TeamMates works to “transform lives” of DCPS students

The Beerbohm family plays Reverse Charades. Families, mentors, and mentees were free to play whatever games they chose after eating.

Allie Daro

Living in Nebraska means that we have lots of corn fields, a college football team that everyone is obsessed with, and unpredictable weather, if we’re basing our lives off of common stereotypes. While none of those are bad things, there are also some perks of being a Nebraskan. We all know that Nebraska is the one and only home of Runza. Another Nebraska-only advantage is TeamMates.

TeamMates is a mentoring program that is unique to Nebraska, other than a few locations scattered across nearby states. The program was founded in 1991 by Tom and Nancy Osborne. Twenty-two of Coach Osborne’s players were matched with middle school students in Lincoln. After a successful start to the program, with twenty-one of the mentees graduating high school and the other pursuing an accomplished Motocross career, TeamMates grew until becoming an officially recognized statewide program in 1998.

Today, there are almost 150 local programs with over 7,500 youth mentees. The Butler County Chapter is one of many extensions of the program.

In the Butler County Chapter, three school systems are involved: David City Public Schools, East Butler Public Schools, and Aquinas-St. Mary’s Catholic Schools. 

Local mentors and mentees are matched by the TeamMates chapter. Activities also provide a chance to connect more. A variety of events are supplied to attract different participants. Some activities that have been provided in the past include pumpkin carving, a bowling trip, going to the movie theater, and attending the Red-White Husker football game.

It gives the mentor an opportunity to get to know the family and vice versa,” DCPS Superintendent Chad Denker stated. “The events also provide a chance for mentors to learn from each other.”

Most recently, the Butler County Chapter hosted a game night for participants and their families in the new commons area at DCHS to enjoy supper and family-friendly fun. Pizza, Chex Mix, and popcorn were set up to eat. Games were laid out toward the end of the buffet line for food. Attendees could play games either while or after eating. A variety of games were brought in to be played, included HedBanz, card games, and two games that had been donated to promote family togetherness: LCR and Reverse Charades.

“We want to encourage families to do things together, so each student mentee was able to take two new games home with them due to a generous donation from an anonymous individual who believes in the program,” Denker added.