ASHLAND – The biggest show in the state made a stop in Ashland last week.
On Thursday, Scott Frost and a host of other University of Nebraska coaches toured three cities in the state that were affected by the March flood during what they called the Big Red Blitz coaches tour.
Frost joined Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos, new head men’s basketball coach Fred Hoiberg, softball coach Rhonda Revelle, wrestling coach Mark Manning and women’s basketball coach Amy Williams on a bus that took them from Lincoln to Norfolk for their first stop. The only major coach missing was Darin Erstad, the Husker baseball coach who was a little busy preparing his team for the NCAA tournament.
After a second stop in Fremont, the day concluded at Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum near Ashland, where about 1,000 people gathered to hear from and cheer for the Huskers.
“This is a great way to get out and see the fans,” said Hoiberg, who was hired in late March to lead the men’s basketball program.
Hoiberg was born in Lincoln but grew up in Iowa. He played for Iowa State before heading to the NBA. After 10 years as a player, he coached the Chicago Bulls and at his alma mater, Iowa State.
Thursday was Hoiberg’s first visit to SAC museum, which he called a highlight of the three-city tour.
For Frost, being in the Ashland area is like coming home. His parents, Carol and Larry Frost, moved their family 15 times when Scott Frost was growing up, he said. During this time, his grandfather, Tom Frost, owned a lot at a lake development north of Ashland that he bought in 1976.
“The only place that stayed consistent in my whole life is Thomas Lakes,” Scott Frost said. “It’ll always be home to me.”
Just a few miles away from his “home,” Frost and the rest of the coaches held court at SAC Museum, with former Husker football player Brenden Stai serving as the emcee.
Moos said all of Husker nation, including the athletes and coaches and fans, are aware of the impact the floods had on much of Nebraska.
“We wanted to get out and see those areas to make sure those people know we care about them,” he said.
The tour was also a chance to talk about past seasons and look to the future. Moos said they aren’t bragging, but they also aren’t trying to keep up with the Joneses.
“This is Nebraska. We are the Joneses,” he said.
Frost said the fans are a big part of the Husker experience, even helping sway recruits to sign with Nebraska, as long as they don’t go too far.
“Sometimes you guys are a little too involved,” he said with a smile, which was met with laughter from the audience.
All of the coaches said culture is a major part of Husker nation. Williams said culture is dynamic and ever-changing, so they continue to work on it in the women’s basketball program. But it all boils down to each individual.
“If you want to have a good team, be a great teammate,” she said.
Manning said the Nebraska athletic culture also includes toughness, something the Huskers share with the people of Nebraska.
“There’s a sign in our locker room that says ‘You can’t wrestle hard and practice soft’,” said the wrestling coach.
Revelle said athletes understand that playing for any Husker team means they’re playing for more than themselves; they’re also playing for the university, the fans and the entire state.
“You’re playing for something bigger than you,” she said.
Moos said all of the Husker athletes build culture by honoring the past, living the present and creating the future.
“If we concentrate on that and live it, culture will be established,” he said.