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Australian fires squarely on the mind of CU Buffs’ Nate Tomlinson

CU staffer’s friends, family safe and accounted for so far

Team Colorado coach Nate Tomlinson talks ...
Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer
Nate Tomlinson played professionally for six seasons in Melbourne before returning to his alma mater last year.

Nate Tomlinson insists he is 100 percent focused on his job with the Colorado Buffaloes, and anyone who watched the gritty way he once patrolled CU’s backcourt knows that certainly is true.

Still, Tomlinson can be excused if more than a little of his focus these days is straying toward the folks back home.

Tomlinson, a native of Sydney, Australia, said this week that a number of his extended family members on his father’s side are in the midst of holding off the devastating brush fires that have gripped the country, particularly the southeast region. Everyone in Tomlinson’s orbit currently is safe and accounted for, but it is a tenuous and nerve-racking situation.

“Everyone is safe at the moment. But a lot of my father’s side of the family lives down in the East Gippsland area, the countryside of Victoria where the fires have been pretty bad,” Tomlinson said. “My grandmother’s farm is very close to the fire at the moment. They’re safe right now, but they’re only going to keep getting worse.

“On Sunday (during the Oregon State game) I was completely locked in. But it kind of puts things into perspective a little bit. There’s definitely things bigger than basketball. My family is safe and that’s all that matters. I speak to my grandma every couple of days right now. She’s probably the strongest person in the family, so she’s doing well. She’s out there doing what she needs to do, watering down the house and all those things. We have a lot of support back home and everyone is doing well.”

Tomlinson played professionally for six seasons in Melbourne before returning to his alma mater last year to serve as a volunteer assistant coach. Last summer, after longtime director of player development Sean Kearney left CU to take an associate commissioner role with the Atlantic 10 Conference, Tomlinson took over Kearney’s vacated role.

“I wouldn’t want to be in any other place anywhere in the world right now,” Tomlinson said. “Losing on Sunday sucked, but that’s part of it and it makes you more hungry to come out and improve for next time. We need to keep improving, and anything I can do to help, I’ll do that. For me to be back here, it means everything to me. This team is my family. Colorado basketball is my support team.

“To be back here to see the growth of this team from last year, it’s really pleasing and it gives me a sense of pride to see how important they take it and how much pride they have in the jersey every time they put it on. I think there’s nothing but great things for this group as long as they continue to love each other and continue to play the right way, they’ll have success.”

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