In conjunction with teams across the country celebrating 150 years of college football, the Nebraska Athletic Department is celebrating 50 years of strength and conditioning by honoring 28 former student-athletes on a Husker Power 50-Year Team.
The group, which includes 10 football players and two players from 18 other sports, will be honored during a private event on Friday, Aug. 30, the night before Nebraska begins the 2019 football season at home against South Alabama. More than 100 former and current strength and conditioning coaches, along with special guests and donors, will also attend.
Boyd Epley, Assistant Athletic Director for Strength and Conditioning, led a committee that selected each representative for the Husker Power 50-Year Team, as well as 20 other nominees for football, and two other nominees for each of the other sports. In all, 84 former players and three coaches, including former football coach Tom Osborne, will be recognized.
The committee considered All-America status, world records, Olympic champions, performance in the weight room and general overall talent in selecting the Husker Power 50-Year team and nominees.
Among the team members are head football coach Scott Frost, as quarterback, and inside linebackers coach Barrett Ruud, as linebacker. Assistant softball coach Lori Sippel made the team to represent softball, and first-year rifle coach Rachel Martin represents rifle. Also, women’s basketball coach Amy Williams was a nominee to represent women’s basketball.
In 1969, Nebraska became the first school in the nation to hire a strength coach and lift weights in season when former football coach Bob Devaney appointed Epley, a pole vaulter on the Nebraska track and field team, to begin a strength and conditioning program. Devaney saw immediate results, and Nebraska became a pioneer in the field, as other schools across the nation began adding strength and conditioning programs.
As a result, Husker Power’s work in program, supervision and facilities became the base of a tree that has grown to more than 53,000 certified strength and conditioning professionals supervising athletes in every sport, at every level, across the world.
The Aug. 30 event will honor the team members with a gold coin and program, and will recognize notable first-time achievements and other records within Nebraska strength and conditioning. Dennis Rogers, one of the strongest people in the world, will also have a presentation. The former arm wrestling world champion is one of the top professional old-time strongmen in the world. He has appeared on The David Letterman Show and Oprah Winfrey, among other television talk shows.
“Basically we’re just trying to have some fun and reflect on what a great history Nebraska has in strength and conditioning,” Epley said.
Epley is regarded as the most decorated strength coach in history, and for his national contribution in strength and conditioning, he was named a 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award winner by the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.
Epley served 35 years as Nebraska’s head strength coach for football, helping the Huskers win 356 games in 35 years and five national championships. He then moved into an associate athletic director position to oversee the design and construction of the Tom and Nancy Osborne Athletic Complex and Hawks Championship Center before retiring from Nebraska in 2006. He returned in 2014 in his current role.
Husker Power 50-Year Team
Alex Gordon, baseball
Shannon Pluhowsky, bowling
Rachel Martin, rifle
Karen Jennings, women’s basketball
Eric Piatkowski, men’s basketball
Penny Heyns, swimming and diving
Sarah Sasse, women’s golf
Steve Friesen, men’s golf
Shelly Bartlett, women’s gymnastics
Jim Hartung, men’s gymnastics
Aubrei Corder, soccer
Lori Sippel, softball
Merlene Ottey, women’s track and field
Kevin Coleman, men’s track and field
Ann Swanson, women’s tennis
Steven Jung, men’s tennis
Laura (Pilakowski) Buttermore, volleyball
Jordan Burroughs, wrestling
Tom Osborne, head coach
Football Husker Power 50-Year Team
Jimmy Williams, defensive end
Neil Smith, defensive line
Rich Glover, middle guard
Barrett Ruud, linebacker
Curtis Cotton, defensive back
Mike Rozier, offensive back
Johnny Rodgers, receiver
Will Shields, offensive line
Dave Rimington, center
Scott Frost, quarterback
Darin Erstad and Ken Harvey, baseball; Julia Bond and Melanie Crawford, bowling; Hannah Virga and Alex Lorentz, rifle; Jordan Hooper and Amy Williams, women’s basketball; Tom Wald and Larry Florence, men’s basketball; Erin Oeltjen and Anna Filipcic, swimming and diving; Allison Stewart and Joanne Brooks, women’s golf; Peggy Liddick and Michelle Bryant, women’s gymnastics; Phil Cahoy and Pete Studinsky, men’s gymnastics; Sharolta Nonen and Christine Latham, soccer; Marjani Knighten and Peaches James, softball; Melissa Price and Doreen Heldt, women’s track and field; Nick Percy and Ron Childs, men’s track and field; Stacey Tomkiewicz and Mary Weatherholt, women’s tennis; Fungai Tongoona and Christopher Aumueller, men’s tennis; Jordan Larson and Christina Houghtelling, volleyball; Tolly Thompson and Craig Brester, wrestling; John Cook and Francis Allen, head coaches.
Other football nominees
Willie Harper and Kyle Vanden Bosch, defensive end; Ndamukong Suh and Rod Horn, defensive line; Danny Noonan and Kerry Weinmaster, middle guard; Jerry Murtaugh and Lavonte David, linebacker; Russell Gary and Mike Brown, defensive back; Jeff Kinney and Ameer Abdullah, offensive back; Irving Fryar and Jordan Westerkamp, receiver; Aaron Taylor and Kelvin Clark, offensive line; Rik Bonness and Tom Davis, center; Eric Crouch and Tommie Frazier, quarterback.