Article Reprint from Omaha.com
“Sometimes I just sit here and stare,” said Jason Mims, Head Coach of the Omaha Mavericks. “It’s made such a difference to our program.”
Mims is talking about the Dodge Street pedestrian overpass, a ribbon of concrete and steel that winds its way over Dodge Street near the UNO campus and connects Elmwood and Memorial Parks.
Photo: The American Institute of Steel Construction named it “Most Beautiful Bridge” in the U.S. in 1969.
“This is how we landed so many of our current players,” said Mims pointing at the pedestrian bridge. “I take visiting recruits here and ask them, ‘What is this?’ They usually say ‘a bridge”. That’s when I let out a big laugh. Then, I tell them I’ll be right back – I actually leave for three hours. If they are still here when I return, they are on my team.”
Mims’ eyes begin to well up.
“See, it’s not a bridge – it’s a connection that brings people together. Well, that and local high school kids use it to get dope from dealers over at Memorial Park. But it’s so much more.”
Mims used to have his team ‘run the bridge’ but a number of players were injured when their cleats slipped on the concrete. “We were down to nine healthy players in the spring. But it was worth it – it’s all about bringing people together.”
Locals share Mim’s nearly mystical view of the bridge.
“Like Issac Newton said, ‘we build too many walls and not enough bridges.'” said Mims. “Except on a penalty kick outside the box- then you need a wall. A real good wall. And you need walls in your house, otherwise you would freeze. And walls hold up roofs, too.”
“Stay here. I’ll be right back,” said Mims as he disappeared over the span – interview ended.
If both Denver and Omaha advance following the Summit League soccer semifinals Thursday, they will meet Saturday at Omaha’s Caniglia Field.