Not much more than a decade ago, the University of Nebraska at Omaha was known solely as a commuter campus. That is, it was literally impossible to live on campus until the late 1990s, when the first wave of student housing was built. Skip forward to 2014, and this 106-year-old institution might just be entering its brightest era yet, one where UNO starts to shed its image as the unloved step-sibling of nearby University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
With a recent jump from Division II to Division I athletics, the Mavericks are ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with other nearby schools in men’s and women’s basketball, soccer and more. Not to forget a rededication to UNO’s flagship sport, hockey.
While the jump to D-I wasn’t without controversy — namely UNO athletic director Trev Alberts announcing the shut down of a money-draining football program and an amazingly successful wrestling program, two sports that just didn’t fit into the mix as the Mav’s joined the Summit League athletic conference last year — it’ll likely be viewed as a hallmark step forward for the school in years to come.
A rendering of UNO’s Community Arena, currently under construction in Aksarben Village. Image via HDR.
Sports aside, UNO has also recently seen unprecedented growth on both its Dodge Street and Pacific Street campuses — including an explosion of student housing and the opening of Mammel Hall (new home of the college of businesses administration) and the Community Engagement Center. All just a taste of the growth still slated to come.
“We’ve seen great developments in campus life over the past number of years — the additions in student housing, the new Community Engagement Center, the completion of our FIFA 2-star Certified Soccer Pitch, the continued growth in Aksarben Village, etc. — and we’re hopeful that the opening of the UNO Community Arena next fall will further enhance the campus experience for our student body,” UNO’s assistant athletic director Michael Amundson told Omahype in an email.
But is the student body finally ready to rally around its sports teams and shed UNO’s commuter campus image as that other Nebraska university, the one in Nebraska’s largest city that’s overshadowed by a big-name brand like UN-L aka the Huskers?
“We believe the student body is ready to rally around all of our teams. We’re already seeing an uptick in student attendance at games, which is very encouraging,” Amundson said. “Their support, the energy they bring, the noise they can create… it all helps create a dynamic home environment for our student-athletes. Ultimately though, it’s up to us to give them something to get loud about and take pride in.”
To celebrate UNO’s reemergence to the city, state, — heck, world – a pep rally is scheduled for this Thursday, October 9 at 6 p.m. at the Caniglia Soccer Field. The event, Maverick Mayhem, coincides with homecoming week and salutes the new UNO Community Arena, recognizes Maverick athletics and its fans and kicks off the 2014-15 hockey season. Don’t worry, Maverick Mayhem is more than scripted speeches by coaches and university higher-ups, there will also be carnival games, food trucks, live DJs and performances from local groups M34N STR33T and Icky Blossoms — you know, something for the kids to enjoy. Plus, it’s free to attend.
A Mavericks men’s soccer game at Caniglia Field, the site of Maverick Mayhem this Thursday, October 9. Image via omvas.com.
“Maverick Mayhem is special in that it’s a true collaboration between athletics, the homecoming committee, the UNO campus and some of the Omaha music scene’s most talented artists,” Amundson said. “It represents not only a celebration of our teams and student-athletes, but also the continued progress of the UNO Community Arena and our partners.”
So if you’re one of UNO’s 15,000-plus student body, a proud alum (ahem) or just a Maverick fan, head to North Campus this Thursday and celebrate Omaha’s favorite state university.