Tom Osborne thought he was signing children’s books. That’s why he showed up to Best of Big Red in downtown Lincoln on Wednesday morning. As he approached the shop just before 10 a.m., he saw former Nebraska athletic trainer Doak Ostergard parking his car.
“I became suspicious at that point,” Osborne said.
And his suspicion was correct. Osborne walked into the Best of Big Red location and was met by several of his former players. He wasn’t signing children’s books today. Instead, he was being honored with an Alumni CAP Award.
“It was very nice. It looks good and I’ll find a place to put it,” Osborne said after receiving the award. “It was nice to hear from so many players. That was fun.”
The Alumni Cap is a “for-profit company that produces Alumni CAPs (Career Achievement Plaques) for collegiate letter-winners for men’s and women’s sports.” The goal is to “honor every letter-winner, both men and women” and serve as “a living memorial and standard of commitment to their school and their teammates and coaches.”
In addition to those in person at the event—which included Josh Davis, Trev Alberts, Kenny Wilhite, as well as a few others—Osborne was greeted by a number of others over Zoom and video. He sat at a table in the front of the store to watch the messages of love and support.
“I know some of these guys drove a ways to come to this,” Osborne said. “Trev is obviously busy, so it’s kind of them to do it. The good thing about coaching for me is not the wins or losses or the trophies, but the relationships. Those tend to go on. There is hardly any week that goes on where I don’t hear from two, three or four players and I think those relationships, for the most part, have been really solid. It’s been really enjoyable. There aren’t many professions where you are able to maintain those kind of relationships over a long period of time.
“It’s something, like the military, where when you go through some difficult times or challenging situations together, it does build a bond. It’s a little bit harder to replicate any place else, except for maybe the military. It was a gratifying to hear from all of these guys.”
Osborne—who has spent most of his spare time over the last year focused on the Teammates mentoring program—is ready for a little normalcy to return and looks forward to spring football for Nebraska. On Wednesday though, he was just happy to be surrounded by some of his former players and was honored that they took the time to surprise him.
He’s still happy to sign those books though.
You can hear more from Osborne with Chris Schmidt on Wednesday at 5:25 p.m. CT on Hail Varsity Radio.
Erin is the Deputy Editor and Digital Marketing Strategist for Hail Varsity. She has covered Nebraska athletics since 2012, which has included stops at Bleacher Report, Cox Media Group’s Land of 10, and even Hail Varsity (previously from 2012-2017). She has also been featured on the Big Ten Network, NET’s Big Red Wrap-Up, and a varsity of radio shows nationwide. When not covering the Huskers, Erin is probably at Chipotle.