Randy York's N-sider
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In last week's crush of activity that felt every bit as fast as that Olympic bobsled gold medal run in Whistler, British Columbia, one-time Nebraska football walk-on Curtis Tomasevicz was everywhere.
He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, on NBC's Today Show, shooting t-shirts from a Valentino's gun at a sold-out Nebraska women's basketball game, and oh yes, he also delivered three one-liners on the David Letterman Show's "Top Ten Things You Don't Want to Hear from a Guy in Your Bobsled".
Tomasevicz also managed to visit his hometown of Shelby, Neb., and make it to Lincoln to address high school students and to chat with Tom Osborne, Bo Pelini and just about anyone else in the Nebraska Athletic Department who wanted to see what a 24-carat gold medal looked like and felt like.
Now Curtis Tomasevicz knows why ex-Husker Charlie Greene, a 1968 gold and bronze medal-winning sprinter, considers an Olympic medal a significant lifetime achievement that can be an easy conversational trigger in any public appearance.
That's not all it can do. Tomasevicz's first Olympic medal appears to have set the stage for another golden moment in his fast-changing life ... the opportunity to throw a ceremonial first pitch for a Chicago Cubs' baseball game this season.
"I'm a die-hard Cubs' fan, and I just got some of the greatest news possible," he said. "A couple of my teammates have set it up where it looks like I'll be throwing out one of the opening pitches at Wrigley Field this summer. For me, an opportunity like that ranks right below a gold medal."
Walk-On Question: Could This Be the Cubbies' Year?
Curtis Tomasevicz grew up dreaming about Chicago winning a World Series, something that has eluded the Cubbies for 102 years.
His own unlikely road to glory in Canada "gives me hope that the Cubs could do it this year yet," Tomasevicz said. "Maybe 'next year' comes this year for all of us die-hards."
The best brakeman in bobsledding doesn't have a specific date to step inside Wrigley as a special guest, but he'll be counting down the opportunity when it's finalized. He can't wait to take the red-line to the Addison stop and join the Boys in Blue.
You'd smile, too, if you'd spent the last six years bundling up, lifting hard and pushing fast before jumping into the last seat of a four-man bobsled that would fly down ice so dangerous that some of the world's best drivers crash with alarming regularity.
Just the thought of a beautiful day in Wrigley, with its ivy-covered brick walls and manually operated scoreboard, stirs the blood in Curtis Tomasevicz, who admits he would enjoy sitting in the bleachers as much as anywhere.
An old-fashioned ball park seems like a perfect getaway for someone that was part of the first USA team in 62 years to win bobsledding gold, and yes, Tomasevicz is proud that the Americans did it the old-fashioned way - with hard work, courage and lots of heart.
Nebraska Experience Paved the Way to the Top
A highly humbled Tomasevicz drew two full auditoriums of Lincoln Southwest High School students in his first two speeches after winning Olympic gold. He told students and teachers that winning is fun, but doing it the right way was more important.
His right way started at Nebraska, where athletic tradition is rich and is most often the result of what Tomasevicz describes as a "blue-collar, nose-to-the-grindstone attitude that everybody has here." He said NU's weight room "is a sanctuary and everybody lives and breathes in that thing. That's how the program gets better."
And that's how he got better.
The hometown hero was an even bigger hit in Shelby - something you'd expect from a town of less than 700 that has a sign that says: "Shelby, Nebraska: Home of Olympic Bobsledder Curtis Tomasevicz."
All you need to know is that the morning Tomasevicz went to cash a couple of checks last week at his local bank, he didn't get out of there until 2½ hours later. You may have seen his family at the bobsled finish line wearing their Big Red winter coats, but all the Shelby natives that Bob Costas said were glued to their televisions at home wanted a piece of him, too.
"Some people in Shelby have told me they've watched that final race four or five times," Tomasevicz said. "I had one family tell me their 4-year-old daughter had to watch it three times every morning last week before she'd go to day care."
Her mom told Tomasevicz that the 4-year-old even mimicked her new role model bouncing from one leg to another as he warmed up for his initial run-and-push.
Amazingly, a week after the Americans' historic gold, Tomasevicz had not seen a replay. He vividly remembers, however, lying back in the sled. The second he pulled the brake lever and went horizontal, he started shaking like a rock 'n 'roll star.
He never thought about being the first guy to break the curtains on Letterman's show and drawing big laughs, especially when he stated Reason No. 6 in the Top 10 Things You Don't Want to Hear from a Guy in Your Bobsled: "I bought us a Toyota bobsled."
He Believes in Dreaming the Impossible Dream
Who would have thought that Curtis Tomasevicz would be waving to the world, cracking lines on national television or thinking about how he might throw a ceremonial first pitch at Wrigley Field?
For him, it all still seems a little bit like fantasy.
Then again, it's not really all that difficult to comprehend. After playing football for the sheer love of the sport and without a scholarship, Curt Tomasevicz decided to dream big one more time and compete in bobsledding for the sheer love of the sport and without sponsors.
This time, though, his love lifted him higher than he'd ever imagined.
When he played under Bo Pelini in 2003, Tomasevicz said he learned the value of passion, patience, perseverance and process, and how they all relate to performance.
"Bo Pelini could fire you up to go to breakfast," said Tomasevicz, who lights his own motivational fire when taking on formidable challenges. Right now, for instance, he's contemplating becoming a driver like Steve Holcomb, his friend and teammate.
"Steve is THE best driver in the world," Tomasevicz said, "but he's been in this for 12 years now. I've only been in it six years. It'd be hard not to push for him and keep winning, but I'm thinking about giving driving a try and maybe see how it goes."
One thing is certain. Curtis Tomasevicz will never underestimate the inherent power of a dream ... or whatever it takes to live it.
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Voices from Husker Nation
Curtis is a unique individual. We have watched him through high school, at Nebraska and now for the last six years, on the bobsled circuit. Being in Whistler was one of the most exciting times of my life. It is a whole different kind of excitement. Curtis is the kind of person that is always going to push the limits and that is what makes him special. Nice article and keep up the good work!! Hopefully, 2014 will bring more hardware back to Big Red Country. Monte Selden, Shelby, Nebraska
Attending the past two Summer Olympic Games as a spectator makes me keenly aware of just how special it must be to stand on the podium as an Olympic Champion. Now, Curtis Tomasevicz is that special champion, and I would like to join all Americans and Nebraskans in congratulating him on this extraordinary accomplishment. Curt, you exemplify everything Nebraskans strive for, but I have one personal request for you: Come back in four years and let us cheer you and USA Bobsled Team 1 on as you defend the gold in 2014!! Jerry Seiler, Hastings, Nebraska