Defensive Lineman, 1998-2001
For the past three years, Cody O’Hare (pictured top row, far right) has been in uniform on Iowa game days.
Before kickoff, the defensive lineman from 1998-2001 can be found amongst the Black and Gold faithful, but he isn’t tailgating.
As Kirk Ferentz patrols the Iowa sidelines, O’Hare keeps a close watch on the stands.
O’Hare, 35, is a police officer, spending the last three years working for The University of Iowa Police Department.
Duties include traffic control, attending to calls for medical support, assault, theft, and intoxicated persons. Weekends are often spent walking the Pedestrian Mall, as well as monitoring the emergency room at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
The majority of his work has been spent on the overnight shift — 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. — but UI officers also patrol football Saturday’s in and around Kinnick Stadium, as well as basketball games and wrestling meets at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
A career in law enforcement wasn’t on the former Hawkeye’s radar right away.
After football, O’Hare returned to his hometown of Waverly, Iowa, yearning for a job that would give him the same adrenaline rush he experienced on the gridiron. Retail just wasn’t cutting it.
He decided to begin training for the physical tests required to work in law enforcement, and in the meantime, was able to latch on with the Department of Corrections at the Anamosa State Penitentiary. The experience was rewarding in multiple ways.
The former Hawkeye met his wife, who also worked for the Dept. of Corrections (the running joke is they met in prison), and he gained valuable skills and knowledge to grow in the profession and eventually be hired by the University.
Continue reading below
Related In HawkeyeNation Forums
“This job brought back that brotherhood and camaraderie I missed from football,” he said. “It meets a lot of the criteria I wanted in a career, plus it allowed me to give back to the University and community.”
O’Hare had the unique opportunity to play for both Ferentz and Hayden Fry in his Hawkeye career.
The early Ferentz years were a challenge. The team won just four games in O’Hare’s sophomore and junior campaigns combined. And playing behind the likes of Aaron Kampman, Jerry Montgomery, Derrick Pickens, and Colin Cole limited his game action.
None of this deterred his enthusiasm. The defensive lineman recorded 33 tackles, two tackles for loss, and blocked a PAT during his collegiate career.
Continue reading below
“It was tough going out and busting your butt day-in and day-out on the practice field to only win three or four games,” O’Hare said. “But Coach Ferentz, Coach Doyle, and the rest of the staff did a great job of motivating us with the whole ‘Break the Rock’ mentality.”
The hard work paid off in O’Hare’s senior season — Ferentz’s first team to reach a bowl game. The 2001 Hawkeyes went 7-5 and won their first postseason contest since 1996.
“I made sure I took full advantage of the opportunities out there on the field,” O’Hare said. “Running out of that tunnel and playing in Kinnick Stadium is a memory that can never be taken away from me. It’s one of the best moments of my life.”
Fellow UI police officer Jackie Anderson has worked with O’Hare since 2012. What sets the former Hawkeye apart, Anderson said, is his sense of humor and ability to talk to people. The fellow officers joke that the former Hawkeye carries a silver Sharpie while on patrol to sign autographs.
O’Hare takes great pride in talking with people. The father of five is not one to resort to physical means while on patrol, and opts instead to use “verbal judo” to resolve conflicts.
Continue reading below
“We have to be ambassadors rather than enforcers,” he said. “That’s the key — talking to people in a way that’s friendly rather than authoritative.”
Law enforcement has been a successful career path so far for O’Hare. So much so that he’s taking on a new role.
On Nov. 17, the former Hawkeye began working as a Deputy Sheriff for Johnson County. New deputies spend the first two to three years working in the County jail before going back out on patrol. After that, he’ll be back on the beat, assisting with calls in the small towns and rural stretches of Johnson County, as well as the Iowa City area.
Working in the Sheriff’s Office allows more opportunities for growth and more specialized areas of law enforcement. Plus it gives the North Liberty resident the opportunity to directly protect and serve the community in which he lives, his family works, and his children attend school.
He aspires to eventually be a part of the highway drug interdiction team and Johnson County’s emergency response team.
“The new job will help improve my awareness and sharpen my skills as an officer,” O’Hare said. “My goal is to move up through the ranks and retire with Johnson County.”