Dear Husker Fans,
At Nebraska, we measure success in a variety of ways: academic achievement, athletic achievement and ultimately, the success we have in preparing our student-athletes for life after competition. Our Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) is one of many initiatives that helps us with the latter goal. SAAC includes representatives from all 24 men’s and women’s varsity sports--the best and brightest student-athletes at Nebraska. SAAC may not be as well-known as the Blackshirts, but this student group is critical to the success of our department and to the student-athletes own overall development.
I met with SAAC team members on March 11th at the first of their twice-a-month meetings, and it wasn’t long before I was overwhelmingly impressed with the devotion to their mission of ensuring that all 600-plus student-athletes have a voice regarding their experiences at Nebraska. Just listening to their well thought-out questions and comments about certain issues, I could sense their passion and commitment to excellence. Many asked very specific questions about immediate needs and the long-term needs to ensure that all student-athletes have the necessary resources to be successful. Furthermore, we discussed the resources and programming necessary to help them become well-rounded individuals.
The backbone of SAAC are athletic department advisors Keith Zimmer and Jessie Gardner. They tirelessly assist SAAC leaders and all student-athletes to be more integrated with the greater campus, unify our sports programs, improve student-athlete welfare and embrace technology to connect with fellow student-athletes and the community.
Neil Dufford is a senior golfer and SAAC’s current president. Neil is majoring in Russian and International Studies. Sunny Russell is a junior on the rifle team majoring in Family Science with a Human and Community Services career path and is Big Ten Distinguished Scholar. She serves as SAAC vice-president and recently attended the Big Ten SAAC meetings in Chicago. Eric Schryver, a junior gymnast majoring in Nutrition Science, serves as SAAC secretary. On April 3rd, Eric and Kelsey Larson who is a senior majoring in Biochemistry and swimming and diving’s SAAC team representative, will be guests on my radio show which takes place on National Student-Athlete Day to talk about their experiences.
Recently, SAAC was responsible for Diversity Day at the Lewis Training Table, an event encouraging student-athletes to dine with other student-athletes they had not previously met. The brainchild of Ryan Grassel, a junior golfer from Chesterton, Indiana, the event was supported by Lewis Training Table Manager Dale Kruse who went above and beyond to prepare a unique meal to better acquaint our student-athletes with cultures from around the world as our student-athletes hail from 39 states and 20 countries. SAAC has also supported a variety of other events, including an information booth that educated campus students about Husker academic and athletic accomplishments; panel presentations at area high schools which emphasize the importance of education, involvement and service; and a shoe drive that distributed 10,000 pairs of shoes to 125 countries on five continents.
Furthermore, SAAC assists with facilitating an annual student-athlete welfare survey, the most recent survey revealed that 94 percent of Nebraska’s student-athletes were either “completely satisfied” or “satisfied” with their overall collegiate experiences. This strongly indicates that they are having a positive experience however, we will strive to improve and get better every day.
Thanks, SAAC, for being such a guiding force in our athletic department. That’s what Nebraska is all about.
Until next time, stay positive and Go Huskers!
Women's Basketball Team Advances to NCAA Sweet 16
Congratulations to our Husker women’s basketball team on advancing to the NCAA Sweet 16 with a convincing 74-63 win in College Station over No. 9 Texas A&M. This is the second appearance in program history, both under Coach Connie Yori's direction. I had the tremendous pleasure of experiencing the electric atmosphere this past Monday night. We are all very proud that our student-athletes, coaches and staff rose to the occasion and put on an outstanding display of teamwork and determination in a very tough environment. The game plan was exceptional and our team executed it masterfully. We wish them well in the Regional Semifinals versus No. 5 Duke in Norfolk, Virginia on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. Central..
The Big Ten Conference sponsors an advisory group that brings together former minority student-athletes. The committee meets in Chicago and helps assess and monitor minority opportunities and experiences on each campus. Our representative on that important committee is Shawn Buchanan, a four-year baseball letterman from 1988-91. Now president and CEO of All American Meats in Omaha, Shawn is a successful businessman, family man and supporter. Thank you Shawn for contributing your leadership and expertise to the Nebraska community, our student-athletes and to the Big Ten Advisory Commission. Read more about Buchanan in Urban Business Roundtable.
Congratulations to our women’s gymnastics team and head coach Dan Kendig and his wonderful staff for winning a third straight conference title last weekend in East Lansing, Mich. They displayed great resiliency, discipline, trust and teamwork in their pursuit of yet another championship. Needing a strong performance in the last rotation on the vault, they were able to overtake Michigan in school-record fashion. Janelle Giblin, Hollie Blanske, Brittany Skinner and Jessie DeZiel all scored a 9.95 on the vault for Nebraska. Emily Wong scored a 9.925 on vault to repeat as the Big Ten’s all-around champion. Emily won or tied for top honors in three of the four events – 9.925 on uneven bars, 9.90 on balance beam (along with teammate Jennifer Lauer) and 9.975 in floor exercise. We look forward to watching them represent Nebraska at regionals in West Virginia and nationals at UCLA in April. Read More
Rhonda Revelle NU's All-Time Winningest Coach
Husker fans who have watched Rhonda Revelle coach softball or deliver a speech knows she is always positive with an unending supply of energy. She’s always encouraging and inspiring others, and I want to take this opportunity to recognize Rhonda for becoming the winningest coach in the history of Nebraska Athletics. As a former Husker player, Rhonda helped Nebraska make an appearance in the inaugural Women’s College World Series 31 years ago. In her 21st year as our head coach, she recently achieved record win No. 768 to pass former baseball coach John Sanders in all-time wins. Pat Logsdon, our Senior Woman Administrator, presented Rhonda the game ball from that historic winin a special ceremony at our season home opener this past Friday. Congratulations Rhonda. Video: Huskers' Heart and Soul.
On behalf current and former student-athletes, coaches and staff,I want to thank Linda Olson who is retiring as the University of Nebraska Athletics Certification Coordinator. Linda, who is the certifying officer for initial and continuing athletic eligibility, also serves as the liaison between the Athletics Department and the Office of Admissions, University Registrar and the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid. She has been a vital component to our success for more than 30 years and it has been an honor and privilege for all who have had an opportunity to work with her. Linda has been selected as the 2013 winner of the Dr. Barbara Hibner Trailblazer Award, given in recognition of “outstanding support and generous contributions to Nebraska women’s athletics.” Linda, thank you and congratulations. We hope you enjoy your retirement and you will be missed!