The Nebraska rifle team entered a new era when it announced former Husker Stacy Underwood as its fourth head coach on May 24, 2012.
Underwood came to Nebraska after serving as an assistant coach for Harry Mullins at Kentucky from 2007 to 2012.In her first season as head coach, Underwood was able to return the Huskers to the NCAA Championships after missing out the last two years, At nationals the Huskers finished seventh place finish overall and freshman Denise Martin and senior Katelyn Woltersdorf had top eight finishes. (Martin - Smallbore 5th, Woltersdorf- Air Rifle 6th).
In her second season as head coach, Underwood's leadership landed the Huskers a spot at the NCAA Championships for a second consecutive year. The team finished fifth and sophomore Denise Martin finished third in smallbore individual competition. The team also placed third in the conference and Lauren Phillips, Rachel Martin and Denise Martin had top eight finishes. (Phillips - Smallbore 1st and Air Rifle 7th, R. Martin - Smallbore 2nd, D. Martin - Smallbore - 8th). Underwood was the named the Collegiate Rifle Coaches Association (CRCA) National Coach of the Year in 2014.
She spent two seasons in a graduate assistant position before being promoted to a full-time assistant coach. Underwood helped the Wildcats to a 48-8 record during her tenure, earning five top-five NCAA finishes in the process. Kentucky won the 2011 NCAA Championship, shooting a championship-record 4700/4800 and the NCAA Match Record 4711/4800. Additionally, Kentucky earned one GARC Championship title and two GARC regular-season crowns, while 26 student-athletes were named All-Americans in her five years as an assistant coach.
Before her time as an assistant at Kentucky, Underwood competed for Nebraska's rifle team from 2003 to 2007. Underwood, a four-year letterwinner, was a two-time NRA All-American while shooting for the Huskers. In 2007, she was named GARC Senior of the Year, while earning first-team All-GARC honors in air rifle/combined. Underwood was named second-team All-GARC in smallbore as well as second-team NRA All-Collegiate in air rifle and smallbore.
Underwood served as the team captain during the 2004-05 campaign, when the Huskers earned a third-place NCAA finish. She capped off her Husker career by earning team MVP in 2007, leading the Huskers to a fifth-place NCAA finish. In 2004, Underwood was named Nebraska's most improved shooter, helping the Huskers to a sixth-place NCAA finish.
Underwood graduated from the University of Nebraska in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in education. She earned her master's degree in kinesiology and health promotion from Kentucky in 2009.
Getting to Know Coach Stacy Underwood
Rifle is the only NCAA sport where you compete against yourself without awareness of how your fellow competitors are doing, until you're finished. Only then are scores compared. So my athletes have to be totally self-contained - in motivation, discipline, and focus.
Even more, my athletes have to be supremely calm. A minute waver of even hundredths of a millimeter at the rifle barrel end can throw a shot way off a center target that's the size of a pin head at 10 meters away. Very slight differences in breathing, heart rate, pulse strength, and muscle twitch amplify that waver.
Finally, rifle is a sport of slight differences. A perfect individual match score is 1200 points. A perfect team score is 4800 points. Perform at 96 percent of perfection and you'll be marginally competitive. Perform at 98 percent of perfection and you'll be setting NCAA records. It's in that two percentage point spread that you find greatness in rifle.
So, given these rigors, I've organized my coaching philosophy around the idea of "just 1 percent more". I'm asking each team member to give just 1 percent more in all areas- academics, personal development and performance.
Sounds simple, but think about what's involved. Every team member has to deliver. To deliver, they'll have to organize all the areas of their lives so they're always ready mentally and physically. Any issues that come up can be referenced by "what will get us just 1 percent more". They can learn from each other what works. Their lives - mind and body - will be in sync and at peace. That will give them calm. So my efforts will focus on helping each one achieve their goal. I expect great individual surprises, and from that, a great team result.
Q: How did your experience as a competitor at Nebraska prepare you for coaching?
Second, I got my first glimpse of the importance of organizing my life so I was ready to compete. I was helped enormously by the responsive staff and coaching resources available to me at will. I'm so thankful my team can count on the same.
Q: What did you take away from your time as an assistant at Kentucky that you hope to bring to the range at Nebraska?
At Kentucky I saw again the power of a proud, successful tradition.
I learned recruiting. Coach Mullins is a master at working connections. I work on that skill every day.
I also learned the importance of listening to other viewpoints. Even with a 25 year history of success, Coach Mullins encouraged me to try new ideas.
Finally, I learned that while tradition and potential are nice, lasting success comes from a constant commitment to hard work from all the influences that may affect team performance.
Q: What do you look for when recruiting a shooter?
If a recruit is shooting at 95 percent plus of perfection, I want to see the indicators in their history and values that clearly show they will do what's needed to add "just 1 percent more" each year.