Randy York’s N-Sider
Attention, all Nebraska Athletics fans in Columbus, Grand Island, Kearney and North Platte, and all the surrounding communities that visit those Cornhusker cities on a consistent basis. To help celebrate Nebraska’s 125th year in college football and to thank the fans who support all 24 Big Red programs, Nebraska’s head coaches in men’s and women’s sports are coming your way on a Union Pacific Big Red Express Train on Saturday, June 28.
It’s the Nebraska version of a historical throwback – a whistle-stop tour that brought Presidents Harry S. Truman and Franklin D. Roosevelt to important cities where they could step off the train, stand on a platform and communicate directly with the people they served. “That’s exactly what we’re doing, but we’re not really selling ideas; we’re just meeting people and thanking them for all the support they’ve shown to the University of Nebraska Athletics, year after year and decade after decade,” said Paul Meyers, Nebraska’s Associate Athletic Director for the Husker Athletic Fund. “Union Pacific is a corporation that has helped us maintain our tradition, and we thought it was a great idea to ride their tradition to help support our own.”
Rose Approached Meyers with the Idea
Jim Rose, Nebraska’s former football and baseball play-by-play announcer who works with Meyers in the Husker Athletic Fund group, approached Meyers with the idea. “People at Nebraska and Union Pacific seemed to embrace it right away,” Meyers said. “We’ve met and come up with a schedule. Our head coaches are going to bus to Omaha early Saturday morning on June 28th, board the train at Durham Museum and head straight to Columbus. The next stop will be Grand Island, followed by Kearney and we’ll finish the day in North Platte before taking a bus back to Lincoln.”
It will be a whirlwind trip with a world of great intentions. “Our head coaches are really looking forward to connecting with our fans, so they can thank them for their phenomenal support of Nebraska Athletics,” said Michael Stephens, Nebraska Assistant Athletic Director of Marketing and Licensing. “It will also be a great opportunity for our fans to hear from our head coaches and get a chance to interact with them.”
Union Pacific a Powerhouse of Its Own
As much as we embrace 125 consecutive years of football, we are still the younger partner in our business relationship with Union Pacific, a 152-year-old company with its roots right here in Nebraska. "We are proud to support another legacy of Nebraska by operating our historic Heritage passenger equipment for the Big Red Express from Omaha – home of our headquarters – to North Platte – home of the world's largest classification rail yard," Donna Kush told us. The vice president of Public Affairs for Union Pacific's Northern Region, Kush said the Big Red Express "demonstrates our pride and our commitment to communities across the state of Nebraska, including the four whistle stops and other places, where 8,000 of our employees live and work every day."
What we have here is one state and two powerhouse organizations getting together this summer two months before the 2014 season-opening kickoff. Take advantage of the opportunity. It’s a rare one.
At UNL, Academics + Athletics = Partners
Meyers said passengers on the Big Red Express will include more than just coaches and athletic staff that will enable each stop to deliver maximum benefit. “Nebraska Athletics works daily with the University of Nebraska as a whole,” he said. “We’re not just teaming up with Union Pacific. We’re teaming up with college deans and others involved in academia. Academics and Athletics work together at Nebraska and the Big Red Express will have passengers from both sides of our great university.”
Each stop will allow passengers to step off the train and mix with Husker fans in an atmosphere reminiscent of a bygone era that offered a platform, a microphone, a chance to communicate and the opportunity to do something that people used to do all the time – shake hands, show their trust and build a partnership with each other…just like they did in the years before the Huskers filled their football stadium every game, their new basketball arena and their renovated Devaney Center. We've built those great facilities, but our fans have made the university, our student-athletes and our coaches what we are. That's why a whistle-stop tour is a uniquely fitting tribute for the nation's most loyal fans.
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