Former Chadron State and NFL running back Danny Woodhead qualifies for U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship

Former Chadron State and NFL running back Danny Woodhead qualifies for U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship

This article originally published on Pro Football Talk

Former NFL running back Danny Woodhead qualified for the 2021 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship set to be held at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash.

Woodhead and partner Michael Wilhelm combined to shoot a 2-under par 69 at Firethorn Golf Club in Omaha, Neb. on Monday to make it into a three-way playoff for the second qualifying spot. A birdie in extra holes gave Woodhead and Wilhelm the invitation to the championship.

“I can’t wait,” Woodhead said in an interview with Nebraska Golf Association. “I like to play really good courses and obviously that being where (Jordan) Spieth ended up winning a major, it’s a pretty cool deal. This ranks up there with athletic achievements.”

The four-ball championship is a relatively new addition to the USGA’s championship slate. The championship was first held in 2015 and is a two-man, better-ball format. It’s composed of 128 teams of two that play 36 holes of stroke play before the top 32 teams move to match play.

Former Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams qualified for the 2019 event held at Bandon Dunes in Oregon. He and partner Greg Berthelot made the round of 16 before being eliminated. The 2020 championship was cancelled due to COVID-19 considerations.

Chambers Bay was the site of the 2015 U.S. Open and will partner with The Home Course in Dupont, Wash. for the stroke play portion of the tournament.

Woodhead spent 10 years in the NFL after a standout college career at Division II Chadron State where he won the Harlon Hill trophy twice, which is the equivalent of the Heisman Trophy for the D-II level. After being signed by the New York Jets as an undrafted free agent, Woodhead also played for the New England Patriots, San Diego Chargers and Baltimore Ravens.

Woodhead rushed for 2,238 yards and 15 touchdowns in his career and caught 300 passes for 2,698 yards and 17 touchdowns.

From The AD’s Office: Marc Bauer University of Nebraska Kearney

From The AD’s Office: Marc Bauer University of Nebraska Kearney

From The AD’s Office: Marc Bauer UNK

Marc Bauer is one of the most accomplished coaches and respected Athletic Directors in all of NCAA Division II. He continues to be the face and force of UNK Athletics. After a stellar career at UNO, he built a powerhouse wrestling program at UNK. He and his wife Beth (former wrestling cheerleader at KHS) are the parents of four children and three grandchildren.

You made your mark as an athlete wrestling. What factors got you into wrestling?

I would be the first to admit that wrestling did not come naturally to me. I started in 4th grade. My dad was a high school official, and he had taken me to a match in Junction City, KS. I only lost one match in middle school, but I did not love the sport by any means. I was 5’0 tall and weighed 100 pounds entering high school. I might as well have been one of the tackling dummies or the water boy because I wasn’t much good on the football field.

As a small boy, I was trying to find my place in a masculine world of sports. I accomplished more than I would have ever imagined in high school, setting my sights on competing collegiately.

The adjustment from high school to college was like nothing I had ever endured. You had one of two choices, adapt or die! With the support and help of my teammates, the guidance by Coach Mike Denney, (UNO) and moral support from my wife, I started to find some success.

Good people got me into wrestling, and they helped keep me there.

Athletes constantly refer to times of failure as the fuel they used to reach their goals. Did you have one, and what was it?

Setbacks and failures are part of athletics, and I accepted the fact that I was going to have to work hard.

I jokingly tell people, “I like exceeding others’ expectations.” Although I was not always the most skilled or blessed with God-given talent, I pushed myself harder and smarter to overcome obstacles.

After college, you admitted you were reluctant to get into coaching. But, you ultimately did. What changed your mind?

As an elementary education major and someone that had started a family early, I knew that my senior season would be the last time I competed and that I would turn my focus to my career in education.

In my second year of teaching I found myself facing an opportunity to help coach a 5-week Junior High season. Although I was not fully committed to coaching, I had the opportunity to coach my youngest brother, Joshua. When I went to college, he was seven and I thought this was a good way to get to know him better and help him succeed in wrestling.

I committed to coaching Josh’s middle school team for two years, and I enjoyed working with the kids. During the second year, the UNK coach, Jeff Cardwell, called and asked if I would join the staff. All I had to do was show up to practice and work with the kids. I fell in love with coaching. I enjoyed the freedom of collegiate athletics and having the opportunity to impact the lives of student-athletes during a very challenging time of life.

Working with Jeff as an assistant, I had gone back to school fulltime and earned my master’s degree. Upon graduation, I committed to working part-time for Kearney Public Schools as a PE specialist at one of the elementary schools. One week after I accepted the job, Jeff resigned and moved back to Oregon with his family. It was late in the school year, so I took over on an interim basis. For the next 14-years, I taught elementary PE and was the head wrestling coach at UNK.

How did you build such a successful wrestling program at UNK (National Championships) during an era of budget cuts and Title IX?

I started by doing the little things first. I worked hard to win people over in our building, on our campus, and in our community. That meant regular visits to the equipment room with a 24 pack of Mountain Dew and Loper wrestling apparel. I sent personal letters inviting professors, administrators, and alumni to our home events, with hopes of building relationships across campus and the community.

It was not until my third year that I got an assistant coach. We started and grew two prominent kid’s wrestling tournaments and a camp system that became the lifeblood of our program. We did not just host tournaments and camps we hosted events that drew people back yearly.

It was not anyone thing or one person behind the rise of our program. It took an army of people who were willing to invest their time and resources to help ensure our student-athletes were getting the best possible experience at UNK and as members of our community.

What is the future of college wrestling?

As an Olympic sport, which continues to excel on the world-level and with the growth of women’s wrestling worldwide, I believe the sport has been positioned to continue to be a viable option to attract enrollment in higher education and provide opportunities for kids (boys and girls) to get involved in a sport that best suits them.

Like coaching, you’ve admitted that being an athletic director wasn’t always on your radar, yet you became one.

What triggered your passion for that path?

In 2011, I attended the NWCA Leadership Academy. Although the program was intended for young and aspiring coaches, I was asked to participate in helping identify the strengths and weaknesses of the program. The following year, the NWCA President, Mike Moyer, inquired if I would consider being a mentor in the program.

I agreed, and for several years, I mentored young coaches. I enjoyed the role. In 2016, I resigned from coaching, knowing the program was in great hands with Dalton Jensen, to pursue my doctorate in Interdisciplinary Leadership from Creighton University and moved in the Kinesiology Sports Science Program at UNK. As a professor, I was teaching future physical education teachers, and I enjoyed that immensely.

I was in the right place at the right time, and the opportunity to lead the athletic department at UNK became a reality. Chancellor Kristensen was looking for someone to restore the position of athletic director to one of loyalty and openness while giving consistent attention to balancing the needs of our student-athletes within the practical situation of our resources.

What is the biggest challenge facing college athletics today?

Most recently, the biggest challenge is helping our student-athletes through the uncertainty and challenges they face with the COVID pandemic, political unrest, and racial tensions.

We have seen an overwhelming increase in mental health issues. Although we are working to provide the best possible experience for student-athletes at UNK, many factors weigh heavily on them. Student-athletes today are high functioning young adults who want to make a difference in a world that seems turned upside down right now. The recent NCAA Student-Athlete COVID-19 Well-being Survey completed by 37,600 student-athletes in May 2020 shows that a high majority of them are not doing well.

Moreover, technology increasingly isolates our students and compounds the issues further, such as feeling overwhelmed or viewing themselves as failures. We want our student-athletes to know that we care deeply for them and that we are here to support and help them get through these tough times.

How can the Nebraska Greats Foundation assist UNK in identifying former Lopers who may need assistance with medical issues?

The NGF has already had a tremendous impact on our campus. In July 2018, NGF helped Preston Hall’s family after Preston was in a life-threatening head-on car collision. NGF came alongside Preston’s family to help at a time when they were least expecting it, yet had a tremendous impact helping them through the financial challenges that they faced.

We are blessed to have an organization like the Nebraska Greats Foundation to assist current or former Nebraska college athletes. The best way to identify former Lopers who may need assistance with medical issues is to continue to spread the word about the amazing deeds of NGF. Such deeds are often the work of ordinary people coming alongside those in need. For some, it may be the miracle they need to help them shine once again.

NGF Supporter Spotlight: Bruce Weber

NGF Supporter Spotlight: Bruce Weber

Nebraska Greats Foundation Supporter Spotlight: Bruce Weber

Bruce Weber of Atlanta, GA, founder of American Home Surfaces, one of the largest flooring companies in the country was one of the first supporters of the Nebraska Greats Foundation. A former letter winner and key offensive lineman, he has two rings from NU’s first national title teams. In 2019, the NGF made Bruce the first ever recipient of the “Andra Franklin Service Award.”

Bruce, what kind of a football player were you?

Both 1970 & 1971 National Champions teams… Specialty Teams, Smaller Size (5’11/225lb), Fastest Offensive Pulling Guard, Smart, Swift, Quality Depth, 5-year Red-Shirt, Chicago Proud, Out-Of-State, Business College Graduate.

How do you think your teammates from those days would have described you?

High Spirited, Hard Practices, Trusted, Always lots of Laughs.

Who was the most UNDER-rated player you faced?

Our own now deceased too young but loved by all Eddie Periard, a walk-on defensive Nose Guard, All Big Eight. Beloved by all!!! Eddie was the only one smaller than me, but a heart 20ft. tall. He’d made me chase his back shadow many, many times.

One-time Coach Devaney was so upset with me during a team scrimmage he kicked me out of the whole stadium!! Eddie was a real star…under estimated by every opponent week after week!!!

What lured you to the University of Nebraska?

I came to Lincoln as a senior in high school on the weekend they were to play Oklahoma State. Had me right on the sidelines with the team so I was really close to the action. I had never seen hitting like that going on all over the field. I could just sense something good was going to happen at Nebraska. That night after dinner with the coaches at the Veterans Club they set me up with Barry Alvarez and Wayne Mehlan to take me around that evening to see and enjoy the college party life!

What are some of your fondest memories from your playing days?

Senior Parent Day: Announced and met both of my Parents out on the 50-yard line— big, big hugs.

Graduation: I graduated in mid-year, 2-weeks before leaving for Miami and the Orange Bowl.
But I kept it a secret because I was afraid, I wouldn’t be eligible to play in the Alabama Orange Bowl Game.
We finished practice in Miami and I was sitting in the back of the bus going back to the hotel.
A few of the guys walked on the bus with a Miami newspaper shouting out the headlines “Nebraska to field a college graduate” I was shaken. Then, the guys came back to me and instead of congratulating me- they just wanted to know what classes and professors I had!

1970 Nebraska vs So. Cal @ USC: Last play of the game I missed my block and forced Jerry Tagge to throw the ball 2-seconds quicker than he wanted to and the ball came up 5-10 yards short of a wide-open Johnny Rogers in the end zone. I lost my starting job forever.

Orange Bowl vs Alabama: All of the Seniors were going to be introduced on National TV. When it was time to go out I just froze in the locker room. Suddenly, it hit me this was going to be my last time in a football uniform and I had missed the TV introduction. Finally, someone behind me said “come on Webb- we need to get out there.” 40-years later I found out that voice was Monty Johnson. His superstition was that he always had to be the last one out on the field!

“Game of The Century Nebraska vs Oklahoma”: As was our tradition we would always return to our locker room after warm-ups and say a prayer down on a knee then jump up with a loud cheer.  Back then, the Coaches didn’t have computers or I-Pads. Many many pages of notes were stacked up on clip boards. Unknowing to me, Coach Devaney was standing directly over my helmet.
When I jumped up with everyone else my helmet hit his clip board throwing all of his plays and notes in the air and all over the room 2-minutes before kick-off of the Game of The Century! He yelled out “Weebbbbeerrr!” Thank God we won the game.

Post Orange Bowl: The next night celebration at a posh, very private Miami Country Club and there was an open beer bar for players. We handed the beers through the hedges to Alabama players because “The Bear” (Alabama coach Paul Bryant) wouldn’t let his players partake.

Talk about the highlights of your life after your playing days ended?

Married my beautiful Chicago Italian wife who sat behind me in 8th grade. Her mother never forgave me when Kathi had to give up her beautiful Italian last name “Colianni” for “Weber.”

Births of our 3- Children – Lisa (45) Denver, Co., Jeff (43) Cincinnati, Oh., Joseph Weber (40) So. California. And now 2 Granddaughters Maddie (8) and Christina (1).

Blessed all of my Family lives in Atlanta area.

You’ve built a successful business, what are your core philosophies?

• Love the Industry you’re in
• Never stop reading and finding new ideas
• Don’t be afraid to take meaningful chances and opportunities
• Choose your closest friends carefully
• Know where the curve is and try to stay ahead
• Always try to improve your Patience
• Build Championship “game plans” yearly
• Always Look for ways to help others less fortunate
• Get rid of debt as early as possible in your life
• Stay close to God. Pray everyday
• When the time is right; step-up and diversify
• Surround yourself with good people
• Get a goodnight sleep every night
• Stay in good shape physically
• Eat healthy!

You’ve been one of the founding supporters of the NGF, what attracted you to the Foundation?

I would rather help fellow Nebraska former athletes in need than send anymore large tax payments to the federal government! (Ha)

What would you say to former players who may benefit from a grant from the NGF, but who are reluctant to ask for help?

There is nothing more humbling than knowing you need help and have nowhere to go. Don’t be afraid to ask. Understand that’s why we are here!

Catching Up with NGF Recipient Jim Unger

Catching Up with NGF Recipient Jim Unger

Jim Unger

Former UNL Varsity and All American Gymnast Jim Unger was one of the NGF’s first recipients. Jim was injured in a freak bicycle accident and is confined to a wheel chair which was provided by the generous supporters of the NGF.

Today, he leads an active lifestyle and is an outspoken supporter of what the Nebraska Greats Foundation can do to assist those in need.

Many who follow the Nebraska Greats Foundation know of how the NGF assisted you after your accident. Update us on how you are doing and what you are doing?

I am doing great–many Healthcare workers, and others think that I am a paraplegic rather than a quadriplegic. After going through somewhat tedious training, testing, and red tape, I am now able to drive! This has freed up a lot of opportunities to get things done.

You competed for the University of Nebraska Gymnastics team when the sport was starting to boom internationally. Did you ever think it would become THAT big?

When I competed at Nebraska, there were 216 schools with gymnastics. Now that Iowa dropped its program last week, sadly there are only 14 left. Obviously the budget is the main reason, along with Title IX. However, since gymnastics is an Olympic sport, we hope that it will be retained by those remaining schools.

Over the last 40 years, Nebraska has dominated men’s gymnastics why is that?

Gymnastics exploded in the 70’s due to more coverage, equipment advances, and Kurt Thomas and Bart Conner winning internationally. Of all the advances in equipment, the most exponential were the spring tumbling floor, and the in-ground foam pits. Nebraska was the first college to install a pit, in the Devaney Sports Center. The pits allow learning of double somersaults until the athlete has mastered the skill, before performing it on a mat landing.

Did you know that on the 1984 men’s team, Olympic gold medalists, 4 out of the 7 competitors were from Nebraska: Jim Hartung, Phil Cahoy, Scott Johnson, and alternate Jim Mikus. The 1980 team that “didn’t go” had Coach Francis Allen, Jim Hartung, Phil Cahoy, and Larry Gerard all from Nebraska.

Talk about how the NGF helped you.

I was one of the first to be helped. In my case, they generously provided me with physical therapy equipment and a motorized chair…which has been beneficial for my circulation and muscle tone, as well as keeping my hopes alive for medical advances to walk again (and play golf!).

A lot of athletes are reluctant to ask for help. There are many out there who probably need assistance with the medical issues, what would you say to them?

I would encourage other athletes in need to be sure to ask the Nebraska Greats Foundation for help! We all go through tough times in life, and whether yours is financial, medical, or other, please reach out.

You competed when most young boys were playing football, basketball and baseball. What got you started in gymnastics?

I tried out for all sports, and did pretty well. When we had to hop up on the pommel horse and do leg cuts, or walk on our hands on the parallel bars, Coach Fox (Jr. High PE teacher) liked the way I could keep my legs straight, and point my toes. That was how I started in gymnastics, just during the season.

Our high school teams won 2 state championship, and were recently inducted into the Lincoln Southeast HS Hall of Fame. But, it wasn’t until college that I trained gymnastics year-round.

I feel very fortunate that I ended up getting a full athletic scholarship to pay for college. I ended up becoming Francis Allen’s first All-American; I didn’t know that I would end up teaching kids for 40 years…I feel very blessed.