It all started with a love for ice cream.
Megan Whittaker, a senior on the Nebraska women’s golf team, loves ice cream. So much so, she has a series on Instagram titled the “19th Scoop” where she tries ice cream—all vanilla so she can truly compare—and gives a review.
“I’m on a mission to find the best vanilla ice cream that this country has to offer,” she says before diving into her thoughts.
Friends, family and teammates of Whittaker’s are used to this by now. She’s always offering an ice cream run no matter where she is, whether that’s in Lincoln or on the road with the women’s golf team. Head coach Lisa Johnson is on board too, often accompanying Whittaker to the ice cream shops she finds around the country.
“She’s actually all for it. I think that’s her favorite thing,” Whittaker said. “She’s a great coach because yeah, we’re going to take golf seriously and we’re going to work really hard but when we’re at tournaments, we’re also going to have fun and get ice cream after the rounds.”
Whittaker’s love for ice cream caught the attention of friend and former teammate Kate Smith. The two were talking after the passing of name, image and likeness legislation when Smith offered up an idea to Whittaker. Why not take the love of ice cream and turn it into an NIL opportunity? More than that, why only focus on yourself when you can help even more athletes at Nebraska?
So Whittaker started emailing ice cream shops in Lincoln. (402) Creamery responded.
“We met for a few hours and kind of thought that this athlete thing of combining all these sports would be really fun and competitive since you know, all the athletes are super competitive,” Whittaker said about meeting with (402) Creamery’s ownership. “We just started rolling with it back in February and got everyone on board and divided up the teams and then, you know, got people in to go create the flavors.”
What started as an idea between Smith and Whittaker turned into a partnership between (402) Creamery and 18 Nebraska Athletics teams. The teams are divided into five groups, who all developed their own flavors.
The timing couldn’t have been better either. (402) Creamery has new seasonal flavors every month but hadn’t yet developed a plan for April. Whittaker’s email filled a gap (402) Creamery was already looking to fill.
“I brought that idea to our kitchen manager and I was like, ‘Hey, she wants to make a couple of flavors and have a competition and we just promote it,'” (402) Creamery owner Tyler Mannix said. “Our kitchen manager then brought up the idea that we didn’t have an April theme yet. What if we turned it into all of these flavors for the teams? That’s kind of where that came about.
“We’ve been trying to do more with athletes because I think it’s a really cool thing to promote the athletes. I think it’s good for them to kind of think about how to promote themselves and maybe get some free food, get paid for their image and name, whatever it is.”
Here are the teams and their flavors:
>> “Country Club” (GF, DF): Vanilla ice cream with carrot cake and praline pecans
Men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis, swimming and diving
>> “The Shooters”: Vanilla bean ice cream with graham cracker crunch and cherry swirl
Women’s basketball, soccer and rifle
>> “Rumble & Tumble”: Brownie ice cream with chocolate chip cookie dough and caramel swirl
Men’s and women’s gymnastics and wrestling
>> “Post Meet/Finish Line”: Cream cheese ice cream with chocolate ganache, pretzel gravel, and caramel chocolate swirl
Men’s and women’s track and field and men’s and women’s cross country
>> “The Strikes” (GF): Vanilla ice cream with white cake and strawberry swirl, whipped cream topping optional
Bowling, softball and baseball
The five flavors are in competition with one another, allowing guests of (402) Creamery to determine which flavor is the best. At the end of April, the ultimate winner will be crowned.
But the athletes participating are all winners in this deal no matter who ends up the champion. They all get a kick back from the proceeds thanks to NIL, but they’re also doing good with the competition too. (402) Creamery is hosting days throughout the month where portions of the proceeds also benefit the Teammates Mentoring Program. They most recently donated $1 of every sale to Teammates between April 12-14.
“I could have just done something alone, but I thought it’s be a lot more fun to get others involved and help make a difference too,” Whittaker said. “I also love that we get to help support a local Lincoln business.”
For Nebraska fans hoping to grab a scoop of the five flavors, you have until the end of April to stop into one of (402) Creamery’s two Lincoln locations. You can also follow along on Instagram for updates on the flavors, the competition and more.
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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.