NU volleyball, wrestling to move to new, improved Devaney Center
By Nedu Izuegbunam, NewsNetNebraska
Lauren Cook set up a kill for outside hitter Gina Mancuso like she had her previous 12 assists in the match against Northwestern. However, this particular pass was different.
The date was Nov. 24 and it was possibly the final set, play and kill to ever be performed at the Nebraska Coliseum during a regular season. The pass was successful. And so was Mancuso’s kill.
The 4,092 fans in attendance were filled with jubilation. And so were the Husker players.
The final kill at the NU Coliseum was a moment teammate Hayley Thramer said she’d treasure forever.
“It was a special and powerful emotion from the team and the fans because that was the last one,” the Husker middle blocker said. “There’s no way to express how amazing and heartfelt our crow is and how loud it can get there.”
Similar emotions were felt by the Nebraska wrestling team, too.
After defeating Michigan State 23-19 on a brisk, windy evening Feb. 1, the wrestlers were also forced to close the chapter of performing ever again at the NU Coliseum.
Although the final pin brought on a bittersweet feeling amongst the fans and team, Nebraska senior wrestler Caleb Kolb said it helped departing the facility in a victorious fashion.
“It was a great feeling to get the win in front of my friends and family,” the communications major said. “The very last match was something I will never forget.”
And it won’t be long until Kolb and Thramer form new memories in a different facility.
After performing its home matches at The Coliseum since 1975, the volleyball and wrestling squads will be calling the Bob Devaney Sports Center home beginning its 2013-2014 season. The two teams will join the men’s and women’s gymnastics’ teams, track and field and swimming teams, and will replace the men’s and women’s basketball teams who will move to the new Pinnacle Bank Arena.
The addition of the two Husker squads is the main reason behind the athletic department’s decision to make renovations to the Devaney Center.
“We wanted to give them a more intimate venue to compete in,” said John Ingram, Associate Athletic Director for Capital Planning & Construction.
Ingram has led several of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s athletic facility projects, including the currently East Stadium expansion of Memorial Stadium and the Hendricks Training Complex – his most recent completed work.
After seating 13, 595 the last 13 years, the Devaney Center’s capacity will soon be reduced to less than 8,000 seats when phase 3 of its $20 million project begins mid-March, according to Ingram.
With both the Nebraska men’s and women’s teams moving to the soon to be finished Pinnacle Bank Arena next winter, Ingram said it was the best decision to reduce the seating capacity for the six remaining sports.
(Click here to hear why Husker women’s gymnastics’ coach Dan Kendig thinks the basketball teams’ move is a win-win for all parties.)
“The facility will be more designed around those sports,” Ingram began, “instead of them coming into something that’s more configured for basketball.”
Although wrestling saw less than 2,000 fans attend its matches on a regular basis, Kolb’s said he’s eager to see that number increase in his final season at the Devaney Center.
“I like wrestling in front of big crowds and if they can make it seem bigger, I like that,” Kolb said. “That’s my favorite atmosphere. I like wrestling in front of a lot of people.”
Besides reducing the seating capacity, the Devaney Center will also be adding a new floor for volleyball; track and field offices on the south side of the arena; new locker rooms for the volleyball team and its opponents; and other accommodations for fans the NU Coliseum lacked, Ingram said.
“Now we’re going to be able to give the type of service to our fans that we can’t give at the Coliseum,” he said. “With very limited space for restrooms and concessions, now we’re going to be able to have all kinds of restrooms and concessions to help serve our fans.
“Parking (will be) better as well than it is at the Coliseum.”
Although Thramer admits the move to the new arena hasn’t hit her or her teammates yet, the thought of playing in front of a bigger crowd excites her.
(Click here to hear Husker women’s gymnastics’ coach Dan Kendig’s most fond memory of the Bob Devaney Sports Center crowd.)
“I just remember how many students would stand out in the ticket office line super early in the morning and were unable to get tickets,” the redshirt junior said. “It was really cool to hear, and disappointing to hear that we didn’t have the room for them.
“Hopefully we don’t have to convince them now to come to the Devaney.”
In her first three years, Thramer played at an NU Coliseum that holds the national record for consecutive sellouts (181) across all women’s collegiate athletics.
The middle blocker said she’s thrilled that her classmates will be able to purchase season tickets this year.
“Hopefully they want to be a part of something special and continue the tradition of Nebraska volleyball,” Thramer said.
Will the tradition continue to grow? Ingram thinks so.
“That’s been the toughest ticket in athletics,” he said. “We’re going to be able to bring in a lot more fanatic volleyball fans in to watch them and give us, again, a real home court advantage. It’s going to allow us to let students come in who weren’t able to before. Now we’ll have true student sections.
“We’ll have the ability to bring in more young people to experience Nebraska volleyball and develop the next generation of fans.”