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’m not sure who came up with that famous adage, “You can’t go home again,” but whoever it was, almost certainly never lived in Omaha, Nebraska.

I’m from Carpentersville, Illinois, but Omaha has, without question, become my second home.

I moved here when I was 16 years old to play for the Omaha Lancers in the USHL.

I was just a bright-eyed kid chasing my dreams of playing professional hockey one day.

It’s been seven years since I moved to Omaha, and I’ve learned so much about myself in that time.

Ironically enough, I had to leave Omaha in 2018 to rediscover that this is the place I was meant to be all along.

I didn’t grow up here, but it’s where I spent some of my best years.

Every success, failure, roadblock, lesson, and so many other elements of my life, all tie back to Omaha in one way or another.

As a senior forward for UNO now, I can undoubtedly say that Omaha has shaped me into the person and hockey player I am today.

Growing up quickly

Moving to Omaha at 16 was a bit of an undertaking. Leaving behind my family and friends in Illinois was tough, but when you’re chasing a dream, sacrifices have to be made.

Sacrificing part of my youth and adolescence was a tradeoff I was willing to make in order to take my game to the next level.

Taking care of myself at a young age also taught me to mature quickly.

My family was seven hours away, so I had to learn and develop some life skills and figure things out on my own.

I had some rough moments and homesickness at times, but looking back on it, I’m grateful I took that leap because it helped me grow as a person and hockey player.

I committed at an early age to play for the University of Michigan.

When I finished up my final year with the Lancers in 2018, I was very grateful for my time in Omaha, but I decided to move to Ann Arbor.

Life, however, would have other plans.

Not the right fit

I was very excited to join Michigan.

First-rate academics.

The Big 10.

It was a very attractive option.

But sometimes, things in your head don’t translate to reality.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the best fit for me.

The scheme and system didn’t match my skill set on the ice as well as I had hoped.

And so, I entered the transfer portal after my freshman season.

I was just a bright-eyed kid chasing my dreams of playing professional hockey one day. It's been seven years since I moved to Omaha, and I've learned so much about myself in that time. Ironically enough, I had to leave Omaha in 2018 to rediscover that this is the place I was meant to be all along. I didn't grow up here, but it's where I spent some of my best years.

Back where I belong

After not receiving a ton of playing time at Michigan, I decided to come back to Omaha to play for the Lancers again and regain some quality minutes on the ice.

I enjoyed my time with the Lancers in the two seasons prior to Michigan, so you could say moving back to Omaha was a safe haven for me.

I needed a place where I could get back to playing my game and boost my confidence.

Omaha was the perfect place for me to do just that.

It was only fitting, then, when UNO started to recruit me. Living in Omaha, I was more than familiar with the program and their rich history.

They have world-class facilities, a passionate fanbase, and a renowned coaching staff. While I took my time in making a decision after I left Michigan, UNO ultimately made it an easy decision.

It was meant to be.

Omaha is home

I’m in my third season now at UNO, and it’s been one of the greatest experiences of my life.

Knowing how it felt to be in a situation where I wasn’t having success, I don’t think I can properly express how amazing it feels to be at a place where I can thrive both on and off the ice.

I’m in an environment where I can just be myself and play my game to the best of my ability.

It’s one of the most freeing feelings in the world.

And none of it is possible without the support of my coaches, teammates, and most importantly, the fans. Anyone who’s around this program knows how strong the fan support is.

That’s why it was so strange to play in an empty arena during my first year here in the 20-21 season with Covid.

We lost one of our greatest advantages when the fans weren’t able to attend our home games. It certainly impacted the competitive atmosphere that makes UNO hockey so special.

It was almost worth it, though, to play in that first game when the fans were allowed back.

By far one of the craziest and loudest games I’ve ever played in.

Baxter Arena was rocking.

And it hasn’t stopped since.

It’s an honor to put on my uniform every night and give back to a city and community that’s changed my life.

Counting my USHL days, I’ve spent six years in Omaha. This city took a teenage kid from Illinois and welcomed him as their own.

I know exactly who I am as a person and hockey player, and I have Omaha to thank for that.

I’m not certain where my hockey journey will take me once I graduate, but I know I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Omaha.

I’ll always consider it home.