Joe Wieskamp has known his basketball destination since June 9, 2015. Early in the summer following his freshman year at Muscatine High School, the long athletic wing verbally committed to play college basketball at the University of Iowa. On Wednesday, he signed his National Letter of Intent, officially joining the Hawkeye program.
“It’s cool, but for me, it really is just another day,” Wieskamp said. “I have been committed for so long, I am just glad the day is finally here.”
What many don’t know is that the young man’s journey began on the same campus at the University of Iowa Children’s hospital.
Joe is the second of Steve and Dana Wieskamp’s four sons. His brother Matt is three years older and a wide receiver at Western Illinois University. With three-year-old Matt in the house, about a month before Joe’s due date, Dana experienced something many expecting mothers experience. “I had some pre-term labor. We went to our doctor, and they couldn’t tell if he was breathing. Joe had a heartbeat, but the doctors weren’t sure if his lung functions were working as they should,” Dana said.
Immediately, the couple was referred to the University of Iowa. Steve, who is a physical therapist, reflected: “The issues were so far out of my realm of medical knowledge that it makes you realize that you are not in control. We just had to pray and realize that we didn’t have any control.”
Upon arrival, the couple received good news. The doctors were able to see that Joe’s lungs and diaphragm were in fact functioning, but he would need in-utero steroid injections to help support his lung function. Dana was put on bed rest and Joe was born full term. “We were blessed that it wasn’t more serious and that the outcome was positive.”
Joe’s success on the court is known by most basketball fans in the state of Iowa. The senior has 1,573 career high school points, averaging 23.5 points per game. Joe is the all-time leading scorer in MHS history, but those around him understand why the success comes. It is because of the intangible characteristics he possesses.
“He loves structure and routine,” said Dana. “When he was a little boy, he would arrange his matchbox cars in a certain order, and you better not touch them. We could see his strong will at an early age. Which you see now in the way he competes,” she said.
“He just has a self-confidence about him. He does what he wants to do and isn’t swayed by peer pressure,” added Steve. Steve shared a story from when Joe began kindergarten. “He came home from kindergarten and I asked him ‘Joe, who did you play with today?’ His response was, ‘Whoever wanted to play what I wanted to play.’ And I thought to myself, number one, he is going to be a leader, or number two, he won’t have any friends.”
The former has turned out to be the case. Wieskamp has shown leadership on and off the basketball court with the dedication he has to his training routine and to his personal preparation. He is also involved with Fellowship of Christian Athletes and a teen Bible study through the Catholic church in Muscatine. “He is a tireless worker,” said K. C. Schmitt, Wieskamp’s AAU coach with the Iowa Barnstormers. “He pushes himself to get better and leads by example.”
The Wieskamps are a close-knit family. Matt and Joe played one season of high school basketball together. His younger brothers, Sam, a sophomore, and Luke, who is in fifth grade, have traveled all over the country supporting each other in travel athletics. “We get asked a lot about how do we do it, doesn’t it get stressful hauling the kids around almost every weekend, but for me, I have always felt that it has bonded our family,” said Steve. “We have spent a lot of time together in hotels and on long car rides, and that has been great for our family.”
Joe grew up playing multiple sports, excelling in baseball and football, and credits those experiences for helping him be good at time management. “I think playing the other sports made me focus on how I manage my time,” he said.
Another key player in the Joe Wieskamp support system is his brother Matt’s girlfriend, Emily Clemens. Clemens is a former All-State point guard at Muscatine who is the reigning Summit League Player of the Year at Western Illinois. Clemens has been a role model for Joe. “We talk almost every day. She is constantly working out. To see the success that she has had and the path that she’s taken kind of gives me an example of what it takes to be a great player,” Joe said.
Joe has a core group of friends that liken themselves to characters from the movie The Sandlot. Although his schedule has taken him all around the globe playing basketball, it is still important to him that he experiences high school life. “I think that is something that is really important to my mom and dad. That I have a life and can be a kid.”
Joe, his brother Matt, and Clemens were at Iowa’s record-setting football victory over Ohio State in Kinnick Stadium. Iowa wrestling head coach addressed the crowd during a timeout, saying, “Congratulations! You’re a Hawkeye.” These words seem appropriate today after Wieskamp honored his verbal commitment for three years and is now officially a Hawkeye.