Nebraska, a completely landlocked and flyover state to most, is seen as one of the least favorite travel destinations in the United States. While the state doesn’t have jaw-dropping mountains, calming sounds of waves hitting the shores of beaches or breath-taking views of naturally formed canyons, there are plenty of things that make Nebraska unique and a place all should desire to be.
The landscape of Nebraska might not be what catches the eyes of people, but the attitudes and characteristics of Nebraskans will surely catch the attention of your heart. If you ever travel to the east coast, especially New York City, you’re advised to avoid eye contact with strangers while walking on the sidewalks or riding the subway across the city. In rural Nebraska, you can’t make it more than a mile driving down the road before doing the little finger wave. You know, the one where your hand rests at the top of the steering wheel and you raise one or two fingers as you pass by another car going in the opposite direction. There is a good chance that you have no idea who that person is, but for some reason, out of the kindness of your heart, you’re inclined to wave back at the stranger.
It doesn’t take long, but once you’re outside the limits of any major city you’re immediately surrounded by Nebraska’s unique countryside beauty. During harvest season you run the luck of getting stuck behind a combine, trying to make its way either to the field or back home to its shed. Unless you live the life of a farmer or are part of a family that has farming in their blood, you probably don’t appreciate the lifestyle, hard work and dedication to the trade. Farming, though not as common as it used to be, is still a staple of Nebraska life.
Nearly two years ago, Nebraska was struck by a natural disaster. Flooding overtook large parts of the state, damaging homes, roads and schools. All across the state, we saw fellow Nebraskans reaching out offer aid to one another. People traveled across the state to clean up flood-stricken towns, and high school National Honor Society chapters took up donation drives to collect supplies for families and communities in need. We even saw some farmers reach out to one another and offer aid in rescuing stranded livestock, protecting them from the dangers of mother nature. “Nebraska Strong” shirts began to pop up across the state, unifying communities all around Nebraska.
Beyond city limits, as dusk begins to settle, stars will start to scatter about the evening sky. If you’re far enough away from city light pollution, you can even see the Milky Way from your backyard. To most Nebraskans, this is something that is often taken for granted. Seeing the stars in the night sky is something you don’t realize you miss until it isn’t there anymore. Many people spend their entire lives in the city, never seeing the beauty of a starry night sky. Being able to gaze upon a starry sky and see the beauty of the Milky Way reminds us of all of the longings to aim for the stars. To some that may be a far off, distant dream to accomplish, but when you can go out and see the International Space Station soar across the night sky, you’re reminded that as long as you keep dreaming and aiming for those stars, one day, you might just get to be among them, whatever that dream may be, as long as you believe.
The University of Nebraska Omaha is home to a growing hockey program.. In a state that takes pride in hard work, respect, determination and going after your dreams, there’s no other more fitting place for the Mavericks. If you take all the characteristics listed above about the state of Nebraska and its people, you’ll find all those characteristics reflected in the members of the UNO hockey program.
Painted on the wall outside of the locker room for the Mavericks are the words: Earn Respect, Work Hard, Bring Enthusiasm, Take Initiative, Choose Courage Over Comfort, and Team First. These are the foundations of the UNO hockey program. If you want to know what it means to be a Maverick, just take a look at that list of words. There’s mutual respect between fans and the Maverick hockey team. Fans are drawn to support the Mavericks because they can see the same characteristics in the players, coaches, and program as they see in themselves. As one UNO student puts it, “I really loved the overall atmosphere when you enter Baxter. Everyone from the fans, players and coaches are so full of energy and excitement for game day. There is something special about going to an event showing your support for your fellow Mavericks.”
In a place where people are built upon the foundations of hard work, teamwork, determination and respect, not everyone is going to fit in. Nebraska is not for everyone. The University of Nebraska Omaha hockey team is not for everyone, and that’s okay. Be proud to be from the state of Nebraska and be proud to be a Maverick fan.