I am fortunate to have had an up-close look at Nebraska volleyball for most of my life, including as a player. What makes it so successful? In my opinion there are three simple things that set the Huskers apart from the rest. It’s short and sweet, but here is the blueprint:
1. Coaches and Staff: Whether it is watching video, planning for the next season, recruiting or working camps, the coaches and staff at Nebraska works seven days a week, 365 days a year on maintaining the heights this program has reached. Every family vacation we take, Coach John Cook is always working for at least part of it. He is never able to shut it off. There’s always a recruiting call to take or a Big Ten meeting to dial into. The same is true of everyone involved with the program, and it extends beyond just the coaches. From the strength coach to the team psychiatrist, one of Nebraska’s big advantages is the entire leadership team on hand to help young players achieve their potential. Everyone knows the role they’re being asked to play, but they do it with a unified vision. That makes a difference in the long run.
2. The Players: As one of the elite programs in the country, Nebraska is fortunate to have its pick of some of the best high school players in the country. But it takes more than just elite talent to be a Husker. The players that are recruited here are carefully selected. They’re not just great players, they also want to be here, want to work hard to play here and end up bleeding Husker red before they even arrive. Those that either won’t or can’t do those things usually don’t end up committing. Nebraska volleyball players are bought in to what the coaching staff believes and honored to be asked to carry on the program’s tradition. That all starts long before they arrive on campus.
3. The Fans: This is Nebraska’s seventh woman. Husker fans support Nebraska volleyball to the ends of the earth. You’ll see it in Kansas City this weekend, but Husker fans are with this program no matter if it’s a Final Four season or one that falls a little short of that. From preseason to postseason, you always know as a player that Nebraska fans are with you. It goes beyond just a home-court advantage. The booster club, locker sponsors, scrapbook families and countless other signs of support mean a lot to the players and coaches. Without the fans, I don’t think the program would be as successful as it has been. The Huskers most likely aren’t able to land some of the recruits who have made this program so strong without that support. Girls want to play here because of the amazing game-day atmosphere and girls who don’t play here say the highlight of their career was playing at Nebraska.
It has taken a lot of effort from a lot of people to build the Nebraska volleyball program into what it is and maintain it at an almost unparalleled level, but if you asked me to break it down to its simplest components, these three things are the building blocks.