Tag Archive | andy janovich

Doctor’s Orders

It’s human nature.  When something’s wrong, you instinctively want to fix it.

Nebraska Football is 2-4 for the first time since Eisenhower was President. (My thanks to hilarious columnist Brad Dickson for that bit of trivia..)  Saturday night, I was in the audience at the Miss Omaha/Miss Douglas County pageant and my friend Grady nudged me, showed me the score and whispered ‘WHY CAN’T WE FINISH A GAME?!?!’

When we lost over the final play against BYU, it was heartbreaking.  When we lost in OT against Miami, it was bad dejavu.  When we lost in the final moments against Illinois, it was annoying.  HOW DID IT HAPPEN AGAIN against Wisconsin?

If I’m frustrated as a fan, I CAN ONLY IMAGINE how guys like Tommy Armstrong and Coach Riley feel.  Maybe that’s why at least one former player isn’t judging, isn’t making assumptions.. he’s just giving his full support.

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#4 Judd Davies, Nebraska Fullback 1999-2003

“A lot of things go into having a new staff, I’m definitely sympathetic to that,” Davies told KETV in a recent interview. “It’s easy to become frustrated and upset once you start having difficult games, but they’ve played extremely well, they’ve played close games, they’ve only lost by a number of points total between wins and losses.”

A glass half-full statement from a guy who’s been a longtime model of composure and maturity.  In the early 2000’s, Judd Davies was the hometown guy who delivered in Lincoln on and off the field.  He headed to Nebraska along with several other Millard North Mustangs (including Pat Ricketts and Eric Crouch), and took the Huskers to the 2001 national championship game.

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CLICK HERE TO WATCH KETV’S THROWBACK THURSDAY FEATURE ON #4 JUDD DAVIES!

As I wrote about last season (click here to read Brothers in Blue) I first met Davies through my longtime friend Jeff Nathan back when we were in college.  (Part of the same group, I should mention, so excited about Judd’s Rose Bowl touchdown they fell on an elderly woman seated in front of them in the stadium.)  I also had Davies in a speech class at UNL, where he presented an informative speech on how to run the option, and I found out that even at 245+ pounds of sheer muscle he was terrified of the movie Candyman. (Quoting Judd, “don’t even joke about that.”)

Back in those days, Judd Davies was a studious guy in the classroom, focused on his job as a student and his faith.  (Quick story, when KETV photojournalist Tyler White arrived for our interview, Davies still remembered him as a fellow member of Omaha’s Christ Community Church many years ago.)  Family and his close circle friends has also been priority for Davies, who married his longtime girlfriend, Tracy, the summer before his senior year at Nebraska.  It was a busy time for the Nebraska Team Captain, an Academic All-American who also earned the 2002 Brook Berringer Citizenship Award for the time he spent volunteering in his community and across the state.

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Davies taking part in a Special Olympics event, photo courtesy Nebraska Athletics.

12 years out, most of the stats, touchdowns and awards are a blur to Davies

“It’s really the relationships you remember as you get a little further out from it,” said Davies.  “You remember the coaches, the guys you played the same position with because you were with those guys every single day.”

And Davies remembers his awareness that someday, his football days would come to an end.  He was focused on his next step, medicine.

“I love it.  I always wanted to do something with surgery that I thought I would be able to treat conditions, to cure conditions,” said Davies.

After graduating from Nebraska, Davies studied at Vanderbilt before returning to Omaha to open his own private practice and work with Nebraska Medicine.  Dr. Judson Davies is now a respected urologist and surgeon across the Omaha area and beyond.

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“Sometimes I sit down, people will look at me, look at my name on my jacket, then they’ll look back up and me and say ‘I swear, I remember you from somewhere,” said Davies.  But he’s quick to say that football connection doesn’t give him any special insight into today’s team or coaches.  When we first talked several weeks ago, hopes for the season were high with a new program, unknown to most Nebraska fans. When we circled back to Davies just last week, his opinions about the team were the same, even with a losing record.

“It’s about the process.  Don’t worry about where they’re at now.  You want to see improvement and the season is still very early,” said Davies.  “There’s a lot of room for them to grow and improve and hopefully they will.”

And Davies is excited about the guy playing his old spot, Andy Janovich, another Nebraska native just like Davies (Janovich is from Gretna.)

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Photo courtesy Nebraska Athletics

“I think he’s doing a great job!” said Davies.  “If he would’ve played in a different era, in my era, he probably would’ve started ahead of me.  So I’m glad he wasn’t there when I was there or I might not have ever played!”

To players EVERYWHERE, Huskers, Mustangs and everyone else, this doctor has some solid advice.

“GO TO CLASS!” said Davies, looking right into the camera before laughing.  “But in all honesty, I’d say GO TO CLASS, GET A DEGREE.”

As for the 2015 Huskers, there may not be any universal fix.  Dr. Davies suggested treatment and prescription for success.. to learn from the experience itself.

“Those lessons you learn day in and day out, how to handle adversity, how to deal with poor performance and improvement and critical feedback, those are extremely valuable,” said Davies.  “You’re going to have lots of ups and downs in your career, business, personal and otherwise, but having the discipline to go through what they’ve gone through, you can’t duplicate that or replicate that anywhere else.”

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Click here to read more about #4 Judd Davies via his bio from Nebraska Athletics.

Click here to visit Dr. Judson Davies’ website to learn more about his work with The Urology Center, PC.

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Note from the author:

THANK YOU to Dr. Davies, his staff, and Nebraska Medicine (especially Jenny Nowatzke) for facilitating TWO interviews due to technical difficulties on our end. Your patience and time are MUCH appreciated!

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WEEK SIX.. CLASS OF 1991 OFC. CURTIS COTTON!

NEXT WEEK.. CLASS OF 1990 LT. GREGG BARRIOS!

More Than Words

“Actions speak louder than words.”

A classic quote, teaching all of us to LIVE what we preach, follow through on what we promise and that we will send a message by what we DO, not just by what we say.

This week’s Throwback Thursday Husker is basically stamping that statement all over Nebraska and beyond.  What’s more, you have likely seen the impact of his efforts without knowing who was behind the work.

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Meet CJ Zimmerer, Nebraska Fullback, Class of 2013. (Photo courtesy of Nebraska Athletics.)

Zimmerer was the mind behind one of the most touching moments in Nebraska Football history, and is now working to make life better for kids throughout Sarpy County.  Despite his efforts, his picture’s not flashed around and his name doesn’t usually make the headlines.

Zimmerer wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I don’t need any praise for anything,” Zimmerer told me in a recent interview.

You be the judge.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH KETV’S HUSKER THROWBACK THURSDAY FEATURE ON #31 CJ ZIMMERER!

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Photo courtesy of CJ Zimmerer and Huskers.com.. love the cameo from KETV photojournalist, Tyler White on the left!

Remember this amazing moment?  Jack Hoffman, the little guy faced with a BIG fight against pediatric brain cancer, running for a touchdown at the 2013 Spring Game in front of 69,000 fans (many, including me, in tears!)  The video, posted on YouTube, has been viewed more than 8.6 MILLION times and won an ESPY Award for Best Moment.  Take another look and you’ll see #31 CJ Zimmerer alongside Jack the entire time, getting him ready, clearing his way to the end zone, and finally lifting up young Jack when he scores.  This moment was all Zimmerer’s idea, and became what he calls ‘a whirlwind’.

“Coaches are calling me late at night, we’re calling other players, planning the whole thing, and it just turned into a huge thing,” said Zimmerer.  “That’s what it’s all about.”

With worldwide attention from that incredible moment, the Team Jack Foundation raised more than a million dollars, with the goal of reaching $2 million by the end of this year.  Jack caught the attention of ESPN, President Obama, and some of the biggest names in sports.  Zimmerer was honored with the 2014 Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Award, the FBI’s Hometown Heroes Award in 2013, and one of only 11 college football players named to the American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team.

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Most importantly, MORE AND MORE people are talking about the disease that has taken and impacted countless lives: pediatric brain cancer.

Zimmerer still wears his Team Jack bracelet on his right wrist.  On his left, he wears a Sammy’s Superheroes bracelet for awareness of all pediatric cancers, in honor of little Sammy Nahorny in Columbus.  And just as so many of us, touched by Jack Hoffman’s story, Zimmerer says he was heartbroken to hear Jack’s tumor had returned earlier this year.

“You wish you could trade places with him, but all you can do is pray, continue to raise awareness,” said Zimmerer.  “The guys in Lincoln are doing a great job carrying on that legacy, and you’ve just got to hope for the best.”

Zimmerer’s great connection with kids extends beyond Jack and Sammy.  Soon after graduating from Lincoln, Zimmerer became a Juvenile Probation Officer in Sarpy County.  He works with kids and teenagers who are in trouble with the law, hoping to get them back on the right track.

“Really trying to work with them and their families and providers here in the community to make constructive change in their lives,” said Zimmerer.  He told me once in awhile, a kid will look up in his office and see a picture of Zimmerer with his fiancé, taken while he played for the Huskers.  He smiles as he describes watching that realization that yes, he played Nebraska Football.

Zimmerer also has a shared bond with these kids; he’s a Gross High graduate and grew up in the same place they did.

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“I was very blessed to have great parents and I think that’s where it comes back to,” said Zimmerer.  “Just taking the time to find out how your kids’ day was, to getting them involved in sports, to being there at their events or plays or Academic Decathlon, whatever the case might be.  That constant support and structure, a lot of kids don’t get and it’s sad to see.”

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Zimmerer might give even more kids that support, as he’s considering coaching in the future.  Right now, he’s having a ‘weird’ time adjusting to his ‘armchair quarterback’ role this first year away from Memorial Stadium.

“I don’t know where to sit on the couch, or do I want to watch it at a bar or a restaurant,” said Zimmerer.  “It definitely has been weird.  You feel yourself coaching on the couch, ’cause you think you know everything but really, I probably don’t know anything, it’s all changed since I’ve left.”

Not everything; some of Zimmerer’s close friends are still putting in work on the field, including fullbacks Andy Janovich and Harrison Jordan.

“That’s the best thing, even the smaller schools like Andy [from Gretna] and I are from, guys don’t get as much recognition,” said Zimmerer.  “But there’s a lot of smaller town guys on the team and it’s great to see them doing well.  They just have that hard work attitude that some guys can’t seem to figure out.”

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To those players, Zimmerer says do everything now, don’t waste any time.  He looks back on his favorite moments on the field, like watching the snow fall among 100,000 fans, before he and his teammates returned a kick for a touchdown against Penn State.

“That’s what you dream about growing up. Going to big games like that and being in that situation,” said Zimmerer.  “Everything you do is important, on and off the field.  It’s never too early to realize that.”

Zimmerer continues to live that message; that everything we do is important.  And maybe THAT is the key to happiness for all of us.  Zimmerer told us, he’s enjoying every minute of his new job, in his hometown, planning for his wedding to fiancé Kim Wees next summer.

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Zimmerer said in our interview he doesn’t need praise for anything.  Again, I’ll let you decide for yourself, and I’ll leave you with another classic quote:

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”

To read more about #31 CJ Zimmerer check out his bio from Nebraska Athletics!

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Click here to Throwback to the Class of 1998, Jay Foreman!

Next weeks’ Throwback Thursday Husker.. the Class of 2003, Jammal Lord!