By Randy York, The N-Sider
Sometimes, well-rounded superstar student-athletes can be semi-overlooked in the grand scheme of graduation, especially if they completed their athletic career a year earlier and grew up quietly in Lincoln.
Take Levi Gipson, a first-team athletic All-American and first-team Academic All-American from Lincoln Christian High School. A sprinter who was part of two NCAA national runner-up 4x400 teams, a third-place national championship finish and three Big Ten Conference titles, Gipson was excited to receive his college diploma last Saturday at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
“Graduation represents a capstone to all that I've experienced and accomplished throughout my college career,” Gipson said. “It's a tangible reminder of how many challenges I was able to overcome and grow from to be the person I am today.”
His plan for life after athletics is already in full circle. He is putting his degree in Nutrition, Exercise and Health Sciences to use through personal training and wellness programming.
Gipson is helping Cornhusker Bank revamp its wellness program and he's set to be a personal trainer at Prairie Life this fall. “I'm also planning to get my MBA from UNL, so I'll be able to combine my passions for health and management.”
Fondest Memory: Levi Gipson's Last Race in Ed Weir Stadium Last Year
For the Gipson family, last Saturday night was a family celebration at his parents' house and a time to reflect on how quickly the years go by.
His fondest memory was his last race in Ed Weir Stadium in 2016. “I had a disappointing performance in the 400 prelims, but I had another chance to run in the 4x400 relay,” Gipson recalled, remembering how the Huskers had just locked up the team championship.
“Cody Rush (his fellow senior teammate) and I wanted to go out on top and leave no regrets,” Gipson said. “We ended up breaking the conference meet record, and it was just a perfect ending to win it all in front of the home crowd.”
Gipson never has and never will take such success for granted. “There's a little saying I have: ‘Go hundey or go nonedy.' It means wherever you are, be all there,” he said. “There are so many things vying for your attention in college, so I really had to stay focused and devoted to whatever task was at hand. That little saying rang true because I was able to experience so much at UNL and give my best in all of it.”
Between the bookends of his superlative academic and athletic achievements, Gipson earned post-graduate scholarships from both the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference. Each scholarship was valued at $7,500 to continue his academic career.
Heart & Soul Award Winner Levi Gipson: There Is No Place Like Nebraska
For Nebraska Scholar Award winner Gipson, the phrase There's No Place Like Nebraska is the sum of all the parts he's played as a Husker, including the coveted Nebraska Life Skills Heart & Soul Award. “The more I got to know the people that comprised the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and the more I saw what this great University was about, the more I became a proud proponent of the slogan that There's No Place Like Nebraska,” Gipson said.
“I think it all boils down to the people and their actions,” he added. “I don't know of another university in the country which goes about the student-athlete experience with such authenticity and excellence like we do.
“We're provided with the best resources to be the best students and best athletes possible, and we're provided with the most opportunities to grow into well-rounded men and women,” Gipson said. “The people at UNL are so genuine, and they go above and beyond to see us reach our maximum potential in all aspects of life.”
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Voices from Husker Nation
“It was a great joy to me to read the article about Levi Gipson! I first knew Levi when his older brother was one of my kindergarteners at Lincoln Christian and Levi was the little preschooler who tagged along with mom and dad at school events. I have appreciated the consistent family spirit of this dear family. It was fun to see Levi and Jacob move through their school years, also being taught by our daughter along the way. What a privilege it is to see young men of character perform well, finish well and move on into a career that suits their strengths. May the Lord bless Levi in this new season of his life and may many be enriched through the characteristics he has developed at LCS and UNL, both in sports and academically. Marjorie Rohlfs, Levi's proud kindergarten teacher, Lincoln, Nebraska.