We are committed to providing our student-athletes the best possible resources to ensure they are successful in academics, athletics and life. In addition to an excellent education, and top-notch facilities that rank among the best in the Big Ten Conference and among our national peers, we also provide excellent teachers and leaders with our talented coaches and support staff. I appreciate and respect the countless hours our coaches and staff put in to recruit, teach, train, strategize and assist our 600-plus student-athletes.
Recently, we announced the hiring of Ashley Rose-MacAllister as our head rifle coach and the hiring of Jordan Burroughs as an assistant wrestling coach. Other coaching additions include basketball assistants Amy Stephens for our women’s program and Jim Molinari for our men’s program. Charlton Warren has been coaching our defensive backs since last February.
We welcome these five coaches to our Husker family and know that they will use their outstanding credentials, experience and incredible personal achievements to lead our Husker student-athletes now and into the future.
Ashley, a native of Eubank, Kentucky, comes to Nebraska after spending the 2013-14 season as an assistant coach at the University of Kentucky. She inherits a Nebraska program that finished fifth at the 2014 NCAA Championships. Ashley was a four-year letterwinner and a team captain at Murray State. Her career for the Racers included a third-place overall finish in air rifle at the 2010 NCAA Championships.
Jordan previously served on the Nebraska wrestling staff as an administrative assistant for the 2012-13 season. He graduated from UNL with a degree in sociology in May 2011. A native of Sicklerville, New Jersey, Jordan joins the staff in the midst of one of the most successful international freestyle wrestling careers in U.S. history. In addition to claiming the 74-kilogram Olympic Gold Medal at the 2012 Games in London, Jordan won a pair of FILA World Championships in 2011 and 2013. He is also the three-time defending U.S. Open champion and two-time reigning World Cup champion. Jordan was one of our most dedicated community service contributors as a student-athlete and working with former student-athletes Bill and Jim Scherr, was instrumental in restoring wrestling as an Olympic sport.
Amy, an Alliance, Nebraska native, ranks among the top five Huskers in career points, assists and steals. She was a member of Connie Yori's first Nebraska coaching staff before being named the head coach at Drake, where she spent nine seasons as head coach, compiling a 151-130 record and the 2008 Missouri Valley Conference title. She also guided Drake to the Missouri Valley Tournament title and an automatic bid to the 2007 NCAA Tournament. She led the Bulldogs to four WNIT bids.
Jim is one of the most respected teachers in college basketball, bringing more than three decades of Division I coaching experience to Nebraska, including 20 years as a head coach. He is a three-time conference coach of the year and has guided nine teams to postseason play. In addition, he has been a member of 10 NCAA Tournament staffs during his 12 seasons as a Division I assistant coach. Originally from Chicago, Jim spent the past six seasons at Western Illinois, leading the Leathernecks to their first-ever postseason appearances at the Division I level. He was also part of a prominent staff at DePaul and spent time in the Big Ten footprint at Minnesota, where he served as an assistant and interim head coach.
Charlton joins Nebraska after nine years on the defensive staff at the Air Force Academy, including the past two seasons as associate head coach and defensive coordinator. He was also a standout defensive back for the Falcons in the late 1990s. Well respected in the coaching profession, Charlton has been a part of several successful defenses at Air Force. He has great energy and will be an outstanding teacher and mentor for our student-athletes.
Jordan isn’t the only gold medal Olympic champion among our coaches. In fact, many of our coaches have competed at the Olympics. Head Swimming Coach Pablo Morales, and Jim Hartung, our top assistant in men’s gymnastics, also won Olympic gold medals in the sports they coach. Diving Coach Natasha Chikina, a native of Kazakhstan, competed at the Atlanta (1996) and Sydney (2000) Summer Olympic Games.
When reviewing the individual collegiate, international and professional experiences among our 20 head coaches, it is clear we are well represented at the highest levels.
In addition to competing on the international stage, Wrestling Coach Mark Manning has coached on two U.S. Olympic teams as an assistant in 1996 and 2000, while also being named the head coach at U.S. Olympic Festivals in 1991, 1993 and 1995. As the first assistant coach with the U.S. Men’s National Volleyball Team, Volleyball Coach John Cook helped the United States win a bronze medal in the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. In the U.S. Olympic Festival competition, Coach Cook served as head coach of the bronze medal-winning North team in 1989 and was also an assistant coach with the third-place West team in 1987. Women’s Soccer Coach John Walker was named national staff coach for the Canadian Soccer Association in 1992, and the following year he was appointed an assistant coach for the Canadian World University Games team. During the summer of 1999, Coach Walker was an assistant coach for Canada’s Women’s World Cup team.
Other Husker coaches had great success competing in the professional ranks. Baseball Coach Darin Erstad had a long productive career and was a prominent part of a World Series Championship baseball team with the Angels. Bowling Coach Bill Straub was a veteran competitor in the Professional Bowling Association, winning more honors and titles than any other bowler from the state of Nebraska. As a member of the Elite Team of the St. Louis Track Club sponsored by adidas, Cross Country Coach David Harris ran in seven marathons, qualifying for the 1980 U.S. Olympic Trials at the 1979 Boston Marathon. Women’s Tennis Coach Scott Jacobson competed professionally for two years. Football Coach Bo Pelini did not play in the NFL but coached three NFL teams from 1994 to 2002, including San Francisco, New England and Green Bay.
Seven of our head coaches competed as student-athletes at Nebraska – Chuck Chmelka (men’s gymnastics); Darin Erstad (football and baseball), Scott Jacobson (women’s tennis), Robin Krapfl (women’s golf), Kerry McDermott (men’s tennis), Rhonda Revelle (softball) and Bill Spangler (men’s golf). Mark Manning, our head wrestling coach, competed at Nebraska for one year before transferring to the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
Sixteen of our Husker assistant coaches also competed for Nebraska, including Heather Brink (women’s gymnastics), Jordan Burroughs and Bryan Snyder (wrestling), Dani Busboom (volleyball), Judd Cornell (men’s golf), Barney Cotton and John Garrison (football), Jim Hartung and John Robinson (men’s gymnastics), Matt Martin and T.J. Pierce (track and field), Mike Schuchart (men’s golf), Lori Sippel (softball), Amy Stephens (women’s basketball), and Fungai Tongoona (men’s tennis). Paul Klempa, a UNL graduate and assistant coach on our 2014 NCAA runner-up women’s bowling team, competed for the UNL men’s club bowling team.
We have an amazing group of coaches and teachers. Nebraska coaches recruit the nation’s best and brightest, have a strong work ethic, practice and compete with a passion, and maintain a healthy balance that enables our student-athletes to have a wonderful collegiate experience. They put the student-athlete first and I am proud to work alongside each and every one of our coaches.
Until next time, stay positive and Go Big Red!
Director of Athletics
Last year, Darin Erstad, our baseball coach, threw out the first pitch when Nebraska set a “college night” record for attendance at Kauffman Stadium, home to MLB’s Kansas City Royals. Saturday night, when the Royals host the San Francisco Giants for Husker Night at The K, Nebraska basketball players Benny Parker and Shavon Shields will share the honor of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. Both are junior guards. Benny, the Defensive MVP on Nebraska’s 2014 NCAA qualifying team, is from Kansas City’s Sumner Academy High School. Shavon, an honorable-mention All-Big Ten player in voting from both coaches and media, is from Northwest High School in suburban Olathe, Kan. It will be another inspiring night connecting our university with the Royals and Alex Gordon, the Nebraska All-American and former Husker standout who has made the American League All-Star Team the past two seasons. Last night, Alex singled in the fifth inning on the road against the Arizona Diamondbacks for his 1,000th career hit, and with his second hit in the game now has 1,001 hits, the 10th player in franchise history to reach that milestone. Nebraska fans have already purchased 4,500 discounted tickets through the Royals, and twice that number of Husker fans are expected to attend Saturday night’s game. My family and I are looking forward to attending the game and spending time with Alex during batting practice. Steve Physioc, voice of the Royals, will be a featured guest on our Talk to the Director of Athletics Radio Show Wednesday night. In his third season with the Royals, Steve serves as both the voice on the Royals Radio Network and as a play-by-play broadcaster for 55 regular-season games on FOX Sports Kansas City. Husker Night tickets are still available through this website, www.royals.com/huskers.
Nebraska and adidas late last week unveiled new Red Rising TECHFIT football uniforms the Huskers will wear September 27th when we host Illinois for Homecoming. Coach Pelini mentioned the prospects of celebrating the 125th anniversary of Nebraska football at the Big Ten Media Days in Chicago. The new uniform was formally unveiled on Fan Day. The all-red uniform features black metallic stripes on the jersey and pants and ultra-light black and silver metallic numbers. A large Nebraska “N” will be featured on the chest of the TECHFIT compression base layer.
Hired by former Nebraska Athletic Director Bob Devaney to start a strength and conditioning program in 1969, Boyd Epley was on the cutting edge of strength training and was the strength coach for each of Nebraska’s five football national championship teams. Boyd served 35 years as NU’s head strength coach before moving into an associate athletic director position. He retired from NU in 2006 after playing a role in helping Nebraska win 356 football games. He currently serves as director of coaching performance for the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) in Colorado Springs, the organization he founded in 1978. For his outstanding contribution in strength and conditioning, Boyd was recently named a 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award winner by the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition. He will be honored at the Association’s annual meeting Sept. 16th in Washington, D.C. He also will be honored at the Nebraska-Miami football game on Sept. 20 in Lincoln. Boyd continues to work on gaining sponsorships for the NSCA and helping Division I strength coaches gain certification to meet an NCAA requirement that goes into effect in 2015.
Congratulations to Bill Scherr (pictured), a former Husker All-American and NCAA champion who went on to become a world champion and bronze medalist at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. The twin brother of Jim Scherr, a fellow distinguished member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and the one-time CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee, Bill recently was named the Myron Roderick Man of the Year by USA Wrestling. A South Dakota native, Bill was a three-time All-American at Nebraska and won an NCAA Championship. His latest accolade reflects an enormous contribution to his sport. Bill chaired the Committee for the Preservation of Olympic Wrestling (KPOW) – an ad-hoc USA Wrestling Committee that was formed to lead the successful American effort to keep wrestling on the Olympic program. The intense seven-month process required great leadership, and Bill led the cause, developing the working structure not only for USA wrestling, but internationally.
Congratulations to the five players who will be inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame during the weekend of the September 6th non-conference game against McNeese State. They include All-American and 12-year NFL veteran offensive guard Russ Hochstein (1997-2000), all-time leading tackler and linebacker Barrett Ruud, all-conference offensive guard Mike Mandelko, and all-conference offensive tackle Carl Johnson, a member of the 1970 and 1971 national championship teams. All have been voted in by Hall of Fame members. Barrett will join his great-grandfather, Clarence Swanson, and his father, Tom Ruud, in the Hall of Fame and is an intern on our football team this fall. Nebraska-Kearney All-America quarterback Justin Coleman is the state college honoree. Justin, a native of McCook, Neb., was the runner-up for the 2000 Harlon Hill Trophy and finished sixth nationally for NCAA Division II’s equivalent of the Heisman Trophy in 1999. The Nebraska Football Hall of Fame will honor legendary Husker Coach and Athletic Director Tom Osborne with its 2014 President’s Award. The Hall also will recognize Kim and Jill Wolfe of Columbus with its Clarence E. Swanson Meritorious Service Award. Dan and Lisa Koch of Elkhorn will be honored with the Lyell Bremser Special Merit Award.
Congratulations to former Husker golfer Brady Schnell, who shot a magical round of 59 last Friday in the ATB Financial Classic in Calgary, Canada, to become the first player in PGA Tour Canada history to break 60. Brady finished the tournament tied for fourth place. His 22-under par performance included rounds of 71, 59, 67 and 69, only one stroke behind the second-place finishers. A graduate of Millard North High School in Omaha, Brady had an excellent career at Nebraska from 2003 to 2007.
Congratulations to Maggi Thorne, Nebraska Athletics’ assistant director of Capital Planning and Construction and a former Nebraska track and field student-athlete. She was crowned Mrs. International 2014 on Saturday, July 26, at the annual pageant in Jacksonville, Florida. Her husband, Fred Thorne, a former football student-athlete at Nebraska, participated in the crowning (pictured). The three-hour event featured 65 contestants and showcased the accomplishments of “today’s modern married woman”. A committed global advocate, Maggi will spend her year as Mrs. International traveling the globe to impoverished countries, delivering shoes to those in need, building national partnerships with professional athletic teams, speaking with global branding partners and racing in three world championships to raise awareness and funds. She also competed on NBC Television’s American Ninja Warrior show. The Governor’s Office of Nebraska will award Maggi with the Points of Light Service Award on August 13 to recognize her outstanding work to engage American citizens in community service.
UNL students are looking forward to new housing this fall at the 50/50 apartment building, located on the southeast edge of Lincoln’s downtown campus. The apartment building will provide housing to 475 upperclassmen and will provide parking for residents and additional parking for other UNL students. The 50/50 facility is designed to ease parking and housing needs as UNL continues its quest to boost enrollment to 30,000 students by 2020.
Ameer Abdullah, our All-America running back and 2014 Heisman Trophy candidate, did a wonderful job representing Nebraska last week at the Big Ten Football Kickoff Luncheon. After he chose to return to UNL to complete his degree in his senior year, he was given the high honor of delivering the keynote speech at the luncheon. Representing 1,000 Big Ten Conference football players, Ameer talked about what he considers to be the essence of a student-athlete. He focused on education in three areas – athletically, academically, and personally. We enjoyed watching Ameer describe what he called winning “the educational lottery” – the privilege to earn and receive a degree. Ameer will talk about his experience on my radio show Wednesday night. We are very proud of you Ameer and look forward to supporting you and your teammates this season.
Nebraska Head Football Coach Bo Pelini was in Chicago last week for the Big Ten Conference Football Media Days and at the ESPN studios later in the week. In Chicago, Coach Pelini welcomed Maryland and Rutgers to the conference before assessing the upcoming season and answering questions from media attending the Big Ten’s annual kickoff luncheon at the Chicago Hilton.