Husker, Olympian, Professor
He walked on with the Huskers and earned Olympic gold. Now Curt Tomasevicz is taking on the challenges of the classroom. In this edition of Faculty 101, Dr. Tomasevicz talks about what it takes to reach your goals.
Show Notes: Learn more about Curt Tomasevicz here ›› https://go.unl.edu/tomasevicz
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[00:00:07.600]That's the sound of a bobsled hurdling down an ice chute.
[00:00:13.750]Curt Tomasevicz was on that bobsled
[00:00:16.220]flying down the hill at 80 miles per hour
[00:00:19.250]when the sled tipped on it's side.
[00:00:22.986]The driver just made a little bit of a mistake
[00:00:24.670]in that curve
[00:00:25.503]and had the pressure in the wrong spot.
[00:00:29.970]Came back up though.
[00:00:31.820]Doctor Tomasevicz was a member of the award winning
[00:00:34.400]US Olympic Bobsled team.
[00:00:36.470]He came to the sport while working on his masters degree
[00:00:39.340]in electrical engineering
[00:00:40.570]at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
[00:00:42.850]As an undergraduate, Curt was a linebacker for the Huskers.
[00:00:47.680]And continued to workout
[00:00:49.140]at the Memorial Stadium weight room.
[00:00:52.570]That's where he ran into Amanda Morley,
[00:00:54.890]a former Nebraska track athlete.
[00:00:56.980]When she was coming back to workout here,
[00:00:58.600]I asked her what she was up to,
[00:01:00.080]why she was training so hard.
[00:01:02.630]She talked to me about what it was like
[00:01:03.910]being on the bobsled team
[00:01:05.240]and how she was recruited from the national NCAA tournament
[00:01:09.220]to be on the women's bobsled team
[00:01:11.980]and described the athlete as being, you know, about
[00:01:15.310]or the male athletes
[00:01:16.143]being about six-foot, six-one, 220 pounds.
[00:01:19.430]Strong, fast, powerful, a little bit crazy.
[00:01:22.255]I said, well that's perfect.
[00:01:23.880]That sounds great for me.
[00:01:27.840]A bobsled crew needs strength, agility, and an appetite
[00:01:31.560]for racing down a winding ice track at high speed.
[00:01:35.450]That's the crazy part.
[00:01:40.960]Every time we go down to the bobsled track,
[00:01:43.080]there's a high risk of injury
[00:01:45.350]and I probably was in two dozen crashes, I guess,
[00:01:48.570]in my 10 years of bobsledding.
[00:01:52.070]Curt Tomasevicz, small town boy,
[00:01:54.520]Husker football player, Olympic athlete,
[00:01:57.170]and now a University of Nebraska-Lincoln
[00:01:59.540]professor of Engineering.
[00:02:01.270]How does research help build better athletes
[00:02:04.220]and what motivates Curt Tomasevicz to meet goal after goal?
[00:02:08.720]That's this edition of Faculty 101.
[00:02:11.890]Okay you should switch partners now.
[00:02:13.240]To be able to inspire young people.
[00:02:16.590]Today is your final.
[00:02:17.520]It's really rewarding.
[00:02:18.690]I love the students.
[00:02:20.680]Welcome to Faculty 101.
[00:02:22.920]Life hacks and success stories from Nebraska faculty.
[00:02:30.170]Time for orientation.
[00:02:31.970]Who is Curt Tomasevicz?
[00:02:34.633]We had them step off a box onto a platform
[00:02:36.501]and jump up as high as they could, but --
[00:02:38.490]At his desk, in the offices of
[00:02:40.410]the Nebraska athletic performance laboratory,
[00:02:42.930]Dr. Tomasevicz pulls up a file on his computer
[00:02:46.270]that illustrates how the facility works with athletes.
[00:02:49.370]You can see an athlete that we had marked up
[00:02:51.900]downstairs in the lab
[00:02:53.050]The stick figure on the screen
[00:02:54.390]is made of colorful lines and dots.
[00:02:56.570]A digital representation formed
[00:02:58.610]using 3D motion capture technology.
[00:03:01.720]The stick figure jumps off an invisible surface.
[00:03:04.672]Based on that force and the velocity that they jump,
[00:03:06.930]we can calculate the power
[00:03:09.110]and then we can also look at their body position
[00:03:11.750]to see, again, if they're at risk of an injury,
[00:03:13.970]whether it's in their lower back or their knees.
[00:03:17.200]Dr. Tomasevicz uses cutting edge research
[00:03:19.670]to help athletes work to their potential.
[00:03:22.240]His bobsled days are behind him,
[00:03:24.180]but he acts as an athlete representative
[00:03:26.260]to the US Olympic selection committee
[00:03:28.610]and he teaches.
[00:03:30.150]Leading a class full of students
[00:03:31.590]may be as challenging and fulfilling
[00:03:34.100]as jumping on a bobsled.
[00:03:35.840]For the most part, I like seeing how the students evolved
[00:03:37.995]and it's kind of cool to see how an idea clicks
[00:03:41.120]in the students' mind.
[00:03:42.256]If they're at a university studying engineering,
[00:03:45.820]they're a pretty bright mind to begin with.
[00:03:48.180]So seeing them take that to the next step
[00:03:51.901]is usually pretty exciting.
[00:03:55.280]Up next, lab work.
[00:03:57.050]A deep dive into research and creative activity.
[00:04:02.910]All right, so this is kind of the headquarters, I guess,
[00:04:05.810]of our lab where we do most of our testing with
[00:04:08.380]talking about biomechanics.
[00:04:10.030]On a tour of the Nebraska athletic performance lab,
[00:04:12.790]I learned there's way more to being an athlete
[00:04:15.610]than going to practice.
[00:04:17.280]The facility in Memorial Stadium
[00:04:19.020]has parts of a basketball court and a football field,
[00:04:21.980]a weight room, and lots of equipment.
[00:04:24.760]So obviously the facility is pretty big.
[00:04:26.510]Where an athlete can reach full speed
[00:04:28.430]if we're sprinting from one side of the facility
[00:04:30.960]all the way to the other
[00:04:31.793]they can get in a 40 meter sprint if they needed to.
[00:04:34.660]We can do pro-agility testing,
[00:04:36.010]here on the red surface.
[00:04:37.397]It's a very fast surface.
[00:04:38.980]The old AstroTurf that the Memorial Stadium used to have.
[00:04:43.122]We can pull out the nets here
[00:04:44.850]and use them as batting cages or a golf net.
[00:04:47.980]Soccer balls we can kick into that as well.
[00:04:50.930]We can bring up any sport that we have
[00:04:52.830]here at the university,
[00:04:54.200]and test those athletes.
[00:04:57.880]A special treadmill measures endurance.
[00:05:00.100]And throughout the facility,
[00:05:01.390]force plates in the floor and mounted cameras
[00:05:04.450]provide data for a variety of purposes.
[00:05:07.150]Here we have a couple force plates that we use
[00:05:09.900]measure athletes force output,
[00:05:12.290]but not just in the vertical direction.
[00:05:14.230]So they can run and cut
[00:05:15.280]and we can measure their force in lateral directions too.
[00:05:18.430]In addition to that, we use these 3D motion capture cameras
[00:05:22.230]to really analyze how an athlete moves.
[00:05:25.550]The detail that we can capture is pretty small.
[00:05:28.820]We put all that together and we can put a package together,
[00:05:31.690]I guess, then we can present that to a coach
[00:05:33.610]and say an athlete is being efficient or not efficient.
[00:05:36.810]They're prone to injury possibly
[00:05:38.560]and that sort of thing as well.
[00:05:39.870]We can really communicate with the coach
[00:05:42.680]on how to make an athlete better.
[00:05:49.600]The biomechanics of an elite athlete
[00:05:51.830]is what drew Dr. Tomasevicz
[00:05:53.520]to biological systems engineering for his doctoral studies.
[00:05:57.410]Initially, I wanted to come back
[00:05:58.900]and do something with engineering.
[00:06:00.660]When I learned through biological systems engineering
[00:06:03.490]that we can kind of look at the human body
[00:06:06.010]from an engineers perspective
[00:06:07.780]and you can measure the force, power, output and all of that
[00:06:10.810]through joints and body segments and that type of thing.
[00:06:15.171]Again, I got pretty excited.
[00:06:16.590]I thought about how I could apply that
[00:06:18.231]to what I used to do as an athlete.
[00:06:22.740]When it comes to almost any sport,
[00:06:24.990]it's all about how much force and power you can produce.
[00:06:28.290]Measuring that and quantifying it
[00:06:29.750]and helping coaches make athletes better
[00:06:32.137]was what originally triggered me to coming back here
[00:06:35.570]and try to study that.
[00:06:37.210]Data gathered in the performance lab
[00:06:39.330]demonstrates what's behind an athletes powerful jump.
[00:06:43.006]Using the facilities we have downstairs
[00:06:45.160]with the 3D motion capture camera
[00:06:47.550]and the force plates
[00:06:48.890]put together a package that demonstrated
[00:06:52.257]how an athlete can be powerful in the vertical jump.
[00:06:55.640]Whether it's the drop jump or squat jump.
[00:06:57.750]The risk of injury that came along with it
[00:07:00.490]and talking about the stress on the lower back
[00:07:03.000]and drop jump stress on the knees, that sort of thing.
[00:07:07.910]The results were a little bit surprising, I guess.
[00:07:10.801]In a way, how incredible the human body can be when it jumps
[00:07:16.080]and how much force, and strain, and stress it can take
[00:07:19.180]with a lot of weight on your back
[00:07:20.920]you can still perform at a pretty high rate.
[00:07:26.510]In an effort to be the best, athletes continually search
[00:07:29.610]for the most effective training trends
[00:07:31.880]that will give them the edge over the competition.
[00:07:34.240]Strength and conditioning, nutrition, psychology,
[00:07:37.130]have all played a role over the years.
[00:07:39.453]Dr. Tomasevicz says,
[00:07:41.210]Nebraska's unique performance lab facility
[00:07:44.070]provides the best training ground.
[00:07:46.380]This is the only facility that we know of
[00:07:48.910]that has everything all together here in one place.
[00:07:51.830]You go to other universities and they may have access
[00:07:54.610]to some of the same testing facilities that we have here,
[00:07:57.670]but it's spread out throughout campus.
[00:07:59.320]We have it all here, in house
[00:08:01.530]funded by the athletic department.
[00:08:03.200]Our primary focus is the athletes.
[00:08:07.150]Ready for office hours?
[00:08:08.580]How did Dr. Tomasevicz get here?
[00:08:16.650]Before he was a university professor and Olympic athlete,
[00:08:19.900]a football player, Curt Tomasevicz was a small-town kid
[00:08:23.560]from Shelby, Nebraska.
[00:08:25.330]In school, he was good at math and physics and football.
[00:08:30.314]I liked every kind of sport possible
[00:08:31.920]and the neighborhood that I grew up in Shelby,
[00:08:34.090]we were always outside playing games.
[00:08:35.710]There was always some type of ball game going on.
[00:08:39.260]The shape of the ball was always different, I guess,
[00:08:41.350]but we were always doing something.
[00:08:42.850]So pretty active.
[00:08:44.700]Our high school sports teams were pretty successful
[00:08:46.980]so really competitive as well.
[00:08:55.270]He earned an academic scholarship
[00:08:57.130]to study engineering at UNL,
[00:08:58.950]where he decided to walk on with the Huskers.
[00:09:07.780]That was in many ways, kind of a dream come true.
[00:09:10.270]I grew up wanting to play for the Huskers,
[00:09:12.480]but wasn't offered a scholarship
[00:09:13.910]out of high school or anything.
[00:09:16.700]Getting an opportunity to try out for the team
[00:09:19.030]and make it that way,
[00:09:20.090]I think it made it even more sweet, I guess
[00:09:22.900]when I did make the team.
[00:09:27.140]Spent a couple years on scout team
[00:09:28.600]and worked my way up the depth chart a little bit.
[00:09:30.628]You know, eventually,
[00:09:32.178]definitely all worth it.
[00:09:34.090]The life of a student athlete
[00:09:35.530]is demanding and life changing.
[00:09:38.120]I think being a student athlete
[00:09:39.920]really enhances your ability to focus
[00:09:42.020]and be a better student too.
[00:09:43.820]By that, I mean I had a small window in the evenings
[00:09:47.530]when I had to do my homework.
[00:09:49.100]I didn't have all day to push it off
[00:09:50.890]and procrastinate a little bit.
[00:09:52.820]I think having athletics forced me to be a better student
[00:09:57.633]I knew if I didn't get my work done at a certain time
[00:09:59.870]it wasn't going to get done.
[00:10:01.890]So it forced good habits.
[00:10:04.278]Students now have opportunities with tutoring and mentoring
[00:10:08.590]and that sort of thing through the athletic department.
[00:10:11.716]Being accountable to your team
[00:10:13.890]also makes you a better student.
[00:10:20.490]As an Olympic athlete,
[00:10:21.710]Dr. Tomasevicz competed for the first time in Italy in 2006.
[00:10:26.590]I was pretty wide-eyed.
[00:10:28.270]It was pretty incredible.
[00:10:29.130]The Olympics were in Italy.
[00:10:31.970]My mom and brother
[00:10:33.190]and some other family members came and watched
[00:10:34.827]and it was pretty incredible
[00:10:37.230]to get to have that kind of, I guess, pride,
[00:10:41.360]in addition to competing in a sport.
[00:10:43.620]Playing for the Huskers was awesome.
[00:10:45.060]You have all of Nebraska watching,
[00:10:46.770]but getting to wear USA on your back
[00:10:48.601]kind of takes it to another level.
[00:10:54.860]Over his bobsledding career,
[00:10:56.380]he collected 11 medals, including a gold
[00:10:59.380]at the Olympics in Canada in 2010.
[00:11:01.980]Dr. Tomasevicz says his Nebraska education
[00:11:04.535]and small town upbringing played a role in his success.
[00:11:08.730]The example of when Shelby had a fundraiser for me
[00:11:11.995]and there's 690 people that lived in Shelby,
[00:11:14.200]but they raised about 25,000 in one day
[00:11:17.610]for me to be able to bobsled.
[00:11:19.910]Some of my bobsled teammates
[00:11:21.190]that are from cities of millions of people.
[00:11:23.280]If they raised 5,000 dollars, they get excited.
[00:11:26.070]It's more that attitude, that mentality,
[00:11:28.640]just that atmosphere of small town
[00:11:30.660]where the community comes together when there's a reason.
[00:11:34.300]Whether that reason is a crazy bobsled kid
[00:11:37.190]or it has to do with a farmer in trouble with the floods
[00:11:41.604]or whatever it is.
[00:11:42.970]There's always that community that comes together.
[00:11:52.330]Now it's time for a pop-quiz.
[00:11:54.450]Random questions, life hacks, and wisdom for all of us.
[00:11:59.774]♪ Cut ties with all the lies that you've been living in ♪
[00:12:04.630]That's the music of the band 22 Days Short.
[00:12:13.310]Curt Tomasevicz plays bass, his friend sings.
[00:12:16.770]That's one of the hobbies that makes Dr. Tomasevicz happier.
[00:12:20.420]We get to play small town bars
[00:12:21.980]and some other places here in the area
[00:12:23.510]every once in a while.
[00:12:24.343]Maybe once every one or two months, I guess.
[00:12:27.430]So not very often, but it's usually kind of my escape.
[00:12:31.791]A healthy way to release some stress.
[00:12:35.241]What do you know now
[00:12:36.074]that you didn't know when you were in college?
[00:12:38.945]I've learned how to train smart
[00:12:40.688]and not necessarily how to train hard.
[00:12:43.590]When I was in college, I was always everyday
[00:12:46.120]go as hard as you can
[00:12:47.030]with as much weight on the bars I could, I guess.
[00:12:50.743]It took a little while to learn how to train smart
[00:12:53.870]and pay attention to efficient movement
[00:12:56.650]and taking recovery days and that sort of thing.
[00:12:58.960]In order to be a better athlete in the long-run.
[00:13:02.030]Do you have a saying that guides you?
[00:13:04.270]I think the closest to a saying that guides me, I guess,
[00:13:07.730]was a quote that I saw by Bear Bryant one time.
[00:13:12.248]Let me think if I get this right here,
[00:13:14.120]It's not the size of the dog in the fight
[00:13:15.680]it's the size of the fight in the dog.
[00:13:17.480]I think that's one that may describe me a little bit.
[00:13:20.100]I wasn't the biggest athlete on the football team
[00:13:22.560]or even on the bobsled team as well.
[00:13:25.100]I'd hope that my fire and desire inside
[00:13:27.560]kind of made up for that.
[00:13:29.770]And now, graduation day.
[00:13:31.740]Final thoughts from Curt Tomasevicz.
[00:13:37.110]Whether it's the football field or the bobsled track
[00:13:40.190]or the classroom,
[00:13:41.420]Dr. Tomasevicz never holds back.
[00:13:45.250]I think the word grit is not a pretty word.
[00:13:48.330]It really describes that it's not gonna be easy,
[00:13:50.290]it's not going to just come to you.
[00:13:51.980]You have to work hard to achieve something.
[00:13:54.341]If you have that grit,
[00:13:56.190]I think that glory means even more.
[00:13:58.730]He tells his students to be prepared for the future,
[00:14:01.830]set goals, but take advantage of what life offers.
[00:14:05.740]Some things I expected and I set goals and I thought,
[00:14:08.400]this is what I'm gonna do and I went out and achieved it.
[00:14:11.800]Some things just kind of fell into my lap
[00:14:13.240]and seemed pretty wild and crazy.
[00:14:15.287]Of course, the bobsled opportunity.
[00:14:17.790]I didn't plan on being a bobsledder,
[00:14:19.180]even up until 22, 23 years old.
[00:14:22.500]It just was an opportunity and I went with it
[00:14:24.580]and became a 10 year career.
[00:14:27.610]Things like that happen a lot.
[00:14:29.790]One thing I tell my students a lot is
[00:14:31.859]it's good to have a plan, but be prepared
[00:14:34.520]because that plan will probably change
[00:14:36.200]and there're gonna be a lot of things
[00:14:38.485]that can alter your path.
[00:14:43.170]That's it for Faculty 101.
[00:14:44.870]In the show notes, I linked the website
[00:14:46.820]for the Nebraska Athletic Performance Laboratory.
[00:14:53.120]Faculty 101 is produced by
[00:14:54.930]the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
[00:15:02.210]I think like any true Nebraskan,
[00:15:03.950]I'm pretty optimistic, I guess.
[00:15:05.420]Having Coach Frost around is pretty exciting.
[00:15:09.550]For me especially, kind of reminds me again
[00:15:11.460]of the Osborne and Solich days a little bit
[00:15:13.173]and that kind of mentality.
[00:15:15.990]I think it's pretty promising.
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