Nebraska softball vs. Northwestern, 4/28

Nebraska's MJ Knighten celebrates her two-run homer against Northwestern with coach Rhonda Revelle during a 2017 contest.

Tori Tyson's softball career at Nebraska came to a close in 2012, but the relationship with her head coach was just beginning.

Playing for Rhonda Revelle helped inspire Tyson to get into coaching, and with Revelle's help, Tyson landed an assistant coaching gig at Cal State Fullerton in her home state.

When Tyson became head coach at Howard, she wanted to boost the program's social media presence.

Among the first to follow the Howard softball twitter account: Revelle.

"She's always checking on me," Tyson said Wednesday. "She would send me videos and always send drills. Everywhere I've gone, she has played a strong part."

Now Tyson is going to bat for her coach. And so, too, are many, many other former Huskers a day after it was learned that Revelle had been placed on paid administrative leave, pending a university review in regards to "concerns raised regarding our student-athletes."

Nebraska has not provided any more information about the situation and Revelle, who just completed her 27th season with the Huskers. Players from the 2019 squad have been told to not speak about the investigation, a source told the Journal Star.

According to another source, players and others associated with the team are meeting with Nebraska compliance officials. Meanwhile, a Journal Star inquiry on how long Revelle has been on paid administrative leave was not answered by the Athletic Department.

While the university quietly continues its review, many in the college softball community have been loud in their support of Revelle.

"Growing up, Nebraska softball was Coach Revelle," said Alicia Armstrong, a Beatrice native who played at NU from 2013-16. "That's what I associated it with. To see her associated in this light, I just don't see the program in this way. It's absolutely crazy. I'm honestly mind-blown that this is happening.

"She would do absolutely anything for any of her players, so it's very disheartening to see a couple players speak of Coach Revelle like this."

On Wednesday, former players, coaches and parents showered social media with tweets, many with the hashtag #standwithrhonda. Big Ten coaches offered their support, including legendary Michigan coach Carol Hutchins, who is a close friend of Revelle's.

Several former players told the Journal Star that they were shocked to see the news.

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"I go to Husker games every year (and) when I'm there, I usually always go down to the field to see the coaches, but then also the players," said Peaches James, one of the greatest Huskers to suit up for Revelle (2001-04). "I'm always giving the players hugs and we're talking. I was just so, so surprised because there was never a vibe of that."

Former Huskers are also making sure Nebraska administrators are hearing their voices. Nicole Trimboli said players who played for Revelle are writing letters to Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos, UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green and University President Hank Bounds.

"To see some of my teammates' letters ... we each felt so individually impacted it was almost like some of us didn't know that was happening to everybody else around us," said Trimboli, who played for Revelle from 2001-04.

Former Huskers pointed to Revelle's positive energy, her passion for coaching and, above all else, her ability to connect with players.

"She was very curious about you, right off the bat," Trimboli said. "She tries to understand people first. She's coaching at highly competitive university and winning is important and she wants to bring the best out of us on the field, but it was never motivated by, 'How do I get you to play the best?' It was always motivated by, 'How do I get to know you and help you grow as a person?'"

Said Armstrong, "She knows players' potential and their goals, and she's going to push athletes to achieve them. She only wants the best for her players and I'm incredibly thankful for (my) four years (at Nebraska) and the impact on my life."

When Tyson played for Revelle, the California native said, "I definitely didn't make it easy for her at all." But Revelle's faith in Tyson didn't waver and Tyson, whose younger sister Dawna also played at NU, said she is grateful for being pushed like she was by Revelle.

"You feel that love when she hugs you and you know it's there," Tyson said. "You have to be in a position to receive it. I was not in a position to receive that level of love until I was done, and then you want it more.

"Now I'm out in the real world saying, 'God, I could really use a Revelle practice and her love after right now.' It was challenging, absolutely, she wanted to be the best. As a coach, we have to do that. This is our job."

Whether Revelle, considered an ambassador to the sport and state, will coach a 28th season at Nebraska remains to be seen. Revelle is closing in on 1,000 career wins and is an NFCA Hall-of-Famer. James called the uncertainty "heartbreaking."

"The fact that you can build that legacy and you can have so many years and impact so many lives in such positive ways," James said. "She teaches spinning classes at the YMCA and I've seen her in other aspects other than just softball in the community. All these people have all these great things, lifetime experiences with her and years and years of positivity and one or two people can just bring that all down, and that is what breaks my heart.

"We all know who Rhonda is."

Reach the writer at 402-473-2639 or cgrell@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LJSSportsGrell.


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