Ecuador trip an eye opener for Hawkeyes’ Lee | college

IOWA CITY — Given a break from making a difference on the football field at Iowa, Logan Lee chose to make a difference off the field.

The Hawkeye defensive tackle from Orion joined teammates Monte Pottebaum and Kyler Fisher and recent Northern Iowa transfer Desmond Hutson in spending their spring break in Ecuador working to bring clean water to impoverished small towns.

It was all part of an Athletes in Action program, which has a faith-based ministry on the Iowa campus.

For the Ecuador trip the group partnered with Filter of Hope, an organization which produces and distributes state-of-the-art household water filters door to door in communities where clean water is not easily accessible.

“I’ve been blessed to have been able to travel quite a bit in my life, but nothing has really hit me quite what we did during the week in Ecuador,” Lee said Tuesday.

“We ended up helping supply water filters to a couple of villages outside of Portoviejo, which is one of the bigger cities, and we also shared the gospel with the people we met. It was amazing experience for us.”

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Lee said the Hawkeyes had an eye-opening experience as they visited homes and met the people they were there to help.

He said most of the homes at least had running water, although some of it was murky in color. Other families were trying to filter it with socks or attempting to use other similar things to clean the water before use.

“Living where we come from, clean water is something you take for granted,” Lee said.

This wasn’t the first mission-type trip that Lee has been a part of, but it was the first time he traveled out of the country to help people.

He was active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in high school and recalled traveling with church groups on mission trips to Detroit and Houston in the past.

“There are people that need help everywhere and I feel fortunate to have had an opportunity to help, even in a small way,” Lee said.

In Ecuador, Lee said the Iowa football players didn’t do a lot of physical labor, but spent five-to-six hour days during the entire week using a hand drill to create holes in buckets that would be used as part of the water filters that were being constructed.

They then helped distribute the water filters, which produce up to 150 gallons of clean water daily and can last for 10 years with proper care.

The group also provided basic hygiene training and soap for each family it visited.

“I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to help and the share the gospel with the people we met. It was a memorable and life-changing experience,” Lee said. “I’m thankful to have been a part of it.”

The trip followed the conclusion of winter conditioning work for the Hawkeyes and a week before the start of spring practices.

Lee is thankful to have a healthy role in those after having been working his way back from injuries in previous springs.

“It feels good to be out there every day working and doing what I can to get better and improve my game,” Lee said. “It’s what spring ball is about.”

He also has a full season as a starting defensive tackle for Iowa on his resume now.

The 6-foot-5, 277-pound junior finished with 48 tackles during the Hawkeyes’ 10-4 season last fall, second only to Zach VanValkenburg among Iowa defensive linemen.

Lee was fourth on the team with five tackles for a loss and three sacks and recovered a fumble while seeing the most extensive action of his career.

He is now one of three returning starters on the Hawkeyes’ four-man defensive front, flipping the script from a year ago when VanValkenburg was the lone returning starter on the defensive line.

“There are always things to work on, fundamentals to concentrate on, and we’re doing those things,” Lee said. “In this game, you are always chasing perfection although you escape the realization that you will never achieve that.”

Lee said the group continues to work with younger players on the line, helping them work to meet the same standards that have allowed Iowa to build successful lines on an annual basis.

“We’re working to help the young guys and help them improve so they’ll be ready when they receive their opportunity,” Lee said. “Everybody is working hard and it’s been a good spring so far.”

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