By Avery Wenck, Sports Editor
TeamMates of Metro Omaha mentors and guests packed DJ’s Dugout Thursday to celebrate the accomplishments of the organization since its launch in 1991. The event started at 4 p.m. at the restaurant on 63rd and Center streets in the Aksarben area. Mentors were allowed to invite guests, and not a half hour into the event, the place was packed and there were no available seats. There were plenty of big-name people in attendance, with past players and mentors at Nebraska included. A raffle during commercial breaks gave attendees the opportunity to win signed Huskers memorabilia. The Drive, Omaha’s local ESPN radio show, broadcasted live from DJ’s Dugout. The Drive invited Dr. Tom Osborne and UNO Athletic Director Trev Alberts on-air to discuss various topics, including the TeamMates program. TeamMates is a program started in 1991 by Osborne and his wife, Nancy. Twenty-two football players met with Lincoln-area middle school children because Osborne felt his athletes could make an impact on the kids. Today, the program matches a volunteer mentor with a student. The mentor meets with the child for at least one hour every week. There are no set guidelines as to what a mentor can do in that hour, but standard activities range from doing homework to just chatting about common interests. Osborne took some time to thank those who were participating as mentors for their efforts in making the world a better place. “We are very lucky to have the amount of people participating as we do,” Osborne said. “We have been blessed to watch this organization grow with participants as well as adding two more states.” The program has seen exponential growth over the course of its existence, expanding from 12 chapters and 441 participants in 1998 to 130 chapters and over 7,000 mentees today. The TeamMates program is always looking to expand, and you can apply online or print off an application and send it in. After you apply, you will be required to train yourself to prepare for the commitment you are about to embark on. Once your training is complete, you are able to be matched up with a mentee and begin your journey as a TeamMate mentor.