Nebraska football had its annual Fan Day at Memorial Stadium on Tuesday evening, giving fans a chance to meet with and receive autographs from coaches and players.
It was an especially public-facing day for the Huskers, given that head coach Scott Frost and players Garrett Nelson, Quinton Newsome and Travis Vokolek spoke at Big Ten Media Days in Indianapolis earlier in the day. They returned back in time for Fan Day, a last big festivity before Nebraska’s first fall practice on Wednesday.
There were plenty of new faces to be met for fans, given the significant offseason changes to the coaching staff and roster. Even the turf was new, being installed just a couple of months ago.
Each position group had a table lined up throughout the stadium. Unsurprisingly, the quarterback room received the most attention, doubling the length of other lines at some points. While some of that credit goes to the inherent glamour of the position, the presence of Texas transfer Casey Thompson probably didn’t hurt.
The majority of fans approached the tables with posters, footballs and other typical Husker gear. There were a few attendees that went above and beyond in that department, though. Some brought paintings to be signed. One fan carried around a pylon. Multiple Nebraska football helmet variations could be spotted in the crowd.
One fan, Kevin Madsen, brought a large red toy car to be signed, complete with a few Husker stickers.
“I get something pretty eclectic signed every year,” Madsen said.
In past years, that meant bringing along a guitar or cowboy boots, although he said he’s also brought more typical objects, like helmets and balls.
Madsen said he bought this item in a store’s toy section four or five years ago. The “Welcome Home Scott Frost” sticker on the front made that claim even more believable, and helped him decide to bring it as his signature holder this year.
“It still had ‘Scott, welcome back,’” he said. “It’s been four years, so it’s probably about time.”
The autograph line for Frost himself was reserved for roughly 250 randomly-chosen children entering eighth grade or younger.
Plenty of youth populated the event, with kids tossing footballs in the endzones while they weren’t waiting in line to meet players.
Tiffany Back brought her two kids, ages nine and six. She said she’s been going to Fan Day for seven straight years, and appreciates how the event is financially accessible.
“Some people may not be able to afford to come to a football game,” Back said. “Just to come and see the players and how they interact with the fans, it’s memorable for them.”
Nebraska has attempted to expand access to football games, with initiatives such as the Red Carpet Experience. Still, it’s hard to match the consistent accessibility Fan Day brings.
Back said she never attended a Fan Day when she was a child, and still isn’t caught up in her own experience of it. She’d rather ensure that her kids enjoy the festivities.
“It’s something that they’re always gonna remember and that’s the main purpose,” she said. “Whether I remember or not, my kids remember.”