Teamwork Makes The Dream Work

TeamMates Program pushes students to succeed


Contributed by Addison Stugart

Leily Zhu, News Editor

As high school students, it is easy to develop the mindset that we can take care of ourselves and run our lives, that we are adults. However, most students aren’t, which means we still need an adult in our lives. And even if you have legally become an adult, it does not take away from the fact that you need one in your life. Someone to look up to, who looks after you, who wants all the best things for your life that they themselves may not have received.
Life is not always ideal. Many students lack an adult presence, on either the mother or father side. That is why former Nebraska Football Coach and Athletic Director Tom Osborne founded the TeamMates Mentoring Program in 1991.
The goal of this program is to positively impact the world by inspiring youth to reach their full potential through mentoring. TeamMates matches a mentor with a student based on interests, and they meet one hour a week to do activities like playing board games, applying to colleges, and most often, to just talk.
“If you have a positive adult influence in your life, the greater chance you have for graduating high school. And that’s really the whole point of TeamMates, to have a positive person that’s going to continue to encourage you, regardless of what the issue might be,” MN school social worker Peggy Breard said.
Many students are able to enjoy the benefits of this program including senior mentee Addisson Stugart with her mentor Kelly Souder.
“It’s not about how much money your parents make or if you have both parents or just one parent. It’s just about giving someone an extra cheerleader in their corner,” Souder said.
Stugart has been in TeamMates since second grade, with her father’s enthusiastic support. Her first mentor was named Kelly. From third to eighth grade, Stugart was mentored by Jody Kelley. And throughout her high school career, Stugart has been with Kelly Souder. The name Kelly has been a large part of her life.
“It’s more of having someone to talk to when you feel like no one else is there, and in terms of being able to do that at a very high functioning level, Kelly is the person to go to. This program gave me a mom that everyone wants,” Stugart said.
Through this program, mentors and their mentees form strong connections, often through simply talking about life, connections that these students lacked prior to joining TeamMates. Whether it’s a good friendship or a motherly/fatherly presence, the bond goes a long way in terms of improving their lives.
“I treat them like they’re my own kids. I would do anything to help them succeed. Seeing the girls graduate and be successful and feel better about themselves, that’s my goal,” Souder said.
TeamMates offers scholarships specific to participants of the program up to $30,000 or even full tuition. However, that is not the main benefit of the program. The relationships formed between the mentors and mentees carry far more value than money could ever buy because the positive impacts carry on for the remainder of their lives.
“Kelly’s amazing. Astonishing. Everything is kind of phenomenal,” Stugart said. “Having the program there, not only does it open up scholarships, but it definitely helps in terms of life.”