MEET THE MAVS

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.

I went 0-4 with two strikeouts.

Needless to say, it wasn’t my best day at the plate.

Disgusted with myself, I remember checking my phone after the game and receiving a text from one of the assistant coaches at UNO.

He said he was interested in getting to know me and wanted to talk on the phone soon.

That lifted my spirits right up!

I was playing for Chattanooga State Community College at the time. I was waiting patiently for my opportunity to play at the DI level, though.

This was my chance.

But it likely never would have happened without one of my best friends. We played at Chattanooga State together before he transferred to UNO.

He constantly told me how much he loved the city, university, and baseball program. He also happened to be on a team filled with quite a few seniors, especially in the outfield.

Knowing they’d have many players to replace the following year, the coaches asked my buddy if he knew of any players that could help the team.

He mentioned me right away.

And the rest is history.

I’ve played baseball pretty much everywhere across the country, but there are very few places that give me the sense of comfort and belief that I’m exactly where I need to be like Omaha.

There are so many things I could say about UNO and the city of Omaha, but almost immediately after I stepped foot on campus, to put it simply, it felt like home.

Makes or breaks you

Coming out of high school, I originally committed to Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina.

I spent my freshman year there, and that also happened to be the dreaded Covid year.

You can take a guess how that season turned out.

Once the school year ended, I focused on how I could improve my game and hone my skills to give myself the most opportunities. 

That’s when I decided to transfer to a JUCO school and ended up at Chattanooga State.

For many guys, I feel like playing JUCO either makes you or breaks you because if you just focus on improving your skills and playing better baseball, you’re probably going to be okay and succeed.

But if you’re not all-in on loving the game, odds are you’re going to get passed by.

I’ll always have gratitude for Chattanooga State and the time I spent there because I developed into the kind of player, leader, and teammate I may not have had the opportunity to be at a larger school.

I wouldn’t be where I’m at today without the work ethic, leadership skills, and selflessness that was demonstrated every single day in the Chattanooga State baseball program.

I couldn’t wait to bring that energy to UNO.

He constantly told me how much he loved the city, university, and baseball program. He also happened to be on a team filled with quite a few seniors, especially in the outfield. Knowing they’d have many players to replace the following year, the coaches asked my buddy if he knew of any players that could help the team. He mentioned me right away, and the rest is history.

Fitting right in

I’m a little bit of an outlier on the UNO baseball team because so many of the guys are naturally from Nebraska and Iowa. Being from Kentucky, I don’t quite have the connections the majority of my teammates have to this area.

But it’s also not something I think that much about, and that’s where I believe I’ve had an advantage in my baseball career.

Playing high school baseball in Kentucky, then moving on to play collegiately in North Carolina, Tennessee, and now Nebraska, I’ve been put in many situations where I’ve had to adapt to my surroundings and form new relationships.

So when I arrived at UNO last season, I kind of knew the drill, right? I was able to fit right in and mesh well with the rest of the guys.

I also credit a large portion of that to my teammates because they welcomed me in with open arms and instantly made me feel like I was part of the team.

With the strong chemistry that we have and a true sense of brotherhood, it’s a blessing to be surrounded by such a cool group of guys and go to battle every day knowing how much we care for one another.

Beyond the field

Outside of my team, another reason I feel so at home at UNO is because the city reminds me a lot of my hometown in Lexington.

The atmosphere, the size and liveliness of the city – it always seems like there’s something going on in Omaha.

I love the parallels between the two cities because it brings me peace knowing that Omaha is kind of like my home away from home.

It’s also the people that make this city and university so special.

Anyone that’s transferred schools knows how challenging it can be with credits, classes, majors, etc., but UNO has made it such a smooth transition for me.

I’m a criminal justice major with a minor in psychology, and everyone in those departments has gone above and beyond for me.

I have full confidence that the professors and administration have my best interests at heart.

UNO genuinely values the “student” in student-athlete, and that value in academics is going to benefit my life long after I hang up my cleats.

Whether it’s help with classes or internship and job opportunities, they’ve basically had my back since I arrived on campus, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate them for that.

Where I belong

One thing I learned early on in my time in Omaha is that playing baseball in February doesn’t always work out the best here, but once we get into April and May, especially, the fan support is unbelievable with the nice weather.

I love playing on a sunny Sunday afternoon in Omaha when it’s about 75 degrees outside because, without fail, I know the stands are going to be packed.

And we feed off that energy, you know?

This is a city that hosts the World Series every summer, so Omaha knows their baseball and they love to show their support for the sport.

Personally, I always play better at home because I know my surroundings and I’m extra motivated to put on a great show for a city and community that’s made me feel welcomed since day one.

We’re not off to our best start this season, but we also know there’s a lot of season to go.

I speak for the entire group when I say that we’re continuing to make progress and determined to turn this season around because we have the team to do it.

We’re the type of team that doesn’t run from adversity – we embrace it.

We’re going to stick together no matter what our record is and get in a groove, then see where we’re at by the end of the season.

Through the ups and downs, I couldn’t be more grateful for the support from this university, city, and community.

Even though I’m not from here, I’ll always consider Omaha a part of my home.

This is where I belong.