April 29, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Marriage proposals from secret admirers. Out-of-the-blue invitations to high school proms in distant states. Being dubbed “America’s Sweethearts.” Such are the lives of two of the city’s newest instant celebrities.

Being featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated has the power to do that, you know.

Creighton University dance team members Kelsey Saddoris (left on previous page) and Kayleigh Begley were pictured flanking Bluejay senior Doug McDermott on the cover of the March 17 issue of the magazine. Saddoris is a pre-med junior from Ankeny, Iowa. Begley, a pre-law freshman, is the homegrown product of Millard North High School.

“This has all been like a dream,” says Begley. “This is my first year of college, and that has been a crazy enough experience in itself. But to be a part of the Creighton program in such an exciting year…and then Sports Illustrated…and now you guys. It’s just been a magical year.”

“The change to the Big East,” adds Saddoris, “has been huge for us. New logo. New mascot. New league. It’s been amazing fun. The response—not just to the magazine cover but to everything about Creighton’s success—has been just unbelievable.”

McDermott, the All-Everything “Dougie McBuckets,” led the nation in scoring with 26.7 points per game. He has since earned college basketball’s most prestigious honors in being named both the John R. Wooden Award Player of the Year and The Associated Press Player of the Year. His third first-team appearance on the AP’s All-America team makes him the first player to rack up a trio of such honors since Patrick Ewing and Wayman Tisdale did so in the 1980s. McDermott’s 3,150 career points places him a lofty No. 5 on college hoops’ all-time scoring list.

Savvy sports fans know that the Sports Illustrated cover was homage to its 1977 ancestor that featured Larry Bird striking the same pose with Indiana State cheerleaders. Both covers carried the same headline of “College Basketball’s Secret Weapon.”

The magazine hit newsstands during spring break and Omaha Magazine’s photo shoot took place the very day that classes resumed.

“Pretty weird out there today, but in a good way,” Begley says while mugging for the camera. “Campus was totally on fire today!”

20140317_bs_1256clipping

More from Omaha Magazine