Randy York’s N-Sider
“Winston Churchill said ‘in the
beginning, we build buildings. In the end, we are shaped by the buildings we
live in.’ I think the Coliseum shapes Nebraska volleyball. It’s an environment that
creates intimacy. It’s a classic structure and in a lot of ways reflects what
the Nebraska program is all about.” – Terry Pettit
You know what everyone said about Bob
Devaney. He built it ... and they came. They came to Memorial Stadium for 50
consecutive years, and they’re still coming; they’re still selling out; and
they’re still showing the world how a classic structure reflects what the
Nebraska program is all about. Devaney hand-picked Tom Osborne to
succeed him and when a fellow College Football Hall-of-Famer averaged more than 10 wins and fewer than two
losses over 25 straight seasons, not to mention winning three national championships,
one arguably could say that Osborne perfected what Devaney built.
Well, guess what? Terry Pettit
did for Nebraska volleyball what Devaney did for Big Red football. He also built a
championship legacy inside another historic Nebraska landmark – the NU
Coliseum, and in this, final season No. 37 in the Coliseum,
the Huskers have gone above and beyond the foundation Pettit built. This one's
for Ripley. The Huskers’ all-time volleyball record inside the Coliseum’s
hallowed doors is 552 wins and 38 losses. Pettit hand-picked John Cook
to succeed him, and since Cook’s teams have compiled a 349-20 record in the
same building, not to mention winning two national championships, one arguably could
say that Cook perfected what Pettit built.
Did we mention that under Cook,
Nebraska has a consecutive sellout streak of 174 matches? It’s not only the longest
home sellout streak in college volleyball history, but also the longest sellout
streak in any NCAA women’s sport.
No wonder more than 60 former Husker
players from 1975 to now gathered Friday night to watch No. 20
Ohio State upset No. 4 Nebraska in four close sets in the Coliseum.
Penn State Match Next Up at 2 p.m. Sunday
Somehow, with a Sunday 2 p.m. BTN matinee
match against No. 1 Penn State looming and a major program celebration
scheduled immediately after Friday night’s match against the Buckeyes, the
Huskers did a very un-Nebraska-like thing. They went flat in a house where they almost always keep the locks on the doors. By no means, however, was this loss a meltdown.
The Buckeyes were tough. Plus the ball bounced their way, enabling Ohio State to
win its eighth road match in nine tries this season – a mark that's second only to unbeaten
Penn State, which has been perched atop the national poll for
five straight weeks.
Yes, this particular loss took some luster from
the post-match celebration of a proud program. But let’s get real. Cook’s winning percentage of 83 is the fifth best in NCAA history, and Pettit’s 82 percent
Who knows? Maybe this rare home
setback will spur the Coliseum to another level when the Huskers host the
Nittany Lions Sunday.
One thing is certain. Despite Friday
night’s loss, Tom Osborne, John Cook and Terry Pettit were nothing but classy
in honoring former players who attended the match. They all came together to
celebrate how one culture positively influenced another. Both head coaches
hugged the student-athletes who represented four decades of talent that turned
good to very good and then transformed very good into great.
Big Red Fans Jointly Salute Two Legends
It wasn’t easy for Osborne to follow
Devaney, and it hasn’t been easy for Cook to follow Pettit, but somehow,
through a shared passion, Nebraska fans have no trouble saluting the
program’s endless pursuit of excellence while honoring two legendary coaches at
the same time.
Just like Devaney and Osborne,
Pettit and Cook have defined the essence of a championship legacy. Just like
Bob and Tom, Terry and John have become inextricably linked and equally iconic.
Everyone, it seems, has his or her own idea of how one legend enables another,
but The N-Sider decided the best way to describe the respective volleyball legacies
is to ask those inside the program how a culture of discipline, based on the
principle of greatness, helps Nebraska separate itself from other successful
Cook pursues purpose and perfection
with the same vigor and guts that Pettit did. Pettit, of course, was a true
trailblazer, but Cook is also a pathfinder who’s always looking for ways to get
better. He’s big on communication and leadership development. He goes above and
beyond to develop "off the court" initiatives that continue
to distinguish Nebraska.
After Friday night’s disappointment,
Cook showed his customary resolve. He acknowledged Nebraska’s national leads in
Academic All-Americans and All-Americans. He also pointed to the Huskers’ NCAA
record for home-court sellouts. All are important, he said, but no more so than
having a program that sends highly trained professionals and teachers out into
the world after they graduate.
Winning: Result of Family, Team, Academics
Results are what we all seem to focus
on, but in Cook’s book of core values, winning is probably the fourth
cornerstone of the volleyball house he’s built. Family, Team and Academics are
the other three. John Cook is a Golden Rule guy with high championship standards. He's designed specific rules for engagement and has developed a formula he believes can relate to coaches, teammates
and others all at the same time.
Talk about practicing what you
preach. Cook is always tackling the twin issues of fear and failure. He spells
out 12 ways to achieve happiness and has six priorities to accomplish what he calls mature
leadership. To Cook, the Nebraska Cornhuskers are all about systems and
records, preparation and strategy, fundamentals and commitment, trust and daily
"Courage is the word that comes
to mind when I think of Coach Cook,” said Larry
Widman, one of two sports psychologists that work with the Husker
volleyball team (Todd Stull is the other one). “When you take over a
team with Coach Pettit's tradition, it takes courage. Over the years, I’ve seen John
continually show courage, but never more than I did two years
ago when he acknowledged his need to reinvent himself and manage stress. His
willingness to share that about himself and to be very open to others is one of
the most courageous things I’ve seen by a coach, or really by anyone, in all my
years as a sports psychiatrist.”
Ron Hruska, a
biomechanical consultant to UNL through Athletic Medicine, is the director of Lincoln’s
Postural Restoration Institute. Cook considers Hruska to be an important part
of his volleyball program, and Hruska sees Cook’s vision as an important part
of his success. “John Cook and Dr. Lonnie Albers empower their staffs
to become the best in the nation in implementing innovative concepts and
integrating consultants and other university department specialists,” Hruska
said. “When needed, they balance student-athletes in the areas of nutrition,
mental health, spinal alignment, podiatry and biomechanics.”
Cook views every one of those areas as traditional staples for
implementation and integration. “To me, that’s part of having a premier program
with multifaceted outcomes that reflect excellence,” Hruska said.
Baylor: Volleyball a Triple Crown Commitment
the radio play-by-play voice of Big Red Volleyball, agrees with
Widman and Hruska. “One thing that distinguishes Nebraska from other programs is
the profound purpose that permeates everything that Nebraska volleyball does,”
Baylor said. “Since the 1970's, we’ve had two leaders at Nebraska make it clear that volleyball
is a commitment to the sport, to the student-athletes and for the fans.
“Nebraska may have an equal or two
out there among its rivals, but I don’t think any other programs have exceeded the
way Nebraska approaches the sport, and I don’t think that will ever change,”
Baylor said. “That’s the constant.”
Pettit and Cook stand by their well proven blueprints for
success. Both continue to tweak their respective philosophies to create "that extra edge". Cook does it as a head coach in a competitive sport, and Pettit does it to sharpen his skills as a popular seminar
leader on motivation and performance.
“I think Nebraska will continue to
be an elite program because of its remarkable commitment to every aspect of the
sport,” Baylor said. “If you’re serious about achievement, Nebraska volleyball
has to be a model that you'd consider for emulation. That’s a central
part of the success over all these years."
One NU Volleyball Legend Followed Another
“Another part that really
distinguishes Nebraska is that, unlike other programs, it was able to go from
one legend to another without any drop in performance,” Baylor said. “There was
no Gene Bartow following John Wooden here. Terry Pettit’s success on the court
not only has been maintained, but improved almost on an annual basis since
Coach Pettit got everything rolling in the '70s. That’s just remarkable.
Perhaps the greatest legacy that Coach Pettit gave Nebraska was going to such
great lengths to make sure that his successor would preserve the standard that
he left behind.”
Nebraska may have dropped a rare
home volleyball match Friday night, but the proof of Baylor’s statement was on the floor for
another sellout crowd to see, another group of athletes to cheer and another
example of why There is no place like Nebraska. Even though Husker players and
coaches were disappointed and fans didn’t see what they expected, a
rock-solid program still honored their past to preserve their future. And a good 90
percent of another sellout crowd stayed in their seats and showed the Buckeyes
why tradition is so important at Nebraska.
So please join The N-Sider in
saluting the following Huskers. They watched the match, supported their alma
mater and graciously accepted gifts from a Big Ten icon/AD for their peak
performances over the years inside the Coliseum:
1970’s: Vicki (Ossenkop) Highstreet; Linda (Brown) Dutton (1975);
Nancy (Wilkinson) Nielsen (1977); Kim (Hermes) Cockrell (1978).
1980’s: Lori (Melcher) Hunter (1980); Marla (Mueller) Lichty (1980;
Laurie (Schadegg) Thomas (1981); Terri Kanouse (1981); Gwen Egbert (1982);
Cathy Noth (1984); Martha (Mitchell) Goodman (grad assistant, 1984); Michelle
Smith (1985); Annie (Adamczak)-Glavan (1985); Michelle (Stratbucker) Reiners
(1985); Enid Schonewise (1986); Karen (Dahlgren) Schonewise (1986); Tisha
Delaney (1986); Barb (Young) Gutshall (1987); Kathi (DeBoer) Weiskamp (1987);
DeLisa (DeBolt) Weyhrich (1987); Lori (Endicott) Vandersnick (1988); Jarilyn
(Obermiller) Spiehs (1988).
1990’s: Val (Novak)
Warrior (1990); Becki (Bolli) Leuhr (1990); Cris (Hall) Crippen (1991); Janet
(Kruse) Sellon (1991); Stephanie (Thater) Brown (1992); Eileen (Shannon)
Asmussen (1992); Laura (Luther) Fox (1993); Kim (Tonniges) Seizys (1993); Kelly
Aspergren (1994) Jennifer McFadden (1995); Allison Weston (1995); Stacie
(Maser) Potthoff (1996); Kate (Crnich) Riggins (1996); Renee Saunders (1997);
Lisa (Reitsma) Rautenberg (1997); Denise (Koizol) Alderson (1998); Megan
(Korver) Demma (1998); Jaime (Krondak) Stutheit (1998); Kim (Crandall) Eyman
(1999); Mandy (Monson) Franklin (1999); Tonia Tauke (1999).
2000’s: Kim (Behrends) Buckendahl (2000); Angie (Oxley) Behrends
(2000); Amber (Holmquist) Limbaugh (2002); Rachel (Baumstark) Hopkins (2002);
Lindsay (Wischmeier) Peterson (2002); Anna (Schrad) Zajicek (2003); Michelle
(Lynch) Sjuts (2004); Meghan (Smith) O’Connell (2005); Melissa (Elmer) Groth
(2005); Dani (Mancuso) Helu (2006); Christina Houghtelling (2007); Maggie
Griffin (2007); Tracy Stalls (2007); Rachel Schwartz (2008); Amanda (Gates)
Sjuts (2008); Kayla Banwarth (2010); Brigette Root (2011); Jordan (Wilberger)
Sauer (2011); Brook Delano (2011).
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