I am writing this in the afterglow of March Madness. Since the footprint for MidWestOne has expanded, among other things, this means a much larger office pool in picking the tournament brackets, which brought much good natured banter in our workplace! That’s a good thing. We now have teams in our footprint in four states. This year’s tournament gave us the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows for our local teams.
The Iowa Hawkeyes rose to number three in the national rankings in early February, before dropping six of eight late season games entering the tournament. They beat Temple on a last second shot in overtime before getting drubbed by Villanova in the second round. Hawkeye fans, who had high hopes in February, were disappointed with the early exit.
How about Northern Iowa? The Panthers had a losing record in January, but got hot late and won 11 of their last 12 games to finish the season and “sneak” into March Madness. They upset Texas in round one by making perhaps the shot of the decade, a shot from beyond half-court at the buzzer. They went on to lose in round two to Texas A&M in what many are calling the biggest collapse in NCAA basketball history by giving up a 12 point lead with just 42 seconds left in the game. As MidWestOne Board Member and UNI President, Bill Ruud, said to me in an email, “the highest of highs Friday night to the lowest of lows on Sunday night.”
Iowa State and Wisconsin entered the season with different expectations, but ended with similar results. A top five team to start the year with a new coach, the Cyclones had a series of ups and downs throughout the season. Little was expected from the Badgers in November, and even less was expected in December after long-time head coach, Bo Ryan, stepped aside and Greg Gard was named his replacement. Yet, both the Cyclones and Badgers reached the Sweet 16 of the tournament. What do ISU coach Steve Prohm and Badger coach Greg Gard have in common? They each have a terrific story to tell in terms of what they’ve endured this year!
Down south, the Miami Hurricanes represent our southern footprint. This often underrated team won with consistency all year, entering the tournament as a 3 seed with a 25-7 record, before losing in the Sweet Sixteen to higher rated Villanova.
March Madness is much like life, isn’t it? We have highs and lows, often within a short period of time. The beauty of athletics is that it teaches us neither the highs nor the lows last long and we must continue to persevere.
And, “Persevere” is a good way to describe what the past several months have meant for the staffs at MidWestOne Bank and Central Bank. There have been many highs and lows as we’ve worked to bring these two banks together. It is not an easy process! On April 2, 20 locations of Central Bank in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Florida became MidWestOne Bank locations. Did we make 100% of our shots? Probably not. But I am confident that each of our employees is committed to living our mission to take care of our customers … and those who should be. That will serve them … and you … well on our journey for numerous highs in the future.
I appreciate the trust that you have placed in us to be your bank and I thank all of our staff for making MidWestOne Bank such a special place.