By Randy York, The N-Sider
Twenty minutes before last Saturday’s annual Nebraska Red-White Spring Football Game, Jan Berringer and Drue Lovgren surveyed Memorial Stadium’s 20-yard line in the Northwest corner of Tom Osborne Field.
A record 83 Brook Berringer Citizenship Team Award winners were the focus for 78,320 Husker fans. Jan, Brook’s mom, looked at Drue, Brook’s sister. They smiled together and came to a joint conclusion – the late Brook Berringer, Jan’s son and Drue’s brother, had the best seats in the house on this glorious Saturday afternoon.
The same thought applied almost immediately to the late Warren Berringer, Brook’s dad. “My husband died when Brook was 7-years-old,” Jan told me. “Through all the years, he was a wonderful dad. Brook always looked up to his dad, even though he wasn’t old enough to play when Warren was alive.”
Jan will never forget what drove her son to play so hard and to care so much. “Brook always said that his dad had the best seat in the house when Brook played in high school (Goodland, Kan.) and when he played at Nebraska,” she said.
Warren was a Rock of Gibraltar throughout Brook’s young life in body, heart and soul. “Brook said that every time he threw a touchdown pass on the field, he knew that his dad saw it,” Jan said. “And every time that he went hunting with his bird dog, Brook could feel his dad walking right there beside him. Warren had a tremendous influence on Brook, and so did Tom Osborne."
Jan Berrenger: Some Kids Would Have Just Been Born When Brook Died
“It’s been 21 years since Brook’s death, and this is the 20th annual Brook Berringer Citizenship Award in his honor,” Jan pointed out. “Some of these kids would have just been born when he died in the plane crash. It warms our heart. We are very, very thankful that these young men are reaching out and volunteering their precious time to inspire young kids to do the right things.”
Jan marvels at the growth and the impact of the Brook Berringer Citizenship Awards. “Brook touched so many young kids’ lives,” she said, “and we feel so blessed to see all of these young men become part of what Brook did. I remember when there were 12 honorees, then 32, then 55 and now all the way up to 83.
“We are so thankful and so appreciative that Mike Riley, Shawn Eichorst and Keith Zimmer do everything possible to inspire our football players to take the time and reach out to inspire others,” Jan said. “Coach Riley has kept this as an important part of the culture, and these guys are so honored to be part of what meant so much to Brook.
“These football players have set a standard,” Jan said. “Every year it gets bigger and bigger and surprises me more and more. I am very thankful that Coach Osborne started this tribute to Brook, and I’m truly amazed in how much it has grown.
“Brook and his dad would be so grateful and so humbled at how extensive community service has become for these student-athletes in football,” Jan said. “Serving is a lifelong mentality, and I believe that giving to others creates an aura for incredible men.”
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