THE JET AWARD FOUNDERS

JOHNNY “The Jet” RODGERS

Athlete, scholar, author, community activist, entrepreneur and Jewel’s dad… anyway you read it Johnny Rodgers is far more than just football.

As a player with the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers, Johnny Rodgers served as a punt return specialist, pass receiver and running back. Rodgers broke virtually every offensive team record during his tenure. He was twice named to the College Football All American Team, won the Walter Camp Award and the Heisman Trophy in 1972 for most outstanding player in college football.

Honors recognize Johnny’s athletic ability, but he is also proud of degrees in broadcast journalism and advertising from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In 2005 he was named the University of Nebraska’s Entrepreneur of the Year. In 2006 Johnny authored his first book; “An Era of Greatness: Coach Bob Devaney’s Final Four Seasons in University of Nebraska Football (1969-1972),” a “must read” for all “Husker” fans. Johnny’s second book titled; “10 Minutes Of Insanity” is a story of Johnny’s first 25 years and an inspiration for all.

COACH WILLIAM A. REED

Born in Monroe, Louisiana, Coach William Reed moved to Omaha, Nebraska in the early 1970’s and coincidentally became the head football coach of Monroe Junior High
School to begin his successful coaching career. During that four year period at MJH, his team lost just one football game. In 1976 he moved over to Benson High
School. In his first year there he was selected “Teacher of the Year.”

In 1979 Coach Reed became the head football and track coach at Omaha Central High School, bringing those programs into state and national prominence, and winning the Nebraska State Class A Football Championship in 1984. In 1993 Coach Reed wrote seven books on teaching kids the game of golf. This guided him to create Omaha’s first Youth Golf Academy, where he taught over 5,000 kids over a ten year period.

He has most recently written and published a book, The Four Sides which chronicles his life at Omaha Central High School from 1979-1991. Coach Reed has been recognized for being the first black head football coach, in the history of the state of Nebraska, at a predominantly white high school.

He is currently one of the co-founders and a board member of the prestigious Jet Award honoring the top NCAA outstanding college football kick and punt returner.

DENNY DRAKE

President, CEO of Performance Solutions Worldwide, Denny and Johnny Rodgers formed a business partnership starting in 1996 that has become  more than just business. They have become very close personal friends as well. Together, they have created various marketing, promotional and strategic partnership programs, that have spanned across 14 countries.

In 2011, when Johnny said; “It’s time to start a program to honor the top kick off and punt return specialists in all of college football each year,” Denny knew he wanted to be involved, but didn’t understand at that time the full scope of the opportunity. Now, in the 10th year of this incredible program, The Jet Award has honored some of the greatest college football players in history. As shown on this website.

“I am deeply honored and also inspired at what we have accomplished together in such a short period of time. Not only have we honored some of the greatest players, but we have also helped hundreds of people get scholarships to Metropolitan Community College. We are all looking into the future with excitement .” – Denny Drake

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

CSM PATRICK Z. ALSTON – CHAIRMAN

Patrick Alston is a consultant with Burlington Capital Corporation and he is employed as a Senior Fellow for the National Defense University’s Keystone program. Alston is a native of Columbus, Georgia. He is a graduate of Columbus High School. After graduation, he subsequently enlisted into the United States Army where he completed Basic Training at Fort Dix, New Jersey. His initial assignment was at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, as a Medical Specialist. Subsequent assignments include Medical Specialist with 3rd…

VINCE LEISEY – PRESIDENT

Vince Leisey, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Ambassador Real Estate. A 950 Agent Brokerage. Vince is also a national inspirational speaker & consultant, Founder & Advisor of a Berkshire Hathaway millennial Think Tank (REThink Council) for their real estate network. Vince leads an organization that is on the cutting edge of a shifting the real estate industry. He encourages an attitude of abundance that creates a culture that attracts all generations and has pioneered a mega office that people actually want to spend time in. In October 2018, Vince’s company was recognized as Entrepreneur Magazines 2nd Best Top Company Culture in the United States & was the only Residential Real Estate Company on the list.

RUTH MCCULLY – SECRETARY

McCully Graduated University of Nebraska at Omaha where her focus was Public Relations. From there Ruth went to work for 10 years at Nebraska Furniture Mart. While there, she served in positions of management, marketing, strategic planning, quality improvement implementation, and special projects. Ruth was recruited to work for Cable Rep advertising as an Account Executive, where she worked with both agencies and direct clients developing marketing plans and branding campaigns. Ruth was recruited to Journal…

ROD KESTAL – BOARD MEMBER

Kestel is from Storm Lake Iowa and came to Omaha to attend Creighton University. After his graduation from CU he went to work for Imperial Outdoor Advertising and then moved over to help start up Waitt Outdoor where is has been since 1999. He has served on many boards over the years and currently is on the board of directors for Susan G. Komen, Kicks for Cure and the Creighton University National Alumni.  Rod is the father of three children who all reside in Omaha…

JEFF BECKMAN – BOARD MEMBER

Beckman is Executive Director of Development for the Salvation Army Western Division which is headquartered in Omaha.  He has 31 years of nonprofit leadership experience. Jeff has served as Executive Director of the NET Foundation for Television and Radio, Lincoln, Nebraska, Nebraska Children’s Home Society Foundation, Omaha, and the Nebraska March of Dimes Chapter.  He also served Senior Vice President of the United Way of the Midlands in Omaha.  Jeff was the on-air pledge host of NET Television for…

MIKE’L SEVERE – BOARD MEMBER

:::Bio Pending:::

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE RETURN SPECIALIST

CREATING OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUTH THROUGH CHARACTER, EDUCATIONAL, & SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

The importance of the return was presented with elegance by one of the greatest coaches in college football history, Dr. Tom Osborne. In the inaugural presentation of the Return Specialist Award banquet Coach Osborne summed up the importance of the return in layman terms. He noted that anytime a kick was returned to or beyond his opponents 40 yard line his team scored 75% of the time. Any drive that starting behind his teams 40 yard line they scored only 25% of the time. The importance of the return cannot be exemplified in any better terms.

THE CAUSE 

The Jet Award Foundation and Trust: The program creates opportunities for youth through character, educational, and social development. It’s partnership’s with culturally competent network case managers, service providers allows at risk youth to be exposed to wrap around services in the community at large.

The Johnny Rodgers Youth Foundation is assisting to foster the development of a secure, next generation database application that will greatly assist all members of the Network for Holistic Recovery to accurately and efficiently service any unmet needs of its clients. This infrastructure will provide a platform to manage the network’s outreach, assessment, referral and follow-up initiatives.

Its Mission: To help the most vulnerable students and households to achieve personal best and stability; to approach each student unit circumstances as savable within human dignity and value; to assist those most challenged with chronic issues resulting in non-compliance which causes various disruptions of services and resource to achieve compliance and skills of self-sufficiency; to achieve Holistic Recovery as the recovery of the “total person” through Community, Resource Management, and inclusiveness by a team of community based caregivers, and specialists to create true opportunities for self-sufficient living.

THE PREAMBLE

Since its inception college football has been widely heralded as the most exciting, dramatic and fascinating sport in the nation. The excitement and spirit of the sport is particularly captivated in the play known as the return. For every return there is a returner and indeed they are special. Throughout college football every position has been targeted and recognized for post season award with one exception. From the kicker to the punter, from linebackers to defensive backs, from the center to the quarterback. Lineman, running backs, receivers, they are all honored annually in grand fashion in multiple ceremonies. However, in the midst of all this a key position has been omitted. We will honor the most exciting and electrifying play in college football, the return.

Those daredevils that dare to participate who we call specialists. 

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