In a small, paved backyard that rests in the well-maintained shadows of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Greek Row, the Fun Team gathers each football gameday.

But make no mistake, this home game is a roadshow. It's a weekly pilgrimage from North Platte for most of the group, which has been convening in the semi-secluded spot a few blocks east of Memorial Stadium for the past seven years. 

Do they have fun? Definitely. But it comes rolled up in a three-hour drive — each way. That said, win or lose, it has to be enjoyable and there had better also be a kinship — a true affinity — among the group that makes such a commitment worthwhile.

"We've known each other all our lives," said Kallie Shepherd, a registered nurse and the wife of Kyle, who is the organizer of this weekly road trip. "We like catching up, spending time together."

Part of the group's pregame ritual is the pooling of the game tickets and then deciding who among the 30-40 in attendance will be walking the few blocks to watch the game live. The others have no problem sticking around to watch it on television, the game action and the roar of the crowd actually taking place a few seconds before the satellite technology catches up on the screen.

After the game, the party resumes before the group heads west.

This roadshow theme actually got its start 21 years ago — before most in the group were married and long before their families had blossomed to include children — when a handful began taking trips with the Huskers throughout the Big 12 Conference.

There's a map with a corresponding notation of every place the Fun Team has visited. The map shows stops in Eugene, Oregon; Blacksburg, Virginia; and Laramie, Wyoming; to name a few — as well as just about every Big 12 and Big Ten city, not to mention a few bowl-game cities.

"We've logged some miles and we've had a lot of fun," said Kyle Shepherd, the general manager of the Nebraska Cooperative Republican Platte Enhancement Project, which helps the state meet its water obligations to farmers.

Hence, the name.

But, as he tells it, the Fun Team got its name during what could be called the lowest point imaginable. On Nov. 3, 2007, a small group made the trip to Lawrence, Kansas, to witness the Huskers' 76-39 loss to the Jayhawks. Let that sink in for a minute. ... 76-39 loss to THE FREAKING JAYHAWKS! ... in football, not basketball.

"It was pretty bad," said Kyle Shepherd, who remembers ending up at the bar nearest to the stadium, a place fittingly called The Jayhawker. 

"One of our guys was really depressed," he said. "He takes his football very seriously and he was nearly crying. After a while, someone slapped him on the back and said, 'You know what, we may not be a good team, but we’re a team.'

"He looked up and said, '(cow manure), we’re a fun team."

The line stuck and it caused a change in mentality. If they were going to travel to watch the Huskers, win or lose, fun was going to be the primary objective.

"We can have fun even when our team doesn't win," he said.

That mentality has been put to the test too many times this season — both at home and on a road trip to Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Saturday, there was no shortage of fun, be it in the countless conversations taking place, the never-ending corn hole games among players — young and old or the banter regarding the food, which included a brand of cheese snacks called Pirate's Booty, which can't help but bring out the fourth-grade boy in all of us.

But the star of Saturday's roadshow was David Miller, a Lincoln Electric System IT engineer who will soon be making the move to Denver. Miller put together the main course of the pregame feast — steaming several pounds of corn, potatoes, cabbage, sausage, onions, mushrooms, asparagus and shrimp with beer in a large, cream canister.

Those who are superstitious might demand that Miller repeat Saturday's menu. After all, it did serve as the pregame meal for the first victory of the season — the first victory of the Scott Frost era.

My reasons are far more selfish. It was delicious and Round 2 sounds pretty good.


Night news editor

I am night news editor of the Lincoln Journal Star.

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