By Jeff Bundy
The women have been carrying the flag for Husker athletics this year.
Most recently the softball team brought home its first Big Ten tournament title. Rhonda Revelle’s squad went extra innings to defeat Michigan 3-1 and secure an NCAA slot.
Earlier, the volleyball team made the final four, and Amy Williams’ basketball squad ended with a 24-9 season and made the NCAA tournament.
By contrast, football, men’s basketball and baseball all, shall we say, left something to be desired.
Athletic Director Trev Alberts fielded a question on a call-in show about the women’s successes and the men’s struggles.
“It’s a great question,” Alberts said. “If we knew what the answer was, we would have cracked that a long time ago.”
All kidding aside, winning at the top levels of college sports is hard. And it’s cyclical. Lots of things have to come together. And when you are winning it almost seems easy to those on the outside. And in one way, it is easier: Winning tends to attract top players. For example, the volleyball team produced Lexi Rodriguez, who was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. The basketball team’s Alexis Markowski was Big Ten Freshman of the Year. And in softball, catcher Ava Bredwell was Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
It appears this upward cycle for the NU women could be a long one. Coach John Cook’s loaded volleyball squad has defied down cycles for years, of course, and is poised to make a run at a national title yet again with the final four in Omaha this upcoming season. Williams’ basketball team returns its starting five and gets transfer Maddie Krull, who starred at Millard South High School and at the University of South Dakota for two years. With Krull’s help, USD made the Sweet 16 last season. Our Shawn Ekwall caught up with Krull and you can read more about her story in this edition.
Also in this edition, Lincoln Arneal explores the importance of the volleyball team playing its spring matches outside the Devaney Center and in different locations across the state. Arneal’s look at the team’s unique connection to its fans is our featured story this month. Lastly, Steve Beideck recaps Revelle’s softball team’s run to the Big Ten tournament title.
The success of women’s sports creates awareness and buzz for young women. Recently a friend of mine along with his wife and 9-year-old daughter, Grace, were vacationing in Honolulu. They were walking along the beach when Grace said, “Dad, there’s Nicklin.” The family was unaware Husker setter Nicklin Hames and the Husker sand volleyball team were in Hawaii, but Grace recognized Hames immediately and even got her photo taken with her. The family was impressed that Hames would take the time to visit with their daughter and make their vacation even more special.
Elsewhere in this edition, we have a classic story on how a former Nebraskan, somewhat quietly, made it to the NBA – not as a player, but as administrator. Writer Mike Kelly caught up with Garth Glissman, the Waverly, Nebraska, native who at one time lettered as a Husker quarterback. As Glissman’s professional career flourished, he went from being a partner at the Kutak Rock law firm to being recruited by the NBA to be a vice president. Kelly’s story takes you through all the interesting twists and turns of Glissman’s life that has the 40-year-old with a big-time job in the world of professional sports.
Hopefully you, the readers, are noticing the changes we are making with headline and subhead fonts. We are working to make the magazine look better and easier to read. I have even changed the picture that runs with my column after one subscriber chided me for not wearing red and looking too serious.
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