Coaches Cherish Roles at New Devaney Center

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Swimming & Diving Coach Pablo Morales sees Huskers moving forward.

By Randy York

As much as former Nebraska letterwinners enjoyed seeing the simplicity and elegance of the renovated Bob Devaney Sports Center recently, let the record show that they were equally enamored with the wisdom shared by two head coaches and a popular assistant coach. Nebraska Head Swimming & Diving Coach Pablo Morales, NU Assistant Volleyball Coach Dani Busboom Kelly and Husker Head Wrestling Coach Mark Manning did masterful jobs of wrapping up a 90-minute tour of the new facility with thoughts of their own. The N-Sider salutes each coach who works and teaches inside the Devaney Center and communicated such a positive charge about their new digs to 150 letterwinners and guests.

Morales never would tell anyone he won an NCAA record 11 individual swimming titles and led Stanford to three consecutive NCAA team championships before winning three gold medals and two silver medals in the 1984 and 1992 Olympic Games. He’s in his 13th season at Nebraska and told our letterwinners that he grew up watching classic Nebraska-Oklahoma football games. “I’ve always seen Nebraska with a certain mystique,” he said, “but it’s even better living here and working here than seeing it on television. A lot of changes are taking place, and they’re very exciting. Joining the Big Ten has been a progressive move for us.”

When Recruits See The Devaney, Jaws Drop

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Dani Busboom Kelly                                         Mark Manning

Busboom Kelly is an assistant coach under John Cook. She was a volleyball captain at Nebraska and moved from setter to libero in 2006 to help the Huskers’ defense. She finished her career as one of only two players to rank among our all-time leaders in both digs (1,281, second) and assists (2,873, eighth). “We knew moving from the Coliseum to the Devaney was going to be special, but never dreamed it would be what it is,” Busboom Kelly told our letterwinners. “When recruits come into this building and see it for the first time, their jaws really do drop. They can’t believe their eyes. They think it’s a professional arena.”

In his 13th year as head wrestling coach, Manning told letterwinners that they have terrific hearts and   souls if they graduated from Nebraska and competed as a Husker. “We have great tradition and a storied program, but my job is to prepare young men for life,” Mark said before sharing a story about one of his former wrestlers who lost a match, 13-5, early in his Husker career. One of Manning’s associates said the staff had miscalculated on this particular recruit and had made a mistake offering him a scholarship.

Student-Athlete Hardly a Recruiting Mistake

That particular student-athlete, however, was not a mistake…far from it. He ended up winning two NCAA championships without a loss and went on to win two world championships, plus an Olympic gold medal in London. “Everybody has lots of speed bumps in life, including Jordan Burroughs, who won the coveted Hodge Trophy, the Heisman of Wrestling,” Manning said. “As coaches, we help student-athletes get through those speed bumps and encourage them at every stop along the way.”

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