Maurtice Ivy: Forever Champion
I like telling stories anyway I can. Sometimes by the written word, sometimes with pictures. As this blog grows, I’m going to try to work both in. I’ve had nearly 20 years in using sound, words and pictures to tell stories.
At the beginning of the year, I broke down a got a videocamera and I was given a plum opportunity during a vacation. How often does one get to see a role model get their just due. In January, I got to see two of them. I saw my grandmother turn 80, and whole family celebrate. And I saw my favorite athlete get her number retired.
If you’ve follow sports in Nebraska, you know who Maurtice Ivy is. In the early 1980s, as a student-athlete at Omaha Central, she won a lot. She was state’s best basketball player. A wicked shooting guard who could score on anybody, anytime. She was also a strong quarter-miler in track and field. Watching Maurtice run 400 meters was a treat. She ran that race. She owned that race.
She’s best known for basketball. For the winter nights were she was putting up 20, 25, 30, 35, 40+ points in a game. Those epic duels with Omaha Marian. A grand clash of two titans that seemed to come to a head in Lincoln every March.
If Maurtice did it in a game Friday night. I was trying it in a game at the YMCA on Saturday morning. If she did something on the track that gained her advantage I would try and learn it.
I’ve liked a lot of athletes in my life in sport, but maybe five or so I would call a hero. Maurtice Ivy is DEFINITELY in that group. She was my role model in a many ways still is.
She took a basketball scholarship to Nebraska in 1984. She could have gone anywhere, but she stayed home and did reach a goal. She made Nebraska Women’s Basketball matter. In her senior year, she was Big 8 Conference Player of the Year, and the Huskers were in the NCAA tourney for the first time.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t a WNBA in operation when she graduated. But that didn’t matter so much her. She used her education and became a beacon in the North Omaha community, much like her father, whom I still believe is best darn basketball coach I’ve ever seen at any level.
Maurtice became WBB head coach at Peru State (NE) College four years ago, and moved that program from cellar to competitive. She’s worked her way up the ranks. She’s been an assistant. She’s tutored a lot of kids in the game on the court and in the game of life. I hope to someday be at an NCAA Final Four and see a Maurtice Ivy-led team in it. I think she’ll get there.
But, why this person is a role model to me is not because of great plays or big stats, but the type of person she has always been. A person is doesn’t shirk the hard work that achievement demands. A person who is genuine as you get. And a person who understand the fundamental truth that great leaders must be great servants.
On January 16, 2011 — Maurtice Ivy’s #30 jersey was retired by University of Nebraska Women’s Basketball. She was the second woman and the fifth player of either gender to have her name and number hung in the rafters in Bob Devaney Sports Center for all-time. I was honored to see it and chronicle it. My dear friend was getting her just due as a player, but she is champ in my eyes for the person that she is.
It is in this spirit that I proudly submit this work in tribute to her.
Maurtice Ivy: Forever Champion.