By Anna Lynch, Contributor
The giving season may be long over, but it hasn‘t stopped for the University of Nebraska Omaha athletic department. Recently, UNO’s athletic department was given a leadership gift by local benefactors Brian and Carey Hamilton. The donation will be used toward the construction of an on-campus Academic Excellence Center for university athletes.
Their history of giving back to the University of Nebraska system stems back years, as Brian, a graduate of the University of Nebraska Lincoln, and Carey, a UNO graduate, have held numerous volunteer leadership positions at UNL, UNO and the UNK. The support doesn’t end there. The couple is trustees of the University of Nebraska Foundation, and Brian is a past member of the foundation’s board of directors.
“We’re extremely pleased to have the opportunity to help provide support for this academic center,” Brian said. “We want UNO student-athletes to have the tools they need to be successful both academically and athletically.”
Carey is equally impressed by the dedication of UNO‘s intercollegiate athletes. “I am so inspired by the work ethic of student-athletes,” Carey said. “They have extremely demanding schedules yet they charge on with winning attitudes.”
UNO’s director of Athletics, Trev Alberts, is grateful for the Hamilton’s support and investment toward UNO’s student-athletes.
“It is fitting that our first major facilities investment helps us strengthen the academic support for our athletes during their transition to Division I,” he said. “The Brian and Carey Hamilton Excellence center will put us on par with many of our peer institutions in Division I.”
Throughout the year, UNO student-athletes are busy, investing hours into conditioning, practices and games. The hard work doesn’t cease in the weight room, as UNO’s athletes have to “hit the books” and excel in academics, as well.
Maverick student-athlete and member of the men’s basketball team, Caleb Steffensmeier added his thoughts about the new facility.
“All of us are looking forward to an up-to-date, expanded Academic Excellence Center,” he said. “It will give us a place to maximize our study time and balance all of our responsibilities as student-athletes.”
The Academic Excellence Center is to replace the existing academic space located in the Sapp Fieldhouse. The area will boast ample amounts of study space and computers for Maverick athletes. Not only will the Brian and Carey Hamilton Academic Excellence Center provide these things, but it will also offer separate rooms in which athletes can meet with tutors.
Brian stressed the importance of adequate academic resources made available for student-athletes.
“The more resources they have, the better students they are–and the better prepared they will be to enter the workforce and to support the Omaha community,” he said.
The UNO athletic department has been at work with the on-campus facilities department as well as local architects, BVH Architects, on the design of the center. With construction to proceed in the next few weeks, the project is expected to be completed by the beginning of fall semester.
It’s all just a balance for Maverick cross-country runner and track and field athlete, Kayla Fenske. She said balancing academics and athletics is all about time management.
“As for a new facility, I think it would attract more athletes to use it,” Fenske said. “And a tutor room would definitely make an impact.”