Consider the push and pull in Stabler’s life.
The pull to do right by his family.
The push to be there for Lincoln kids without families.
The pull to reconnect with his Omaha past as he builds his Lincoln future.
The push to provide for GTS kids in a climate where it can be hard enough to provide for himself.
“Sometimes the money comes and sometimes it doesn’t,” Stabler said. “Right now we owe the YMCA $2,500 [in tournament entry fees] and I’m sitting here thinking about how am I going to pay that off… because if I don’t, these kids aren’t going to have anything to do this summer.”
He described what they do to get by on less. “We have three or four sets of uniforms split up between six teams. So we’ve got kids scrambling around [between games] taking jerseys off all sweaty and stinky and giving them to other players.”
Still, Stabler is unwilling to drop basketball from GTS Youth Club’s agenda.
“Basketball is the hook,” Rhodes said. Students connect through basketball and then open themselves to Stabler’s message about respecting their history, valuing their education and pursuing college with the same determination they use playing basketball. To make the team, students must meet attendance requirements at the tutoring sessions.
Stabler believes that when young people learn what others before them have suffered to provide the opportunities they have today, they take those opportunities more seriously. It’s partly why he chose to study history at Nebraska Wesleyan.
“I wish I’d have taken time to learn more from my grandfather while he was here,” Stabler said. “I didn’t learn as much from him as I should have. I didn’t know he was a hero.”
Whether or not he learned everything he could have, Angelo Stabler is every bit his grandfather’s grandson. Many already call the 23-year-old Stabler a hero. Associate Professor of History Sandra Mathews called Stabler “an amazing and wise man,” and nominated him for a Fellowship of Noble Purpose this spring.
People can also now call Stabler a college graduate. In recognition for the obstacles he overcame to get his degree, NWU recognized Stabler in May with its Kenneth R. Holder Memorial Award. “I can’t think of anyone more deserving of that award,” Rhodes said.
As for his future, Stabler has already promised his parents that he’s getting his doctorate. Stabler takes such promises seriously.
But for now, his goals shouldn’t overshadow his recent accomplishments, his promises kept. Stabler remembered his last days as a Nebraska Wesleyan student. “I turned in my last paper, and inside I’m yelling and screaming. Nobody could hear me, but I was yelling, ‘I did it!’”
He may not have made a sound. But his grandfather heard.
People interested in learning more about GTS Youth Club may call Angelo Stabler at 402.805.9056 or Ishma Valenti at 402.601.3496 or e-mail them at email@example.com.