Huskers 'More Than N' For Comeback Season
By the end of last spring, coach Rhonda Revelle had already sold herself on a motto for her 2018 Nebraska softball team.
Get N, Or Get Out
By the summertime, players were wearing T-Shirts bearing those words – Get N on the front, and the other three words on the back.
Players wear them to every Monday practice.
Infielder Madi Unzicker likes the motto because of its black or white nature.
“What we’re about this year is there’s no gray areas,” said Unzicker, a junior from Omaha. “A team is only as good as its weakest link. If one person doesn’t want to be here or doesn’t want to work hard to further the team’s goal of winning championships, then it’s time for them to get out.
“We want all 20 of us girls to get in, but at the same time, we’re not taking anything for granted anymore. If you don’t want to work hard with all the teammates working next to you, and you don’t want to work to win championships together, then we don’t need you, and you can get out.”
So, with that stark stipulation in mind, and with the Huskers’ season opener approaching, is everybody indeed in?
“Oh, yeah,” Unzicker said emphatically. “Everyone is more than in.”
Nebraska begins the season with six weekend games in Tempe, Arizona, with three against preseason Top 25 teams. That includes No. 19 BYU and No. 23 Arizona State on Friday.
Unzicker is especially ready to play after redshirting last season following an ACL injury. Revelle still considers her a senior-type leader and wants Unzicker with the rest of the seniors in molding and leading this team.
To that end, Revelle had players take strength finding tests to identify each person leadership strengths.
“Honestly, I feel like they’ve all taken the bull by the horns with their strength, with their area,” Revelle said. “That was kind of one of the charges, be bold about being you. Be the best leader you can be by leading yourself and leading in the areas that are your strengths.”
Unzicker said her test revealed she’s an organized person who’s good at holding people accountable. So she intends to do that, plus more.
“I can lead with my voice but also by example, and this year my goal is to also lead by production numbers,” Unzicker said. “My strengths can contribute to the team in all three of those categories, as well as off the field.”
That goes for all players, and constitutes GPAs and also how they carry themselves in public.
“It’s so cool to see how different we all are,” Unzicker said of the test results, “but to see all of those strengths put together can really make a team great.”
The team motto and leadership strength tests were ideas from the coaching staff after brainstorming ways to make sure this season isn't a repeat of 2017. That team finished with a sub-.500 record, and was only the fifth in Revelle’s 25 years to not make the NCAA Tournament.
“I just felt like we didn’t completely have an identity last year, but I couldn’t’ put my finger on why,” Revelle said. “The biggest thing we could come up with is we really didn’t know if they understood what their strengths are. So we really wanted to focus on playing to our strengths. It gives you a lot of awareness, and it’s up to you with what you do and how you handle it.”
The team motto, like Unzicker said, is rather self-explanatory.
“We just felt like if we were really going to make a significant turn to how our last year went,” Revelle said, “it was going to take all of us being all in.”
She divided the motto into quadrants, beginning with players controlling what they can control, and having fun playing the game.
“But what does that include?” Revelle said. “They made a list of things – it’s their list, but it’s things like having your priorities straight, doing extra work, playing as a team, building team chemistry.
“Then the other quadrant was what’s it going to take to be successful this year? As you can imagine – this list is still our white board in our locker room – the list for having fun and being successful, many of the things overlap. Again, their list.
“My challenge for them – we left one quadrant undone, and it’s, ‘What’s it going to take to get in?’ Well, really, what it’s going to take to get in is all those things—really working hard, control what you can control, and leave the rest alone. Really work to make that list come alive for what it’s going to take to be successful and what it’s going to take to be fun, and if you do all things consistently, then you’re going to get in.”
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