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Former Husker Addante turns tough luck into chance to help others through selling protective equipment

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Mike Addante

After former Nebraska baseball player and current UNL business student Mike Addante stepped away from the game, he took a step toward his future by working to outfit Nebraska schools with protective equipment to help slow the spread of COVID-19. 

It wasn't necessarily the way Mike Addante wanted to get started on his post-college life.

There was an injury that kept him away from the baseball field, eventually leading to the decision to leave the Nebraska baseball team to focus on academics. Add a pandemic that kept pretty much everybody away from everything, and events were combining to turn Addante's 2020 into a mostly lousy affair.

But an entrepreneurial spirit, the desire to help, and a good connection opened a door for Addante to make a difference while getting a look at what his future could hold.

Addante spent much of the summer working to outfit schools and businesses in Nebraska with protective products to help slow the spread of COVID-19, and he has been donating part of his sales to the Lincoln COVID-19 Response Fund.

"In no way did I want to get hurt or step away from baseball, but the outcome has worked out for me and it's leading me in the right direction for after school and my future," Addante said. "Nebraska athletics has instilled in me the importance of community and community involvement, and that's why I want to help businesses here in Nebraska and donate to that fund."

A senior management major, Addante is on schedule to graduate next summer from Nebraska's College of Business.

He's unsure what exactly he'll do once he has his degree, though he's leaning toward starting his own company.

He's off to a good start, using a family connection with Rieke Office Interiors, a company that designs and manufactures office furniture, to help kick-start the next phase of his life.

A native of Algonquin, Illinois, a northwest Chicago suburb, Addante was already plenty familiar with what Rieke did. First, the company is located only about 10 miles from his home, just down the road in Elgin.

And his father, Jeff Addante, is the company's CFO.

"He had a lot of say in the product development," Mike Addante said. "They're (Rieke) a furniture manufacturer, so they do a lot of custom furniture work for all types of businesses and schools."

The products Addante is working to sell are based on the clear face shields many hospital workers wear. The company is able to custom design various products, and also has pieces that fit teacher and student desks, and dividers for places such as lunch tables.

While he'd like to be able to meet with potential customers face to face, the pandemic pretty much put a stop to that for most of the summer. 

So when Addante says he's sold "hundreds" of products to schools throughout Nebraska, it's easy to see why he wants to potentially pursue being an entrepreneur.

"(Rieke is) trying to expand nationally, so they're trying to get different sales reps in different regions," Addante explained. "And me being in Nebraska, and thinking I want to be able to help, I thought it would be great for me to sell in the state of Nebraska, where I live and go to school."

As expected, seniors Acker, Hagge and Roskam will return for one more season with Husker baseball team

So Addante threw himself into his work. He didn't have much experience as a salesman, but he had a desire to help people, and a willingness to work that came in large part from his time with the Huskers.

"Just being able to help people and companies and keep people at work," Addante said of why he pursued the project. "I want to be able to help and do everything I can to keep businesses going."

Addante also is donating 10% of his sales to the Lincoln COVID-19 Response Fund, a collection of resources to benefit nonprofit organizations in Lincoln that work with areas of the community hardest hit by the virus.

An outfielder for the Huskers, Addante appeared in just four games in 2020, starting one, while battling a wrist injury. He finished the season with one hit in five at-bats.

Over his three-year career, Addante appeared in 34 games with 13 starts.

Away from the field, he was an academic all-Big Ten pick in 2020, and made the Nebraska scholar-athlete honor roll five times.

The lessons he learned under coaches Darin Erstad and Will Bolt, he said, have helped him in his new endeavor.

"Being a part of the baseball team has been extremely rewarding," Addante said. "Getting a strong foundation for work, working hard, respect, teamwork, discipline, accountability, and doing things the right way are just some of the things I've learned."

Contact the writer at or 402-473-7436. On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.


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Husker men's basketball/baseball reporter

A Ravenna native, Chris covers the University of Nebraska men's basketball team and assists with football coverage. He spent nearly 10 years covering sports at the Kearney Hub and nearly four years at the Springfield News-Leader in Springfield, Mo.

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