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Passion

Drives Former Student Athletes in Athletic Department Jobs

Maggi Thorne • Alvin Banks • Mike Dobbs • Jami Hagedorn • Guy Rozier

By Randy York, ’71

G memorable national championship

uy Rozier played in Nebraska’s most

football loss, a 31-30 setback to Miami in the 1984 Orange Bowl. Mike Dobbs was a pitcher and a captain on the baseball team at the same time Guy and his Heisman Trophy-winning brother, Mike Rozier, were on the football field. Alvin Banks lettered as a linebacker on the Huskers’ 1991 football team. In 1996-97 and ’97-98, Jami Kubik (now Jami Hagedorn) was a first-team Academic All-Big 12 basketball player at Nebraska. In 2004, Maggi Thorne was a sprinter, hurdler and captain on the women’s track

and field team and president of Your Degree First, one of the two most important student-athlete organizations on campus – the other being the StudentAthlete Advisory Council. Rozier, Dobbs, Banks, Hagedorn and Thorne are all graduates of the University of Nebraska. They were all dedicated athletes, outstanding leaders and share a singularly powerful trait that carried them to their dream jobs with Nebraska Athletics – a department that recruited them, nurtured and mentored them, and gave them scholarships in a highly competitive conference.

“There’s one thing that outstanding student-athletes have at the major college level, and that’s passion,” said Paul Meyers, Nebraska’s associate athletic director for development. “All five had passion when they competed here, and they still have it when they come to work here every day.” Rozier is assistant director of development, and Dobbs is a development officer. Banks is an academic counselor and coordinator of student-athlete development. Hagedorn is a financial and human resources manager, and Thorne is assistant director of capital planning and construction. NEBRASKAMAGAZINE

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Here’s a closer look at how each of the five got their foot in the door of the athletic department and why they’re so glad to part of the team:

Maggi Thorne A school record-holder in the distance medley relay, Thorne came to Nebraska from San Diego. She was the first college graduate in her family. That’s why her mom cherishes a picture of her daughter jumping on the stage with her degree held high in the air. A month after earning her diploma, Thorne started on the athletic grounds crew as a student worker in 2005. She helped clean up the trash after events, helped set up events and did anything else she was assigned with vigor – whether it was picking weeds and/or scraping pizza up off the ground. When former athletic department strength leader Boyd Epley saw Thorne putting together a nutrition display, he started asking questions. Six months after she was hired, Thorne became a design intern. Two years after that, she became a full-time project coordinator in facilities and has helped spearhead a variety of important projects such as those related to Nebraska’s new Student Life Complex and recruiting path to showcase the Huskers’ tradition and rich history. “Boyd … gave me a chance, which is all I could really ask for,” Thorne said. “He took the time to teach me about Nebraska’s history, and John Ingram (Nebraska’s associate athletic director for capital planning and construction) makes coming to work every day 100 percent enjoyable.” Keith Zimmer, Nebraska’s associate athletic director for life skills, is another important Thorne mentor. “It was invaluable for me to have Keith teach us how to translate our skill sets in athletics into real life,” Thorne said. “I consider my career my new sport, and I look at my job the same way I did when I was training for track at Nebraska. I want student-athletes to come to Nebraska and experience what I experienced, so I try to give my all today so our student-athletes enjoy a better tomorrow,” she said. “In facilities, we’re always trying to take it to the next level, set ourselves apart and be among the nation’s best.”

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Jami Hagedorn After graduating from Nebraska, Hagedorn became a graduate assistant coach for the Nebraska women’s basketball team, then spent a second year as an assistant coach. When the head coach left Nebraska, Hagedorn was not retained. Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Byrne asked Nancy Kenny, the athletic department’s chief financial officer, if there was a need in the business office, and Hagedorn filled a temporary position on special projects. The temporary job became a full-time position, and Hagedorn has approached her responsibilities with the same intensity she showed when she guarded first-team All-American Nykesha Sales in a WNIT pre-season tournament game at national power UConn. “The most important part of playing at Nebraska was how I was developed as a total person,” Hagedorn said. “I was able to learn leadership skills, communications skills, the value of hard work and teamwork and, of course, the right way to do things. The places I got to visit and learning how to interact with people from all backgrounds was very important to me.” Although her interaction with studentathletes is limited, Hagedorn feels she can impact their experiences by making sure Nebraska operates with integrity on a daily basis. “When I was a student-athlete, my motto was the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and I try to operate that way now,” Hagedorn said. “Nebraska has always – and will always – do things that are in the best interests of our student-athletes and the state of Nebraska.”

Alvin Banks Banks is a quintessential product of Nebraska football for a lot of reasons, but one stands out ... he was recruited as a walk-on to play for Coach Tom Osborne, now his athletic director. “Coach Osborne … believes strongly in serving others and doing things the right way,” Banks said. “He provided me with the opportunity to take my skills and match them with the best in the business.

After six years as a law enforcement officer in Lincoln, Banks looked for work in academics. He served two years as an assistant academic counselor in NU athletics and when a full-time position opened, he applied. “Being a former student-athlete provided a good understanding of how to best work with current student-athletes,” he said. “There’s nothing better than playing on a Big Eight championship team, graduating and getting to work for your alma mater. I built lasting relationships as a studentathlete, and I’m building lasting relationships now as an academic counselor.” Banks has played a role in Nebraska’s recent resurgence in wrestling. The Huskers finished fourth nationally and shared the Big 12 Conference championship in 2009. Banks works with the wrestling team as an academic counselor and is known for having a smile on his face and serving the student-athletes with the same fired-up attitude he had as a football player. “It’s about preparing for life daily and getting the job done the right way,” he said. “My mother and father and grandmother and grandfather were the driving forces in my life,” Banks said. “I witnessed four people working extremely hard to provide for our family. I grew up with full support, common goals and shared values, and I try to represent all of that to the studentathletes I serve and in my own family, (which includes two kids).”

Mike Dobbs When Paul Meyers began his search for a development officer, he couldn’t help but check out one candidate, in particular, who had all the values he wanted. Integrity, trust, respect, teamwork and loyalty are core values that Meyers has long embraced, and he hired a former teammate who pursues excellence using those same values. “Mike Dobbs has all of those values, and he brings his passion to work every day,” Meyers said. “We played together in the mid-1980s, and we enjoy working together now. Mike is doing exactly what we hired him to do – develop strong and lasting relationships that will help us do what we need most to serve our student-athletes.” Meyers was an All-America centerfielder and Dobbs a starting pitcher on the 1985 Nebraska baseball team that played Stanford for an NCAA regional championship.


“The most important part of my experience at Nebraska was developing friendships with my teammates that last a lifetime,” Dobbs said, “but I never dreamed it would lead to a job back in the athletic department. I saw a posting on the Nebraska Web site and applied for the job, and here we are, starting my second year. It’s gone fast.” In his 11 years as a high school teacher and coach and nine years in sales, Dobbs prided himself on having a positive attitude, enjoying people and developing relationships. It just so happens those are the fundamental principles to be successful in development work. “When I was a student-athlete, I tried to work hard and treat people the way I wanted to be treated,” Dobbs said. “Well, guess what? That’s the same way I try to approach my job in the athletic department today.”

Guy Rozier Rozier describes his athletic department job as a “dream come true” and says that his new position proves that life can come full circle. “This is the culmination of all the things I’ve done to build

myself as a man and a business person,” Rozier said. “When you’re asked to carry the torch for a university, an athletic department and a state you love, it’s almost enough to bring tears to your eyes. I mean, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I couldn’t wait to join this team.” Drafted by the Cincinnati Reds out of high school in Camden, N.J., Rozier instead came to Nebraska on a football scholarship. He earned two letters and now helps oversee annual contributions for major sports. Immediately following his college graduation, Rozier worked with Entertainment Tonight and Eddie Murphy Productions at Paramount Pictures in California before joining the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and traveling internationally as a logistics manager for more than three years. His USOC group provided support for the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain, and the 1992 Winter Olympic Games in Albertville, France. In 1993, Rozier was “loaned” to the 1995 Special Olympics World Games in New Haven, Conn. When the World Games were complete, he joined his wife, Edie, in owning and operating a radio station and various retail outlets in New Haven. In 2000, he joined the executive

business development team for Marriott International Hotels in Washington, D.C., and also worked in other business development positions before joining the Nebraska Athletic Department. “I firmly believe that in order to build strong relationships, you have to be a good listener,” he said. “You have to listen to know what’s really important in people’s lives. It’s the only way you can analyze their personal needs. Then, if you emulate Coach Osborne, you don’t provide answers. You help people make the decisions that will work best for them.” Rozier has one additional secret to success. “We all do better when we put our egos aside and keep our focus on what we’re really here for – the student-athletes and the fan,” he said. “We must ensure that each one of those legacies continues.” n

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Character. Courage. Leadership. Respect. These are the principles former Husker Matt Davison is instilling in today’s young athletes so they reach their goals, both on the playing field, and in life. To make a donation, or find out how to bring Matt’s foundation to your community, visit www.creatingcaptains.org or call 402.672.1787.

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Passion Drives Former Student Athletes