Lincoln police say they think the death of a Nebraska volleyball graduate student manager near Lincoln’s downtown Haymarket district on Sunday was accidental.
About 9:30 a.m. Sunday, Lincoln police and fire crews responded to a report of a body found near Seventh and N Streets. They found Dane Leclair, 22, dead at the scene.
Crime scene investigators who processed the scene and analyzed digital and forensic evidence determined that Leclair accidentally fell from the fourth story of the parking garage, police said Monday.
The investigation is ongoing, police said.
During his regularly scheduled weekly press conference Monday, Nebraska volleyball coach John Cook said he never has had to deal with a member of the program dying. He said he met with the team Sunday, and they are working with Brett Haskell, the athletic department’s director of sports psychology, and volleyball’s director of operations, Lindsay Peterson.
“Yesterday was a long, tough day,” Cook said. “It’s a coach’s worst nightmare when stuff like this happens. It’s a parent’s worst nightmare.”
In a press release, Cook said Leclair had a big smile and friendly personality and brought a lot of energy to the volleyball team.
Leclair was one of four graduate managers for the Huskers and was recruited by Nebraska after wrapping up a playing career at Loyola-Chicago. Cook said he looks for seniors who want to go into coaching and get a master’s degree.
Leclair joined the program this summer and was pursuing a master’s in business administration at Nebraska.
Cook said the graduate managers are an important part of the program and he treats them as if they were professional coaches. The graduate managers work with the other coaches to organize practices and then help run drills with the players.
At 6-foot-4, Leclair often practiced in the front row, challenging players to hit around his block.
“It’s a brotherhood and sisterhood,” Cook said of the graduate managers. “They are very tight. They all share an office together. They do everything together.”
Leclair did not travel with the team to road matches at Indiana and Purdue this past weekend. He did go on the trip to Maryland the previous weekend because Nebraska used a bigger plane, and saw his relatives, who live on the East Coast.
The Huskers were to go through their normal schedule this week. Cook said he hopes the chemistry and tight bond of this year’s team will help players cope with Leclair’s death.
“It’s losing a part of our team, and it’s hard to put into words,” Cook said. “Everyone is still really confused. When somebody is that young and has the world in front of them — he’s a really talented guy and (from) a great family — it’s really a tragic deal. We are going to have to work through it.”
Leclair finished a playing career at Loyola earlier this year. He set personal bests in kills (117), aces (9), digs (116) and blocks (45) as a senior, according to Loyola Chicago.
Loyola-Chicago also issued a statement about Leclair.
“We are devastated to learn of the passing of Dane,” said Steve Watson, Loyola’s athletic director. “He was one of the most beloved student-athletes during his time on campus and had a personality that lit up a room. We offer our sincere condolences to his family, friends, former teammates and coaches and ask that you keep them in your thoughts and prayers.”
Mark Hulse, Loyola men’s volleyball coach, said Leclair “personified the very best of what it means to be a Rambler, a student-athlete and a man for others. He was an unbelievable teammate, friend and member of the volleyball community. We will all miss him dearly.”
Off the court, Loyola said in its press release, Leclair was recognized for his work in the classroom, earning Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association Academic All-Conference honors four times.