The August 2022 issue of Hail Varsity, our annual volleyball issue, is on its way to newsstands and mailboxes as we speak. To preview the issue, here is this Mike Babcock’s Letter from the Editor. Make sure you don’t miss an issue of Hail Varsity by subscribing today.
Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari, needing a new arena, created controversy within the athletic department by claiming Kentucky was a “basketball school.” Wildcat football coach Mark Stoops was quick to respond, citing his team’s four consecutive bowl wins, while Calipari’s team, he said, hasn’t won in the postseason since 2019.
Creating such a controversy is not the intent here. I’m merely stating the obvious. Volleyball has become a signature sport at Nebraska—and that’s no disrespect to Husker football, with its deep tradition, revenue generation and passionate fan base, equal to any in the country.
Nor is it disrespect to any other sport at Nebraska, men’s or women’s. Presumably, they’re all in this together, “this” being striving for success.
At Nebraska, success and volleyball are synonymous, have been from the beginning, though it’s taken time to earn the attention it deserves. John Cook has produced four national championship teams and has kept the Huskers in the national conversation with a consistency similar to that of Husker football during Tom Osborne’s 25 seasons.
Nebraska again will be in the Big Ten and national title chases. Jacob Padilla has written a team breakdown for our annual volleyball issue. All-American Kayla Caffey, among those gone from last season’s national runner-up, opted to transfer, a decision perhaps influenced, at least to some degree, by All-America middle blocker Kaitlyn Hord’s transfer to the Huskers from Penn State.
In any case, Jacob covers all the bases—to use a baseball metaphor.
Brandon Vogel previews the Big Ten, the nation’s top volleyball conference, with capsules on each team. And Erin Sorensen profiles Nicklin Hames, who could have transferred but chose to spend her final season at Nebraska, even though it requires a change of position. Read about her passion for the Huskers and her career goal, facilitated by Cook.
John Peterson provided portraits for Erin’s in-depth look at Hames.
Erin also has a Q&A with Cook about horses. Yes, horses. Check it out.
Though this is the volleyball issue, we haven’t ignored football. John and Eric Francis have provided photos from spring practice as Scott Frost’s fifth team prepares to play Northwestern in Dublin, Ireland, Aug. 27, officially college football’s “Week 0.” That I’ve taken this far in to mention the trip isn’t meant to diminish its importance. Brandon has written about football in Hot Reads and this month’s notebook.
He also has written in his column, The Oldest Part of Us, of the passing of former Nebraska football assistant and recruiter Jack Pierce—forever a Husker.
There’s plenty in this issue to absorb before the football game in Ireland and the start of the volleyball season with the Ameritas Classic at the Devaney Center, Aug. 26-27.
Again, this is not a question of volleyball school or football school. It’s both, together.
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.