Sirles: From Bobble Head to Student-Athlete

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Husker offensive lineman Jeremiah Sirles received his diploma Saturday from Donde Plowman, Dean of Nebraska’s College of Business Administration.

By Randy York

Jeremiah Sirles would be a model commencement speaker, but Nebraska’s second-team All-Big Ten offensive lineman settled for something he considers more intimately important and meaningful memorable. The 6-6, 310-pound Lakewood, Colorado, native who still dreams of winning a Big Ten and national football championship this fall, represented 37 Nebraska senior male graduates Saturday afternoon in an Athletic Department reception on the third floor of Memorial Stadium. In his short speech, Sirles, a Management major, covered the emotion, passion and sense of self worth Husker student-athletes feel when they reach the finish line of their academic and athletic journeys.

“I want to thank (Nebraska Senior Associate AD) Dennis Leblanc and everyone in Academics for allowing me to get up here and speak on behalf of the male athletes in the class of 2013,” Sirles said. “There are so many people that have helped me become the man that stands here today. My parents have supported me since I first put on a helmet and looked like one of those little bobble heads out there running around. Nebraska instilled a work ethic in me that truly showed me that I am a student before an athlete. I thank Coach (Bo) Pelini and his entire staff for giving me the great opportunity to come here and become a part of the Husker family, and I thank my teammates for making my experience here one that I will never forget, both on the field and off the field.

“Most of us here probably remember the long hot walks from Selleck Quad to workouts in the mornings, or the cold dark winter walks to workouts at 6 a.m., or the countless number of times we’ve made the walk from the parking lots to class and back just to wake up and repeat five days a week,” Sirles said, pointing out how every football player listened to fellow classmates talk about how tired they were in a 9:30 a.m. class. “I remember looking at them and thinking how I’ve been up for about four hours, just like every football player,” he said. “But we keep it to ourselves knowing that’s just what we do.”

They Say You’re Tired; They Mean You Look Awful

Sirles said his all-time favorite memory of Nebraska was people looking at him and saying: “You look tired. Are you okay?” He remembers thinking what they really wanted to say was: “You look awful. What happened?”

“Little do they know that my weight-lifting session ran long, and I had to sprint to class so that’s why I look a little tired,” Sirles said. “We all have our own personal little memories that make this place special for each one of us, and that’s mine.”

Sirles’ fellow graduates who had received their diplomas before the athletic department luncheon all laughed because they could all relate. Describing his years at Nebraska as “full of ups and downs and good times and hard times,” Sirles said: “All of these experiences have shaped us to go out into the world and excel in everything that we do. As athletes, we’ve overcome things in college that other students haven’t even dreamed of. We know what it means to balance a schedule and how to have our priorities in order. Because if we didn’t, let’s face it. None of us would be sitting here today with a diploma in hand.

“So I say congratulations to everyone! We’ve made it!” Sirles said. “We’ve withstood the test that the Big Red has thrown at us, and we’ve won and become part of a legacy that will forever follow us in our journeys. As they say: ‘Once a Husker, always a Husker!’”

(Sunday’s blog will feature 2013 spring NU women student-athlete graduates and their athletic department speaker, gymnast Lora Evenstad)

37 Nebraska Male Student-Athlete Spring Graduates

Almeida, Andre (Men’s Basketball) - Sao Paulo, Brazil (Ethnic Studies/Sociology)

Ankrah, Jason (Football) - Gaithersburg, Md. (Child, Youth & Family Studies)

Aumueller, Christopher (Men’s Tennis) - Bayreuth, Germany (Economics/Marketing)

Blatchford, Justin (Football) - Ponca, Neb. (Nutrition, Exercise & Health Science)

Barrefors, Bjorn (Track & Field) - Stockholm, Sweden (Computer Science)

Christensen, Chad (Baseball) - Cedar Rapids, Iowa (Finance)

Coffey, Jesse (Football) - Denton, Texas (Civil Engineering)

Dean, Jase (Football) - Bridgeport, Neb. (Fisheries & Wildlife)

Fisher, Sean (Football) - Omaha, Neb. (Business Administration)

Fox, Mike (Men’s Basketball) - Beatrice, Neb. (Mathematics Education)

Gillick, Kevin (Men’s Golf) - Lincoln, Neb. (Finance)

Grande, Ross (Wrestling) - Palatine, Ill.(Dietetics/Nutrition, Exercise & Health Science)

Grieb, Brett (Track & Field/Cross Country) - York, Neb. (Biological Sciences)

Hirsch, Zach (Baseball) - St. Charles, Ill. (Finance)

Ingram, Cole (Track & Field) - Lincoln, Neb. (Criminology & Criminal Justice)

Jean-Baptiste, Stanley (Football) - Miami, Fla. (Sociology)

Johnston, Dan (Baseball) - Papillion, Neb. (Business Education/Cooperative Education)

Kiley, Ridge (Wrestling) - Eagle Grove, Iowa (Marketing)

Killeen, Michael (Men’s Gymnastics) - Olathe, Kan. (Landscape Architecture)

Klinginsmith, Michael (Wrestling) - Kearney, Neb. (Biological Sciences)

Koehn, Tyler (Wrestling) - (Pittsburg, Kan.) - (Business Administration)

Mangieri, P.J. (Football) - Peoria, Ill. (Business Administration)

Niemann, Christopher (Men’s Basketball) - Kuhlungsborn, Germany (Computer Engineering/Computer Science)

Onwiler, Tim (Track & Field) - Panama, Neb. (Fisheries & Wildlife)

Osborne, Steven (Football) - Garland, Texas (Economics)

Phipps, Chris (Track & Field) - Patterson, N.J. (Psychology)

Polacek, Nate (Track & Field) - Kearney, Neb. (English Education)

Qvale, Brent (Football) - Williston, N.D. (Nutrition, Exercise & Health Science)

Reinertson, Jordan (Men’s Golf) - Gibbon, Neb. (Finance)

Shapland, Taylor (Men’s Track & Field) - Waterloo, Neb. (Construction Management)

Sirles, Jeremiah (Football) - Lakewood, Colo. (Management)

Stucky, Sam (Baseball) - McPherson, Kan. (Agricultural Economics)

Sutterfield, Erik (Track & Field) - Highlands Ranch, Colo. (Psychology)

Ubel, Brandon (Men’s Basketball) - Overland Park, Kan. (Broadcasting)

Videtich, Brandon (Men’s Tennis) - Lincoln, Neb. (Business Administration)

Walford, Teran (Track & Field) - York, Neb. (Nutrition Science)

Zimmerman, Austin (Men’s Golf) - Lincoln, Neb. (Accounting)

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