John Steppe takes on the role of Iowa football beat writer after Leah Vann leaves. (The Gazette)

Now I know how Bob Bowlsby felt.

The Waterloo native and former University of Iowa athletic director, who now leads the Big 12 conference, got off to a rough start this school year when Oklahoma and Texas announced they were joining the DRY.

This will be Leah Vann’s last week at The Gazette. She took a job with the Baton Rouge (La.) Advocate to be closer to her home and family. (The Gazette)

We too are losing someone to the SEC.

Leah Vann, who joined our team eight months ago to oversee the Pace of Hawkeye football this fall, announced last week that she was moving closer to her home in Texas to cover LSU for the Baton Rouge (La.) Advocate . On the “Hawk off the press” podcast, Vann said she “loved every minute” of her time in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City.

She also wrote in a post on Twitter “this has been one of the hardest decisions for me to date, but (last) Saturday will be the last game I will cover as Hawkeye’s writer for The Gazette and (this) Wednesday will be my last day. … Please know that even though my time here has been short, it has had a permanent impact on my life. …”

Although we are disappointed to lose a talented young writer like Vann, we wish her only success and are happy that she can work and live closer to her family.

“It’s going to be a challenge, but I’m in…” she wrote.

But like Bowlsby — who wasted little time replacing the Sooners and Longhorns with BYU, Houston, Central Florida and Cincinnati — we, too, acted quickly.

John Steppe, already a member of The Gazette family as a business writer, has joined our sports team and has already moved seamlessly into his new role as Iowa football beat writer. Steppe wrote some stories ahead of last week’s game against Colorado State and wrote the “game report” after Iowa’s win.

He called sportswriting his “first love” during the podcast introducing him to our online audience.

“I’m excited for this,” he said. “Sport is not new to me. I’m ready to have a lot of fun.

Steppe is not new to our staff or to many of our readers. He worked as a news and sports intern at The Gazette in the summer of 2019 before graduating from Marquette. He also worked as a correspondent for us in his senior year, helping cover football games at Northwestern and Wisconsin.

He studied journalism, digital media and Spanish at Marquette and covered the men’s and women’s basketball teams for the school newspaper. He also interned on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s commuter business and sports staff.

His first foray into journalism was in college when he started blogging about sports.

“In high school, I spent practically more time interviewing coaches than studying for my AP classes,” he wrote in an email.

I often tell young journalists to find their passion and the ideas and stories will flow. Steppe, it seems, did just that.

“I am thrilled to report on a top-notch college football program with compelling stories and passionate fans,” he wrote in an email. “Doing this in a newspaper that values ​​its readers and reporting staff so much makes this opportunity even better.

“As someone who grew up in the Midwest, I also really appreciate the competitiveness of the Big Ten.”

Vann, too, is thrilled that Steppe is stepping in and actually suggested it when she informed us of her plans.

“I can’t wait to see what John Steppe does for this beat because I know his heart has always been in the sport and his business knowledge will add a unique perspective to his stories,” she wrote.

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