Dec. 21, 2012
By Morgan Bailey, U-M Public & Media Relations
Just minutes into the first half of Michigan's 93-54 victory over Eastern Michigan on Thursday night (Dec. 20), freshman shooting guard Nik Stauskas caught the ball behind the arc and did what he does best; drained a crowd-pleasing three-point shot. As the fans at Crisler Center cheered loudly, the first people out of their seats in celebration were Stauskas' parents, Paul and Ruta Stauskas.
"There is nothing more satisfying as a parent than seeing all of his success," Mrs. Stauskas proudly remarked. "He has worked really hard to get here, and to see that pay off for him, there is nothing more that we could ask for."
"It means so much to me, having my parents here watching me play," Stauskas commented. "That was one of the biggest factors when I chose to come to Michigan, knowing that my parents would be able to come see me. I know that they are really proud of me, and they're going to make it to as many games as they can."
Originally from Mississauga, Ontario, Stauskas is just a four-hour drive from home, which has allowed his parents to attend several games so far. "It's the best thing in the world, being able to watch him play," Mr. Stauskas said. "Michigan is such a great school and a great opportunity, and it happened to be the closest to our house."
In addition to his sharp shooting, Stauskas' Canadian roots have attracted him additional attention. The newest addition to the Maize Rage student section is a Canadian flag with a slight makeover; instead of the traditional red and white colors, the flag is proudly Maize and Blue. Stauskas' family has also gotten involved with the Canadian pride, as the dedicated parents sported maize shirts with a Canadian flag printed on it on Thursday night. On either side of the maple leaf, however, were two pictures of Stauskas shooting during a game.
"I am really proud to be Canadian," Stauskas declared. "I'm really glad that the students and fans are embracing that and giving me some love. I definitely appreciate all of the love they're giving me right now."
Stauskas finished with 16 points Thursday night (Dec. 20), including a career-high five shots from behind the arc. His performance was the 11th straight game scoring in double digits, and he has nailed at least one three-point shot in every game this season. With the university's fall term ending this week, Stauskas has officially completed his first semester of college. A lot of his success, both in the classroom and on the basketball court, has been attributed to his years spent at St. Mark's Prep School (Southborough, Mass.).
"His prep school experience was huge," Mr. Stauskas commented. "So many people struggle their first year being away from home, but Nik has been gone since he was 15. That really taught him to take care of himself."
"It prepared me both academically and basketball-wise," Stauskas said. "Academically, St. Mark's is a very good school that has really high standards. It taught me to always get my work done and be prepared. Basketball-wise, it prepared me because the competition level was really high."
Before the Wolverines take the court again against Central Michigan on Saturday, Dec. 29, the players will return home for a few days to spend the holidays with their families.
Even though it's just a few days, it is a welcomed trip home for Stauskas and his family.
"We are a really close family, so even though it isn't a very long time, we are really going to enjoy the time we have with him," Mrs. Stauskas commented with a smile.
"Going home is going to be great," Stauskas replied. "I'm looking forward to going up to my cottage, spending time with my family and relaxing for a few days."
In the spirit of the holidays, Mr. Stauskas commented that the best gift of all is watching their son succeed. "This is what he lives for," the proud father said. "His dreams are coming true. It is so exciting for us to see him realize his dreams -- it's really great."