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John Cook speaks to the crowd after Nebraska played Colorado State in a spring volleyball match in McCook on April 20. Cook will be one of the "storytellers" at a volleyball celebration in Grand Island on July 18.

Nebraska is a volleyball state.

And a unique chance to celebrate that fact will occur right in Central Nebraska on July 18.

“A Night of Nebraska Volleyball” will be held from 4:30-8 p.m. at the Bosselman Conference Center in Grand Island.

The event will include a reception, awards ceremony and silent auction.

But the main event will be a “storytelling” session with former Nebraska coach Terry Pettit, current Huskers head coach John Cook and Creighton coach Kirsten Booth.

Special awards of distinction will be given to recently retired Nebraska-Omaha coach Rose Shires, Nebraska-Kearney coach Rick Squiers and former Hastings College and new UNO coach Matt Buttermore.

The event is a fundraiser for the Nebraska Greats Foundation, and a familiar face to both the Grand Island and Huskers sports scene played a part in helping organize it.

Former Grand Island Senior High/Home Federal/Nebraska pitcher Johnny Dorn is a member of the Nebraska Greats Foundation’s board.

“On Feb. 1 we held a banquet in Omaha and had a Q&A session with three ADs (Nebraska’s Bill Moos, UNO’s Trev Alberts and Creighton’s Bruce Rasmussen),” Dorn said. “We had 700 people attend.

“We were looking at doing something in Grand Island, my hometown. We felt that Central Nebraska hadn’t had the chance to host events like this.”

Dorn said the organization wanted to do something besides a traditional golf scramble — although people around Grand Island will have a unique opportunity to participate in one of those one week later (more on that in a bit).

With the amount of volleyball talent at all levels in this area, a celebration of that sport became a natural fit for a fundraiser.

Dorn said the focus was on making the event a celebration of college volleyball around the state and not just the highly successful team that plays at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.

“We didn’t want this to be Husker greats,” Dorn said. “We wanted it to be Nebraska greats.”

Individual tickets cost $50 with VIP tickets available for $75 which will include a private reception and chance to interact 1-on-1 with the coaches.

Ticket information is available at nebraskagreatsfoundation.org.

Dorn said it has been a special experience to have been part of the Nebraska Greats Foundation’s board for the past two years, and he currently serves as the secretary. The non-profit provides financial assistance to any athlete who lettered in a varsity sport at any of the 15 four-year Nebraska-based colleges and universities.

“It was started by Jerry Murtaugh, the former Nebraska linebacker,” Dorn said. “Our goal is to make it a little easier for former athletes who may have financial needs.”

The board includes familiar names like former voice of the Huskers Jim Rose, who is the executive director. Other members of the board include former NU basketball star Maurtice Ivy and Eric Crouch “who you may have heard of,” Dorn said. “It’s a handful of rock stars.”

Dorn said it is fulfilling to help those who have undergone financial hardships due to health issues.

“You look back at what the Husker football teams did in the ‘90s,” he said. “They gave fans a lot of enjoyment. You don’t want to forget about them if they fall on tough times and you can help them out.”

Dorn is making sure that Grand Island is a focal point of events for the Nebraska Greats Foundation.

Eight days after “A Night of Nebraska Volleyball” a unique golf scramble will take place in the city.

On July 26, Riverside Golf Club will host the Nebraska Greats Golf Classic. There are 27 former athletes from Nebraska, UNO, UNK and Doane currently scheduled to attend.

That group includes all three Nebraska Heisman Trophy winners — Johnny Rodgers, Mike Rozier and Crouch.

The event includes an autograph session, lunch, golf, an evening program and buffet dinner.

Once again, a highlight should be a storytelling program, this time featuring the trio of Heisman winners.

Tickets are available for the entire day or just the evening dinner program at nebraskagreatsfoundation.org.

Dale Miller is a sports writer for the Independent.

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