One year after mass shooting, Vegas native Yadav ’20 honors victims with tribute
October 1, 2017.
It’s a day the city of Las Vegas and its residents will never forget. A day that Nishesh Yadav ’20 hopes the rest of the country will never forget as well.
During the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival on the Las Vegas strip, 58 people were tragically killed. Gunman Stephen Paddock fired over 1,100 rounds from his hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel that evening, killing 58 people and injuring hundreds more. It is the deadliest mass shooting in United States history.
A junior economics major at Doane, Nishesh (“Nish”) Yadav is one of four students from Las Vegas enrolled at Doane’s College of Arts and Sciences in Crete.
Born and raised in Summerlin, Nevada, a suburb of Las Vegas, Nish knew over a couple dozen people that were at the music festival that night. When news broke of the shooting, he couldn’t help but be overcome with emotion.
“I was doing homework when my brother’s friend called me and told me what happened,” Nish said. “My brother wasn’t responding to texts or calls so I was immediately scared.”
Thankfully, although he had tickets to the music festival, Nish’s brother, Nishant, had something come up last minute and was unable to go.
“My brother and I love country,” Nish said. “We have gone to so many country concerts together in Vegas. I was shocked when I heard that he decided not to go. It’s one of those things -- what are the odds of that happening.”
Throughout the night, Nish visited with one of his friends, a former high school classmate who is now a student at UNL. The two were reaching out to their friends and family in Las Vegas, trying to stay connected with them while following news updates.
The next day, Doane’s counseling office reached out to Nish and the other four Doane students from Nevada to offer support. Nish said the support from his friends, soccer team, and fraternity (Sigma Phi Theta) helped him cope with the tragedy.
“The Doane community was so supportive,” Nish said. “Professors told me to not worry about going to class the next day. The amount of class and texts I got from people at Doane was what got me through it. I knew that I had so many people here for me.”
Jeff Voigt, Doane men’s head soccer coach, adds, “Our team has always taken care of our family. Nish would do anything for anyone on our team. It’s one reason why he’s at Doane, he has worked hard to make sure this culture remains a ig part of who we are.”
A starting goalkeeper for the soccer team, Nish did not miss any practices or games after October 1. For him, soccer is a release from what is going on - whether that’s school, work, or other activities.
To honor the victims and their families, last year Nish wore a black armband that said “Vegas Strong.”
This year, he wanted to do something a little more prominent.
For Doane’s games against Morningside on October 4 and at Briar Cliff on October 6, Nish changed his jersey number from 0 to 58, honoring the 58 victims and their families.
During the starting introductions at Al Papik Field against Morningside, Doane’s Cody Vance, assistant athletic director for athletic outreach, was handling the public address duties. As Vance announced Nish’s name, he also gave an explanation for why Nish was wearing 58. “I got teary-eyed,” Nish said. “You could hear Cody get choked up too.”
During the game, a few Morningside players came up to Nish during stoppages or before a corner kick and told him they thought what he was doing was really cool.
“Part of the reason why I wore the jersey is because everyone seems to forget about these events over time,” Nish said. “It seems like these things happen so often that people brush it aside after the immediate reaction. I wanted to bring attention back to October 1, 2017 because it was a huge tragedy.”
Nish’s gesture is a resemblance of the caring person he is. As someone actively involved in his fraternity, Sigma Phi Theta, and with SALT (student athlete leadership team), in addition to soccer, he has had a positive impact on a number of people.
So much so, that this year, Nish was awarded a $10,000 scholarship from an endowed scholarship awarded to a Sigma Phi Theta student(s) each year. The Stewart Nelson Scholarship is the name of the award, commemorating the life of Stewart Nelson, the founding sponsor for Sigma Phi Theta. Nelson was formerly an economics professor at Doane.
The scholarship is awarded by the Sigma Phi Theta alumni committee, which interviews a select group of students in the fraternity.
Nish and the Doane men’s soccer team have two regular season games remaining. The season is scheduled to wrap up on October 27 against Mount Marty College.