Slogan helps Stephen-coached Barnstormers team win title

Greg Stephen instructs his Barnstormers team during a time-out in a game this season. (Photos courtesy of Cole Cooper Photography)

Greg Stephen of Monticello, director of the Iowa Barnstormers basketball program, coaches a game of the 2019 team in a Texas tournament this season.

Patrick McCaffery of the Barnstormers (22) first coined the term, “Iowa vs. Everybody.”

Jake Hilmer of North Linn High School (in black) is a member of the 2019 Iowa Barnstormers.
Pete Temple
Express Sports Editor

     Patrick McCaffery, a member of the Iowa Barnstormers (Class of) 2019 boys basketball team, came up with a term to emphasize the team’s underdog status in the Adidas Gauntlet Finale tournament this summer.

     “It’s Iowa vs. Everybody.”

     It stuck. The team, coached by Monticello’s Greg Stephen, took it to heart, and went on to win the tournament known as the “super bowl” of the Adidas circuit, held July 12-15 in Spartanburg, S.C.

     “No team from Iowa has ever done anything like that before, win a shoe-sponsored organization championship tournament like that,” Stephen said.

     The Barnstormers beat teams from Georgia, Texas, California and Washington D.C. In the finals, Iowa faced Indiana Elite, a team that was 38-0 going into the game, and won 65-61.

     “We got up by about eight early,” Stephen said. “It never got real comfortable, but it was never a two-point game either. The ball bounced our way a couple times.”

     Stephen, who directs the entire Barnstormers program, said the “Iowa vs. Everybody” attitude helped the team win the title.

     “It became a hashtag thing after Patrick said it, because he’s a popular kid,” Stephen said. “Everybody in Iowa kind of has that mentality sometimes.

     “When we were in Spartanburg, we were the underdog that nobody expected to be there. It was our first year on the circuit, so I don’t know if people really wanted us to do well.”

     After the tournament, the team decided to take its newfound slogan a step further, printing “Iowa vs. Everybody” t-shirts. After the team sold 500 shirts in two hours on Ebay, it opened a web store and sold 700 more – a total of 1,200 in about two weeks.

     “It grew a little crazier than I thought it was going to,” Stephen said.

     Proceeds, more than $10,000 so far, are going to University of Iowa cancer research.

     It was all part of a very successful year for the Barnstormers’ program. The 2019 team went on to win the Hardwood Classic in Lawrence, Kan.; and reached the championship game of the Adidas Summer Championship in Las Vegas, Nev. before losing.

     The 2018 Barnstormers team also had a strong year, qualifying for the Gauntlet Finale and reaching the semifinals before falling.

     The Barnstormers have boys’ teams as young as fourth grade, and girls’ teams as young as seventh grade.

     The 2018 and 2019 teams have mostly Class 4A players from Iowa. McCaffery, son of University of Iowa coach Fran McCaffery, is probably the most well-known.

     But there are small-school players involved as well. This year, Jake Hilmer of North Linn High School was on the 2019 team.

     The team does much of its practicing in a new facility at Coe College, but holds some practices at Monticello High School.

     This was the first year the program has been fully sponsored by the Adidas grassroots basketball organization. Five of the team’s 10 tournaments this year were fully funded by the shoe company.

     “It’s been a neat year,” Stephen said. “We’ve had unbelievable success. We’ve got a lot of kids from Iowa getting scholarship offers.

     “It has probably been the biggest year in the history of our program, and we keep getting bigger.”

     Those interested in the t-shirts can visit



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