It’s no small thing to be a collegiate athlete. It takes hard work, focus, and to a certain extent, some degree of innate physical ability and talent. One of my favorite quotes from my Superstar Co-Anchor Rob McCartney: ‘You can’t coach tall!’
(Side note.. Rob is a HUGE basketball fan and actually tried out for the Nebraska Cornhuskers as a walk-on ‘back in the day’. Additional side note.. I missed the part of his story where he said he didn’t make the team and for awhile, just told people Rob played basketball for Nebraska. Small mistake.)
A La Vista dad recognized early on in two of his children that his boys were gifted. He knows what athleticism looks like.. because he saw it in his own reflection in the locker room at Memorial Stadium.
Curtis Cotton, now a father and Papillion Police officer, is also a proud member of the Class of 1991 with the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team.
“I get that a lot,” Cotton said, when I asked him recently about being recognized as a Husker. “‘I remember you!’ That’s the first thing they say as soon as I tell them, ‘hi, I’m Officer Cotton.'”
It’s hard to see in this blurry image, but when Nebraska played Oklahoma in 1991, it was downright MISERABLE. Fans throughout the stadium wore ponchos and rain gear, rain pooled all over the turf and every players’ breath was visible in the cold, fall air. Still, THIS, was Cotton’s favorite game as a Husker.
“[It was] my senior year when we won a share of the Big Eight title,” said Cotton. “It was at home against Oklahoma. It was so cold and wet that day, but I don’t remember it after we sealed that win. It was a great time.”
Check out this video of the game thanks to ArenaTeam on YouTube. Players lifted Coach Tom Osborne onto their shoulders and carried him into the sea of fans rushing the field. ABC broadcasters kept the final score graphic up over a shot of Husker fans climbing and shaking the goal posts, trying to bring it down.
What a cool thing to watch, even via a grainy YouTube video. Kick up the volume, and it’s enough to give any Husker fan chills.
While those days are no doubt special to Cotton, his adrenaline rushes these days stem from a different vantage point.
“I think I get more nervous when I’m about to watch my kids perform,” said Cotton. “I get the butterflies in my stomach, my heart rate rises!”
Kenzo Cotton and KJ Cotton have both become something of high school legends in the Papillion-La Vista area. Kenzo became an 8-time state track and field champion, claiming the 200M title all four years he competed.
He chose the University of Arkansas, and just months ago, earned a national championship as part of the 4X100M relay team. Kenzo’s ultimate goal is to make the US Olympic team. (Click here to follow Kenzo Cotton’s athletic career on Twitter!)
Kurtis ‘KJ’ Cotton is now a junior at Papillion-La Vista High School, also competing in track and field and playing on the varsity football team. #9 (yes, wearing his dad’s number), has already made several highlight reels for the Monarchs this season with his speed and athleticism. No word yet where he’s looking at for college, or if he intends to play college football like his dad.
Kenzo told us back in 2012 he wanted to be just like his dad. Curtis shared his parenting advice with us back then.
“I told him to try to stay humble,” he told KETV’s Andy Kendeigh. “Big dreams, that is what being young is all about. I remember those times when I dreamt the same way. Hopefully they can come true for him.”
Three years later, Curtis Cotton is not only thinking of the sons following in his footsteps, but of today’s Huskers in the midst of a 2-3 season.
“Keep fighting,” Cotton said. “[They] are going through a system change. They’re all trying to perform for their new coaches, if they are new coaches. They’re all trying to show they are worthy of being on the field. It’s difficult to watch when you know that they’re struggling and they’re giving the best that they can give out there on the field, but at the same time, you want to see them keep fighting through it. Man up, fight through it, get through it and don’t give up.”
Advice for anyone facing challenges, on or off the field. I guess what they say is true; father does know best.
NEXT WEEK.. CLASS OF 2003 DR. JUDD DAVIES!