The Nebraska men’s tennis team has given back to the community this year.
Through the Nebraska life skills program, they have worked in a soup kitchen, spoken to children at local schools, participated in the O.N.E. Coalition Husker Heroes event in early September and visited the Madonna Rehabilitation Center.
“It was a group effort I’d say,” freshman Andre Saleh said. “We have a part of the athletic department called life skills and they are amazing. We just have to go to them and ask and they will set it up. We all were thinking about doing stuff like this.”
The Nebraska life skills program was founded in 1987 and expanded in 2008 by then-athletic director Tom Osborne. Its mission involves several different facets. First, it helps student-athletes manage the rigors of balancing school and athletics and transition into college smoothly. Another large part of the department is giving student-athletes avenues to explore career options after graduating, such as networking nights, job shadowing and career fairs, which have all been introduced under the program.
“All the people that work in that [life skills] part of the athletic department are amazing people that really care about you as a person,” Saleh said. “They really want you to be successful in athletics and outside of athletics in real life.”
But the department’s most impactful works are within the community. In particular, the life skills program explores the perspectives of those less fortunate and seeks to give student-athletes a platform where they can positively impact the community.
“I believe it is important for all of us to realize that the world is bigger than just our own experiences,” head coach Sean Maymi said.
“We know that other people in this town aren’t as lucky,” sophomore Will Gleason said about the Madonna Rehabilitation Center visit. “We felt it was our job to give back to the community by helping some people who have been through some very traumatizing experiences, and just brightening their day as much as possible.”
In the visit, the players played basketball with the patients.
The Madonna Rehabilitation Center, with campuses in Lincoln and Omaha, works to rehabilitate individuals who have suffered from a number of debilitating injuries. They have specific programs for stroke survivors, spinal cord and brain injuries and pediatrics.
The Matt Talbot Kitchen, another one of the venues the players visited while volunteering, is a soup kitchen which doubles as an outreach program for relieving the problems associated with homelessness. Along with providing two meals every day, the Matt Talbot Kitchen works with local organizations which specialize in providing housing and treating addiction in the homeless population.
“The guys really got excited about spending some time with these children, and hopefully they brightened their Saturday afternoon a bit,” Maymi said about the Madonna Rehabilitation Center visit. “This is something we will continue to do as a program in the future.”