When Nate Kaeding was injured as a kicker for the San Diego Chargers, he didn’t want his legacy to be a retired football player. At 31, he started looking for a passion outside of kicking a football.
“It can be tricky to turn the page and start that second chapter professionally,” said Kaeding. “I honestly didn’t really know what I wanted to do or where I could be of value going forward.”
Kaeding started his football career when he was young. He did his undergraduate degree at the University of Iowa and was the placekicker for the Hawkeyes. After graduation, the Chargers selected him in the third round of the 2004 NFL Draft.
He wanted to keep his momentum of success going after retiring from football in 2013. He and his family moved back to Iowa City because he had successful downtown business, Short’s, and his family enjoyed the community.
While traveling around big cities throughout the United States for football, Kaeding got used to the amenities—great food and beverages, entertainment opportunities, and local produce in grocery stores.
“The really unique fun thing about Iowa City is that I think we have all of those but on a smaller scale and on an easier, more accessible scale,” said Kaeding.
After a lot of soul searching and research, Kaeding decided to go back to school to get his Executive MBA at the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business.
“If I was going to be competitive in the business world, I first needed to learn quite a bit, build up my tool kit, get some experience in different things and just have a lot of self-exploration,” said Kaeding.
Kaeding wanted to find out where he could be of value in the community and what opportunities were available.
He chose the Executive MBA Program specifically because he could learn from the other students in the program, from big business owners to small business owners, healthcare providers, and a wide array of other business leaders.
“For me it was about developing and learning more about the business world in general, but also kind of learning about where my place was in this world going forward,” said Kaeding.
During Kaeding’s education he helped create two downtown Iowa City businesses, Tailgate and Pullman Diner. Kaeding said he got a lot of free business advice because he was taking business classes at the same time.
“[The job] provided an opportunity for someone like me to come back and help shape and build a community too,” said Kaeding.
He hopes to establish more businesses in Iowa City and maintain the businesses that are already thriving. For Kaeding, Iowa City is a unique college town where people of every age can come work and play.
“If there are young creative people that want to come back, they can make a difference,” said Kaeding. “They can start a business. They can kind of shape and mold the street-level culture here and make it a more desirable place for other people to come live and be.”