Photo by Paul Bellinger
Nebraska Football

A Husker Game 85 Years in the Making

October 27, 2018
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Eileen Jensen sat in section 613, row 11, seat 8 on Saturday. She was decked out in a red Nebraska sweatshirt, red Nebraska jacket and a red ballcap with a silver bow on the back. The 85-year-old looked like a seasoned visitor of Memorial Stadium at first glance.

Yet Nebraska's matchup with Bethune-Cookman was actually Jensen's first visit to Memorial Stadium for a Huskers game day.

"It's always been something I wanted to do before my life ends," Jensen told Hail Varsity. "It's kind of my bucket list."

Paul Bellinger
Eileen Jensen at the Nebraska game with her son Brian.

Jensen is originally from Minneosta. She moved to Alliance, Nebraska, when she married her husband in 1961. While her husband wasn't much of a Husker fan, Jensen tuned in for the games on the radio and TV.

While Jensen would have loved to attend a game sooner, the opportunity to do so never came. That was until two weeks ago.

Knowing it was something Jensen wanted to do, her family set out to make it happen. Kacey Shaneyfelt — one of Jensen's granddaughters — was able to obtain extra tickets that allowed Jensen and her son Brian Jensen to sit in section 613 (with easy access to elevators). The rest of the family sat in section 39.

When the plans were set, Cynthia Horn gave her mother a call.

"We're going to the Nebraska game!"

Eileen could hardly believe it. She's been to Lincoln many times, helping Kacey when she was in college at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She travels often with her daughter and granddaughters on what they call "adventures."

"For Mom, a lot of it is that she travels a lot with Cynthia, Christa and Kacey on their adventures. This was another adventure," Brian said. "For 85, Mom really stays very energetic. She's always out and about and this option came along.

"This is just another expansion of her adventures."

Courtesy of Christa Horn
From L to R: Brian Jensen, Cynthia Horn, Kacey Shaneyfelt, Jason Shaneyfelt, Eileen Jensen, Andrew Fulk, Christa Horn

Once Eileen knew she was making the trip from Alliance to Lincoln for the weekend with her family, the anticipation grew. She was excited to spend the time with family, and excited to see Memorial Stadium in person for the first time.

Needless to say, the stadium and Husker Nation lived up to her expectations.

"It's fantastic, overwhelming because I've never seen anything this large and this exciting," Jensen said. "To see all the Big Red, to see how everyone responds to what's going on [is great]. I enjoyed the pregame activities, the band performance and the other performances at halftime. It's been wonderful."

Some of the more notable moments that Jensen enjoyed were the Wave –– "It's like waves on an ocean. To me, that's very neat and very exhilarating to see that." –– and the "Husker Power" chants.

However, there's one particular part she enjoyed the most.

"Oh, when a touchdown is made," Eileen said.

After an exhilerating day in Lincoln, Eileen and her family will spend a little more time together in Omaha before making the 368 mile trip home to Alliance. She has plenty at home to get back to as well. After spending her life as a nurse, Jensen retired at 78. She now volunteers at the local nursing homes, which includes calling Bingo on Mondays and reading stories on Friday.

For Eileen, it's more than just adventure. "It's a lifestyle," as she calls it. 

And when she heads to the nursing home on Friday, she'll have all new stories to tell. This time? About her very first visit to Memorial Stadium — sitting in section 613, row 11, seat 8 — for a Nebraska win over Bethune-Cookman.

"It's a neat experience and I'm very glad they did this and I was able to do this," Eileen said. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I [enjoyed] all the facets of it.

"It's like a fulfillment of something."

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