This fall, the Iowa Letterwinners Club announced new leadership for the next two years—former field hockey star Niki Prom and two-time wrestling national champion Chuck Yagla.
PHOTO: Taylor Berry
Chuck Yagla (left) and Niki Prom at the 2023 Letterwinners Day.
Ask Chuck Yagla (77BBA) and Niki Schultheis Prom (14BBA, 19MBA) about their time as University of Iowa student-athletes, and both have so many positive memories.
Now, as the new co-chairs for the Iowa Letterwinners Club, they’re working to help foster strong relationships between student-athletes and letterwinners and help engage alums from all of Iowa’s 22 sports. Yagla, a two-time wrestling national champion, says his time as a student-athlete propelled him to success throughout his professional career—and now he’s happy to pay it forward.
“I received so much from the University of Iowa,” says Yagla, who calls Johnston, Iowa, home. “I owe Iowa so much for the success that I’ve had in life. I wanted to get involved with all of Iowa’s sports—and this is a great way to help letterwinners get more involved.”
Prom, who lives in Iowa City, says it’s been easy for her to stay connected to the field hockey program by attending home games. Yet, she wanted to do more.
“I hope I’m able to help create additional alumni involvement and connect letterwinners and student-athletes with mentorship opportunities,” says Prom. “We have a large, diverse committee within the Iowa Letterwinners Club, and I want to ensure that every sport has a voice at the table.”
Learn more about Prom and Yagla and their work as Iowa Letterwinners Club co-chairs.
What’s your favorite memory from your time as a student-athlete?
How did your time as a student-athlete shape who you are today?
- YAGLA: When I came to Iowa from Waterloo, I wasn’t heavily recruited. I was told that if I proved myself, I could earn a scholarship. Being around Coach Dan Gable showed me a lot about work ethic—what you can get if you work really hard. I never realized how much work you could put into something until I came to Iowa.
- PROM: My four years were some of the hardest and most challenging, but they were also some of the most rewarding times. Being a student-athlete is challenging—physically, mentally, and emotionally. You pour yourself into a program, and you’re trying to excel academically, too. I really learned that I could accomplish things that I didn’t know that I could accomplish.
Have there been other letterwinners who have been instrumental in your growth as a person or a professional?
- YAGLA: My wrestling teammates were a big influence. I was also fortunate be an assistant coach under Coach Gable for five years. I was around a lot of great guys, and we won national titles every year. But I also got to know football student-athletes and gymnasts, because they also worked out at The Field House. There were so many people who left an impression on me.
- PROM: I think I learned something from every teammate, and I learned a lot from my coaches. If we’re talking about other letterwinners, that would be Lisa Cellucci (98BA) and Meghan Beamesderfer (10BA). They gave me the freedom to respond how I wanted to respond in competition. They also provided so much support, understanding, and knowledge.
Every Iowa letterwinner receives a letter jacket and an I-ring, and you each received these items as letterwinners. What do those mean to you?
- YAGLA: I still have my old letterwinner jacket, and I wear it once a year at Letterwinners Day. It’s beat up and faded, but it really has sentimental value to me. I’m very proud that I was a letterwinner at Iowa.
- PROM: Both fill me with a lot of pride. Initially, they represented everything I had overcome and what I had accomplished. The more time that passes, the more I tend to focus on the awesome times. Today, I get so much pride from watching all Iowa teams succeed—whether it was soccer’s recent Big Ten title, last year’s women’s basketball team, or field hockey’s continued success. These are programs that are competing at the national level, and there’s a whole different level of pride knowing that we’re kind of at the epicenter of women’s sports.
What’s your favorite Iowa Letterwinners Club event?
- YAGLA: The one I always try to take part in is senior day for Iowa football—the last home game of the season. Any letterwinner can sign up. We all go down to the field, form a tunnel, and the seniors run through it. Being able to go down to the field and experience that environment with that crowd at Kinnick Stadium—it’s thrilling every time.
- PROM: Hall of Fame weekend. That whole weekend is a cool opportunity to connect with some of the greatest student-athletes in Iowa history.
I also attended this year’s Letterwinners Tailgate and Tunnel of Honor, and these events may rise to the top of my list. It was a pretty special experience to celebrate former letterwinners and simultaneously cheer on the club’s newest members. Plus, not every student-athlete gets the opportunity to stand on the field in a packed Kinnick Stadium, so to experience that, even as an alum, was amazing.
What advice do you have for current Hawkeye student-athletes?
- YAGLA: Embrace the moments. It goes by so fast. Don’t hold anything back, especially in competition. It’s going to be gone in a blink of an eye, and you can’t go back.
- PROM: Enjoy it. Everyone tells you it goes by so fast, and it’s 100% true. Always remember to take a step back, be present, and enjoy it.