The Nebraska volleyball team this season is one of the closest and best groups that coach John Cook can remember in 20 years as the head coach.
In that group Cook includes the 16 players, the coaches, the athletic performance staff and the graduate managers.
It’s a group that enjoys being with each other, and Cook says he can’t recall a team that was so grateful for what they’re provided.
“They just do a great job. They’re super-low maintenance. They’re very tight,” Cook said on Monday. “Our whole group is just a really great group to be around, and I’ve told them several times how much I appreciate them.”
That group is grieving now because one of its members, Dane Leclair, a graduate manager for the team, died on Sunday in Lincoln.
Officer Angela Sands said at about 9:30 a.m. police went to Seventh and N streets on a report of a body found. She said they found Leclair, of Pittsford, New York, who died after falling from the fourth floor of a parking garage.
Sands said that after reviewing video surveillance, it happened around 3:40 a.m. and appeared to be accidental.
There was a meeting on Sunday to tell the players. The team had a match on Saturday at Purdue. The first-year managers don’t travel to every road match so they can focus on school, and Leclair wasn’t on the trip.
The players were devastated, Cook said.
“You got to remember these (managers) are two years older than our players. It’s devastation,” Cook said.
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Leclair was one of four mangers. They help set up for practice and assist in some drills. During the summer they coach teams at volleyball camps.
The managers are usually former college players. This year former Husker setter Kelly Hunter is one of the mangers.
Nebraska recruits managers by contacting college coaches and asking if any of their seniors are interested in getting into coaching and studying for a master’s degree. Leclair played at Loyola Chicago.
“Our graduate managers have become a very important part of our program,” Cook said. “I treat these guys like they’re my own sons, I treat them like they’re professional coaches, even though they are graduate managers. They’re super-tight. I told the team several times this year that this is the tightest group and the best group we’ve ever had as an overall part of our program.
“So it’s losing a part of our team. It’s hard to put into words, and everybody is still really confused. When somebody is that young and has got the world in front of them … he was a really talented guy, and a great family. We were in Maryland last week and his family came down and met him. It’s really a tragic deal. … (The managers) spend two years with us. They’re there every day, every meeting grinding right with the coaches and the players.”
The managers are especially close.
“They all share an office together and basically it’s a pack that runs together and they do everything together,” Cook said. “It’s very tight-knit and we recruit people that we want in the program and that we think can be really good and help us and then use this as a springboard.”
Davis not with team: Last week Cook announced that outside hitter Capri Davis will take an indefinite medical leave of absence from the program. Cook said Monday that Davis won’t be attending practice.
“She’s taking care of her business,” Cook said.
AVCA poll: After last weeks’ loss against Purdue, the Huskers dropped out of the top-five of the coaches’ poll for the first time. Nebraska (16-3) is No. 8 in the poll, dropping three spots from last week. Nebraska is one spot ahead of Creighton at No. 9.