The 7,000-plus fans who filled the Devaney Center on Friday afternoon for Nebraska’s match against High Point were treated to a different visual experience than normal.
The Huskers debuted their new alternate court featuring a heavy dose of black around the court.
— Husker Volleyball (@Huskervball) September 12, 2019
In May of 2018 when Nebraska was preparing to get a new Taraflex court, the team put out a poll asking fans to vote for one of three options. The black court won the poll. However, when the Huskers opened the 2018 season, a more traditional red court was lining the floor of the Devaney Center.
“When our administration found out that’s what we wanted to go with, the administration said no, our color’s red, so we’re not sure we can go there,” Coach John Cook said after Friday afternoon’s match. “So we ended up getting a red court.”
Cook isn’t one to take no for an answer, however, nor does he like letting Nebraska fans down.
“If there’s something I think is important and I listen to our fans, so we went back and came up with the idea of what if we have an alternate court?” Cook said. “Everybody said ‘Great idea.’ and then I went to Bill Moos and asked him, ‘Hey, we want to do this alternate court thing; will you support it?’ Of course, this is the dude that came from Oregon where they’ve got Alternate Monday, Alternate Thursday, alternate this, 108 designs on uniforms or something. He was all for it.”
With the administration’s blessing, Cook went back to Gerflor USA, the company that makes the Taraflex courts, and made something happen.
“We negotiated a deal to get pretty much two courts for the price of one because they know they’re going to get a lot of hype out of that. It all worked out really good.”
The Huskers teased the reveal on Twitter Wednesday before giving the fans their first look on Thursday, and they broke the court in during Friday’s matches. Cook said they’ve had the court back in storage since the spring.
“We just wanted to wait until this year to unveil it,” Cook said. “It’s an alternate court; we’ll use it for certain situations but it won’t be our permanent court. But it is beautiful, it looks great, and the most important thing is I didn’t want that survey to go to waste and our fans, they picked it. I felt good today that we listened to them and were able to deliver. I think that’s pretty cool. It does really pop, but our colors were red so we’ll save it for special times.”
Fortunately for the court’s future, the Huskers took care of business and the players said they enjoyed it.
“I think it’s cool,” junior outside hitter Lexi Sun said. “I loved it. I think that Coach gets a little nervous when we mix things up sometimes, but I think it was awesome. It looked cool out there.”
Cook said the court was the envy of the college volleyball world based on the responses he’s gotten so far.
“It’s fun and what other volleyball team has an alternate court?” Cook said. “I’ve already had a bunch of coaches text me like ‘That thing looks so cool. How did you do it?’ It creates a buzz and an interest and that’s what we want.”
Cook didn’t get much push back on the alternate idea, although it hasn't always been that way. He said they had to fight for a lot in the past. That’s not the case with the current administration and with the state of the volleyball program, however.
“I just think this was kind of a no-brainer,” Cook said. “We’re all about the fan experience. I don’t know how many of the things we can do to create a better fan experience, but that’s one of the things we can do and again it creates a buzz. It’s something different. The fact that it didn’t really cost us more money means it was kind of a no-brainer on doing it. I think that’s where you want administrators like Bill that are open to those ideas instead of just going ‘Oh, this is how we’ve always done it.’ We’ll come up with ideas and it’s cool when they say ‘Let’s find a way to make it happen.’ And we did.”
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.