SEWARD — Ben Boldt had the resume. He also got a strong recommendation from a former boss — John Cook.
Last week, Boldt was named the head volleyball coach at Concordia University. So is Cook now near the top of Boldt's Christmas gift-giving list?
"He just won a championship," Boldt said. "I'm sure he doesn't need any Christmas presents from me."
Boldt said he did send a text message to the Nebraska volleyball coach, thanking him for the recommendation.
And now Boldt and his wife, Angie, are "home." Boldt is a Norris graduate. Angie, who will serve as an assistant coach at Concordia, is from St. Paul.
Prior to taking the job, the Boldts coached at NCAA Division III Hendrix College in Arkansas. Angie served as head coach, and Ben was the assistant. They were there for two seasons, leading the Warriors to a league title while also coaching three All-Americans.
It was hard to say goodbye, especially for Angie, Boldt said. But a big opportunity awaited them back home.
"There's not a lot of places we would want to go, but the draw of being at Nebraska with the volleyball we understand, and being close to our family, it's pretty much a no-brainer for us," Boldt said.
Boldt has a deep passion for volleyball, and a deep history with the sport. He's been involved with volleyball for a long time, too. He was a ball boy at Nebraska matches at the old NU Coliseum in the 1990s.
A three-sport athlete at Norris (football, basketball and track and field), Boldt also played club volleyball, which helped him land a team manager position on Cook's Husker staff when he got to college in the early 2000s.
"I came in and I hit some balls on Greichaly Cepero in a training session, and after that they said, 'Hey, do you want to do this four years in college?'" Boldt said. "I said, 'Oh, yeah.'"
That session kick-started Boldt's coaching career. He was on Cook's staff when the Huskers won the 2006 national championship in Omaha. Boldt then was an assistant coach at Alabama, Iowa, Arkansas and Iowa Western before his wife was named head coach at Hendrix. Angie was also a student assistant at Nebraska, from 2003-05.
Boldt said he learned a lot from watching Cook and then-assistant Craig Skinner, who is now at Kentucky. The Boldts like to implement some of those Cook philosophies.
"What his gym looks like when kids train, or when the team trains, that's what our gym looks like," Boldt said. "He has probably the best athletes in the nation in his gym. We're working with a little bit different athlete, but the philosophies are 100 percent the same.
"With the kids that are in Nebraska, they're bought into that. They believe in that. It's really great to tap into those kids that can really understand that."
More than location drew the Boldts back to Nebraska. Boldt likes the challenge that comes with coaching in the Great Plains Athletic Conference, arguably the best volleyball league in the NAIA.
And then there's the deep pool of talented volleyball players in the state. The Bulldogs will be competing with the likes of NAIA powers Hastings and Midland, and Division II programs Nebraska-Kearney and Wayne State for those players.
What will be Boldt's pitch to recruits?
"We've learned a whole lot from people," said Boldt, pointing to the teachings under Cook and other Division I programs. "We're going to take what we like and what we don't like and we're going to put that into our program here at Concordia. Bottom line, we're going to create great relations with these players and great relations with the recruits, and if they want to be part of that, that's great.
"We're going to concentrate on creating great adults, and getting them to where they want to be after they graduate."