Tag Archive | nebraska basketball

Father Knows Best

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.

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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.'”

CLICK HERE TO WATCH KETV’S THROWBACK THURSDAY HUSKER FEATURE ON #9 CURTIS COTTON!

1991 huskers

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.

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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.

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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!)

Click here to watch Andy Kendeigh’s story with Kenzo and Curtis Cotton in May 2012!

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Photo courtesy JPC Photography

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.

Click here to watch KJ Cotton’s touchdown run during Papio-LV’s FIRST game of the season!

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.

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WEEK FIVE.. CLASS OF 1970 JERRY MURTAUGH!

NEXT WEEK.. CLASS OF 2003 DR. JUDD DAVIES!

Will To Succeed

Looking back at your life, what are your biggest accomplishments in your eyes?  Perhaps raising good children. Maybe setting new records in your field.  Possibly, experiencing things few others can say they’ve done.

I met a guy last week with a list of accomplishments a mile long.  Still, the theme I kept picking up on throughout our interview was how to impact OTHERS. Ironically, that self-awareness of how the rest of the world can be impacted by one person’s actions makes this one that much more inspiring…

forget the fact that Will Shields is a College Football Hall-of-Famer and recent NFL Hall-of-Fame inductee.

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Photo courtesy Nebraska Athletics

CLICK HERE TO WATCH KETV’S THROWBACK THURSDAY HUSKER FEATURE ON WILL SHIELDS!

Giving back, who knows when that lesson was instilled upon the young man born in Fort Riley, Kansas and raised in Lawton, Oklahoma.  Shields himself told me about a moment at Nebraska that greatly impacted him.

It was November 3, 1990, Senior Day at Memorial Stadium.  Shields was a sophomore, watching as his teammate Kenny Walker walked onto the field.

“It was dead silence and we waved for him because he was deaf.  We honored him,” said Shields.  “I wonder what that would’ve felt like, being him at that point.”

Many of the 76,000 fans inside the stadium held their arms above their heads and rotated their hands, the American Sign Language symbol for applause.  The moment made national news, inspired a book, and Shields says, taught him parts of the game of football were bigger than anything else.

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Photo courtesy Nebraska Athletics

By the time Shields was a senior, he was a dominant offensive lineman at Nebraska named a First Team All-American, a Lombardi Award semi-finalist and the 1992 Outland Trophy winner.  At the height of that college success, drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in 1993, Shields and his wife also started the Will To Succeed Foundation to help abused and neglected women and children.

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Shields was out in the community, trying to be a positive influence and also make a tangible difference in countless lives.  According to the Will To Succeed Foundation website, the organization has created 12 different programs in the last 12 years to financially and emotionally support abused families.  100,000 people have been touched by the foundation since it’s inception.

Kansas City Chiefs guard Will Shields (68) celebrates during the Sept. 8 2002 away game against the Cleveland Browns. The Chiefs won 40-39.

Photo courtesy the Kansas City Chiefs

On the field, Shields was a MACHINE.  #68 was a Pro Bowl player every year from 1995 to 2006, a Chiefs team record, also tying him with just two other players for the most Pro Bowls every played by one athlete.  SHIELDS NEVER MISSED A GAME in his entire career.  He started 231 STRAIGHT games, including playoff games.

This isn’t flag football.  Shields was PUMMELING huge guys for hours on end every, single, one of those games.  How does the human body, the human spirit, sustain that for 14 YEARS?!?

“They say I’m on the mental edge of being mental,” Shields laughs.  “I just loved the game, love the sport, loved my teammates and wanted to be there for them week in and week out.  It might have been one of those selfish things, I didn’t want anyone to play my spot.”

Aside from his charity work.. and his awe-inspiring career.. Shields is also a husband and father.

WILL TO SUCCEED, NFL HALL OF FAME

Photo courtesy the Will To Succeed Foundation

He seems to be doing a pretty darn good job at home, too.  Their daughter, Sanayika, played basketball for Drury University.  Son, Shavon, is one of the stars of the Nebraska basketball program.  Their family owns and operates a gym and sports facility in Overland Park, Kansas.

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Photo courtesy the Will To Succeed Foundation

Looking back, Shields says he know he would play professional football if given the opportunity, but I asked him if he ever dreamed of accomplished such amazing things in his life. For his work on the field, he’s been inducted into both the College Football and the NFL Hall of Fame.  For his impact off the field, the NFL named Shields the league’s Man Of The Year in 2003.

“You know, I just envisioned what the next day would hold, to work hard for that next day,” Shields answered.  “I never really thought about what it looked liked.”

Now, he says, he will try to live up the billing of all of the guys who came before him.  A great message for the young men in Lincoln following in Will Shields’ footsteps, playing every Saturday under the retired #75 on the wall of Memorial Stadium.

“Still some work in progress, but we’ve got some guys that are out there fighting pretty good.  I think there’s some things we have to work on,” said Shields.  “You want them to do well, you always do because you’re forever counted as a Husker.”

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Photo courtesy Nebraska Athletics; CLICK HERE to learn more about #75 Will Shields.

Click here to visit Will Shields’ official website.

Click here for more information about the Will To Succeed Foundation,

and click here to visit the foundation’s Facebook page.

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WEEK THREE.. CLASS OF 1971 JEFF KINNEY!

NEXT WEEK.. CLASS OF 1970 JERRY MURTAUGH!

For a full list of KETV’s Throwback Thursday Huskers, click on the Throwback Thursday index at the top of the page!