My Best Investment

Investments.  As we grow older, financial investments are something we think about more and more.  But in my opinion, influencing and helping young people is the best investment we can make.

When HuskerVision was started in 1994, I made the decision to hire University of Nebraska students and they made up more than 75percent of our staff.  As a graduate of the Broadcast Journalism School at Nebraska, it was my chance to give back and help these students gain valuable experience that would help them obtain good jobs in an extremely competitive industry.

We invested a lot of time training these students and we gave them a lot of responsibility in all aspects of our many HuskerVision productions.  Most caught on quickly and when they graduated, HuskerVision students were able to get very good jobs as a result of their vast experience.

In my 10 years at Nebraska, we hired nearly 100 students and they went on to get jobs at ESPN, ABC news, CBS, Hollywood, the U.S. Olympic Committee, local television stations, video production companies, and most of all, in the big screen industry.

Some of the college and professional teams that have had their big screen and video production departments led by former HuskerVision students include: Arkansas, Auburn, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Texas A&M, the Houston Rockets, Kansas City Royals, New Jersey Nets, New Orleans Pelicans, Seattle Mariners, and Texas Rangers.

There are dozens of success stories of HuskerVision students and here is one of my favorites.

Michaela Dowd grew up in Omaha and started working for HuskerVision during her junior year at Nebraska in 1997.  Michaela didn’t have much of a background in sports but I could tell she was smart and had a passion for broadcast journalism.  It didn’t take long for Michaela to also show that she had a talent for shooting and editing video as well as writing and producing video features and highlight tapes.

For the 1998 football season, one of the new features I wanted to introduce to Nebraska fans was “Football Physics.”  To do so, we needed a University of Nebraska Physics Professor who would be good on camera, was knowledgeable about football, and would be passionate about working on this feature.  I called the head of the Physics Department but didn’t really get anywhere.  So I sent Michaela over to talk with secretaries and students to see if there was a perfect professor for Football Physics.

Michaela came back a couple hours later very excited that she had indeed found our man, Dr. Tim Gay.  I asked Michaela if she wanted to produce our Football Physics feature and she enthusiastically said “yes.”

Over the next two seasons, Football Physics became a fan favorite.  When the feature played on the HuskerVision screens, Memorial Stadium went eerily quiet as the 76,000 fans were taught a new lesson from Dr. Gay on how physics related to the game of football.

Dr. Gay became a celebrity and not just in Nebraska.  ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings did a feature on Football Physics in 1999.  There was a front page article in the Wall Street Journal and then the NFL came calling and Dr. Gay was soon doing Football Physics features for NFL films.  Dr. Gay has also written a book called “Football Physics.”  Recently, as concerns have grown over concussions in football, Dr. Gay has testified before Congress as an expert on the physical impacts of the game.

As for Michaela, ABC News was so impressed with her when they came to Lincoln to do the piece on World News Tonight that they offered her a job upon graduation.  So for the last 15 years, Michaela has lived in New York City where she has worked with the likes of Barbara Walters, Diane Sawyer, and Peter Jennings.  She is currently a Producer, Editor, and Associate Director at ABC and is producing segments for the “What Would You Do” television show.

Michaela also has her own free-lance still photography business and all of the pictures on the Schmackary’s website were shot by her.

Football Physics feature with Dr. Tim Gay.

There are many similar success stories which makes me one proud “papa.”

It has been a thrill to watch these HuskerVision “alumni” grow and become leaders…and the notes, e-mails, and calls that I’ve received the past several months have meant the world to me.

Michelle Glover, Director of RazorVision Productions at the University of Arkansas, wrote the following:

“You gave me an opportunity at HuskerVision when I was being told I had no business working in sports production.  You definitely have the gift of seeing things in people they couldn’t see themselves.  I think this is evident by the number of talented people you have helped along the way as a friend, mentor, and boss.  I consider you all of the above and as I try to lead a group of people, your words always ring true.  Hire superstars, surround yourself with the best.  When you started that tradition at HuskerVision, you built the foundation we are all trying to emulate.  I hope you know how many lives you’ve touched and the difference you’ve made.  Even though we may not be there with you every day as you are fighting your fight; please know you have an army behind you cheering for you and praying for your recovery.  With love and prayer, Michelle.”

Investing in young people…the dividends are fantastic!

huskervision alumniHuskerVision alumni at the 2014 IDEA conference supporting their old boss.

Girls of HuskervisionThree of the “women of HuskerVision”  Bobbi Ullman (U.S. Olympic Committee), Michaela Dowd (ABC News), and Michelle Glover (Arkansas).

Medical/Personal Update:

A week ago, I was honored to be the keynote speaker at the IDEA conference in Dallas.  IDEA is an organization made up of big screen operators from the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, and Universities.  I also received a special honor from IDEA…more on that next week.

As for my health, a continued big thumbs up!  I even shot a one over par 73 at the challenging Ballyowen course this week.  So much for getting sympathy strokes from my golf buddies anymore.

Next Stop: My personal life philosophy