November 2022 TeamMates of the Month: Higher on the Wall
What happens when you match a former Husker player and father of four boys with a soft-spoken, 4th grade boy who isn’t interested in eating lunch? Vance remembers saying, “You need to eat!” He and Jordan went to the Randolph library and picked a spot together. “I marked his height and he started eating his lunch then!”
Jordan, now a junior, remembers the measuring with a grin, “I wonder if the marks are still there?” That first summer, he grew more than six inches. “I thought he was pretty tall when I first met him,” Jordan said with a playful side glance at Vance. Now, he and Vance are almost the same height, and Jordan leads with the firm handshake they’ve practiced.
They’re competitive in a healthy way, “I tried to get him away from the chess board because that was one thing he always beat me at,” Vance said. “Sometimes it was like five moves and the game’s over.”
Jordan learned chess from his dad and was in the chess club in 4th and 5th grades. He’s out of practice now, but asked what he thought would happen if he played Vance now, Jordan said, “I’d probably beat him.” Vance’s deep laugh rolled again.
Basketball is their equalizer, HORSE in particular, “We’re both not very good in basketball,” Vance said. “I just haven’t been as bad this year. I’ve been eatin’ his lunch lately.”
They talk a lot more than they did early on. In fact, Jordan said the main thing he’s gained from being a TeamMate is that, “There’s always someone to talk to if you have any issues or anything.” Vance’s dependable presence was important and led to some worry when transitioning from elementary school to middle school, a place with “lots more people and lots of new faces.” Would Vance, his “outgoing, fun” mentor follow him?
He did and it meant a lot to Jordan, “He was there. He still came.”
Vance said he had no idea Jordan, who he described as “caring, genuine”, worried about that, “I had no reservations about going to a new school. It’s kind of exciting.”
When Vance asked Jordan, “Do you think you’ll be a mentor some day?” he didn’t hesitate, explaining that mentoring, “has had a pretty big impact on my life so if I could have an impact on someone else’s that’d be nice.”
Jordan knows how and why it works, “Just talking to him, meeting every week forms the connection. I learn about Vance’s experiences, and what he went through and those experiences can help me.”
Soon, the match will be talking about scholarships that might support Jordan’s plans to attend UNL on the way to becoming a third-generation appraiser in his family.
Vance hopes Jordan can meet his family (and pets) after graduation.
Jordan imagines going bowling at Parkway Lanes together, “I look at him as a friend. I think it matters to him that we meet.”
Vance nods, “If it didn’t matter, I wouldn’t do it.”