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On Tunnel Walks, History and Setting an Example: Huskers React to Memorial Stadium Match Announcement

February 24, 2023

Rumors about a volleyball match in Memorial Stadium have been swirling for some time, but the Huskers themselves didn’t find out that rumor was going to become reality until Thursday when Coach John Cook shared the news with the team.

Nebraska will face Omaha in an outdoor match at Memorial Stadium on Wednesday, Aug. 30, part of “Volleyball Day in Nebraska.”

“They were a little bit in shock because I think they thought it was kidding them, to be honest with you. And then they were just like ‘Coach, this is really cool.’ When was last time we had something like this? It’s kind of overwhelming in a way, it’s hard to visualize it because it’s never happened. So, so we’ll work through that, and it’s a good thing we play beach so we’re used to playing outdoors.”

Sophomore-to-be middle blocker — and Waverly product — Bekka Allick admitted she didn’t believe Cook at first, but once he made it clear he was being serious, she went crazy and was louder than anyone else.

Juniors-to-be Lindsay Krause and Lexi Rodriguez, on the other hand, already knew it was happening. They participated in the hype video Husker Vision put together to announce the news on Friday, the shoot for which took place on Tuesday.

“Being a part of it was so cool, getting to see the shots that they were taking of us and seeing it just all come together,” Krause said. “When you’re filming something, you’re like ‘I can’t really see the vision,’ especially when you’re not like those kinds of people that are a part of Husker Vision. But then seeing the video that was posted, I actually saw it right after my beach match earlier today and it was insane. I get chills every time I watch it; I know it’s coming and I still get chills watching it. So it was so amazing.”

Krause and Rodriguez got to preview the experience that the entire team will have when the Huskers take the field at Memorial Stadium in August — the famed Tunnel Walk. Nebraska plans to go all out to make the experience special for the players and fans.

“I cry every Tunnel Walk when I’m on the field,” Cook said. “To me, this will be huge. That was one of the things that when they said ‘Hey, we can do fireworks, Tunnel Walk, fly-over.’ I’m like ‘For volleyball? This would be unreal.’ So given that game day experience for volleyball, for me personally and our team will mean a lot. It’s just going to be really cool.” 

Allick said she’s attended a couple of football games in the stands with her mom, and she’s looking forward to participating in the Tunnel Walk as much as anything else.

“The fact that I’m going to be in Memorial Stadium, I get to walk the Tunnel Walk — that’s the most exciting part, honestly,” Allick said. “I’m going to feel so cool. You see all the hype videos that the boys get and we get to hit the horseshoe. It’s just really cool, like it’s two worlds just colliding. We’ve always been coexisting, but it almost feels like we’re now meshing together and it’s just really cool.”

Krause shared a similar sentiment.

“It’s super cool because I think we have something similar when it comes to volleyball when we run out of our locker room for warm ups, but it’s definitely not of the same magnitude, especially with the amount of people that they have there and the classic Tunnel Walk song that they have,” Krause said. “So just like hearing that over us and that video walking through, it was a surreal experience just to see it and not even to experience it yet, but just to see the possibility of it.”

The Memorial Stadium match also comes in the wake of the 50th anniversary of Title IX and in the lead up to Memorial Stadium’s 100th birthday. Allick said playing in front of so many fans, especially the young girls in the crowd that look up to her and her teammates, will make the experience that much more special.

“That’s been the biggest thing, and on top of that they mentioned how it’s going to be like 100 years of Memorial Stadium just being around, and I was like, ‘I can’t believe I get to be a part of this,’” Allick said. “I just got to the university and I honestly don’t feel worthy to be a part of history in that way and a part of such a great program. And so to have all like this hard work that you put in when you’re young and then come play for your dream school and then have all these other things, I’m really starting to understand — or at least I thought I did, but now I am — about what it means to play for Nebraska volleyball.”

Krause said she’s excited that playing in Memorial Stadium will provide so many fans who normally can’t get tickets at the sold-out Devaney Center an opportunity to see the Huskers play in person, calling it “super special.”

“Especially not even just Nebraska fans that don’t necessarily always get to go to games, but just the idea of we’re so fortunate to be a part of it,” Krause said. “There are going to be so many fans around the country that just want to be able to say that they’re a part of it that want to, in the future, be able to say that they were at that game. So I feel like that incentive is going to make people want to pack the stadium even more, just to talk about the history of this happening and us as this 2023 team being able to say that we were a part of it and we played in this game, but the amount of people that are going to be able to say ‘I was at that game,’ that is crazy.”

Cook was initially hesitant when Athletic Director Trev Alberts bought the idea to him, but Alberts sold him on it and university president issued challenge to the fane base to sell out the 90,000-seat stadium. Alberts said he wants fans to set the bar of attendance so high that no other program will even attempt to top what the Huskers and Mavericks draw in August. Allick said the Nebraska fan base is up to the challenge.

“They’ve got a right amount of crazy,” Allick said. “I think it doesn’t take normal, chill fans to want to do this nor to want to fill a stadium like this. It takes that next level of just passion, almost obsession, and just love for the game and to see their athletes do well and just want to be there for them like a family. That’s really what it is: this is family. It takes a certain amount of crazy for fans to do this.”

Both players expressed gratitude for the opportunity to push the sport of volleyball forward and put women’s sports in general on a pedestal. Krause called it “surreal.”

“You can ask my teammates, I’m always someone that’s really striving for equality when it comes to stuff like that and I’m never one that can be quiet about it,” Krause said. “And so being able to have these experiences and being able to say we can no longer make excuses for why we’re not doing it. Being able say we’ve been a part of it this whole time and being able to use my experiences and not let things stay stagnant and continue to grow, I’m really excited about that.”

“You can’t help but say ‘thank you,’ and you feel like no matter how many times you say thank you, it’ll never be enough,” Allick added. “It’s just a really big honor. That’s just honestly as much as I can say: it’s a huge honor.”

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