Tag Archive | northwestern

III

This is my 3rd season for Throwback Thursday.

Nebraska’s first game of 2016 is on September 3.

The first Husker to take a trip with me down memory lane this year.. a player known to many as simply RK3.

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#12 Ron Kellogg III, Class of 2013

The Rule of 3’s is certainly at play here, but it’s not the only factor contributing to my choice to kick off this years series.  Ron Kellogg III is also a proud Westside Warrior, an alum of the school district I now proudly represent as Director of Communications & Engagement.  These first few weeks in my new role have been an absolute pleasure; I am BLOWN AWAY by the level of devotion and innovation this District has for the thousands of young people who learn here everyday.  To share these stories on a daily basis is truly an honor.

For Kellogg, his time as a prized student athlete at Westside had a huge impact on his trajectory into Nebraska Football history, a journey that began several years before he started high school.

“I have a picture of myself on Halloween in a #12 Nebraska uniform, so I guess you could say it was fate I would be a part of the Husker program,” Kellogg told me recently.  “The main reason I went to Nebraska is all because of Eric Crouch.  He signed a picture I drew for him and he wrote me a message saying Go Big Red, shook my hand and took a picture.  I waited 2 hours and 30 minutes to get that 2-minute encounter.  Thanks, Eric! LOL.”

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At Westside, Kellogg was the star quarterback who led his team to state playoffs his senior year, passing for 12 touchdowns.  The Lincoln Journal Star gave him Class A All-State honors, and several colleges including Northwest Missouri State and North Dakota offered him scholarships.  Kellogg wanted to stay red.

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Kellogg, surrounded by his parents, signing his letter of intent to play football for Nebraska

“D1 schools did not recruit me heavily.  I was actually only offered a walk-on spot because I won a quarterback camp at Nebraska,” said Kellogg.  “When I was given my opportunity to play, I knew from that point on, I needed to show everyone #1: that walk-ons can play, #2: that every time I put on that helmet representing this great state I would be an example for those young men watching in the stands or at home that with heart, determination, and a pinch of humbleness you can compete with the best of them.”

And he did.  After waiting patiently for three seasons, Kellogg finally saw playing time in several games his junior year.  His senior year, 2013, everything changed when 4-year starter Taylor Martinez suffered a foot injury.  Kellogg completed 4-of-5 passes against Southern Miss.  He completed another 8-of-9 passes against SDSU.  Game after game he was consistent and strong.. but when Nebraska played Northwestern, he became legend.

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Photo courtesy Nebraska Athletics

Kellogg threw a 49-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass to then redshirt freshman Jordan Westerkamp, the first game-winning Hail Mary TD in Nebraska history.

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Photo courtesy Nebraska Athletics

“My favorite moments are talking with fans about that night,” said Kellogg.  “Apparently I am the reason A) they had to buy a new TV and B) I caused a couple to go the hospital due to heart attacks.”

Believe it or not, that game is not Kellogg’s standout memory when he looks back at his time at Nebraska.

“My favorite moment was the Penn State game,” said Kellogg.  “It started to snow.  It was picture perfect to be in that historic stadium, the fans in all-white, and then snow started to fall.  Plus we won in overtime.”

For years, Ron Kellogg had been the guy in the background while Husker nation focused its attention on other players.  Suddenly, he was THE guy, the big fish swimming in a Sea of Red.

“It was definitely an eye opening experience,” said Kellogg.  “No one prepares you to be in situations where everyone from the elderly to toddlers, know EVERYTHING about you, from knowing all about my family to what classes I was taking.  You have to be mentally prepared for that, and most importantly, you have to be careful.  Fame and power can swallow a sane person whole.  But, that fame part is something I will never get over, not because it’s cool to take pictures with people or talk about ‘what is was like to throw the hail mary’; it’s much more than that.  My senior year of playing Nebraska football was the best time of my life.  I was able to impact and reach people that I never thought I could prior.”

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Photo courtesy Stephen Rickerl for the Fremont Tribune

Kellogg won the Nebraska Student-Athlete HERO Leadership Award in 2012, was on the Brook Berringer Citizenship Team in 2012 and 2013, and the Tom Osborne Citizenship Team in 2014.

“There is nothing I love more than talking Husker football with people,” said Kellogg.  “Especially the kids.  If my words inspire them to be a Husker I know my job is done.”

Ironically, guiding young athletes IS now Kellogg’s job; he’s the Athletic Director at Dawes Middle School in Lincoln, currently in his second year.

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Photo courtesy Gwyneth Roberts for the Lincoln Journal Star

“I am a part of these students’ lives from athletics to academics and social life,” said Kellogg.  “It’s honestly the most interesting thing in the world seeing these young boys and girls grow up and mature.  The crazy part is sitting back at the end of a school year and being able to say to yourself and your team of staff that you were a part of helping these children go on to the next level.  I love every moment of it because I feel like I am making a difference one way or another.”

Kellogg will also be watching a few other students this fall… his Huskers, now led by an entirely different regime than he had during his days at Nebraska.  He offers his support for Coach Riley, and for wide receivers coach Keith Williams, recently arrested for DUI.

“I have faith he’ll straighten up and continue to be the dominant leader of the team,” said Kellogg.  “Look at what he does with his players and NFL players, and how he uses social media.  As a fan, you have to be excited about this.”

Kellogg is also excited to watch De’Mornay Pierson El, a guy he calls ‘explosive’, able to impact the game from special teams to offense.

“With that kind of weapon, not to mention the other five wideouts we have, and the mobility and absurd arm strength Tommy has, we can make some noise,” said Kellogg.

Speaking of noise.. Ron Kellogg isn’t ready to go quietly into the Nebraska night.  A proud ‘Westside Warrior for life!’ he wants to return to his alma mater someday to coach and teach, and maybe lead a new generation of nationally respected athletes.

“My dream job is to build a performance center,” said Kellogg.  “I want to be able to wake up everyday and say to myself, I am going to send this set amount of student athletes to compete in Division 1, D2 or D3 athletics.  I truly believe there are students athletes here [in Nebraska] that should be playing D1 sports and maybe they just need help or a little nudge in the right direction.”

It wasn’t so long ago, Ron Kellogg was that guy, the walk-on from Westside High School who became a Nebraska Football star.   In 2013, he was awarded the Tom Novak Award, described by Nebraska Athletics as “an honor which best exemplifies courage and determination despite all odds.”

“I had extra drive to show kids throughout the state of Nebraska, that ‘hey! You can do this!’  You don’t need any stars next to your name to make an impact,” said Kellogg.  “I guess you can say I am living proof that if you put your mind to something, you can accomplish it.”

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Many thanks to Ron for the interview.. and for his incomparable softball skills helping Team Benning dominate the 2015 Celebrity Softball game!

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Special Feature, Miss Iowa 2014 Aly Olson

It’s human nature, picking favorites.  We naturally gravitate towards a choice flower, a soda we’ll always buy at the grocery store, the character you follow on that great show (coughcough, Grey’s Anatomy.. Alex Karev..coughcough).  For decades now as I’ve watched from home, I’ve chosen favorites on the Miss America stage, too.  This year, when the Top 15 names and states were called, this young lady quickly became my FAV.

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MISS IOWA 2014 ALY OLSON

(Photo courtesy the Miss Iowa Pageant)

There was just something GLOWING about Miss Iowa on that stage.  Her sheer excitement, how genuinely elated she was to represent her state and be chosen in the Top 15, and just simply how stunning she was; that red hair and gorgeous smile just RADIATED into my living room.

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(Photos courtesy the Miss America Pageant)

I don’t think I was alone; during preliminary competition, the Twitterverse was all ‘atweet’ about Aly’s vocal performance during talent and she quickly emerged as a social media favorite.  Pageant Junkies predicted Aly would be among the Top 5 contestants who could be crowned Miss America.  And in the end, when the Top 10 were named and Aly’s name was not among them, pretty sure my moan was echoed by several others watching at my house.

For Aly, the Miss America experience was more than she ever expected.

“I was called 14th of 15 on Sunday night’s broadcast of Miss America.  I was shocked when at last I heard ‘Iowa’,” Aly told me recently.  “My fellow contestants (I prefer to think of them as sisters) are so intelligent, kind, funny, NORMAL, beautiful and driven.  Support from my sisters is an enduring highlight from my Miss America experience, although making it into the Top 12 at Miss America was also more insane than I could have imagined!”

So what next?? Often, I think people (and sometimes titleholders themselves) forget that these young women hold their crowns for a full year, whether they win that next level or not.  Aly Olson came home and figured out who she was as Miss Iowa AFTER Miss America.

“I began to say yes to as many opportunities as possible, which blossomed into a remarkable year as Miss Iowa,” said Aly.  “I have traveled over 30,000 miles, spoken with thirty schools about my platform of Do One Thing: Diversity Everyday, and performed for hundreds of thousands of Iowans.”

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HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF IOWANS.  Let that sink in for a moment.  Hundreds of thousands of Iowans now know there’s a Miss Iowa, who she is, and what she stands for. On November 1 alone, Aly sang the national anthem at the Iowa vs Northwestern football game in front of 67,000 people.

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Aly’s been interviewed by television, radio and print reporters across the state and beyond. (Including me!  Click here to watch my interview with Aly before she left for Miss America!)  She’s been recognized by Iowa’s elected officials as well as businesses, institutions and organizations.  All of these things make our program RELEVANT; it shows people why the Miss America Organization MATTERS.  It drives publicity not just for Aly and what matters to her, but for every Miss Iowa and local titleholder who follows in her footsteps.

Still, Aly says her proudest accomplishments are more than numbers.

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“I have been able to connect with people in special moments, such as visiting a child in a hospital, eating a meal with a family that is hosting me in their community, being welcomed into a variety of cultural organizations, and listening to the incredible stories of life,” said Aly.  “The resulting relationships are more inspiring and beautiful than I could have ever expected.  I feel lucky to have been touched by so many people in my year as Miss Iowa.”

That time will soon come to a close for Aly as she ends not just one year but a legacy with the Miss Iowa program.  Aly also spent a year as Miss Iowa’s Outstanding Teen.  That’s at least five years of her life as a teenager and woman devoted to serving others and bettering herself.

“Being Miss Iowa had been a dream of mine for a long time, so it is definitely more sad than I had anticipated to see it nearing the end,” said Aly.  “However, I know that there will be many more exciting chapters in my life.  I will return to the University of Iowa in the fall to finish my Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance and then graduate in December 2015.”

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As Aly told me last fall, she’ll do that debt free thanks to all of the scholarships she’s received competing in the Miss Iowa Program.  DEBT FREE.  Just one of the lifelong benefits she’ll take with her when she passes on her title.

“[My fellow Miss America contestants] continue to support each other as well as find ways to connect across the country.  Our class truly is an example of sisterhood,” said Aly.  “I want every girl from the Midwest to know that her state and background do prepare her for success in life; that is one of the main sentiments I took home from Miss America.”

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And Aly herself will continue to mentor those future titleholders; she wants to be a Miss Iowa volunteer.

“I can help other women discover how much grace, poise, compassion and love they have within themselves through the Miss America Organization,” said Aly.

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(Photo courtesy Miss Iowa Pageant and Say Uncle! Photography)

Was it what she expected?  When she imagined this moment for so many years, did Aly Olson every think this year of her life would be HER favorite?

“This year has been so much more than what I had expected; more exhilarating, more beautiful, more tiring, more demanding, and more important.”  IMPORTANT.  That one word from Aly is MY favorite part of our interview.  Aly Olson MADE her reign matter, for both herself and for her state.  Iowa’s never had a Miss America, but Aly put her state BACK on the Miss America map, showing the country what Hawkeyes are made up, and laying the groundwork for those who follow in her footsteps.

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A warning to whomever that young lady may be in 2015; Aly Olson is leaving you with VERY big shoes to fill.

To learn more about Miss Iowa 2014 Aly Olson, 

follow her on Twitter, InstagramFacebook, and Tumblr.  To book Aly for appearances and events, email businessmanager@missiowa.com.  Aly was also recently profiled by Pageant Junkies; click here to listen to the podcast interview with Aly!

The next MISS IOWA will be crowned June 13, 2015 in Davenport, Iowa.  For more information about the pageant, the Class of 2015 contestants, and how to compete in the Miss Iowa Scholarship Program, click here to visit the organization’s website, and click here to follow the organization on Facebook. 

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PREVIOUS.. Miss Sandhills 2015 Kate Lynne Duncan

NEXT.. Miss Northwest 2015 LaRissa McKean

To read more about the Miss Nebraska Class of 2014 and more special features, click on the ‘There She Is’ link at the top of the page.