Outside the Huddle with Nigel Haikins

Nigel Haikins.jpg

Hello Wolf Pack Fans!

My name is Nigel Haikins. I am a soon-to-be graduate of the University of Nevada and a senior on its football team. I was born in Berkeley, California and was raised in the Bay Area. Despite playing football at the Division-I level, I am rather new to it. This is due to the fact that I started playing the sport my senior year of high school. After high school, I attended Diablo Valley College where I played for two seasons before transferring to Nevada. Being relatively new to football, I have learned a lot about the sport and its culture in a relatively short amount of time.

The thing that has jumped out to me the most during my acclimation to the sport were the perceptions that came with it. For some reason, still unknown to me, football players are perceived as entitled, selfish, self-centered people. This generalization of such a broad spectrum of people, including myself, bothers me. I believe this warped perception of football players comes from a misunderstanding. A misunderstanding of what being a football player truly entails. Since most people are oblivious to what it means to be a football player, I will try to explain by mapping out what we do during the week.

Sundays: Because our games are usually on Saturdays, this day is used for evaluation and recovery. As a team, we come together in the late afternoon and go through various exercises and stretches that help get the soreness out of our bodies. We then have a quick team meeting then split up for meetings with our position groups. These position group meetings give our coaches the opportunity to critique individual performances and show us where we can improve. Sundays also feature a quick practice in the evening.

Mondays: For most students, Monday is the most dreaded day of the week. It marks the end of the weekend and the start of another class and work-filled week. However, for football players, it is the single best day of the week. This is because it is our day off. We have no football obligations for the day. Despite it being our lone day off, most players use it as an opportunity to start watching film on our next opponent and familiarizing ourselves with them. Many also use this day to knock out as many of their required study hall hours as they can.

Tuesdays & Wednesdays: I group these two days together because they are equally tough. Unlike Mondays, when we get to sleep in, we start these days off nice and early with 7 a.m. meetings. These meetings usually last about an hour and consist of coaches explaining the opponent. In addition to these morning meetings, we also have weights to attend. These days also feature the toughest practices of the week. Practices are long, grueling, and physical. Coaches and players refer to these couple of days as "work days."

Thursdays: This year, Coach Polian decided to place a bigger emphasis on the mental preparation for games. This led to "No Sweat Thursdays." This day is dedicated to the perfection of the mental aspect of our game plan. Instead of pads, we practice in shorts and t-shirts. Despite being a practice day, the atmosphere is much more laid back than the other days of the week.

Fridays: Friday practices are short and crisp. Although not as physically intense as Tuesday and Wednesday practice, the serious tones of those days are present. This is also the day that we depart for games.

Hopefully, this insight into the life of a football player helps you understand what we do on a daily basis. Although I have explained the obligations players have during the week, there is no way to truly convey the mental, emotional, and physical stress that players undergo on a routine basis. I don't write this to make you feel sorry for players; it is a life that we choose and enjoy. I write this just to give understanding to those that may hold those negative views towards football players. Instead of assuming that the player in your class didn't do his homework because he thought he could skate by due to the fact he plays football, you realize that maybe it slipped his mind because he is learning a new position. That player that neglected to hold the door open for you at the Joe? He wasn't being rude, his mind was simply on the game plan for that week. People aren't always what they seem, with football players being no exception.

Homecoming Week

Boise State week. Since I first arrived at Nevada, there has been a quiet reverence towards the Boise State football team. The practice week leading up to the Boise game have always been more intense. Coaches and players were more solemn and less likely to joke around. Despite being the perpetual underdog, Nevada football has traditionally placed special emphasis on beating Boise State.

However, the 2014 season marks the end of this placement of Boise on a pedestal. Coach Polian has changed the harmful habit of the team looking into the future and circling games on the schedule. This season, we make the effort to look at each game as a one game season. This has led to us putting our full effort and concentration into each game and an optimism surrounding the team that is not usually there. Time will tell if this new method of thinking will help the Nevada football finally defeat Boise State.

Wolf Pack student-athletes learn about resume writing

On Monday night, 49 Wolf Pack student-athletes took some time out of their busy schedules to attend a workshop on resume writing.

Taught by Mary T Calhoon from the University of Nevada's Career Studio, the workshop focused on helping student-athletes transfer their experiences on and off the field to their resumes.

Calhoon told the student-athletes that their resumes are their own "unique personal marketing tools." She also helped them identify the skills they learn as student-athletes that employers are looking for, including being goal-oriented and competitive, resilient, strong communicators, team players, good time managers and hard workers.

The resume writing workshop was part of the Wolf Pack Life Skills program, which is committed to student-athletes' complete development personally and professionally. The program strives to teach student-athletes skills and provide them the resources they will need to be successful in college and in life after athletics by offering workshops, presentations and guest speakers as well as directing them to additional on- and off-campus resources.

Other topics scheduled for this year include finding the right major and career path, personal finance, dressing for success, car maintenance and winter driving, nutrition, personal etiquette and interviewing for jobs.


Pack basketball team participates in JDRF walk

For the second year in a row the University of Nevada men's basketball team, coaches and support staff participated in the JDRF Walk held on campus Sunday morning. 

The Wolf Pack were part of team Double Trouble organized by the family of Amie and Maddie Barnard who were both diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.  Funds raised from the walk are used for research to find a cure for type 1 diabetes.  There were numerous teams that participated in the walk in support of finding a cure for type 1 diabetes.

Marion Motley Featured in New Documentary

Former Wolf Pack star Marion Motley will be featured in a documentary, "Forgotten Four," premiering on EPIX tomorrow, Sept. 23.

"Forgotten Four" tells the story of the four men - Motley, Woody Strode, Kenny Washington and Bill Willis - who broke the color barrier in professional football in 1946, one year before Jackie Robinson made his historic debut in Major League Baseball.

Motley, Marion-1.jpgA native of Canton, Ohio, Motley came to the University of Nevada in 1940 where he quickly established himself as a star. He broke into the starting lineup at fullback and linebacker and played for the Wolf Pack for three seasons from 1940-42. A powerful blocker and tackler at 6-1 and 240 pounds, Motley also returned several kickoffs for touchdown, including a 105-yarder in a 1941 game that is still tied for the school record. While Motley was at Nevada, a Reno reporter wrote that "in Marion Motley, the ball club has one of the best backs in the entire nation."

Motley left Nevada in 1942 when he was inducted into the U.S. Navy during World War II. He was sent to the Great Lakes Naval Station just outside of Chicago where he played on the station football team, which was coached by future Pro Hall of Famer Paul Brown. In 1945, Brown signed on to coach the Cleveland Browns of the new All-American Football Conference, and gave Motley, then 26 years old, married with four children and working in a mill in his hometown, a chance to try out for his team.

Motley made the Cleveland squad, and in 1946, he, Browns teammate Willis and Washington and Strode, who were signed by the Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League, broke the color line in modern professional football.

Motley played nine seasons of professional football, including eight with the Browns (1946-53) and one with the Pittsburgh Steelers (1955). He was the all-time rushing champion of the AAFC and led the National Football League in rushing in 1950. Called "the greatest fullback ever" by his coach Brown after a 1946 game, Motley amassed 4,720 rushing yards in his career and averaged a staggering 5.7 yards per carry, and played in the 1951 Pro Bowl. Motley was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his hometown of Canton, Ohio, in 1968, becoming the second African-American to earn the sport's highest honor.

Even 40 years after he played the game, Motley's legacy is still recognized. In 1994, he was named to the NFL's 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, while Sports Illustrated's Paul "Dr. Z" Zimmerman called Motley, who died in 1999 at the age of 79, the best player in the history of football in his book, A Thinking Man's Guide to Pro Football.

EPIX is available by subscription on most cable networks, and the trailer for the documentary can be viewed here:

Brother of Pack's Mile Cilic wins US Open

Marin Cilic won his first Grand Slam event on Monday defeating Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-3 and 6-3 to claim the US Open.  Marin is the brother of University of Nevada freshman Mile Cilic.  "Mile is a walk-on for the Wolf Pack men's tennis team," head coach Erik Burton said.  "He is a good recruit and very good player.  We are lucky to have him." 

From Doug Knuth: Football Fan Experience Improvements - We Listened

Previous messages
-    My First Year with the Pack (April 19, 2014)
-    Here to Serve our Community (May 22, 2014)
-    Academic Update (May 28, 2014)
-    One Community, One Pack (July 2014)

Football Fan Experience Improvements - We Listened

During my short time with the Pack I've heard a number of suggestions from fans about improving our gameday experience at Mackay Stadium.  Items such as - traffic nightmares leaving the stadium, the food choices are too limited, obnoxious fans sit near me, and much more.  I am pleased to let you know - we listened and we are responding.  Our staff worked really hard this year to address some of the common complaints while also adding new initiatives to make tailgating more fun and the total game experience better for all fans.  Here are some highlights that you will notice:

Better Traffic Flow
Our post-game traffic flow will be changed this year to create a faster exit for fans on the Virginia St. side of campus.  With the great support of the Reno Mayor's Office, Reno City Manager's Office, Reno police, campus police and the University administration, we will close Virginia St immediately after the game ends - all four lanes of Virginia St will be utilized to allow a smooth and fast exit from games.  Fans parked in the West Stadium Garage, the Brian Whalen Garage and other areas south of the Stadium - will be directed South on Virginia St using all four lanes until 9th Street.  Additional RPD officers will be assigned to keep traffic flowing from 9th Street to the highway.  You might even see the RPD helicopter flying above campus watching for bottlenecks and dispatching officers to immediately address the situation. Please click on this link for a post-game traffic map.

First Class Fans
For the many Wolf Pack fans who travel to away games to support the Pack, you know how well we are treated on the road.  The tradition in collegiate sports is to welcome the fans who made the trip to support their team at the opposition's stadium.  For Wolf Pack fans, we welcome visiting team fans by saying - "Welcome to the University of Nevada".  We want our team to beat their team, but we also want people from other parts of the country to think positively of Wolf Pack fans and our Northern Nevada community.  Please be First Class Fans at all times - and welcome visiting team fans to the University.

Second Rate Fans
Unfortunately all stadiums have a few rotten apples that ruin the bunch.  Our reputation as a great athletic program, a top-notch University and a wonderful community can be tarnished by Second Rate Fans.  These people are not welcome at Mackay Stadium. IMPORTANT -- When you are in Mackay Stadium, and you witness a Second Rate Fan, please use our new 'Fan Phone' to quietly text a report to our security command center.  The command center will send security staff to your location to address the situation - you will not be identified. The Fan Phone text line is: (775) 229-5564. Please enter this in your phone contacts and use it to let us know when you see a problem.

Credit Cards
Beginning this year we will provide new credit card access points at the South endzone concession stands. You can now pay with plastic or cash.

Need more cash?  We are adding more ATM machines around the stadium.

More Food Options
We want your taste buds to enjoy Wolf Pack football too. We continue to explore food options to delight your taste buds. This year we are adding Wholly Habanero (custom Mexican food) and Bodacious Burgers (does this really need an explanation - yummy burgers!) to our concessions lineup.  

New Student Tailgate
Our student body will have an official tailgate location on the North side of the stadium in the central receiving parking lot.  Student groups, Greek organizations and many other students will set up tents and tailgate in this location before each home game.  The students will certainly add some energy to the North end of campus.

We are excited to provide live music prior to the home opener.  Popular country band Old Dominion will take the stage in the student tailgate area at approximately 10:30 a.m. Saturday morning and will play until 30 minutes prior to kick.  All fans are invited to enjoy the music!
Wolf Pack Walk
We altered the Wolf Pack Walk route so fans can better engage with the players.  The team will now walk directly through the middle of our most popular tailgate sections. The team arrives for the Wolf Pack Walk approximately two hours before kickoff - get there in time to high-five the players and coaches. See map here.

Born to be ONE/Alpha Wolf
In keeping with our concept that we are all ONE, the team will carry a special ONE flag when it takes the field this season.  Each game a walk-on player will be nominated to represent the community as the Alpha Wolf and will get to participate on special teams.  This player will wear jersey number "1" and will also wear a special patch on his jersey.

These are a few of the changes you will see at Wolf Pack football games this year. Please share your experience with your friends and family - invite them to a game to check out all the fun around home games this Fall. We have a great home schedule and need to fill Mackay Stadium to provide a great home field advantage for the Pack.

We appreciate your support and look forward to seeing you at Wolf Pack games and matches this Fall.

Thank you and Go Pack!


Former Pack catcher to make stop in Reno

Former University of Nevada catcher Brett Hayes will be in Reno for a four-game series, Aug. 24-27 as the Omaha Storm Chasers, the triple-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals play against the Reno Aces at Aces Ballpark. 

Hayes played three seasons at Nevada from 2003-2005 and earned WAC Freshman of the Year and Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America honors in 2003.  In his three seasons he we batted .339 with 237 hits, 132 runs scored, 156 RBI, 37 doubles, five triples and 22 home runs in 167 games.

After his junior season he was drafted in the second round by the Florida Marlins and signed a professional contract with the club.  He made his MLB debut with the Marlins on May 22, 2009.  After four seasons with the Marlins he signed as a free agent with the Royals and has spent time in both Kansas City and Omaha the last two years.

A new look to NevadaWolfPack.com

You will see a new look to NevadaWolfPack.com during the course of the day today as we've worked with our partner at CBS Interactive over the past few months on a redesign to our official website.

We wanted to highlight a few of the new features of the site. We've worked to streamline much of the site and make it more mobile friendly and more user friendly. More and more, those two things go hand-in-hand. We've utilized responsive design in this new look, which allows for the website to react and customize based on how the user is looking at the site.

It will customize the view to fit your screen, whether it is a desktop or laptop, or a tablet or phone. So there is no need for a separate "mobile version" of the site or a mobile app - the site will function on mobile devices just like it does on your desktop. This includes all games and content on the Mountain West Network and our new in-game statistics product, Stat Broadcast. You'll also see more integration of our social media channels on the site, including embedded Twitter feeds and Instagram.

With any site re-design and launch, we expect a few hiccups. If you notice anything - broken links, pages that aren't loading, outdated info, etc. - please bring it to our attention (Email: hartleyc@unr.edu). And we're happy to hear any feedback you may have and ideas on features to add to our site moving forward.

Miller's number 8 to be retired by Louisville Bats

Former Nevada catcher Corky Miller will have his number 8 retired by the Louisville Bats, the triple-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, on Corky Miller Night at Louisville Slugger Field on Aug. 31.  Miller's number will be the first to be retired by the Bats.

Miller played two seasons for the Wolf Pack in 1997-98 and was drafted by the Reds in 1998 and played 10 years in their minor league system.  He played in 216 Major League games for the Reds, Twins, Red Sox and Braves during his career.

He holds the Bats' all-time records for games played (548) and doubles (99).  Miller also ranks in the top five in at bats (1,703), home runs (50), hits (416) and RBI (236).

Miller started the season with the Bats but in May was placed on the inactive list.  He remains in the Reds organization working as a roving instructor in the minor leagues.

From Doug Knuth: One Community, One Pack

Previous messages
My First Year with the Pack (April 19, 2014)
Here to Serve our Community (May 22, 2014)
Academic Update (May 28, 2014)
Coming Soon
Football fan guide and changes - First Class Fans
Student-Athlete Stories

One Community, One Pack
In the past I shared our Wolf Pack Mission focused on serving and supporting the educational mission of the University.  I also mentioned that one of our secondary missions is to engage our community in a meaningful way.  Recently, inspired by a recent visit to Humboldt and Elko counties, I began reviewing all of the community engagement, visits and activity we accomplished this last year.  I thought I would share a sample of our work to give you a sense of how active we are around the state of Nevada.

Students First
First, and most importantly, I want to highlight the efforts of our student-athletes who participated in roughly 4,000 hours of community service this past school year. That included hospital visits, elementary school visits, reading programs, service projects such as collecting hundreds of pairs of shoes for families in need, giving blood at local blood drives, community activities like the Race for the Cure and much, much more.  Our student-athletes, including our incredible cheer team, understand how much the community means to the University and they are proud to give back any way possible.

Home Town Proud
We are fortunate to partner with many local agencies to serve and support our community. We are proud supporters of Boys & Girls Clubs of Truckee Meadows, the Children's Cabinet, local church and youth groups, Washoe County School District, local fundraising organizations supporting regional and national causes, and many more. Additionally, we roll up our sleeves to help our friends at the Reno Rodeo and Reno-Tahoe Open (now Barracuda Championship). Our staff gives countless hours and donations to these wonderful community partners. We are truly home town proud to help.

Out of Washoe
Earlier this month, I had the good fortune to visit Wolf Pack alumni and fans in the northeastern Nevada communities of Winnemucca and Elko. In addition to spending time with these fans, I visited the original site of the University of Nevada in Elko and toured one of the amazing Barrick gold mines. I was a tourist in our state - fun stuff. During my visit, a few of our longtime fans commented that my visit was the first by an athletics director or football coach in these communities since a young football coach named Chris Ault hosted a football camp in Winnemucca in the early 1980s.  I so enjoyed my visit and the short drive to Winnemucca/Elko that I promised to return often and that it wouldn't be another 30 years before this AD returned.

Believe me when I tell you, the enthusiasm for the Pack exists in southern Nevada too. In fact, I made a commitment to visit our Blue-blooded alumni in Las Vegas once each month as we build a southern Nevada Wolf Pack booster group.  The response has been very positive as we build an organization of people who are interested in supporting the Pack in Rebel country. Bringing the Fremont Cannon back home to the North will help this effort!

We are also heavily engaged with Wolf Pack fans in the Lake communities as well. A handful of passionate alumni and friends are helping us make connections in these areas.  A revival of the Wolf in the Woods program is underway as we introduce Wolf Pack Athletics and the University to many people who haven't been on our campus previously. We welcome them to Wolf Pack country and invite them to participate in backing the Pack!

It's Just Business
Speaking of welcoming new people to Wolf Pack country, thanks to Mike Kazmierski and the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN), we now participate in major announcements when companies move to, or expand in, our community.  Each announcement includes a welcome package of Wolf Pack goodies for the CEO/President of the company and an invitation from me for the entire company to attend a home Wolf Pack football or basketball game as our guests.  We want them to know that moving a company to Northern Nevada means you are instantly Wolf Pack fans!

In related activity, we are working very closely with the Reno-Sparks-Northern Nevada Chamber of Commerce to reach our business community. We know that supporting our business community creates a network of relationships to invite businesses to participate in Wolf Pack Athletics and many activities across campus.

One of our major initiatives this year is the development of the Wolf Pack Business Advisory Group. We invited 40 local business connectors and leaders to participate in a business advisory capacity - providing advice on marketing/PR, customer service, sales techniques, business messaging and much more. This group has been instrumental in many of our new sales and business development initiatives.

This is Still Your Team
Last but not least, we are making a huge effort to reconnect and engage our student-athlete alumni.  The thousands of women and men who wore the Silver and Blue over the years still have the passion and desire to see their teams compete and win. The motto of this effort, This is Still Your Team, illustrates what we believe to be very true - our former student-athletes desire to be part of the program even if their playing days are in the past.  We need the athlete alumni to remain close to the program and provide their support in every way possible.

As I close this note, I want to thank the many Rotary Clubs, businesses and organizations, alumni clubs and others who invited me to speak or visit with their groups. I hope you will invite me back to share more good news as we continue to grow the Wolf Pack athletics program.

We have a lot to accomplish and we will need your support to achieve the level of success we all want and expect for the Pack.  

Thank you and Go Pack!

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