LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — The Nebraska men’s basketball team began summer training weeks ago, but some of the most important work they’ve done this summer is in the community.
On Tuesday evening, the team traveled to Nebraska Heart Hospital to visit patients, tour the hospital and learn about treatments.
“It’s obviously near and dear, no pun intended, to my heart,” said head coach Fred Hoiberg.
Hoiberg knows exactly what patients at the hospital are going through.
He underwent open-heart surgery in 2005 and again in 2015.
“You know, seeing people who have had the procedure, and you know, it really brings back a flood of emotions,” Hoiberg said.
Bringing the team in for a visit was the encouragement he knew patients would appreciate.
Hoiberg is now on his second pacemaker and remembers how much the visitors helped his own recovery.
“For people to come visit, it’s really uplifting, and you know you need that when you’re going through this,” he said. “You have so many different emotions during recovery.”
Derek Vance, president of CHI Health St. Elizabeth and Nebraska Heart, said he could tell how special being in the hospital was for Hoiberg.
“I could tell it was personal for him,” he said. “Having been through something similar in his own life and being able to interact with patients with his student-athletes, the players.”
Senior goalkeeper Emmanuel Bandoumel said: “To see Coach overcome this huge challenge he had to [go] through and he’s had two heart surgeries, it’s just amazing.
The joy on the faces of the patients said it all. The team made an impact as soon as they set foot in hospital rooms.
“To have an entire or even partial college basketball team to walk into your room is the last thing you expect,” Vance said.
The visit had a noticeable impact on a Husker team striving to make a difference in their community.
“It just makes you more grateful for things,” Bandoumel said. “Just walking can be hard, just getting up can be an uphill battle, and for us it’s like common and basic things, and for others it’s a lot, a lot more difficult.
Hoiberg said, “We have a great group of kids this year. They want to get out there and make a difference and they’re doing a phenomenal job so far this summer.