First off, let’s talk about that whiteboard drawing that became famous last night. If you don’t know which one I’m talking about, let me bring you up to speed:
It says “...To hell (with) the Huskers” and shows the Stanford tree, the dumbest mascot in college sports, don’t @ me, or do, I could use the followers, aiming a gun at Herbie (who’s holding a football for some reason) and flipping him off. Also, as Mr. Greg Mehochko, head of the Five Hearts Podcast here on CornNation pointed out, the tree has two right hands. I guess the Stanford volleyball players, managers, and coaches can’t be good at everything.
Now, I’m adding this to add credibility, not to say, “Look who my friends are!”, but I am married to a woman who played volleyball at UNK, Markeya Dubbs (Peteranetz). I have played on Sunday nights for years with Allison McNeal and Lindsey Licht (Jones) and am friends with Cecilia Hall. While I didn’t get to ask Cici about it, Alli, Lindsey, and Keya all said that the only big deal is the gun. And the fact that it made it out into the world.
I saw on Twitter someone called it a hair dryer. False. It’s a gun. That imagery is a bridge too far for me, a teacher. I think it’s definitely something that should have been thought out better. I really don’t have a problem with a middle finger extended. Keya (my wife), even mentioned that one of her teammates would make comments about the family of their opponents in the locker room. calling them ugly and other things that are maybe unexpected. In fact, Alli relayed that she regularly heard things that would’ve made the anthropomorphic tree on the white board blush. She didn’t tell me what they were nor did she say whether it was something said to the team or shared in a small group.
Nevertheless, my wife I had a discussion this afternoon after I got back to Lincoln from Minneapolis about whether or not the shock is at the content, the school, or the fact that it was female athletes. Frankly I hadn’t thought about it from that perspective. I do have a very strong opinion on it, but I won’t share it here.
Of course on the drive from Minneapolis, okay, my AirBNB was in St. Paul, I had a ton of time to reflect. The finality part of this will become clearer as I finish and I’m sorry if I’m rambling on, forgive me. Of course I thought a lot about the legacy that so many have talked about during this remarkable run for the Huskers that Maloney and Foecke will leave behind.
I feel like Kenzie Maloney hasn’t been given her due. Remember how good Justine Wong-Orantes was? Remember how a certain volleyball writer doubted, deeply, Maloney’s ability to replace her? Do you see how much crow she’s fed me through the last two seasons? She’s been phenomenal.
Libero may be the least understood and most overlooked position in volleyball. She’s on the court almost all the time. She regularly leads the team in digs. However, her teammates get those kills that make the casual sports fan gasp in a way that even the greatest dig usually doesn’t. Kenzie had the advantage in playing in front of 8,000 of the most knowledgeable volleyball fans on earth her entire collegiate career.
In the post-game press conference after the National Championship match, Coach Cook noted the unique ability that the two captains had to make the team’s total greater than the sum of its parts. The Huskers had to to replace Briana Holman, Kelly Hunter, and Annika Albrecht last year. Those are three huge contributors and great leaders. Nevermind having to replace an incredible setter in Hunter. From the get-go this season I thought the Huskers were over-rated for what they had (they were preseason AVCA #2 and picked to win the B1G). Save that lull in the middle of the season, this team always outplayed that.
The 2017 outplayed their ability. The “With Each Other For Each Other” mantra carried that team to incredible heights. This year’s team outplayed their experience. The only junior on the roster was Mari Kurkova, a Czech player who hardly saw the court. Brooke Smith, the third senior on the roster, transferred back to Nebraska after spending two years at Kansas State. There were so many freshman and sophomores playing in a talented, experienced B1G. They learned fast. They had to. It’s a huge part of how they ended up nearly becoming back-to-back National Champions.
So the legacy these two four-year contributors and senior captains leave behind is unparalleled in Lincoln. Four straight Final Fours. Two natties in three years. three National Championship matches in four years. Lauren Stivrins said Foecke and Maloney showed her how to lead. She has shown repeatedly this season that she is ready to take up the mantle of leadership and keep the program at the level we’ve come to expect in the last four years. Coach Cook sees it too. He mentioned how ready she is on Saturday night.
I have always tried to avoid first-person when writing for CornNation. I’ve tried as hard as I can to be as close to a professional journalist as I can be. Right now, though, I’m feeling fairly emotional. I’m feeling emotional because this is it for me. This piece is my last regular contribution for cornnation. I’m hoping for one more piece that I don’t want to tease in case I can’t pull it off.
Some of you who read my pieces regularly know that I have a son who turned one earlier this month. While I didn’t intend it to be so, my life has very much paralleled my dad’s, the incomparable Gene Peteranetz (I’m going to make sure he reads this). He chased passions before my little brother, the unbelievably talented Jay Peteranetz, and I were born. Before I was born he was pursuing a pilot’s license, worked as a reserve sheriff’s officer, and had his own janitorial business with what I understand was a fairly sizable clientele.
Before my birth, dad had put his pilot’s license on hold. He never picked it up again. Before my brother, 17 months my junior, was born, he had left the sheriff’s department. The only client I remember him having for his janitorial business was a veterinarian’s clinic with two different locations. He closed that business while I was in elementary school.
In, I think, 2012, Salt Creek and Stadium tweeted that Cornnation needed a volleyball writer. Nebraska’s volleyball fans are passionate, devoted, and knowledgeable. USA National Coach Karch Kiraly said as much. To me. I responded to that tweet from Salt Creek simply that I am a volleyball coach and I’d done some writing for another internet site. I’d be happy to help.
Because I responded to that tweet, I’ve now covered four straight final fours. I have twice had a seat on the floor when the volleyball team I’ve loved since watching the 1995 National Championship won another natty. I still get chills thinking about that feeling when the streamers fell in Omaha, or when the confetti fell in Kansas City (10 days after my son’s birth. My wife is best). I’ve interviewed Karch Kiraly, a man I watched play beach volleyball in the 80s. I’m pretty sure there’s still the SI Kids poster of him and Sinjin Smith somewhere at my parent’s house.
More than that, I’ve gotten to interact with all of you. Many of you look forward to reading what I have to say. I can’t put in to words the gratitude I have for that. Some of you disagree with me. I love that. Many of you share the passion for Husker Volleyball that I have. The people who read us here at CN are incredible. Thank you for supporting the even more incredible people who put this content out. You guys have shared some of our grief at times, and have laughed at and with us. Thank you.
We are working to ensure there is someone else who steps in to do what I’ve done. If you think you can do it and would like to, contact cornnation on Twitter. Yes, I coach this sport. Yes, I’ve lived it since 1998 when I started playing in high school in Colorado. That doesn’t make me any more qualified than anyone else. The incredible group of writers and contributors you enjoy on CN are all passionate about Husker sports and each person brings something unique and incredible.
This will be a shameless plug paragraph. Long ago I had a personal blog. I’m going to try and update it semi-regularly again. I’ll put the link in my Twitter bio. If you don’t follow me on Twitter, my username is in the byline. I guess it’s there whether you follow me or not. If you’re interested in following me, I’m forever grateful.