On Monday we welcomed our student-athletes to begin the fall semester. It is such an energizing time of the year, and the Dick and Peg Herman Student Life Complex is buzzing with activity. With the return of our students to campus, I’m reminded of our purpose here in athletics. Simply put, our role is to make sure that we look after their welfare and conduct ourselves with Integrity, Trust, Teamwork, Respect and Loyalty.
Part of that commitment is providing the very best facilities, as reasonably possible, for training, competing and learning.
On Thursday, August 22nd, UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman, Coach Osborne, Governor Dave Heineman, NU President James Milliken, Regent Tim Clare and John Sampson assisted us in the ribbon cutting of the East Memorial Stadium Expansion Project. After dedicating the stadium, expanded by 6,000 seats and now accommodating more than 91,000 fans, we moved inside Gate 20 to the Janet and Gerard Keating Family Concourse and dedicated the two new research centers. Dr. Judy Burnfield helped cut the ribbon for the Nebraska Athletic Performance Laboratory (NAPL) and Dr. Dennis Molfese helped cut the ribbon to the Center for Brain, Biology and Behavior (CB3), which they will direct respectively. Prem Paul, UNL’s Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development, eloquently spoke of the unprecedented potential collaborations between these research centers for the benefit of all.
One of my favorite moments of the day was the ceremonial dropping of the balloons from the “Bridge to Collaboration.” The Bridge is a walkway that connects the two research centers. As you know, Nebraska has a great tradition of releasing balloons after the first score and that special moment is captured in time just inside Gate 20 in a beautiful display designed by John Ingram, Associate Athletic Director for Capital Planning and Construction, and Maggi Thorne, Assistant Director of Capital Planning and Construction.
Following the East Memorial Stadium and research center ceremonies, I had the honor to accompany Coach Osborne and Chancellor Perlman--the visionaries for this project--to cut the ribbon for five more dedicated areas within the 52,000 square-foot facilities, including the following:
Mark and Debra Classen Cardio Area; Jim and Karen Linder Dynamic Performance Center; (Rodney and Annette) Markin Family Collaborative Center; Walter and Leila Morrison Psychology and Cognitive Learning Lab (donation from Robert and Karla Baltzell); and the (Jan and Ernie) Thayer Family Athletic Research Lab.
Thank you to these generous donors and to all of our supporters for your tremendous support.
With the addition of the 6,000 seats in Memorial Stadium, Husker fans remarkably have made Saturday our 326th consecutive sellout. The Huskers take on Wyoming, Coach Bob Devaney's first-and-only other team. We look forward to putting our renovated Memorial Stadium on display to a national prime time audience on BTN.
Last Saturday night, it was my pleasure to attend the Red-White Volleyball Scrimmage at the beautifully remodeled Bob Devaney Sports Center. Unlike the new addition at Memorial Stadium or the totally new Pinnacle Bank Arena, this project took a 37-year old building, named after Husker Hall-of-Fame Football Coach and Athletic Director Bob Devaney, and turned it into a state-of-the-art arena for volleyball, wrestling and men’s and women’s gymnastics. We are eager to show it to Bob’s son, Mike Devaney, and his grandson, Rob Devaney, who will be here this weekend for the Wyoming game as we honor Coach Devaney in a special statue dedication ceremony on Friday and at the football game on Saturday.
On September 6th, it will be our pleasure to host Terry Pettit and his family as we dedicate the volleyball court at the Devaney Center in his honor. The court naming was made possible by a generous gift from Ruth and Bill Scott. Coach Pettit led NU to our first national championship in 1995. He was Nebraska's second coach (1977 to 1999) and he led our volleyball program into national prominence. Terry led our teams to NCAA runner-up finishes in 1986 and 1989, six NCAA semifinal appearances and 18 consecutive NCAA Tournament bids from 1982 to 1999, and won the Big Eight/Big 12 every year except 1977 and 1997. He guided the Huskers to a 694-148 record in his 23 years, averaging a remarkable 30-6 record per season. Terry undoubtedly will be torn between rooting for the Huskers or his daughter’s team--Villanova--when the two teams meet after the court dedication on the 6th at 7 p.m. The match on Sept. 6 will be the Huskers’ first regular-season home match in front of a record-setting attendance of more than 8,000 fans and will be our 182nd consecutive sellout.
On Thursday Chancellor Perlman and I had the great pleasure of participating in the ribbon cutting ceremonies at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Our women’s and men’s basketball head coaches, Connie Yori and Tim Miles, joined me to open this incredible facility. Pinnacle Bank Arena is a testament to united efforts and we thank Governor Dave Heineman, the city of Lincoln, including Mayor Chris Beutler, City Council, Chancellor Harvey Perlman, Tom Osborne, the Joint Public Agency, 2015 Vision Group, the Mortenson/Hampton team, SMG World and all those involved with making this special moment a reality.
Three major facility openings for our Husker student-athletes in a seven-day span; three sold-out venues for football, volleyball and men’s basketball; 20,000 new season ticket holders. Thank you Husker fans. There truly is no place like Nebraska.
Until next time, stay positive and Go Huskers!
12 Nebraska Student-Athletes Receive Diplomas in Arena
Twelve Nebraska student-athletes received their bachelor’s degrees in the first summer commencement exercises at Lincoln’s Pinnacle Bank Arena on Saturday, August 17th. It was a nice break from fall camp for three Husker football players to receive their diplomas before completing their eligibility this fall. Andrew Green and Thad Randle majored in Ethnic Studies, and Mohammed Seisay majored in Child, Youth and Family Studies. Soccer player Bri Badje and gymnast Gabriel Sanchez earned their degrees and made the decision to forego their final seasons of eligibility to pursue their life goals. Bri majored in International Business and Gabriel in Advertising and Public Relations. At Nebraska, we always encourage former student-athletes to take care of unfinished business, and two former football players did just that. Chris Patrick earned his degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice and Cory Ross earned his in Sociology. In addition, five former Huskers who exhausted their eligibility received their degrees at the same commencement ceremony. Gymnast Wyatt Baier (Nutrition, Exercise and Health Science); baseball player Ryan Hander (Business Administration), football player PJ Smith (Child, Youth and Family Studies), basketball player Dylan Talley (Sociology) and volleyball player Hannah Werth (Communication Studies).
20 Husker Student-Athletes Attend Dinner Honoring Donors
Thursday, August 22nd, was a historic day for Nebraska Athletics. The day served as the official dedication of the East Stadium Expansion Project. We were fortunate to have 20 of our student-athletes attend the dedication dinner, in Memorial Stadium, honoring the donors whose gifts made the project possible. The student-athletes attending the dinner: Alicia Armstrong (Softball); Emily Cady (Basketball); Hailey Decker (Softball); Mattie Fowler (Softball); Ryan Grassell (Golf); Jarren Heng (Cross Country/Track and Field); Seth Jameson (Football); Kolton Lapa (Golf); Sarah Larson (Cross Country/Track and Field); Sammi Noland (Softball); Sarah Plambeck (Cross Country/Track and Field); Trevor Roach (Football); Hailie Sample (Basketball); Katie Simon (Basketball); Morgan Smejkal (Golf); Cassidy Stelzmiller (Golf); Hayley Thramer (Volleyball); Alney Tobias (Cross Country/Track and Field); Trevor Vidlak (Cross Country/Track and Field) and Jessica Wright (Cross Country/Track and Field).
Fan: Kyle Kubat's Kind Gesture Leaves Lasting Impression
If you are a Nebraska baseball fan, you know who Kyle Kubat is. He’s a talented left-handed pitcher from Omaha who missed our first 33 games this past season due to an injury, but still returned to make eight starts, compile a 5-0 record and a 1.29 ERA. Kyle has great concentration, tremendous mental toughness and after I recently received a letter about Kyle, I would add role model. Chris Passamano, a high school baseball coach in Norwalk, Connecticut, sent me the letter and shared a story about his 7-year-old son meeting Kyle while on vacation this summer at Cape Cod, where Kyle played summer baseball. I encourage everyont to read Chris's words because they demonstrate how one small, but kind gesture has the power to leave a lasting impression. American author Mark Twain once said, “Kindness is the language the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” After reading this letter, I think kindness is also something that all of us can learn from Kyle, who converted a little boy and his dad, who had no connection to Nebraska, into Husker fans.
This week all three sound bites are from the August 22nd East Stadium Ribbon Cutting Ceremony.
East Stadium Project: More Than Football
As a result of the East Stadium Expansion Project, I was pleased to congratulate our fans on their 51 years of dedication to the Husker football program and shared with the 200-plus fans and special guests in attendance that for the first time since Memorial Stadium was built in 1923, we were able to offer new non-premium season tickets located between the 20-yard lines to the general public.
Nebraska Hall-of-Fame Football Coach and former Athletic Director Tom Osborne gave his personal take on the three things that always are mentioned when parents and athletes consider recruiting: 1) academics; 2) student-health and safety; and 3) athletic performance.
UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman said most Nebraska football fans have strong memories associated with Memorial Stadium, and he and wife Susan are no exception. She once sat in the knothole section, and he remembers watching the Huskers upset OU in 1959.