Little Lincoln at Bully’s
Lanny Lemburg had the perfect answer when asked what makes Northern Nevadans for Nebraska so special.
“The people,” he said.
A large number of these people that make up the NN4N chapter gather every Saturday at Carson City’s Bully’s to cheer on their Nebraska Cornhusker football team. And many of the faithful were there again at 9 a.m. last Saturday to watch their Cornhuskers, ranked No. 17 at the time, host No. 5 Texas in Lincoln, Neb.
Lemburg said Bully’s provides the right atmosphere for the club. “Bully’s has been great for us,” he said.
The chapter was formed in 1999 after Lemburg, who’s called the “Father” of the group, attended a game watch with Northern Californians for Nebraska and it was decided that a group needed to be formed here.
There’s quite a few across the country,” said Gail Herstead, a past president of the group, about the chapters across the nation.
While there are about 200 Nebraska alumni in Northern Nevada, there are 150 members in NN4N. About half the members are alumni while the other half are supporters of Nebraska.
“If you’re from Nebraska you will be a Nebraska fan,” Herstead said. “It goes with the territory.”
Each year, the organization provides a $1,000 scholarship for students from Northern Nevada who attend Nebraska and the Nebraska Foundation matches that amount.
One of those scholarship recipients, Bishop Manogue graduate Gunnar Garms, now a junior, has been a team manager for the football team all three of his years at the school and is the head team manager this year. He can be seen standing on the sideline behind coach Bill Callahan during games.
“We’re very proud of our folks who are on scholarship,” Herstead said. Herstead also said Nebraska supporters are proud that the school’s student-athletes’ graduation rates consistently rank amoung the highest.
John Hasselquist, another past president, left at 6 a.m. from Hawthorne to make sure he was on time for Saturday’s game. The four-hour round trip is something that Hasselquist does every Saturday.
“A lot of camaraderie here,” Hasselquist said. “It’s much better than sitting at home and watching it.”
Hasselquist graduated from Nebraska in 1964 in business adminstration during the time when coach Bob Devaney was just beginning to put the Cornhuskers on the map. He also went through the ROTC programa and served for 23 years in the Air Force.
“It’s just a great place to be from,” said Hasselquist about Nebraska. “Good people, hard working folks. They’re all very supportive of the University of Nebraska.”
The consensus of the NN4N member was Callahan can restore the program’s glory days.
“I think they’re in the right direction,” Hasselquist said. “Another one or two years of good recruiting I think will help.”
“I think it will be fine,” Lemburg said. “It’s easy to be an armchair quarterback than a coach. We have to go with it.”
Lemburg began attending Nebraska in 1963 and was drafted into the Army in 1968 when he was one class away from graduation. He served for 13 1/2 months in Vietnam.
He returned to graduate in education in 1970. Lemburg, who lives on Johnson Lane north of Minden, is a case manager for the China Springs Youth Camp.
Lemburg remembers the first gathering where there was about 12 people. “It’s really grown since then,” he said.
“I think Nebraska fans they are so passionate. We live and die with each snap of the football, we really do. We cheer when they come back.”
Nebraska fans are also knowledgeable as Hasselquist demonstrated with his comments at halftime with Nebraska trailing Texas 16-7 and with just one yard rushing.
“Nebraska’s getting beat on the defensive line and offensive line,” Hasselquist said. “I think they had one yard rushing the whole first half. I think they need some rushing yards to set up the pass.”
Cornhusker fans also never give up. “It was typical to start a game behind,” said Herstead, talking about her era when she graduate in 1971 in journalism.
Herstead attended Nebraska in 1970 and 1971 when Devaney led the Cornhuskers to back-to-back national titles.
Herstead works as a senior proofreader for the Nevada Senate. “We have the ability to always come from behind and we’re optimistic,” she said.
She was almost prophetic as Nebraska came back to take a 20-19 lead. But inexplicably in a repeat of the Heidi Bowl just as Texas was lining up for a game-winning field goal, the ABC telecast made available through ESPN’s Game Plan package was cut off so that vital showdown between Eastern Michigan and Toledo could be shown.
Nebraska supporters at Bully’s were left to resort to finding out on their cell phones that Texas had kicked the game-winning field goal to take a 22-20 lead. The broadcast was restored, showing the end of the last play of the game, a desperation pass by Nebraska that fell incomplete to seal the Longhorns’ win.
The Cornhuskers, though, could receive another shot at Texas. If the two teams win out they will meet again in the Big 12 Championships game.
For more information, go to http://www.NN4N.com.