Randy York's N-Sider
Let’s have a little fun for a few minutes. Pretend you’re John Cook, Nebraska’s legendary volleyball coach who’s counting down the days before his Huskers move into what he envisions to be the planet’s most captivating volleyball facility – a transformed Devaney Center that will show glimpses of the old NU Coliseum yet, at the same time, display state-of-the-art flashes of style and new technology. The curtain will go up on this uniquely Nebraska facility at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 24.
It’s the annual Red/White Scrimmage, 13 days before the Huskers launch their 2013 home-court schedule with a full-fledged commemoration of the new Devaney facility with a volleyball court named after Terry Pettit. Since the entire season is a sellout in a facility roughly twice the size of the Coliseum, you have one golden opportunity to show volleyball fans across the state your new home.
How do you make an ordinary scrimmage a spectacular event? How do you feed the faithful force of fans and still accommodate the fabulously curious devotees who didn’t get season tickets? You do what John Cook always does. You dream big and come up with a scrimmage matching a young, talented team against a roster of seasoned, accomplished veterans, including two former Huskers who made the USA Olympic team. Talk about a perfect way to make friends, influence people and break in an extreme makeover all at the same time. Where else can you pay $10 for a reserved seat and $8 for a spot in the standing-room-only area and see Olympians Jordan Larson and Nancy Metcalf on the same team? Where else can Husker Olympians join the likes of All-Americans Gina Mancuso, Lauren Cook and Brooke Delano and team captain Jordan Wilberger Sauer?
Once Shy Kid Now World-Class Competitor
We all know the season-long focus will be on the 2013 Husker Team, but what a great way to usher in a new era in a flagship sport and enjoy a fun-filled evening with everyone who would be touched. That would include, of course, the alumni who paved the way to prosperity, the coaches who continue to recruit nothing but the very best and the intensely loyal fans who have sold out 181 straight matches over 12 consecutive years. Everything about this varsity vs. alumni scrimmage screams cool, but at the top of that list is Larson. Her presence alone makes the scrimmage worth the price of admission. It’s been fun watching how Larson’s Olympic experience has helped transform her from a quiet, relatively shy small-town Nebraska girl to a confident but still humble world-class competitor.
Anyone who missed John Baylor’s recent radio interview with Larson can rest easy. The entire interview is at the top of this column in four segments. We break it down that way to give Nebraska volleyball fans plenty of time to pour a glass of iced tea or lemonade before listening to the one-time little girl who grew up in Hooper, Nebraska, dreaming about becoming a Husker. It won’t take long for you to understand how a quiet but driven dreamer became an All-American at Nebraska, a starter on the world’s No. 1-ranked Olympic team and a superstar on the top pro team that’s won three consecutive championships in Russia.
Huskers No. 1 in Recruiting, No. 10 in Poll
Baylor, the gifted voice of Husker volleyball, knows Larson well enough to cover her life from childhood to present tense, so his interview on the Husker Sports Network is a nicely woven audio book that somehow manages to look back and ahead at the same time. And really, that’s why I recommend listening to their compelling interview and then buying a ticket to see Larson and fellow Olympian Metcalf team up with four dynamic recent Huskers. What a treat for the No. 10-ranked AVCA preseason team with the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class. And what a treat for all Big Red volleyball fans lucky enough to see it.
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Voices from Husker Nation
Great story and I agree that John Baylor is a hidden treasure in this state. I have season tickets to the Devaney (FINALLY!) and will miss listening to John’s great radio coverage, but will be listening to him during away games. Jordan Larson is magnificent. I hate that I have to miss that pre-season game on Aug. 24. I would love to see Nancy Metcalf, Jordan and the other ex-Husker greats, but it’s my granddaughter’s 4th birthday/adoption party, and I probably shouldn’t miss that. I am going to every other game at the Devaney this year!!! Pamela Holmes, Lincoln, Nebraska