It hasn’t been an easy year for anybody within collegiate athletics and Omaha Athletic Director Trev Alberts and his staff are no different. After winter sports returned and Baxter Arena played host to the NCHC Pod in December, the rest of this semester won’t offer much of a break. The 2021 spring schedule includes 15 sports between the Omaha men’s and women’s teams.
“On one hand it’s really exciting, but on the other, it’s a little bit daunting,” Alberts said. “When you think about all of those fall sports, there’s a reason why the athletic calendar is the way it is. So when you take your fall sports and plug them in on top of the winter and spring ones all at once, we’ve had to do a lot of shuffling and communication has been key.”
It’s been an exhausting time throughout the athletic department as a whole. Not only have people had to change how they operate daily because of the pandemic, but they’ve also constantly had to react on the fly based on schedule changes and COVID-19 concerns.
Multiple sports have been impacted in some way. Both the men’s and women’s basketball programs have had games postponed or canceled. Hockey was hit hard as back-to-back series against North Dakota were postponed and a series at Colorado College pushed back three days to open the second half.
It’s been an adjustment for everyone involved.
“When you have chaos in your life or environment, it really is amazing how much leadership is amplified, either positively or negatively,” Alberts said. “We would never be able to do what we’ve been able to do without the team we have in our athletic department and I don’t want to minimize at all how challenging this has been.
“What’s been the most fulfilling and rewarding to me though is nobody has missed a beat in terms of how well they’ve handled everything. From our medical staff and trainers, to how competitive our teams have been. Our student-athletes even posted the highest cumulative GPA in the history of our department with a 3.56.”
Beginning with the Omaha men’s basketball game on Jan. 2, Baxter Arena started to allow fans back in the building. It’s a slow step towards getting back to semi-normal. The Omaha vs. North Dakota hockey series at the end of January had a Friday night attendance of 1,429, while game two was a season-high 1,771.
The hockey team is ranked in the top-10 in the country, volleyball has gotten off to a strong start, and in less than a month, the baseball and softball programs will open up a brand new facility across the parking lot. It’s an exciting time to be a Maverick.
“We’ve had this dream for the last 12 years of creating a home for UNO athletics where everyone is sort of together,” Alberts said. “So to see baseball and softball have not just fields, but an entire complex, I think it will be the nicest complex in the region and puts us at a level that’s certainly on par with anybody at our level.”
When the Mavericks take the field against Creighton on March 5, Alberts will be looking forward to a good day of baseball. At the same time, he’ll probably be scouting out what’s next for Omaha Athletics.
“Just knowing how my mind thinks, I’ll probably let my eyes wander over to the other open grass and think about what we could do over,” he said. “Because just like any athlete, you never stay the same. You’re either getting better and making progress or frankly, you’re falling behind. We don’t intend to ever be stagnant and we intend to continue moving forward and do things that not only support our student-athletes, but also create facilities that benefit our community.
“The greatest thing UNO has going for it is that we reside in Omaha, and it’s a blessing that we should ever take for granted.”