Offensive Line, 1999-2002
Andy Lightfoot spent four seasons on Iowa’s offensive line, diagnosing blitzes and defensive schemes.
From 1999-2002, the lineman helped pave the way for three 1,000 yard rushers. He played a vital role in protecting Brad Banks, and getting the Hawkeyes to their first BCS bowl game.
Since then, Lightfoot has transitioned from gridiron to operating room. Instead of blocking opposing defenders, he’s tackling cancer and other diseases.
Lightfoot, 34, is a doctor specializing in urology. He joined a practice called Urological Associates, P.C. in August 2014, treating patients throughout the Quad Cities.
His passion for medicine began in high school, and continued to blossom at Iowa. After his football career ended, he remained in Iowa City for the next 10 years, attending medical school and completing his residency at the UI Hospitals and Clinics.
Originally, his sights were set on practicing orthopedics. Med students do rotations to assist residents in various specialties of medicine — giving these future doctors a wide range of knowledge and experience as they consider future plans.
Although he was least looking forward to urology, Lightfoot ended up enjoying it the most. Urologists provide care for prostate, bladder, and kidney ailments. Patients are primarily seeking treatment for cancer, kidney stones, enlarged prostate, erectile dysfunction, incontinence, or other urinary ailments.
Dealing with this anatomy day-in and day-out requires a certain level of humor, Lightfoot said, but the ability to work in a surgical specialty and help people with cancer is what drew him to the field.
“I don’t think anyone goes into medicine thinking they’re going to work in urology,” Lightfoot said. “A lot of the stuff I deal with isn’t very glamorous, but it makes a big difference in people’s lives.”
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Majoring in pre-med combined with the demands of being a Division-I athlete is no small task to juggle. Success on the football field and in the classroom required focus and time management.
Lightfoot started 26 games in his collegiate career, including every contest in the 2002 season.
The three-time academic all-American played alongside some of the best linemen in the Ferentz era, including future NFL players Bruce Nelson, Robert Gallery, Eric Steinbach, and Ben Sobieski. The group allowed just 12 sacks in 2002, propelling the Hawkeyes to a share of the Big Ten title and an invitation to the Orange Bowl.
Lightfoot was named one of the team MVP’s in 2002, and while playing professionally in some capacity could have been a possibility, the thought of pursuing football as a career never entered his mind.
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“Playing at the next level wasn’t on my radar,” Lightfoot said. “I officially retired on Jan. 3, 2003 — the day after the Orange Bowl. I was happy I had the chance to play football at that level and live that part of my life, but I was ready to move on to medical school.”
Tim Kresowik has known Lightfoot for the better part of a decade. The pair went to medical school together and now work in the same urology practice in the Quad Cities.
Kresowik recalls competing against Lightfoot in an Iowa intramural flag football league during their time in med school. Unaware of Lightfoot’s Big Ten background, he was blown away by the former Hawkeye’s quick feet and blocking ability.
The humble Lightfoot rarely brings up his Division-I playing career, Kresowik said. Every so often, though, a nurse will tell a patient or someone will recognize him from his playing days.
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“Two things stand out the most about Andy — his work ethic and ability to always have a smile on his face even when things get tough,” Kresowik said. “We’re happy to have him in the practice, and the patients have responded incredibly well to Andy’s positive attitude.”
Prior to working in the Quad Cities, Lightfoot completed a yearlong fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania, studying robotic surgeries and minimally invasive procedures. This type of surgery typically involves making small incisions and using cameras and tubes to complete the procedure.
Robotic surgery allows the surgeon to have greater control, precision, and flexibility of the operating instruments. Patients typically recover faster, feel less pain, and have minimal scarring.
The former Hawkeye hopes to grow the practice of robotic surgery in his office so patients in the Quad Cities are able to receive top-rate care without traveling far from home.
“Continuing to learn and become better in my field is what drives me. I want to give my patients the best possible outcomes,” Lightfoot said. “The interaction with the patients and being able to make a difference in their lives is why I go to work every day.”