Tag Archives: Seward Nebraska

A Home for Husker Healing

August 26, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Nebraska football fans’ nationally recognized devotion to their team—the “Sea of Red” spilling from Memorial Stadium throughout downtown Lincoln on game days, and the subsisting pride of the `90s glory days—is epitomized by Tait Rief of Seward, Nebraska.

FanCave7Rief was a kid in the `90s, a kid captivated by the era’s Huskers heroes. His bedroom and basement are a testament to Nebraska football pride. Huskers décor fills the rooms: National Championship mugs, vintage Cornhusker Beverage soda bottles, rugs, pillows, pins, and team pennants—which, as a kid, Rief ordered each week by conference standings, always placing Nebraska first. In his bedroom, a bookcase displays three encased autographed footballs—signed by Joel Makovicka (fullback, 1994-1998), Grant Wistrom  (rush end, 1994-1997), and Sam Koch (punter, 2001-2005)—and a copy of the book Hero of the Underground signed by author Jason Peter (defensive tackle, 1993-1997).

Rief’s most cherished pieces of his collection—and his first autographs—are signed 1997 offense and defense posters. During a tour of Memorial Stadium when he was nine, Rief had his picture taken in then-head-coach Tom Osborne’s office and by the championship trophies, and then stood outside the weight room with his posters as the players came out. They signed his posters, and Scott Frost—all sweaty—patted his shoulder. “I was just in awe for the next week or two and never wanted to wash my shoulder again.” Rief hung up the posters with tacky in his room, circling Tom Osborne’s autograph in excitement.

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The `97 posters now hang framed in the basement, where Rief’s expansive collection continues. On the same wall is a Husker quilt, each block signed by members of the 2001 football team, a hutch displaying a miniature Nebraska helmet signed by Tommie Frazier (quarterback 1992-1995), a Memorial Stadium poster signed by head coach Mike Riley (his collection’s most recent addition), and a framed note signed by Ahman Green (I-back, 1995-1997) that reads, “Keep it going!!” On the opposite wall sits another hutch with more autographed footballs, including the signatures of Zach Wiegert (offensive tackle, 1992-1994), head coaches Osborne, Bo Pelini (2007-2014), and Frank Solich (1998-2003), and most of the 2001 team starters; a square of `90s Memorial Stadium turf; and ball caps signed by Osborne and Heisman winners Johnny Rodgers (wingback, 1970-1973), Mike Rozier (I-back, 1981-1983), and Eric Crouch (quarterback, 1998-2001).

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.As a freshman in 2001, Rief was involved in a Seward High School bus accident that left him with partial paralysis and short-term memory loss. In his bedroom and the basement are two identical small black-framed collages. Each collage depicts black-and-white photographs of Husker players including Rodgers, Wayne Meylan (middle guard, 1965-1967), and “Thunder” Thornton (fullback and lineback, 1960-1962), foregrounded with a color photograph of Jeff Kinney (halfback, 1969-1971) in the 1971 Game of the Century. “DETERMINATION” is printed in bold red lettering across the bottom of the image, followed by the quote, “The Harder You Work, The Harder It Is To Surrender.” Rief says that he values these words, as they “always inspired me to keep focused . . . during recovery.”

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His dad, Tom, recalls, “Tait’s always been a Husker fan. He always told me that he was going to be on the football field at Memorial Stadium one way or another—either as a player, because he was a pretty good football player himself before his accident, or (Tait) said, ‘If I have to, I’ll play in the band or be a male cheerleader.’”

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Much of Tait’s memorabilia was acquired after the accident. His collection is both meaningful and joyful. As for expanding it, he says, “I’d like to add a picture of me shaking Mike Riley’s hand.”

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So, Coach Riley, if you’re reading this, there is a fan in Seward who would like to
say hello. 

Visit huskerhounds.com for more information. OmahaHome

*Correction: The September/October 2016 print edition misspelled Tait Rief’s last name.

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Bustin’ Chops, Sweatin’ Bulls

Photography by Scott Drickey

Jim and Emily Codr are the parents of four children ages 5 to 9, so they trek downtown often to enjoy attractions like the giant slides at the Gene Leahy Mall, the train exhibits at the Durham Museum, walking around the Old Market, and to catch Creighton Bluejays basketball games. They’re admitted city slickers most of the year, but for one day every fall the whole family gets decked out from hat to boots in Western wear for the Aksarben Stock Show & Rodeo.

Last year, daughter Nora (now 7) went from onlooker to participant when she held tight for a thrilling six seconds in the “Mutton Bustin’” sheep riding competition. She placed second in her round.

“She absolutely loved competing in front of a big crowd like that,” Emily Codr says, adding that her daughter is eager to try again this September, perhaps with some of her siblings. “She did it (last year) because she was probably the most adventurous of the bunch…Potentially, I could have three of my four kids compete this year.”

Codrs1The Codr kids aren’t the first rodeo participants in the family. Jim’s father, Frank Codr, has the deepest connection to rodeo, and not just because he and his son have dressed in Western gear at their office (Wiig-Codr Underwriters Co.) during the Aksarben Rodeo days for many years. The horse in the company logo is a nod to Frank’s three years riding on bareback broncos and bulls as a professional rodeo cowboy.

“I remember riding horses (since) forever,” Frank says of his youth on the family farm 10 miles west of Seward. By the time he was the same age as his youngest grandchild, Frank was already a horseman of sorts, riding his beloved pony Goldie to help round up the family’s small herd of milk cows after they spent the day grazing in the pasture. “Sometimes I would ride Mousey, one of my mom’s favorite milk cows, out of the barn,” he recalls, adding with a chuckle: “It was my first bovine incidence of riding.”

Frank won a calf one year at a Butler County Fair calf-catching event, and he raised the Black Angus to become a record-setting grand champion steer at a later Aksarben stock show. Frank learned to train problem horses early on, so when the opportunity to try bull riding came up, he was confident it was something he could handle.

“I didn’t have a problem with bucking stock because I’d been around it my whole life,” Frank explains, but he still ended up on the ground immediately—inside the chute—on his first try. “I got razzed so bad,” he says. Undaunted, he rodeod on weekends while working for an insurance company during the week. The euphoria didn’t make up for the risk and the inevitable injuries, and by the time he was in his mid-20s, Frank retired from rodeo for good, a decision both his boss and his new wife
heartily supported.

These days, Frank is satisfied with being a rodeo spectator and footing the annual family trip to Wolf Bros. Western Store. He has also led the Codr family’s ongoing advocacy of Aksarben.

“Aksarben really does an outstanding job of encouraging agriculture. And I’ve always thought they were a wonderful organization,” he says. “(The rodeo and stock show) is a great tradition in Omaha. I just love bringing my grandbabies and my son and my daughter-in-law there.” 

Visit aksarbenstockshow.com for more information. Encounter

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