After two seasons as a stand-out wide receiver playing for Cedar Rapids’ Indoor Football League franchise, Connor Hollenbeck’s teams won four games total.
Two games into his first season with the Iowa Barnstormers, Hollenbeck has matched his average.
Saturday, the team walloped Green Bay 41-3 in the home opener at Wells Fargo Arena behind a 49-yard, one touchdown performance from the Ontario, New York native.
Hollenbeck said there was no place he’d rather be than Des Moines.
“I don’t want to bash Cedar Rapids,” Hollenbeck said. “I loved every moment of it, but coming here with the fan base that we’ve got, and the coaching that we’ve got. This is the place I want to be this year. It’s awesome to be a Barnstormer.”
Hollenbeck, like the rest of his team, came to Des Moines to try and win the franchise a second straight championship, something that wasn’t being dreamt of in Cedar Rapids before new ownership took over there this season.
When the roster was being built for the 2019 season, he was one of the first players to get a call from coach Dixie Wooten.
“We couldn’t reach out to him until October,” Wooten said. “As soon as 12:00 hit, I called him.”
It was past 1:00 a.m. where Hollenbeck was at the time, but he made sure to pick up the phone.
By 5:00 p.m. the next day, the Barnstormers announced he was their first free agent addition.
“We knew he was a big threat,” Wooten said. “We’re proud to get him here.”
One of the qualities that makes Hollenbeck such a valuable addition is his work ethic.
He’s a high-energy player that practices like he plays, something that fits the mold of what Wooten wants to see in practices.
“Hollenbeck works his butt off,” Rocky Hayes said. “He really works his but off. He’s going to do well for us.”
In two games with Iowa, he’s averaging 47.5 yards per game including 13.6 yards per reception – good for ninth in the IFL.
Although he isn’t leading the team, Hollenbeck is making his presence felt in Des Moines.
“[He’s been] incredible,” Wooten said. “He plays big time in the red zone, he makes catches in the field… He’s [already] growing as a receiver.”
Hollenbeck wouldn’t want it any other way.
“I’m super excited [to be here],” Hollenbeck said. “The whole atmosphere that comes with the Barnstormers, the history and legacy that comes with it, I’m playing for that. I’m playing for all of the fans and the whole city of Des Moines. I’m really proud of it.”
Iowa will take its second of three bye weeks of the year this weekend before traveling to Grand Island to face off with the Nebraska Danger a week from Saturday.