Randy York's N-Sider
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Somehow, after No. 14 Nebraska won historic game 700 for Rhonda Revelle and then completed a doubleheader sweep of South Dakota on Wednesday, Nebraska's legendary head softball coach thought she could sneak out of town and hide under the guise of the longest road trip in Nebraska softball history.
Nice try, Rhonda. We've been around the bases a few times ourselves, and eight consecutive road games in Las Cruces, El Paso and Norman cannot put you under cover from Huskers.com, regardless of how superstitious you might be about personal coverage in a team sport.
The truth is, even you know this: Anyone who becomes only the second Husker coach ever to reach that 700-win plateau (Nebraska baseball's John Sanders is the other) cannot hide from the Big Red spotlight.
Thankfully, Revelle and Pat Logsdon, Nebraska's associate athletic director and Senior Woman Administrator (SWA), came through with incisive thoughts about this major milestone. Perhaps they came through because we showed them the courtesy of five-question shares in our usual 10-question format.
Logsdon, you should know, supported a strategy to put "Congratulations Coach Revelle! 700 HUSKER WINS" between Nebraska-branded softballs on our homepage banner. You also should know that Logsdon has more ways to hide from a spotlight than Revelle, who is pretty much world-class in that department.
Fortunately, this was one time when both were willing to come out of the shadows at the same time for the benefit of a sport that's on the move and should be checked out as soon as possible.
Logsdon may have come up with the ultimate proof point and most compelling reason to let Husker fans in on what the Nebraska Athletic Department already knows. "Rhonda and Coach Osborne are the two best examples of servant leaders I know," she said.
Around here, there is no higher compliment, and to gain a deeper understanding of what that really means, please read on.
Five Questions for Rhonda Revelle: People Make a Program Successful
Q1: After the game ball commemorating your 700th win, the T-shirts, the high fives, the pats on the back and the hoopla surrounding a meaningful milestone, what runs through your mind when you get home, sit down in your favorite chair, close your eyes and try to put it all into perspective?
A1: When I have a chance to reflect on my life at the University of Nebraska, gratitude is the word that keeps resonating in me. I am most grateful for (the late) Dr. Barbara Hibner. She took a real risk in hiring a young coach without much experience. Her belief in me and mentoring of me motivated me and still does every day. She has been an inspiration to me because she lived her life by the motto; "integrity leads and lasts". She always was 'other-centered' in everything she did, and I am so grateful for her role modeling. I never want to let her down, and every morning when I put my feet on the floor, my goal is to live and lead our program in such a manner that Dr. H would hire me again today. I love this University, this community, and the Big Red!
Q2: Sometimes, Academy Award winners thank everybody who's been part of the journey or nobody because they don't want to leave anyone out. Can you take some middle ground here and share some of the most pivotal moments in this career-long journey? Over the course of your career, what are the biggest team highlights and what players became program changers that lifted you up to where you felt you needed to go?
A2: I think it is impossible to single out "biggest or most" when you work in the people business. There are many things that bring me to tears. I get a bit weepy at stories of people experiencing positive things in their lives. I know that in high-pressure athletics, I may be viewed as crazy because winning in the game of life is more important to me than winning on the scoreboard. I truly believe that if we strive to maximize our best - physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually - then winning will happen. I think the greater thing that will be achieved is an understanding of cause-and-effect, behavior-and-consequences, reaping what we sow, and deserving every victory in our lives. So, to answer your question, my biggest highlights are when I feel as if I have heeded the call to be a servant-leader, and in doing so, a young person has been positively influenced and impacted by being a member of the Nebraska Softball Team.
Q3: Elaborate on why your coaching staff is so tight-knit and how, as a staff, you approach recruiting on a local, regional and even national level.
A3: I am blessed to have coached every day at Nebraska with (associate head coach) Lori Sippel. In the fast-paced world of college athletics, that is a rare and unique case. Lori is very HUSKER. She wore the jersey and has spent 22 years coaching here. She is loyal and devoted to her alma mater, and I am the greatest benefactor! Lori, Diane (Miller), and I all have our core values aligned, and we are all led to decisions through the teachings of our faith. As a staff, we don't care who gets the credit; we just want the job done RIGHT! We all work to live by the golden rule, and that makes for a very fortunate, harmonious, and high energy working environment.
Q4: In the grand scheme of things, if you had to boil down this program's success into key areas, what would they be and why would each be important?
A4: People make a program successful! Players are dedicated to excellence in the classroom, on the field, and in life. Support staffers are invaluable in this process because they spend so much time with the student-athletes that their influence is vast. The academic counselor, trainer, strength coach and nutritionist are four people who have so much to do with the success of a program. They are the true unsung heroes. Leadership, from coaches right on up through administration, is also important. Bottom line, "people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." When you circle the wagons with high-character people, who care a lot about others and show it with loving words and actions, success generally finds its way into the heart of the T-E-A-M.
Q5: Give us a glimpse into what motivates you day-after-day and year-after-year. How do you balance such a competitive sport with the goals and values you teach as a leader of young women?
A5: I'm motivated by the spirit that moves within me that makes me cry when something really good and meaningful happens in someone's life. I want to help, assist, and nurture that growth in any way I can. I felt like I was supposed to serve young people through coaching softball. I do my best in serving them when I stay grounded in my faith, when I walk and follow where I am led, and when I heed the call of being a servant leader. I am grateful to the University of Nebraska for the opportunity to serve the young hearts and minds of the Cornhuskers!!! To me, success begins within...within a person, within a team, within a department. Success will be fleeting and temporary if it is only measured externally (wins-and-losses; trophies, etc.). Sometimes, it is difficult to stay focused on what "real success" is when the world is calling for instant success. We have worked to build a successful women's softball program in the three most important ways we can - in the classroom, on the field, and in life.
Five Questions for Pat Logsdon: Like Osborne, Revelle a Servant Leader
Q1: Rhonda was inspired and mentored by Dr. Barbara Hibner and still models her "integrity leads and lasts" motto. As her SWA, how would you describe Rhonda's leadership style?
A1: Rhonda is truly a servant leader. She has all the characteristics that a servant leader needs to hold. Rhonda and Coach Osborne are the two best examples of servant leaders I know.
Q2: Do you think the late Dr. Hibner would hire Rhonda again today, and if so, why?
A2: I have absolutely no doubt that she would hire Rhonda again. Dr. Hibner was a very intelligent woman, and she saw the potential, drive and passion that Rhonda possessed.
Q3: Your boss, Coach Osborne, is a servant leader. How does Rhonda reinforce that philosophy?
A3: Rhonda epitomizes the servant leader. She always sacrifices her own self-interest for the good of the group. She's an incredible listener, always genuinely interested in others and displays great empathy. She has a strong awareness of what is happening around her and is naturally very persuasive and compelling in her requests. She has great foresight, a strong sense of stewardship and is 100-percent committed to the development and growth of her student-athletes.
Q4: With 700 wins in 22 years at the same school, what's the secret to Rhonda's success?
A4: Rhonda has an incredible drive and passion for coaching. She never takes anything for granted, is always striving to improve and is a tireless worker.
Q5: In terms of career wins, Rhonda now ranks second all-time among all Nebraska coaches. She will no doubt move to No. 1 soon. From an athletic department standpoint, what does that mean?
A5: I believe we are very fortunate to have such a quality individual like Rhonda coaching and representing the University of Nebraska Athletic Department. I can't think of another individual who better exemplifies the Nebraska values of integrity, trust, respect, teamwork and loyalty. We are lucky to have such an outstanding mentor and role-model for our female student-athletes. She is committed to helping young women succeed in the classroom as well as on the playing field while preparing them for life after sports. That's what this Athletic Department is all about.
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Voices from Husker Nation
Congratulations to Coach Revelle on her 700 wins as a Husker coach. It has been fun to follow her teams from the humble beginnings through the championship years. Her drive, dedication and passion have been a constant. She genuinely cares about her players and serves as a tremendous influence in their lives. Good luck to Coach Revelle and her team in their final year of play in the Big 12 and in their move next year to the Big Ten. Steve Sinclair, Omaha, Nebraska
Thanks for the column on Rhonda Revelle. Our family story certainly relates to what was communicated because we were walk-ons for the two servant leaders you mention - Rhonda and Coach Osborne. In 1970, I was offered the opportunity to walk on the Nebraska football team. I turned down scholarship offers in both football and basketball to attempt to fulfill a lifelong dream of playing football for the Big Red. I started every game for the freshman team (freshmen were not allowed to play in varsity games in those years). I was one of five freshmen not to redshirt the following year and started every game on special teams and played right cornerback on the '71 National Championship team, then started at that position every game in '72 and '73. In Coach Osborne's first game as a head coach, I returned a punt for a touchdown against UCLA after Coach Pepper Rogers had said his team was not concerned about punting to Nebraska because Johnny Rodgers had graduated.
In 2003, my daughter, Jaime, was allowed to walk on the Nebraska softball team. Her career at Nebraska was much different. She contributed to softball by being the "ultimate" teammate and student-athlete for Coach Revelle. She demonstrated her commitment by being on time, practicing hard every day, pushing her teammates and achieving every academic award she was eligible for. Graduating in four years with a pre-med major, she was a shining example of learning life skills that would carry her throughout her lifetime as well as athletic excellence for Coach Revelle. Coach Revelle later told us of the agonizing decision not to start Jaime on "Senior Day" against Oklahoma State. Jaime, in the spirit of "team", thought this would give her a chance to pinch hit in the late innings, and she did just that, hitting an extra base hit to seal the victory.
Every time I look at my National Championship ring, I think of the first servant coach I played for. But I am even prouder of my married, pregnant daughter who is now completing her third year of medical school and who was one of the greatest "teammates" for Nebraska's other servant coach, Rhonda Revelle. Jaime has talked about writing a book on this subject, and the life lessons learned from athletics, so stay tuned. Both my daughter and I have been blessed to have two of Nebraska's finest servant coaches be a positive influence in our lives. Thanks again for reminding everyone what Nebraska Athletics stands for - then, now and always. Randy Borg, Lincoln, Nebraska