Nebraska Softball Coach Rhonda Revelle exhorts her team in a regional win over Stanford.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Energetic Huskers Build on Their Philosophy

By NU Athletic Communications

Randy York's N-Sider

On Sunday, through three weather delays in a softball regional championship game at Bowlin Stadium, Nebraska never lost its confidence or its poise. Even though the Huskers were trailing Stanford, 3-1, entering the fifth inning, they shared a vision, and never questioned whether they had the fuel or the focus to zoom into their shared energy and eliminate Stanford, 10-5. The win advanced Nebraska to a Super Regional matchup at Oregon beginning Saturday. Whoever wins that best-of-three series in Eugene will punch a ticket to the College World Series in Oklahoma City.

Rhonda Revelle, who has won more games than any other head coach in Nebraska athletic history, didn’t lose focus either. The second she grabbed a laminated card from a back pocket, it triggered a truth that’s been implanted in her mind – and her team’s head – all year long. The card reinforces Energy Rule #1 for every Husker player, coach or staff member. “You’re the driver of your bus,” Revelle’s card said, and make no mistake, that same rule from a Wall Street Journal bestselling book called “The Energy Bus” applies to every heart and soul connected to Revelle’s high investment, high energy program.

For Revelle and everyone around her, The Energy Bus is more than a book. It’s this season’s team mission and collective mindset ... a battle cry that has been woven into the Huskers’ psyche like few, if any other teams that Revelle has coached. The Energy Bus became the team’s 2013 mantra after the Huskers spent 2012 buying into Jon Gordon’s training camp philosophy on how to overcome negativity and adversity to define yourself and create your own success. Gordon, the author of the book, also conducts a two-week course that enlightens minds and inspires people to approach both life and work with positive, forward-minded thinking to be successful.

Seniors Throw Out the Welcome Mat to Everyone

“With so many freshmen coming into our program, we wanted to be even more methodical about inserting the lessons and applying the rules of The Energy Bus,” Revelle said. “Katie Brown (director-softball operations) and Emily Schueth (softball athletic trainer) kicked it all off in January with their ‘You’re the driver of the bus’ presentation. They put together a video to set the tone for the way we wanted to bring every rule in the book to life. They opened the training and Kim Schellpeper (associate director of academic programs) and Lauren Harris (softball strength coach) closed it.”

In between the start and finish of Nebraska softball’s intense focus on The Energy Bus were sets of two Husker players teaming together to break down all 10 rules and help everyone understand how every rule interconnects. “Every player had two 10 to 15-minute sessions they brought to life,” Revelle said. “They were very invested and very creative. They came up with a lot of imagery and symbolism that we grabbed ahold of and built on. Every week seemed to get more amazing because each presentation kept raising the bar for the next.”

The10-week, team-motivated countdown ran from early January to the opening day of Nebraska’s Big Ten Conference schedule. “They were masterful in their presentations, and they found a way to build upon and reinforce each rule,” Revelle said. For the record, Rule #2 is Desire, Vision and Focus: Move Your Bus in the Right Direction; #3 Fuel Your Ride with Positive Energy; #4 Invite People on Your Bus and Share Your Vision for the Road Ahead; #5 Don’t Waste Your Energy on Those Who Don’t Get on the Bus; #6 Post a Sign That SaysNo Energy Vampires Allowed’  on Your Bus; #7 Enthusiasm Attracts More Passengers and Energizes Them During the Ride; #8 Love Your Passengers; #9 Drive with Purpose; and #10 Have Fun and Enjoy the Ride.  

Huskers Invest Heavily in What They Believe In

Like anything else, approach and attitude separate development and improvement from any form of depleted buy-in. “Any book can be great, and any activity can be great,” Revelle said. “Success comes down to how much people are willing to invest in it, and our four seniors really set the tone for this to be successful. They were determined to be an all-inclusive group and did all the backward mapping that helped our freshmen buy into the principles that were already there.”

Revelle, associate head coach Lori Sippel and assistant coach Diane Miller are all devout believers in The Energy Bus and think it’s no coincidence that seniors Gabby Banda, Brooke Thomason and Courtney Breault combined for five hits in eight at bats and were credited with seven of Nebraska’s 10 runs batted in against Stanford. Megan Southworth, a Husker senior who was named a Big Ten postgraduate scholarship recipient last Friday, is equally committed to positive energy.

“The rules of The Energy Bus are profoundly simple, but all 10 are right on because they are truth,” Revelle said. “I’m really proud of the way our players took them to heart and found creative ways to interweave them to help us.” Revelle, of course, knows “There are going to be naysayers out there, and there are going to be people who think all of this is hocus pocus, or corny, or whatever,” she said. “But we really can’t worry about them.”

Shawn Eichorst a Devout Fan of ‘The Energy Bus’

And that comes straight from the top. Last fall, while serving as special assistant to the chancellor, Nebraska Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst decided to visit each Husker head coach in their own areas. When he walked into Revelle’s office, “I had 25 copies of The Energy Bus all stacked up,” she recalled Monday. “Shawn looked at all the books, and then he looked at me and said: ‘I knew we were going to get along.’ Then he said: ‘I love that book!’ It wasn’t very long after that before The Energy Bus became a present to every employee in the Athletic Department.”

Both head coach and athletic director connect energy with exercise, enthusiasm, excitement, expectations and the vision to enjoy the ride. “There’s been positive energy about this team that they’ve embraced from Day One,” Revelle said. “They had an incredible sense of calm about them all weekend. It got almost comical in that final rain delay because that’s how crazy it’s been all year. Our coaches marvel how we’ve handled adversity all season long.” They marvel because they know the Huskers “have built on their energy and nurtured it all year long, and they’ve grown it like a garden,” Revelle said. “They take great pride in what they’ve accomplished and clearly have goals that support their vision.”

The Huskers will fly to Eugene, of course, but all passengers will remain focused on a team-wide attitude that has made practice fun all year, made game day fun all year and made travel fun, even when the Huskers had to reroute and take a bus to Purdue. Such adversity cannot and will not affect a team determined to have fun and enjoy the ride for one simple reason ... the Huskers have positively earned the right to be there in more ways than anyone could ever imagine.

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