Another year means another crop of Maverick athletes, each wanting to leave their mark on Omaha.
While the seasons may look a little different, there’s still plenty to be excited and plenty of athletes worth keeping an eye on this season. While it is unclear when UNO sports will be back this year, it is clear that great talent possessed by these athletes. Here are a few to keep your eye on this season.
Nil Ayats, Men’s soccer, Senior
Hailing from Taradell, Spain, this Catalonian midfielder will likely serve as the heartbeat of the Omaha men’s soccer team this season. Ayats will look to be on the comeback this season after he spent most of the 2019 season sidelined with injuries. In the three games he did play last season, two of which were in the Summit League championship, Ayat’s presence helped reinvigorate an Omaha offense that had been lackluster in the second half of the season.
He doesn’t yet have an assist or goal to his name while wearing the Omaha black and Blue, but Ayats contributes in other ways. Ayats will look to be someone who can dictate play for Omaha from the middle of the field and put the team above all else.
Isabella Sade, Volleyball, Senior
In perhaps Omaha’s biggest upset win of the Division I era, few on the Maverick’s team were as big as Isabella Sade. When Omaha beat the no.1 seed South Dakota in the Summit League semifinals last season, it was Sade who paved the way for the win with 17 kills.
While the Mavericks fell short in the championship game against Denver, Sade will likely be back for her senior with a mindset of vengeance. She may also be looking to earn a spot in the record books as well. With 998 kills to her name thus far, she’s 284 kills away from earning a spot in the Maverick All-Time Top 10.
La’Mel Robinson, Basketball, Freshman
La’Mel Robinson is the only athlete on this list yet to play a minute for UNO—but don’t let that fool you.
Robinson came into UNO from Kansas City as a highly rated four-star recruit before taking a redshirt during the 2019-2020 season. Playing for Park Hill South High School, Robinson finished as their all-time leader in both points and assists. Robinson will be stepping into the team when both skills are sorely needed. With 1000-point career scorers KJ Robinson and JT Gibson graduating last season, Robinson looks to be the heir to their throne.
Taylor Ward, Hockey, Junior
Taylor Ward is another player that will be looking to come back from an injury in a big way. During the 2019-2020 season, Ward was immense for the Mavericks when he did play. Before picking up an injury late in the season against Colorado College, Ward led the team in scoring with 16 goals.
Unfortunately for Ward and the Mavericks, his injury came at a crucial time in the season, as Omaha was chasing a shot at having home ice in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference playoffs. Without Ward, Omaha went 1-3 in their last four games to finish just outside of where they hoped to be.
With plans to have Ward back at full strength for this year’s season, look for him to take care of some unfinished business.
Jamie White, Softball, Junior
Before their season was cut short due to the pandemic last season, Omaha softball seemed to be experiencing somewhat of a renaissance. The Mavericks were coming off a season where they finished 4-43. Before the season was called early in 2020, they were already 12-12.
Leading the way for such a turnaround was Jamie White. As freshman in 2019, White was one of the bright spots of the season as she led the team in batting average. In 2020, she didn’t miss a beat. While she did not finish at the top of the batting average that season, she still led the team in homeruns with eight balls sent the distance. Look for her to light it up for the Maverick offense again this season.