley, Elkader, Williamsburg, Hawkeye, Nashua, Tama, Vinton, Malcom, Ely, Redfield, La Porte City, and Solon. A close circuit of friends, colleagues, and friendly competitors. They came from all over the place but interacted with each other like a close family would. They spent the afternoon competing and planning their next rendezvous while kids played at the nearby park and the station pumped out hot dogs and walking tacos to all it’s visitors.

From the town of Hawkeye, IA is the Eickhoff family. Jeremy travels to and competes in 25-40 Waterball fights a year! His wife Hillary and his daughters Morgan and Chloe due their best to make it to as many as possible to cheer on their brave dad.
From the town of Hawkeye, IA is the Eickhoff family. Jeremy travels to and competes in 25-40 Waterball fights a year! His wife Hillary and his daughters Morgan and Chloe do their best to make it to as many as possible to cheer on their brave dad.
A little meeting of the minds before the men's competition heats up. How am I doing with firefighting puns so far?
A little meeting of the minds before the men’s competition heats up. How am I doing with firefighting puns so far?
Bringing some Tama, IA love to Hills on this day are the Tomas'. A good luck smooch from Stephanie and a
Bringing some Tama, IA, love to Hills on this day are the Tomas’. A good luck smooch from Stephanie and a “I hope I don’t mess this one up” look from Michael.
It's the ole Hepker and Huenefeld gang from Rowley, IA. Cold beer, lawn-chairs and cool grass at their feet. Full day accomplished. Myland Hepker is a 34 year veteran of this sport and he's not stopping anytime soon. Nor does anybody plan on trying to hold him back.
It’s the ole Hepker and Huenefeld gang from Rowley, IA. Cold beer, lawn-chairs, and cool grass at their feet. Full day accomplished. Myland Hepker is a 34 year veteran of this sport and he’s not stopping anytime soon. Nor does anybody plan on trying to hold him back.
Team McFarland. A father and son combo from La Porte City, IA. And a successful photo bomb from the Rowley faithful.
Team McFarland. A father and son combo from La Porte City, IA. And a successful photo bomb from the Rowley faithful.
Malcom, IA has a long representation at the Hills Waterball fights. These young men tend to keep that tradition alive.
Malcom, IA has a long representation at the Hills Waterball fights. These young men tend to keep that tradition alive.
Keeping up with the old Waterballing tradition with a little modern day flavor of a GoPro strapped to his helmet is Jay Elvers from Elkader, IA.
Keeping up with the old Waterballing tradition with a little modern day flavor of a GoPro strapped to his helmet is Jay Elvers from Elkader, IA.

Nile Kinnick, Bob, Feller, Dan Gable, Kurt Warner, Lolo Jones, Zach Johnson…..What are famous athletes from the state of Iowa, Alex. I’ll take 50 ways to bread a pork tenderloin for $1000…..Team Goodvin met a family on this day that is searching for stardom in the sport they love. You may not see them on Sport Center, but they’re working on it. Making it to your future Wheaties box is a fierce husband and wife duo from Nashua, IA!

Meet Josh and Heather Sinnwell of Nashua, IA. Combined, these two have been racking up championship after championship across the state of Iowa. Josh has one back to back state championships and is looking for a three-peat in Story City this year.
Meet Josh and Heather Sinnwell of Nashua, IA. Combined, these two have been racking up championship after championship across the state of Iowa. Josh has won back to back state championships and will be gunning for a three-peat in Story City this year.
Scouting the competition between heats. Receiving the brunt of the spray are the children playing in the nearby park. And now their showers are done!
Scouting the competition between heats. Receiving the brunt of the spray are the children playing in the nearby park. And now their showers are done!
Kathy Septer shows
Kathy Septer shows “a few” of the trophies that the Hills FD has displayed. Her garage at home is jam packed too! Kathy has been participating in Waterball fights since 1985 and still has her eye on the state title.
Champions will be crowned and history will be once again in Hills. Hope they have enough Nashua plates to update the plaque.
Champions will be crowned and history will be made once again in Hills.
Enjoy your time in Hills, championship trophy. You've got a new home waiting for you two hours away in Nashua.
Enjoy your time in Hills, championship trophy. You’ve got a new home waiting for you two hours away in Nashua.

For a few hours Hills, IA, had a lively crowd from a sub-culture not too many people know about outside of this tight-knit network of firefighters. When we talk of tourism in Iowa, many of us instantly think of events such as the Iowa State Fair, Iowa-Iowa State-UNI football games, RAGBRAI, the Drake Relays, and others that bring in thousands of visitors a day. These Iowa spectacles, and others like them, are very important to our economy and generate publicity for the state we call home. However, the energetic group of Waterballers that invaded Hills are apart of a group that generates a revenue steam engine all itself. Our brave firefighters zig-zag their way through the state all spring and summer long with their friends and families. Many times hitting up multiple Waterball fights in one weekend and even more impressive in one day! They set up shop in our hotels, roll in with RV’s to our campsites, clear off the shelves of our local grocery/convenience stores, and belly up to the local pubs and order food at our restaurants. Hundreds of groups that associate themselves with their proud towns are supporting the growing Iowa tourism industry via our local fire departments week after week. And they’ve been doing it for many, many years. Watching NASCAR driver Landon Cassill take the lead from the grandstands in Newton, IA with a sea of spectators roaring as he passes is quite an awesome experience. Watching a fellowship of citizens that are willing to volunteer to save your family and not ask for a dime in return compete for state bragging rights can leave a person with a sense of pride that can’t be achieved anywhere else. Except in Small Town, Iowa-USA. Team Goodvin’s lawn will be ready next year for the annual tour of Waterball fights. And perhaps an all new patio lounge from our deck? See you next time!

That's damn right!
That’s damn right!

Thanks for reading! -Team Goodvin

http://www.iafireassn.org/information/dept-events/waterfights/
http://www.iafireassn.org/information/dept-events/waterfights/

4 thoughts on “A Showdown of Iowa’s Bravest in Our Own Backyard

  1. Great news story, JayJay! You captured the fun and dedication that these firemen and their families have to the fire departments they serve! It is always a time and we love our waterball family!! Also great pictures and I hope to see you next year!! 🙂

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s