LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Florence Dalby loves Nebraska as much today as she did when she first started going to games all the way back in 1939.
The Cornhuskers honored Dalby during their Coaches Vs. Cancer game against Ohio State on Saturday, not just because she has been a breast cancer survivor for nearly 25 years but also because she has been a season-ticket holder for 80.
She turns 99 in a week, and she still looks forward to watching the games like she did in the old Nebraska Coliseum as a university student.
“When I was in school we had a whole group of us that bought tickets together, and every year we went. Nobody’s living but me. I’m the survivor,” she said with a hearty laugh.
Dalby’s usual vantage point is in the end adjacent to the Nebraska bench. She took in Saturday’s game courtside from her wheelchair, making it more convenient for her to be honored at halftime. About a dozen family members joined her.
The lifelong Lincoln resident was a first-grade teacher for 14 years, and she and her late husband, Gene, always made sure to buy season tickets. She kept going to games after Gene died in 1998, and she said the university gave her the best seats yet when the team moved from the Devaney Sports Center to Pinnacle Bank Arena in 2013.
She and her husband used to travel to Kansas City every year for the old Big Eight Tournament, and she watches road games on television.
Florence isn’t as animated as she used to be while watching games, but she still has a ritual every time a Nebraska player shoots a free throw. She points her right index finger at him, moving it back and forth to telegraph positive vibes.
Asked if she has a favorite Nebraska player of all time, she couldn’t pick one. She said her favorite coach was Danny Nee, who was at the school from 1986-2000, some of the best years in program history.
Florence has witnessed mostly mediocre to bad basketball over the years. Nebraska hasn’t won a regular-season conference championship since 1950 and is the only power-five conference school to have never won a game in the NCAA Tournament. The Huskers’ 70-60 loss Saturday was their third straight and fifth in seven games.
Given the lean history of the team, why has she kept coming back all these years?
“To cheer the team on,” she said. “I thought they needed a lot of cheering.”