Saying Goodbye to Sam Foltz

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a special guest post by Misty Schaecher, a dear friend from my high school days at Grand Island Senior High. Like nearly every kid from that era, we both worked at the Skagway store that was on the other side of the parking lot from Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church which hosted the memorial service for Sam Foltz.

Misty reached out earlier this week to see if this site could use any coverage of his service. Her out-of-the-blue offer momentarily took me aback until I realized this is just another example of how Husker fans stick together in all kinds of weather.

Her story and photos follow below.

Drew Brown and Sam Foltz

“There is a Presence in this Place.”

As Husker Nation descended upon Grand Island for the memorial of Sam Foltz, the air of grief was palpable. An early morning thunderstorm set the stage for this morning’s service, causing flooding throughout this small Nebraska town.

The entrance to Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church was lined with flags, family, friends, fans, teammates and coaches. When you are a part of something as great as Husker Nation, you are a part of a family that is supportive and infinitely great.

Husker Flag

Nearly 2,000 people attended the 75-minute memorial service.  This included seven busloads of his University of Nebraska teammates and fellow students.  Seven Priests and the Archdiocese Bishop presided over the ceremony where Sam’s life was celebrated.  People overflowed the church, spilling into the hallways and reception hall where the ceremony was broadcast live.

Sam Foltz with kids

Not since April 18, 1996, when quarterback Brook Berringer died in a tragic plane crash, have Husker fans felt such sadness. Sam Foltz was a punter, so much of the everyday hoopla of being a quarterback didn’t surround him as it did Berringer, however, his genuine kindness made him a fan favorite from the start.Sam was a true hometown hero of Grand Island. He was not only a Husker, he was also a brother, a son, a friend, and a true Islander.

Sam Foltz Diploma

As the football season fast approaches us, Husker Nation will not be the same. There will be one less dreamer on the field this year. One less determined young man reporting to practice. One less teammate offering advice to the underclassmen. One less hero representing the town of Grand Island, Nebraska on the national stage.

On July 19, 2016, Sam tweeted, “You never know who’s watching. What impact do you wanna leave on the next generation to aspire too?!”

This fan, this town, and this state will remember you Sam Foltz and we will indeed be looking up to you.

Sam Foltz Running

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BLACKSHIRT FLAG

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Sam Foltz: An Appreciation

Seasons aren’t supposed to begin this way.

This time of year in the college football world is supposed to be nothing but unbridled hope and boundless optimism. The sky’s the limit during this wonderful transition when the dog days of summer start giving ground to the football season approaching over the horizon.

It’s not supposed to be a time for a team and its fans to say goodbye to one of their most beloved players.

To say that Sam Foltz is the backbone of the Cornhuskers is not hyperbole.

In an age of showcase camps, star ratings, and selection videos with as much production value of an average Michael Bay movie, Sam was just the latest homegrown example to prove there will always be a place on a team for someone who’s willing to get there the old-fashioned way, through hard work and sheer determination.

One of the biggest points of pride to being a Cornhusker fan has always been the crop of local players standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the marquee out-of-state recruits. It’s a subliminal boost of confidence that lets a Nebraska kid know that, even if he or she comes from the middle of nowhere,  it’s possible to hang with with anyone no matter where you go. Those bedrock Nebraska values of humility, integrity, and an anvil solid work ethic translate to any field, be it athletic or otherwise.

Sam knew this and used his role on the Huskers to continue the tradition of paying forward this inspirational quality to the next wave of Big Red faithful.

I’ll never forget Sam’s first punt as a Husker. It was the 2013 season opener against Wyoming that turned into an unexpected nail biter, remember?

I watched that game in Sacramento. My wife and I took a road trip up there from LA to cheer-on the Iowa Hawkeyes soccer team  (my cousin was co-captain) in a game against Pacific.

Husker fans being Husker fans, we have a knack for finding each other and organizing for game days so I ditched out on visiting with family in from out-of-state (they understood) to head to the local watch site.

Nebraska’s first offensive drive of that game started on their own two yard line. Three plays and a false start later, a redshirt freshman named Sam Foltz jogged onto the field and boomed a punt all the way back to Wyoming’s 36 yard line. In the score book, it’s officially listed as a 56 yarder but everyone who saw it knows the ball was launched from the Huskers’ end zone.

When the shock wave caused by the ball rocketing off Sam’s foot finally subsided, a bar full of Husker fans asked in unison, “Who is this kid?”

Husker fans being Husker fans, we slapped high fives for a punt and all knew right away that Sam was going to be special.

And then, a little later on, we saw his ability to knock any ambitious punt returner into next week and we finally began to grasp the enormity of just how special Sam was. He was a hard nosed football player who happened to be a punter.

When I put together a pump up video for this upcoming season, one thing I had to include was one of Sam’s punts. Out of the scores of highlight reels I’ve ever watched, a punter has never been included. Since this was my video, I was going to make sure a fellow Grand Island alum got a little recognition.

Husker fans being Husker fans, message board chatter about the video quickly became about the inclusion of Sam among the jaw dropping highlights. I was glad to see I wasn’t the only one who appreciated what his contributions meant to the team.

Sam’s final punt as a Husker came the Foster Farms Bowl with about five minutes to go. Nebraska was faced with a 4th and 23 “situation” and a surging UCLA team. Sam’s punt wasn’t his biggest but those 39 yards got the Huskers out of trouble and did their part to hold off the Bruins.

I saw that punt at my brother’s house in Iowa. The last time we watched a Husker game together was at the Rose Bowl and Nebraska was playing Miami for the BCS Championship.

A lot had changed in nearly 14 years but our love for the Big Red had remained constant.

A player like Sam can never be replaced but we can all do our part to ensure that his legacy remains for decades to come by leading by example in our daily lives and making time for those who could use a boost of support and guidance.

You don’t have to be a football player to inspire others but you can channel one’s attitude and help make a difference to those around you and in your community.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Meet Our New Contributor Leslie Micek

Hey there, remember us? Hope so because our off-season hiatus is back off, again. We trust you’ve been having a great summer, staying cool, never changing, and catching a boatload of that Pokéyman.

Before we resume our usual Husker high jinks, we’d like to introduce you to Leslie Micek, a five star recruit who’s joining the Big Red Fury squad this season.

If you’re a regular participant in #Huskers Twitter, there’s a good chance you’ve seen her hot takes and observations on game day. If you haven’t, follow her here. Leslie is a world-class smart-ass, probably knows more about the Huskers (and sports in general) than you do, and can pound Bud Heavies with the best of them. (Actually, she’d probably put you under the table.)

Since there’s really no way to improve upon an intro like that, let’s get to her interview.

You hail from the land of Kool-Aid, aka Hastings, aka Tom Osborne’s hometown. What was it like growing up in the southern corner of the golden triangle that is Nebraska’s tri-cities area? 

Perfect. Nebraska is a great place to be a kid, you can always be outside with a relatively low chance of finding any real trouble. I played with a lot of fireworks, rode my bike a lot, and constantly bothered all of the neighbors. I moved in 3rd grade, but my dad still lives there so I go back a lot and do Nebraska things like go fishing and attempt to learn how to play pitch. Not many people can say they were at the very first Kool-Aid Days back in 1997 (or something like that). And yes, that’s a real thing.

Leslie Micek
Leslie Micek, Husker fan, catcher of delicious bass.

What’s your earliest Husker memory? 

Winning. The teams of the mid 90s set me up for a lifetime full of disappointment. Thanks a lot, Tommie Frazier. Sometimes I get on YouTube and watch things like this- –

–it doesn’t help. I think I thought Nebraska was supposed to play in the championship every year. I mean, they are supposed to, they just don’t.

What’s your all-time favorite moment in your history as a Husker fan? 

A couple of years ago I sneaked onto the sidelines of a game at Northwestern. My friends had media passes and passed one back to me. I got to witness my boys Ameer and Randy Gregory up close and personal. It was awesome, until they figured out at the end of the third quarter that I wasn’t supposed to be there and kicked me out. I tried to say I lost my badge but the security guy wasn’t having it. It was just fun to know that I could yell at Bo if I chose to…I didn’t. By the way, that Northwestern stadium is pathetic.

Leslie
Not many fans can say they’ve had a Husker coach send them their own HUDL highlight of their sideline freakout. See if you can spot Leslie going nuts at Northwestern.

What’s the one loss that still sticks in your craw the most? 

One?? Besides the obvious big losses, some personal memories have to include that very special BYU game last year. I decided last minute to go with my mom. I needed to be part of Mike Riley’s first game. I needed to be there. I did not need to see that BYU Hail Mary. Also, a special memory from the UCLA game in 2013 taught me to never make fun of my friends and their team until the game is over. The 18 point comeback by UCLA was brutal, I ended up being at Barney’s Beanery in West Hollywood from 9am-2am that day.

EDITOR’S NOTE: That’s a 17 hour(!) shift at a sports bar.

Who’s your all-time favorite player?

I’m bad at favorites. I would say either Tommie Frazier or Lawrence Phillips. There is a video compilation on YouTube of Lawrence Phillips running all over everybody for like 5 minutes.

He was just unreal. His story is heartbreaking but I find it very interesting. I think he is tied to be my favorite but he is the most interesting to me. Hope the upcoming 30 for 30 does his story some justice because I don’t think people know or understand the whole story of his life.

What’s your outlook for this season? Do Mike Riley and company have you feeling optimistic? 

HCMR and Co. have me pumped. They are recruiting really well and the energy is contagious. As Phil Steele said, the Huskers were 5 plays away from being 11-2 last season and has them as his No. 2 most improved team this season. To be honest it’s the best time of the year, the time to be delusional and say the Huskers are going undefeated. Everybody tweet to me after the Huskers first loss and remind me that I’m a moron (but I see them at least getting to the playoffs, their schedule is pretty good, minus the Ohio State part).

What are your feelings on the phrase “Run the damn ball?” 

I scream it at my TV enough that I suppose I like it.

You went to a “certain college” that was a former conference rival to Nebraska. You don’t have to name it, but was it like being a Husker fan behind enemy lines?

It was always fun to bring people from the school that will not be named to Nebraska for the games. They knew I wasn’t there permanently and referred to me as a tourist. I enjoyed showing them around Lincoln and introducing them to my Nebraska friends, and of course the local Runza. They always had a good time and the trips usually ended with us staying awake in the Cap City long enough to see the sunrise. It was quite a different experience for Nebraska fans making the trip to Columbia, they have some unwelcoming fans. I remember a story about some Mizzou fans letting all the air out of some Nebraska fans tires.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Um, I think you just named the school. 

Rank the following Big Ten teams from least to most hated: Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin. 

1.Ohio State
1.Michigan
1.Michigan State
1.Wisconsin
1.Northwestern
1.Penn State
1.Iowa 

I’m an equal opportunity hater. I hate them all. Also, I have never understood the root for your conference stuff. If Nebraska loses, why do I want their competition to win? No thanks. Sorry to break it to Ohio State, but I will never be cheering for them.

Which one of the following Husker media types would you most like to have a beer with? Dirk Chatelain, Sam McKewon, Mike’l Severe, Tom Shatel, Steven M. Sipple.

Probably Tom Shatel because I don’t follow him so he hasn’t gotten on my nerves yet.

You’re one of the fortunate people who can claim being both a Husker fan and a Dodger fan. How would you say the two fan bases compare? 

I think they both are similar because they have very dedicated and loyal fan bases. It’s pretty easy to be dedicated for 12 games a season for football fans but I meet Dodger fans that watch 162 games a season. I would like to think that’s what Husker fans would be like if there were that many games. They are both also very knowledgeable fan bases. I think Husker fans know more than the average football fans, especially regarding recruiting. Dodger fans are the same way, they are very educated about their team and their opponents.

I’ve always thought of LA as sort of like a United Nations of college football where you’ll go to a bar and see many different colleges represented. Is there a school’s fans that you find almost likable and is there a group that you find completely obnoxious?

 I don’t know about a likable fan base but as soon as I thought of an obnoxious and unlikable fan base, my first thought was The U. They are all unbearable.

 How would you say the overall college football knowledge base of an average Nebraska fan compares to other college football fans? 

Husker fans blow everybody else out of the water in the category. I don’t know a lot of other fans that follow the recruiting process so closely. When I talk to other college football fans they don’t usually know who they are after and don’t attend any of the camps. Nebraska fans are big football dorks and will attend almost anything. I drove an hour and a half and through a fire in Calabasas to a Nebraska satellite camp last month and didn’t think twice. But speaking of recruits… Darnay Holmes, please come to Nebraska.

On those rare occasions that Nebraska loses, what’s your mood like after a game? How long does it take you to recover? 

Such a rare occurrence that I can’t remember the last time that happened. But for future reference, nobody should contact me the rest of the day.

Who’s your number one QB if you’re building a team? Tommy Armstrong, Eric Crouch, Tommie Frazier, Joe Ganz, Taylor Martinez.

You go Tommie Frazier 100% of the time. As Tommie Frazier says “T Fraz, he was too smooth, he was too fast” in this classic rap song by Terrel Farley and Tommie Frazier:

Would you rather have one Ndamukong Suh or two Peter brothers anchoring a defensive line? 

It’s had to turn down two DTs on the greatest college football team of all time, but when Suh is the other option. You pick Suh. Plus he is the size of two people but only one scholarship. That’s a bargain.

Amigos or Taco John’s? And what’s your go-to order? 

Amigos. I love their chips and cheese and their crisp meat. The crisp meat is like a crispito from school lunches, I’m sure nobody will know what that is either. But I could really go for some Potato Olés right now.

How would you explain a Runza to someone who’s never heard of one? 

This actually comes up a lot. I say its kind of like a cheeseburger baked into a roll. But better. Then I just usually talk about the mini corndogs and fries and people are on board.

Finally, let’s say you have a Kool-Aid stand out in the desert and from over a sand dune appears Bo Pelini, He’s been lost and wandering for days. How much would you charge him for an ice cold and refreshing glass of Kool-Aid? (Hypothetically, you’d have a square reader and he’d have a black AMEX.) 

 He better hope there is another Kool-Aid stand around.

Leslie Kool-Aid Stand
That’s right, Bo. Keep steppin’.

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