MEET THE MAVS

HOMETOWN PRIDE

By Frankie Fidler

MEET THE MAVS

This Kidwell-sponsored content series highlights the unique stories of UNO student-athletes that have built a special connection to our city and community.

MEET THE MAVS

This Kidwell-sponsored content series highlights the unique stories of UNO student-athletes that have built a special connection to our city and community.

This series is brought to you by United Dairy Industry of Michigan.

As an athlete, it’s easy to get down on yourself if you have a bad game, your team loses, or even if you have an off-practice.

So much of our identity is wrapped up in excelling on the field or court, so when we inevitably have those moments where we don’t succeed, it’s a dejecting feeling.

There are other times, however, when we realize that it’s so much bigger than us.

Wins, losses, stats, etc., all of those things have a certain level of value, but they pale in comparison to the impact we can leave on others.

I’m reminded of this every year when we invite thousands of kids from local elementary schools to a UNO basketball game.

It’s one of my favorite games of the year. I love seeing all of the kids’ faces and their excitement as they get to meet all of us players and take pictures.

The game adds extra meaning to me because I’m a local kid from Bellevue.

To have the platform that I do as a DI basketball player and be a role model in my hometown at UNO is undoubtedly one of the greatest blessings of my life.

I wouldn’t be the person or player I am today without the city of Omaha and its community, so on my best and worst days, I try to remember why I play this game and who I play it for.

Rising with the Mavs

Growing up in the area, I’ve always had an appreciation and respect for UNO, but they didn’t quite have the recognition and exposure that they do today.

When they made the transition to DI a little over a decade ago, everything changed.

Truthfully, it’s one of the major reasons why I chose to play basketball here. I had an offer from UC Santa Barbara, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play at the highest level of college basketball in front of my family and friends.

It brings a smile to my face to look out at Baxter Arena and see so many familiar faces watching me play.

That’s not something I’d have at Santa Barbara, which is why I’m grateful to have chosen UNO and get to enjoy this unique opportunity and experience in my basketball career.

The support within the Omaha community has also been nothing short of remarkable in my three years here.

Like I said, it hasn’t been that long since UNO made the move to DI.

We’re going up against schools that have been DI programs for decades upon decades.

They have an advantage on us in that regard, but the fans and community are seeing our progress every year.

They go to all the games and are always encouraging us about how we’re improving as a team and program, and their unwavering support means the world to us.

I think I speak for all programs when I say that UNO is going to continue to be on the rise in the coming years, and I couldn’t be more appreciative to play a part in that growth for my hometown school.

A bittersweet milestone

In my career at UNO, I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by some incredible teammates and sustained quite a bit of success on the court as a result.

I’ve never been one to obsess over my stats or individual accolades, but a pretty cool moment happened not too long ago when I scored my 1,000th career point.

To be honest with you, I’m a little more comfortable reflecting and celebrating that achievement now than the night that it happened.

I say that because I didn’t even know I got to 1,000 until after the game.

I knew I was close, but like I said, my stats are never something I’m going to fixate on.

Winning the game is my first priority on the basketball court, and unfortunately, we lost the night I scored my 1,000th point to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

I had my head down in the locker room, thinking about all the things we could’ve done differently to win that game, and all of a sudden, one of my teammates stood up and told everyone to congratulate me on getting my 1,000th point.

So, I guess you could say it was a bittersweet moment.

I appreciated the recognition and congratulatory messages, but I would’ve traded all of that in for a victory to celebrate with my teammates.

Nevertheless, as I’ve taken time to reflect on that milestone, I am grateful to be on a team with so many selfless teammates who truly care about one another.

We brought in a lot of new players this offseason, but we have tremendous chemistry as a team. We click on and off the court, which is crucial to the success we hope to accomplish this season.

Eclipsing the 1,000-point mark is an amazing feeling, but it doesn’t happen without my teammates and coaches putting me in positions to succeed.

To have the platform that I do as a DI basketball player and be a role model in my hometown at UNO is undoubtedly one of the greatest blessings of my life. I wouldn’t be the person or player I am today without the city of Omaha and its community, so on my best and worst days, I try to remember why I play this game and who I play it for.

Homecourt advantage

I remember during my freshman season, it was the last home game of the season against Denver.

It was just one of those nights for me.

I couldn’t hit anything.

We were down eight with 90 seconds left. It wasn’t looking great, and I couldn’t help but feel responsible for how poorly I was playing.

Then, in an instant, I got as hot as I’ve ever been on the court.

I ended up scoring 11 points over the course of those 90 seconds, including the game-winning three at the buzzer.

Obviously, I loved winning the game and making up for my cold night of shooting, but that game has always stuck with me because I trusted myself.

Shots weren’t going down, but I had the confidence that they eventually would.

I don’t care what sport you play, if you don’t believe in yourself, you’re not going to succeed.

My high school coach, Doug Woodard, taught me that. He believed in me when I didn’t necessarily believe in myself, and I’ve never forgotten it.

I’ve taken that mindset with me throughout my time at UNO, and I’ll take it with me after college to pursue a career in the NBA or playing overseas.

I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in without the support of my family, friends, and the entire Omaha community, and I can’t tell you how much of a privilege it is to step foot on that court each night and help elevate this university and program for years to come.

Basketball has blessed my life in more ways than I’ll ever be able to say, and I’m thankful to have the opportunity to influence others and positively impact their lives.

And there’s no place I’d rather do it than home.