At an Uplifting Athletes Road Race, Jack Hoffman runs with Givens Price.
By Randy York
We all despise that overused five-word expression friends and family seem to use all the time … you had to be there. So please pardon me when I tell you that you had to be there Monday morning to hear Givens Price address the entire Nebraska Athletic Department staff with a speech he wrote himself, communicated clearly, and ended with six words that will never go out of style in Lincoln or anywhere else in this state – There is No Place Like Nebraska! I’m leveraging Givens’ use of that expression and offering up this official Husker athletic blog space for an addendum. It ties the collective mindset of Price’s audience to the impact he had on the third floor of Memorial Stadium Monday morning: There is No One like Nebraska’s Given Price. I apologize for saying it, but you had to be there to know how Price’s carefully selected words resonated with everyone in the room.
Peg Slagle, who coordinates 120 workers that support 101 full-scale suites inside Memorial Stadium, was the first to stand up and applaud Givens’ speech. Within seconds, every athletic department employee joined a standing ovation to thank a student-athlete whose main goal was to thank everyone in the room. Win-win doesn’t begin to describe the essence of a person providing the message for an audience that could not have been more appreciative. “Givens hit the ball out of the park, and that ball is still flying,” Nebraska Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst told Dennis Leblanc and Keith Zimmer, who made a joint recommendation that Price be a keynote speaker at the annual departmental kickoff meeting.
Barney Cotton, right, helped present Givens Price his first varsity letter.
Committed to Nebraska at 15, Launched Career at 16
Leblanc, Nebraska’s longtime senior associate athletic director for academics, and Zimmer, NU’s longtime associate athletic director for life skills, thought Price was the “perfectly unique choice” to speak because the 6-foot-4, 310-pound junior offensive guard from Houston committed to Nebraska when he was only 15 years old. He began his freshman season at NU when he was 16 and has been influenced by everything that he’s needed to develop academically, athletically, and personally. An accounting/management major, Price turned down scholarships from Baylor and Rice to accept the Huskers’ offer. He has relished Nebraska’s overall support system in every phase and facet of his growth.
“We often hear the phrase ‘There is NO place like Nebraska,’” Price told his audience while representing 600-plus student-athletes who benefit from overall staff support. “When I came on my first recruiting visit, that phrase was everywhere I looked. In my opinion, so many things separate Nebraska from other places … the people, the commitment to the student-athlete, the pride the staff displays in every job that supports us, the student-athletes, the teamwork, and the willingness to help and serve every student-athlete here.”
Givens Price (78) competes at right tackle with fellow junior Zac Sterup.
Primary Goal: Mature in All Aspects, Become a Man
When he arrived in Lincoln, Price admitted he was nervous, anxious, even scared. “Because I was so much younger than normal, the challenges I was facing – both academically and athletically – were greater than any obstacle I’d ever seen in my life,” he told his audience. “I knew immediately that I needed to mature in all aspects of my life, so I could become a man. I’ve been a Husker since the summer of 2011. I could not be more pleased with the choice I made and where I am today because so many of you in this room have helped me.
“My message to all of you is very simple,” Price said. “Thank you … thank you for what each and every one of you do each and every day. You may not think or believe it, but all of you matter and display an important role in how we, as student-athletes, feel about our overall college experience. There are so many things that I appreciate about all of you. You are kind, hardworking, respectful, outgoing, committed, and patient. So many of you have dedicated the better part of your life to serving us. Now that our new academic year is underway and our new athletic seasons have begun, please know that we are watching you and we are modeling you by your consistent, everyday actions. You are helping us get to where we want to be as a well-balanced student-athlete. On behalf of all 600-plus student-athletes here, thank you for what all of you do for us. It was true when I made my first visit here, and it’s still true now … there really is no place like Nebraska.”
Price may or may not start Saturday night when Nebraska plays at Fresno State, but he will play. Because he had never played football until he was a freshman in high school, Price is still learning and trying to soak up every bit of competitive wisdom he can from teammates, coaches, and peers. He’s into nutrition and devoted to strength and conditioning and embraces the balance between student and athlete. His mother, Edithmary Price, is proud to have her son learning and maturing at Nebraska, where he makes sure he volunteers his time with Husker Heroes, Husker Hotline, Uplifting Athletes, and Make-a-Wish. He enjoys reaching out to visit local area hospitals. An Academic All-Big Ten Conference honoree in 2012 and 2013 after redshirting in 2011, Price is making daily strides in all aspects of his life and continues to be a pivotal part of Nebraska’s offensive line.
Husker junior Givens Price talks with a Lincoln businessman at a Career Fair.
Husker Swimmer: Price is a Major Role Model
Kelly Dunn, a senior member of the Husker women’s swimming and diving team, is from Chicago. She’s also been a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and won a student-athlete Hero Leadership Award. Price was one of the first people she met when they arrived as freshmen in the same year. “We became fast friends and went on to have several classes together in the last three years,” Dunn told me Thursday. “The thing that sets Givens apart from a lot of people you meet in college is that he’s not fazed by the temporary things. I’ve always admired him for his constant ability to persevere through hard times with the knowledge that his time at Nebraska is about so much more than athletics.
“Is he dedicated to the team?” Dunn said. “Absolutely! He’s one of the most dedicated people I know. But what’s really remarkable to me is that he came here at such a young age. Even when we were freshmen together and he was just 16, he always understood that hard work and responsibility are two of the most important qualities you can maintain in all aspects of your life. That’s a lesson that many people learn late in life and a lesson that some never learn at all. Givens understood that when he was only 16. As a friend and getting to watch him grow into the respectable, hard-working man he is today, I can’t wait to see him continue his journey as he strives to reach his full potential. He’s one of a kind. There’s no one more deserving than he is.”
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