Tag Archive | JOHN MCCORMICK

Supporting Red & Blue

Some weeks.. I just need a giant PAUSE button.  Those times when my to-do list just gets longer and longer.  Those nights when I’m lying awake, thinking of everything I need to get done the next day.

We have had one of the most exciting adventures of our careers in the last month here at KETV, moving into our new home at 7 Burlington Station.  Along with planning, boxing up desks, and rehearsals in our new space, we were also keeping up (or trying to) with day-to-day news operations.  YOWSA–I think I speak for all of us when I say we were READY to move in and get back to normal!!

I tell you all of this… because I did not give this week’s Throwback Thursday Husker his much-deserved blog post in association with his story.  However, HE is so busy, I’m guessing he’s got more important things he’s focused on.. like keeping Omaha safe, and recruiting a new generation of heroes to do the same.

barrios smiling

#44 Gregg Barrios, Nebraska Kicker, 1987-1990

Lieutenant Gregg Barrios is one of the highest ranking officers to serve with the Omaha Police Department.  He’s active in his church and community, and he’s the father of eight children.  Barrios is also known for the four years he played football for the Huskers.

“Some people, when they get my name, they’ll recognize it, or ‘are you related to that guy who used to kick for Nebraska?’  I get that once in a while,” Barrios told me recently.  “Probably the most avid Nebraska fans, they can remember that far back.”

CLICK HERE TO WATCH KETV’S THROWBACK THURSDAY FEATURE ON #44 LT. GREGG BARRIOS!

1888646_10202316937743225_1063941248_n

Barrios is a Nebraska guy, born and raised.  The Creighton Prep remembers listening to the Huskers as a kid, a boy with big dreams early on.

“Playing football in the backyard, listening to Lyell Bremser and all that, wishing that someday I could play for Nebraska,” said Barrios.  He still remembers his first game, one he got to suit up for, a privilege allowed to a few, select freshmen.

barrios 3

“I’m nervous, some hot shot California upperclassmen is like, ‘what are you nervous for? You’re not even gonna play.’  Some Nebraska guy’s like, ‘you don’t get it,'” said Barrios.  “I remember running on the field, it was a night game against Florida State.  And at the end of the game, I ended up getting to play.”

barrios 1

Barrios’ favorite game came the following year, when #2 Nebraska played #10 Texas A&M to kick off the 1988 college season.

“I found out the night before I’d be starting.  I was like ‘oh my gosh!'” said Barrios.  “I’m put into the game, had a really good game.  I kicked three field goals and there were three records for the Kickoff Classic, including longest field gal in a game.  Then, we won, of course.”

barrios 4

Off the field, Barrios’ was interested in law enforcement, a curiosity sparked by having a dad in the military and by a professor specializing in criminal justice.  He joined the Omaha Police Department in 1996.

“I started uniform patrol like everybody else did,” said Barrios.  “I also worked in the warrants unit, working in training, worked in investigations, and now in backgrounds and recruiting.  This department is one of the best in the Midwest, by far.  We have a lot to offer for candidates.”

Barrios says there are many parallels between being a Husker football player and being a police officer (or firefighter, as his friend across the street, Asst Fire Chief John McCormick told me last year! Click here to read more!)  We are living in post-Ferguson times when police officers nationwide are facing increased scrutiny; similarly, today’s 3-6 Huskers are criticized, insulted and coached from couches across Nebraska.

“There’s the whole expectation that we are role models in society and we need to live up to a certain standard,” said Barrios.  But the Lieutenant is also quick to point out moments like Officer Kerrie Orozco’s funeral procession, when thousands of people in the Omaha metro area lined streets in the rain to pay their respects to Orozco and law enforcement officials everywhere.  People have brought food to local precincts, have posted messages showing their support and have held countless fundraisers for not just Officer Orozco and her family, but for other officers when they need it.

“That’s what makes the job a really fulfilling job and rewarding,” said Barrios.  “For the right person, it’s that service mentality.  We get to go out, do a job and we get a lot in return for it.”

And no matter what Nebraska’s record is, Barrios wants today’s players to know fans will be on their side.  He’s one of them.

“I will stick with them no matter what,” said Barrios.  “No matter who the coach was the last few years, I try to be a fan the best I can.”

Tom-Osborne-1

Photo courtesy CoachTomOsborne.com

Barrios remembers seeing Coach Tom Osborne’s reaction when other programs around the country rolled through coaches and administration every few years.

“He was frustrated by that because he saw it’s difficult to build a program, to build up your recruits and instill your game plan and everything you’re going to do with a program,” said Barrios.  “I think over time, Nebraska will be back.  It’s just going to take the right fit, the right recruits, to put it all together.”

Barrios’ advice for the 2015 Huskers is the same he gave his son, ALSO a collegiate kicker. (Russell Barrios graduated from Omaha Gross and is currently playing football for the Colorado School of Mines.)

538ogkm2jl1z9nvj

“I always talked to him about something that kickers do, keep your head down, follow through,” said Barrios.  “That’s something about life.  Keep your head down, stay humble, keep focused on what you’re doing and follow through.  You make a commitment, you stick with it.”

Editor’s note… this advice works for working mommas as well as football players.  Deep breath.  Shut out the noise.  Head down and focus.  Follow through.

***

CLICK HERE for more information about becoming an officer with the Omaha Police Department!

***

LAST WEEK.. Class of 2008, Zach Potter!

THIS WEEK.. Class of 2003, Curt Tomasevicz!

Hail To The Chief

One of the coolest things about this Throwback Thursday Husker series we’ve been sharing this football season is seeing how many different paths these former players have taken since leaving Lincoln.  I’m not sure why I’m so surprised.  Think of the people in your graduating classes from high school and college and ask yourself, where are they now?  Of the 100+ players on the roster every season at Nebraska, there are bound to be any number of careers and futures these young men pursue.

Today’s featured Husker didn’t dream of or plan for the career he ended up in, but he calls it ‘great’, and has risen to one of the highest ranks in his department.

john mccormick

Assistant Fire Chief John McCormick (thanks to Nebraska Athletics for the photo!)

By our guess, there are seven or eight men on the Omaha Fire Department who played football at Nebraska.  Ironically, the highest ranking member of that small club has kept his time as ‘Captain’ a secret at work.

“Most don’t know,” McCormick told me in a recent interview.  “Most of the guys on the fire department weren’t even a twinkle in their dads’ eye when I played.”

CLICK HERE TO WATCH KETV’S THROWBACK THURSDAY SPECIAL ON JOHN MCCORMICK!

1987, John McCormick was in his senior season, his third year starting as Nebraska’s right guard.  That year, he was named Team Co-Captain, First Team All-American, First Team All-Big 8 and an Academic All-Big 8 player.  McCormick’s Huskers earned respect by playing some of the biggest names in football that season.

“Arizona State, UCLA, South Carolina, big power teams,” said McCormick.  “But all the hype was usually around Oklahoma.  That was always a big rivalry back then.”

87 nu ok

Screen grab from our friend Jake Jacobsen at HuskerTapes.com; watch his clips of the 1987 NU vs OK game here!

McCormick, an Omaha native and graduate of Gross High School, is still passionate about today’s Huskers.  His favorite: Nebraska’s star running back Ameer Abdullah.

“I think he’s a quality person, he has good character,” said McCormick.  “And he’s a very good running back.  I think he’s going to do well in his life.”

So has McCormick, who is now saving lives as an Omaha firefighter.  A quick search of the KETV archives shows McCormick was one of the first responders at Molotov cocktail fires, at 2-alarm house fires, at scenes where firefighters risked their own lives to save strangers.

January 20, 2014 was no exception.

international nutrition collapse

Then Battalion Chief John McCormick was one of the first firefighters to arrive at the International Nutrition plant minutes after the building collapsed, trapping workers inside.

 “We had to rely on training and on our experience throughout our career to do the best we could,” said McCormick.  “We were able to get a few people out.  Sad that we couldn’t get everybody out.”

Two men died that day.  Firefighters rescued at least nine others who were hurt, but survived.  I remember anchoring our coverage that day while reporters Kyle Gravlin and Amanda Crawford reported from the field, and none of us knew how many were trapped or lost inside.  We did know firefighters were inside, trying to find them, NOT knowing how stable the plant was or what could happen around them at any moment.

Just last month, seven of those firefighters were given Medals of Courage and/or Lifesaving Medals for their heroic efforts that day.  At the same ceremony, Battalion Chief John McCormick was promoted to Assistant Chief.

“I consider it to be a lot like football in that it’s a team sport,” said McCormick.  “It’s a team job.  You need to accomplish a lot by using other people.  The old cliché, you’re only as strong as your weakest link.”

And as the Huskers are hopefully gaining strength during this bye week, preparing for new Nebraska rival Wisconsin, McCormick offers this advice.

“This is such an important part of their life, but it’s only a short part of their life,” said McCormick, now a married father of eight in addition to his duties with the fire department.  “Play hard, practice hard, prepare well and leave everything out on the field.”

To read more about #61 John McCormick, check out his bio with Nebraska Athletics!

***

Click here to Throwback to the Class of 2003, Jammal Lord!

Next week’s Throwback Thursday Husker.. the Class of 2003, Brett Lindstrom!