Many of you who are choosing to read this know me from my time at cornnation.com. Some of you reading this know nothing of that. That's okay. Let me bring you up to date.
Look. The last time I updated this blog, it was just over a week before I was to get married. If you bear with me, you'll hear a lot about married life on here. That's part of the plan, at least. Hell, I'll even tell you about being a parent. I've been truly blessed.
However, I wanted to mention more here than I mentioned in my final cornnation.com article. If I'd talked about all of it, it would have felt self-serving and that's not what I strove for in my role there. I'll talk a bit more about that in a bit. However, this blog is ENTIRELY SELF-SERVING and my weird self-esteem having ass is all about that.
When it comes to cornnation.com (CN going foward), it's important to note the CN is the Nebraska site of the larger sbnation.com network. SB stands for Sports Blog (as I understand it). Essentially, the sites are run by people who have real jobs but are deeply passionate about their teams. There are teams for all the major professional leagues and most of the best-known colleges. There's a NASCAR page.
Nevertheless, there are not a ton of professional journalists at any of the SBNation sites. The relationship with the sites and their teams vary greatly. CN has a great relationship with the Nebraska athletic department.
So how did I end up at CN? Accident. Both Keya and I followed a Twitter account that was essentially a road sign in Lincoln. We thought it was a well-known parody site for all things Nebraska. We thought it was a LOT better known than it actually is. We were wrong. But, the man behind that site is a brilliant and kind man.
So Keya was a grad student at UNL. We decided to go the Red-White Volleyball Scrimmage. It was the first match held at the Bob Devaney Sports Center in Lincoln. It was the great unveiling of the 8,000 seat home volleyball arena for the Huskers. We'd just gotten married and it was going to be awesome. While watching the match, Keya saw a tweet from Salt Creek and Stadium (the aforementioned Twitter account) that said he wrote for this website and Nebraska fans were voracious when it came to supporting volleyball. CN would love to have a volleyball writer.
Welp, I'd spent the previous football season writing for foreverahusker.com. My football writing was, at best, bad. I love football, but when it comes to breaking down Xs and Os, I am NOT the person you want. I coach volleyball. I played it in high school. I love the sport. I had no idea what it would require of me, but I believe my response was something like, "I coach and play volleyball, and I've written for the internet before. I'm interested."
Well, Jon Johnston, the big boss man at CN, reached out and we talked about what being a CN contributor would mean. I'd have a press pass. I'd get to go to every Husker home match. While I didn't realize it then, I'd get to ask questions of the coaches and players in press conferences.
Hell yeah I jumped on that opportunity. I was newly married, but we both kinda realized this was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. Plus, there'd be more times when we would both head to Husker matches. Win-win.
It ended up being more than I'd ever imagined. Yeah, I got to go to a ton of Husker matches. Yeah, I got inside and insight that I'd never dreamed of, but let me tell you something.
I could talk about the excitement of seeing myself on ESPN right behind Karch Kiraly and Beth Mowins on the National Championship telecast in 2015. That was neat. I got to interview and talk to people I'd never have imagined.
In 2016, I got a press pass to cover the NORCECA Olympic Qualifier that was played at Pinnacle Bank Arena here in Lincoln. I got to interview Karch Kiraly, USA National Team Head Coach.
In 2018, I was credentialed to cover the first round of the Volley Nations League, the FIVB's great new strategy to get national teams playing more often and in front of more people. That first round was played at Devaney here in Lincoln.
That's awesome, but I get chills every time I think or talk about the fact that twice, I got to cover Nebraska National Championships.
Now, when we found out that the NORCECA qualifier was going to be in Lincoln, it was about the same time that Nebraska made the Final Four in Omaha in 2015. I was advised to try to get credentialed for both. I was also told that the NORCECA credentials would be easy, but the NCAA credentials would be much less likely. Alright, I thought, I might as well.
I got the NORCECA credentials almost immediately. It turns out that because the match was in Nebraska, the local USAVolleyball region was mostly in charge. I didn't lessen my excitement, but it was still awesome and unbelievable to me, a teacher and local high school and club coach.
The next day I got the email that my credential request for the Final Four had been approved. I was beside myself. I had been told it was a million-to-one longshot and here I was, with credentials. Again, a fourth grade teacher and volleyball coach with NO JOURNALISM TRAINING was going to be covering the biggest weekend of the sport that had really brought me everything good in my life.
From there, I had the privilege of representing CN and covering four consecutive Final Fours and three out of four National Championship matches.
There is nothing, NOTHING, like the feeling of being courtside/on the sideline when your favorite team reaches the pinnacle of their sport. As I mentioned, I still get chills even thinking about it, let alone describing it to people.
When Nebraska won the natty in 2015 and the streamers fell from the CenturyLink Center (Now CHI Health Center) ceiling, I actually didn't know how to respond. I'm pretty sure, buried on my twitter (@coach_ty6) page from that night, December 19, 2015, is the video of that night including match point.
I cannot appropriately convey in words what it's been like to live that moment twice. in 2017, it was in Kansas City at the Sprint Center less than ten days after my son was born. Let's just say it was different emotions than 2015, but no less strong.
All of that. All of the proceeding words were written to say this. The years I spent as a writer with CN were incredible. Yes, it felt burdensome from time to time when I was rushing from my own Dorchester volleyball practice to cover Husker volleyball, but I never lost track of the incredible privilege I had.
To even start to imagine that I'd get all I got from CN, even to the very last match at the Target Center in Minneapolis, I'd have told you you were crazy. I love volleyball. I love the Huskers, but to get to be part of the media contingent covering the team I've been following since 1995 was well beyond what I'd ever have imagined.
Thanks to my time at CN, I've made an unbelievable number of new friends I'd never have dreamed. CN team, thank you. Thank you for the support, the laughs, and the platform.
Any readers who've followed me here from CN, thank you. The comments on my last article were unbelievably moving. You made this humble guy from Colorado feel really, really important.
It's incredible what happens when you take a chance. Though my dad might not have done it intentionally, one of the most powerful messages I got from Gene Peteranetz was never be afraid to ask, and never be afraid to take an opportunity. CN was an unbelievable opportunity that I'll never forget and has made me a better coach and a more grateful man.
And, I should mention, that Jon Johnston is one of the kindest people I've ever had the pleasure to meet. Yes, he's obnoxious and yes, he can be a lot to handle sometimes, but he is so full of grace and kindness that I smile at every memory of the man.
Earlier I mentioned trying to maintain a semblance of professional journalism in my time with CN. I was often the subject of light ribbing about not wearing red to Husker matches. I always answered that I wanted to maintain the illusion of objectivity. The best counter I got was someone who asked who I covered, and to name the website I contributed to. I mean, that person was right, but I felt a certain obligation to CN's reputation.
Now that the Huskers have re-established themselves as a regular national contender, I hope that when the NCAA sees CN on credential apps, my contribution will help with the consideration.
I am still in awe of the things I was so fortunate to get to do as a contributor for CN. I built a following I had no idea about. I played some small part in helping people in Nebraska understand volleyball a little bit better.
I will forever be grateful for everything that was part of CN. Now that I've ended this entry, that sense of finality and loss I experienced on Sunday has returned. I will miss the people at CN, though they know how to reach me and that we've plenty of room for them here. I hope that I will get to see them again.
Since this entry is mostly about CN, I'll end it the same way I ended everyone of my CN articles.