Ilum Hansen’s first experience at Memorial Stadium saw the Huskers trying to bounce back from a 19-point deficit against the Colorado Buffaloes on Nov. 26, 2004. The Huskers ultimately lost that game 20-26, and Head Coach Bill Callahan closed his first season at Nebraska with a loss to a longtime Nebraska rival.
In the 15 years since, Hansen has remained an avid Huskers supporter. He has remained loyal to the point where he is now balancing his capstone project at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) on a multimedia presentation detailing his own experience as a fan.
At first glance, Hansen seems mild mannered and quiet but as soon as sports become the topic of conversation, he instantly comes to life. He grew up in Lincoln, Neb., as one of four kids in his family. With a twin sister and two older sisters, his dad introduced him to the Huskers fan lifestyle, and it became a passion for the two of them to bond over.
“He would tell me stories about how, back in the ‘70s, when Memorial Stadium didn’t really have a north stadium — just a fence on that side — he and his buddies would just hop that fence, and they’d go watch the game from the north end zone for free,” Hansen recalled.
In the years since that first game, Hansen received his diploma from Lincoln Southeast High School in 2015 and now finds himself set to graduate from UNL in December 2019.
Following his high school graduation and a year at community college completing general education courses working toward a degree as an exercise science major, he quickly realized that wasn’t his passion and transferred his credits to UNL where he enrolled with double majors in advertising and public relations and sports media and communication.
In his time at UNL, Hansen realized he wanted to go into sports marketing after graduation, and he has taken steps to make that happen. During the summer of 2018, Hansen was a marketing intern for the Nebraska Sports Council, which is the body in charge of producing the Cornhusker State Games each year. Along with that internship, he had a marketing internship with the Lincoln Saltdogs during summer of 2019 where he was tasked with helping improve the fan experience and helping facilitate in-game promotions. Those are just two of the numerous internships held by Hansen.
Following his December graduation, Hansen is moving to Phoenix, Ariz., where he is set to begin his job as an inside sales representative with the Arizona Diamondbacks, having just been hired in late September 2019.
Before he heads to the Southwest, he’s finishing up his time in school with one final capstone project as a contributor for UNLimited Sports where he is tasked with producing an in-depth piece of multimedia journalism that showcases the skills he’s learned during his time as a student in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications. Hansen has banded together with fellow seniors, Austin Oerman and Logan Skrabal, to deliver a three-part project tentatively titled, “The Hidden Perspectives of Game Day.”
The project details their own experiences of Huskers game day — Hansen’s as fan in the student section, Oerman’s as a radio broadcaster with KRNU and Skrabal’s as a member of the Cornhusker Marching Band.
“We all are Huskers fans but have very different experiences and see the game from different perspectives,” Hansen said. “So, we’re trying to focus on our own personal experiences, rather than the game itself, to show how game day is really different for some many people.
Hansen said the project will incorporate multiple forms of media including text, photo, video and audio.
Along with their three-part story, the trio is producing a podcast focused on how they went about making their project, and then the three seniors will dive into conversation about the NBA and its upcoming season.
As they continue to put together the first part of their project, Hansen reflected back on how his experience as a Huskers fan has led to his final project as a student.
“Growing up, we always had season tickets,” Hansen said. “At every game, I would look over and see the student section, and I saw how their energy really drove the rest of the crowd, from starting chants to holding shoes and jumping up and down.”
He stops for a second, thinking back to that first game in 2004.
“I just really couldn’t wait to be a part of that experience, even from the time I was really young, and now that same experience is going to be the last thing I get to cover as a student here at UNL.”