Page 1

MARCH 2019

C O M P L I M E N TA RY


CONTENTS

14

COVER STORY 14

PRIDE ON THE PRAIRIE

North Dakota State brings in student-athletes from all corners of the globe. Some of the most successful and beloved Bison come from our very own backyard in North Dakota. These athletes embody what it means to be a North Dakota State student-athlete and know what it takes to succeed as a Bison. They possess the values of North Dakota and North Dakota State University. These four athletes pride themselves on working hard and committing themselves to their programs. Not only that, they take great pride in being a Bison. That is pride of the prairie. 16

Kelle'Mon Hinton

20

Allie Mauch

24

Cordell Volson

28

Peyton Frolek

03/2019

32

12

FEATURES 32

RECURRING

JORDAN HORN

4 Editor's Note

With several factors working against him growing up, sophomore guard Jordan Horn has always used basketball as his outlet.

38

BISON BASEBALL

ATHLETIC TRAINING STAFF

March is National Athletic Training Month. We honor that be sitting down with the entire NDSU Sports Medicine staff and ask them about the rewards of their job.

52

12 Bison Shots 46 Team Makers 49 How Well Do You Know Your Teammate

Seniors Jayse McLean and Alec Abercrombie look to command the outfield for Bison baseball in 2019.

42

10 Athletics Calendar

50 Pop Quiz 58 The Ross Report 60 Slaubaugh's Scoop 62 Swany Says

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

In our monthly feature, we sit down and chat with Bison softball great Andi (Padilla) Farnam.

FIND US ONLINE

@bisonmag

2

facebook.com/bisonillustrated

BISON ILLUSTRATED M A R C H 2 0 1 9

bisonillustrated

bisonillustrated.com

info@spotlightmediafargo.com


nolan@spotlightmediafargo.com

The Great Plains Anomaly Every North Dakotan has a little small-town blood in them, whether we know it or not. FROM NOLAN P. SCHMIDT

N

North Dakota is ranked 47th in the country in population. Currently, there are 755,238 people living in this state. The only states smaller than North Dakota from a population perspective are Alaska, Wyoming and Vermont. It's true, we're minuscule compared to the rest of the country. Even the state ahead of us in the population race, South Dakota, has more than 100,000 more people living in it compared to North Dakota. Those who have lived here their entire lives know that population is by no means a barometer of anything. It doesn't mean one state is better than the other or anything like that, it's just a number. Ours just so happens to be a small number. Perhaps even more remarkable is the number of small communities in this state.

We profiled four NDSU student-athletes from small-town North Dakota this month. If you were to combine all of their communities together, it would account for 2,100 North Dakotans. That is only .003 percent of the state's entire population. However, every small community from Balfour to Barney contributes to our state's well-being as a whole. It's a communal effort in North Dakota, with one person working just as hard as the one in the town a few miles over. The same can be said for Bison athletics. Sure, there are big cities in North Dakota, Fargo being one of them. Yet, we North Dakota natives all have a little bit of small-town in us. Not just because we live in a smaller state, but because we can all trace our ancestors back to what were (or still are) small communities in North Dakota. I take pride in that fact,

4

BISON ILLUSTRATED M A R C H 2 0 1 9

FROM THE EDITOR personally. I'm a "big city" kid, growing up and living most of my life in Bismarck. After Bismarck, I came to Fargo-Moorhead. To say I know what it's like to live in a small town would be inaccurate, I haven't. However, my ancestors have, and I believe a little bit of that "small town" mindset runs in the bloodline. My mother and much of her side of the family grew up in Rolla, North Dakota. For those who are unaware, Rolla is about as far north as you can get in the state, lying only minutes from the Canadian border. Oddly enough, Karson Schoening, a sophomore offensive lineman on the football team, is from Rolla. My mother went to high school with his father. Funny how that works. Rolla currently has an estimated population of 1,325 people. The rest of my mom's family lived most of their lives in McClusky, North Dakota, which lies somewhere between Bismarck and Minot in Sheridan County. The current population there is 378 people. Both of those communities did have a higher population when my family inhabited it, but they were still considered to be small towns. Those small-town values my mom was brought up on are still prevalent in her life to this day. She has also passed them along to me in many respects over my 25 years. The values that are constants around North Dakota are hard work, commitment and pride in what you do. Those three qualities are something I take to heart, whether that be in putting this magazine together each month or otherwise. Hard work is

a trait almost all North Dakotans possess. Sure, we're small. Yes, it's cold here. Yet, whatever we may lack in appearance or "wow factor" in the eyes of the nation, we make up for in hard work and North Dakota pride. From the magazine editor in Fargo to the farmer in Linton to the oil worker in Williston, all North Dakotans have the drive to succeed. These four student-athletes embody those North Dakota values. It's what they were brought up on in their respective towns. It's clear that those traits have carried over to their time at North Dakota State. Each of them works harder, commits to their programs and takes pride in being a Bison and a resident of their hometown. This is what makes North Dakota a great anomaly to many. How can a state so small or so "drab" or so "boring" be the hotbed of athletics on the Great Plains? How can North Dakota continue to churn out high level student-athletes from all across the state? And why do those athletes continually choose to further their success at North Dakota State? The answer is sewn into the state and the university's core principles. Whether you're a North Dakota "city slicker" like me or a smalltown kid like those within this magazine, the values remain the same. Hard work. Commitment. Pride. That's North Dakota. That's North Dakota State Athletics.


MARCH 2019 | VOLUME 13 ISSUE 6 Bison Illustrated is a free publication distributed monthly (12 times a year). Our mission is to help promote North Dakota State University Athletics, provide a quality and fun reading experience and to improve the way of life in our community. The publication is mailed to homes across the US and has newsstand distribution throughout North Dakota and Minnesota.

Publisher Mike Dragosavich Drago@SpotlightMediaFargo.com

Chief Operations Officer Steve Kruse CREATIVE

Editorial Director Andrew Jason Andrew@SpotlightMediaFargo.com

Editor Nolan P. Schmidt Art Director Sarah Geiger Designer Sarah Stauner Creative Director Simon Andrys Director of Photography Hillary Ehlen Photographer J. Alan Paul Photography Videographer Patrick Thompson Contributors Josh Swanson, Dan Slaubaugh, Ross Uglem Copy Editors Nolan P. Schmidt Social Media Nolan P. Schmidt Digital Marketing Specialist Tommy Uhlir ADVERTISING

Associate Sales Director Neil Keltgen Senior Sales Executives Paul Hoefer paul@SpotlightMediaFargo.com

Executive Sales Assistant Kellen Feeney kellen@SpotlightMediaFargo.com

Sales Executives Ross Uglem Ross@SpotlightMediaFargo.com

Zach Olson zach@SpotlightMediaFargo.com

Client Relations Manager Jenny Johnson Client Relations Administrator Alex Kizima Office Manager Wendy Kalbrener Business Development Executive Jennifer McColm VP of Human Resources Colleen Dreyer Business Development Manager Nick Schommer DISTRIBUTION

Delivery Bruce Crummy, John Stuber, Craig Sheets

FOR ADVERTISING, CALL 701-478-SPOT (7768) or email info@spotlightmediafargo.com Bison Illustrated is published by Spotlight Media, LLC. Copyright 2018 Bison Illustrated & bisonillustrated.com All rights reserved. No parts of this magazine may be reproduced or distributed without written permission of Bison Illustrated. Bison Illustrated and Spotlight Media, LLC is not responsible for, and expressly disclaims all liability for, damages of any kind arising out of use, reference to, or reliance on such information. Spotlight Media, LLC accepts no liability for the accuracy of statements made by the advertisers. Send change of address information and other correspondence to:

Spotlightmedia

Spotlight Media LLC. 15 Broadway N, Suite 500 Fargo, ND 58102 or info@spotlightmediafargo.com


Meet THE TEAM

ANDREW

JENNIFER

patrick

STEVE

MIKE

ALEXANDRA

BECCA

SARAH

SARAH

NOLAN

SIMON

kellen

NEIL

ROSS

JENNY

zach

hoefer

JESSE

HILLARY

NICK

tommy

COLLEEN

ALEX

JENNIFER

wendy

Learn more about us at SPOTLIGHTMEDIAFARGO.COM


CHECK OUT

SPOTLIGHT MEDIA'S OTHER MAGAZINES

Here at Design & Living Magazine, we believe that your home—whether it is an apartment, condo, townhome or house—should reflect your experiences and personality. After all, each piece of furniture and decor that we surrounds ourselves with is an extremely personal choice, whether we are aware of it or not! This month, join us as we visit three very unique homes in the FM area, then try to match the homeowner to their living space!

Since 2009, 350 women in the Fargo-Moorhead area have participated in the inspiring United Way 35 under 35 Women's Leadership Program. We celebrate the 2019 class who have been teamed up with local leaders and dedicated themselves to personal growth and development. They focused on leadership, public speaking and other developmental topics to better serve themselves, their companies and the community. Meet nine women who volunteer and impact the program as presenters and leaders. Together, they are growing and empowering our economy and young female workforce.

The reasons to live in and love Fargo are ever growing. From our booming downtown or our exciting tech and start-up scene or our championship athletics, the list goes on. In addition to all these easily advertizable things, Fargo also boasts a impressive scene for families. We’ve collected stories, tips and tricks from local families to help prove why so many people choose Fargo as the place to grow their family.


march

athletics calendar

3/9

3/10

Men’s Basketball

Baseball

Summit League Tournament Sioux Falls, S.D.

at Mississippi Valley State Itta Bena, Miss. • 1 p.m.

3/9

3/11

Women’s Basketball

Men’s Basketball

Summit League Tournament Sioux Falls, S.D.

Summit League Tournament Sioux Falls, S.D.

3/9

3/11

Wrestling

Women’s Basketball Summit League Tournament Sioux Falls, S.D.

3/1

3/3

Softball

Baseball

Big 12 Championships Tulsa, Okla.

vs Cal Poly Stanford, Calif. • 10 a.m.

at Northern Colorado Greeley, Colo. • 12 p.m.

3/9

3/11

Baseball

Women’s Golf

at Mississippi Valley State Itta Bena, Miss. • 11 a.m.

Jackrabbit Invitational Boulder City, Nev. (Boulder Creek GC)

3/1

3/8

Baseball

Men’s and Women’s Track & Field

at Northern Colorado Greeley, Colo. • 1 p.m.

3/1 Softball vs Montana Stanford, Calif. • 2:30 p.m.

NCAA Indoor Championships Birmingham, Ala.

3/8 Men’s Golf

Baseball

Jackrabbit Invitational Boulder City, Nev. (Boulder Creek GC)

at Northern Colorado Greeley, Colo. • 12 p.m.

3/8

3/2

Softball

3/2 Women’s Basketball

vs Illinois State Miami, Fla. • 11 a.m.

at Purdue Fort Wayne Fort Wayne, Ind. • 1 p.m.

3/8 Baseball

3/2 Softball

at Mississippi Valley State Itta Bena, Miss. • 2 p.m.

vs Northwestern Stanford, Calif. • 2:30 p.m.

3/8 Softball

3/2 Baseball

at Florida International Miami, Fla. • 3:30 p.m.

at Northern Colorado Greeley, Colo. • 3 p.m.

3/9

3/2

Men’s and Women’s Track & Field

Men’s Basketball at Purdue Fort Wayne Fort Wayne, Ind. • 4 p.m. 107.9 The Fox & Bison 1660Live AudioSB at Stanford • 7 p.m.

3/3 Softball at Stanford Stanford, Calif. • 11:15 a.m.

10

BISON ILLUSTRATED M A R C H 2 0 1 9

NCAA Indoor Championships Birmingham, Ala.

3/9 Men’s Golf Jackrabbit Invitational Boulder City, Nev. (Boulder Creek GC)

3/9 Softball vs Notre Dame Boca Raton, Fla. • 1:30 p.m.

3/9 Baseball at Mississippi Valley State Itta Bena, Miss. • 2 p.m.

3/9 Softball vs Purdue Boca Raton, Fla. • 3:45 p.m.

3/10 Men’s Basketball Summit League Tournament Sioux Falls, S.D.

3/10 Women’s Basketball Summit League Tournament Sioux Falls, S.D.

3/10 Wrestling Big 12 Championships Tulsa, Okla.

3/10 Softball vs Stony Brook Boca Raton, Fla. • 9 a.m.

3/12 Men’s Basketball Summit League Tournament Sioux Falls, S.D.

3/12 Women’s Basketball Summit League Tournament Sioux Falls, S.D.

3/12 Women’s Golf Jackrabbit Invitational Boulder City, Nev. (Boulder Creek GC)

3/13 Softball vs Butler Clearwater, Fla. • 11 a.m.

3/13 Baseball at Nebraska Lincoln, Neb. • 1:35 p.m.

3/14 Women’s Golf Pizza Hut Lady Thunderbird Invitational St. George, Utah (Sunbrook GC)

3/14 Softball vs Eastern Illinois Clearwater, Fla. • 1:30 p.m.


3/15

3/16

3/23

3/29

Men’s and Women’s Track & Field

Softball

Softball

Baseball

vs Purdue Clearwater, Fla. • 2 p.m.

at Purdue Fort Wayne Fort Wayne, Ind. • 2:15 p.m.

at Oral Roberts Tulsa, Okla. • 6 p.m.

Baldy Castillo Invitational Tempe, Ariz.

3/16

3/24

3/30

3/15

Softball

Women’s Golf

Men’s and Women’s Track & Field

vs Chattanooga Clearwater, Fla. • 4:15 p.m.

Red Rocks Invitational Sedona, Ariz. (Oakcreek CC)

Men’s and Women’s Track & Field

IMG Academy Track & Field Invitational Bradenton, Fla.

3/16

3/24

Men’s Golf

Softball

3/30

Grand Canyon Invitational Phoenix, Ariz. (GCU GC)

at Purdue Fort Wayne Fort Wayne, Ind. • 11 a.m.

Men’s and Women’s Track & Field

3/17

3/24

Bobcat Invitational San Marcos, Texas

Softball

Baseball

vs Florida Gulf Coast Clearwater, Fla. • 11:15 a.m.

at Western Illinois Macomb, Ill. • 1 p.m.

3/17

3/27

Baseball

Men’s and Women’s Track & Field

3/15 Women’s Golf Pizza Hut Lady Thunderbird Invitational St. George, Utah (Sunbrook GC)

3/15 Men’s Golf Grand Canyon Invitational Phoenix, Ariz. (GCU GC)

3/15 Baseball at Omaha Omaha. Neb. • 4 p.m.

3/15 Softball vs Towson Clearwater, Fla. • 4:45 p.m.

3/15 Softball vs Wichita State Clearwater, Fla. • 7:15 p.m.

3/16 Men’s and Women’s Track & Field

at Omaha Omaha. Neb • 12 p.m.

3/21

Stanford Invitational Stanford, Calif.

3/30 Men’s and Women’s Track & Field

3/28 Men’s and Women’s Track & Field

San Francisco State Distance Carnival San Francisco, Calif.

3/22

Texas Relays Austin, Texas

3/30

Wrestling NCAA Championships Pittsburgh, Pa.

3/22 Baseball at Western Illinois Macomb, Ill. • 3 p.m.

3/23 Women’s Golf

3/16

3/23

3/16

Men’s and Women’s Track & Field

NCAA Championships Pittsburgh, Pa.

Red Rocks Invitational Sedona, Ariz. (Oakcreek CC)

IMG Academy Track & Field Invitational Bradenton, Fla.

3/30

Wrestling

Baldy Castillo Invitational Tempe, Ariz.

Men’s and Women’s Track & Field

Texas Relays Austin, Texas

Texas Relays Austin, Texas

Wrestling NCAA Championships Pittsburgh, Pa.

3/23 Softball

Baseball

at Purdue Fort Wayne Fort Wayne, Ind. • 12 p.m.

at Omaha Omaha. Neb • 2 p.m.

3/23 Baseball

3/29 Men’s and Women’s Track & Field Texas Relays Austin, Texas

Softball at Western Illinois Macomb, Ill. • 12 p.m.

3/30 Baseball

3/29

at Oral Roberts Tulsa, Okla. • 2 p.m.

Men’s and Women’s Track & Field

3/30

Bobcat Invitational San Marcos, Texas

3/29 Men’s and Women’s Track & Field

Softball at Western Illinois Macomb, Ill. • 2:15 p.m.

3/31 Softball

Stanford Invitational Stanford, Calif.

at Western Illinois Macomb, Ill. • 11 a.m

3/29

3/31

Men’s and Women’s Track & Field San Francisco State Distance Carnival San Francisco, Calif.

Baseball at Oral Roberts Tulsa, Okla. • 1 p.m.

at Western Illinois Macomb, Ill. • 1 p.m. 11


bisonshots

r

edshirt freshman Brandon Metz fires up the crowd after defeating his opponent by fall. On this night against Utah Valley, Metz went up against the 11th ranked heavyweight in the NCAA and pinned him in the first period of the match. It was a momentous conclusion to a dual the Bison dominated by a final score of 47-3. Metz, a West Fargo native recorded his sixth pin of the season in the victory. Photo by Nolan Schmidt

Want to contribute? Email your best photos to: nolan@spotlightmediafargo.com

12

BISON ILLUSTRATED M A R C H 2 0 1 9


13


PRIDE PRIDE

OF THE PRAIRIE North Dakota State brings in student-athletes from all corners of the globe. Some of the most successful and beloved Bison come from our very own backyard in North Dakota. These athletes embody what it means to be a North Dakota State student-athlete and know what it takes to succeed as a Bison. They possess the values of North Dakota and North Dakota State University. These four athletes pride themselves on working hard and committing themselves to their programs. Not only that, they take great pride in being a Bison. That is pride of the prairie.

BY Nolan P. Schmidt FEATURE PHOTOS BY Hillary Ehlen ACTION PHOTOS BY Tim Sanger, Richard Svaleson and Nolan P. Schmidt LANDSCAPE PHOTO BY J. Alan Paul Photography

14

BISON ILLUSTRATED M A R C H 2 0 1 9


15


Ellendale native and Bison jumper Kelle'Mon Hinton has his sights set on greatness in his senior season.

EXPECTING EXPECTING GREATNESS

16

BISON ILLUSTRATED M A R C H 2 0 1 9


Every athlete expects to be great. For whatever reason, that is not always the end result. Usually, this is due to the "expectation" of being great. Having that expectation removes the notion and need to work hard and train properly to become great. Those that take those steps and put in the work are the ones that meet their expectations of greatness. Kelle'Mon Hinton is expecting greatness from himself in his senior season. He is also making a concerted effort to become great in practice and training sessions. Oddly enough, while Hinton was "mocking" a long jump for the photo you see on the left, he was eager to do as many takes as needed. "I'm kind of low key training while we do this," he said. Indeed he was, making a conscious effort to go through the proper form before lifting off into the sand. Hinton has always had greatness inside of him. While most of that is thanks to his want and vigor to get better, some of it stems from his hometown of Ellendale, North Dakota. Hinton says

the support of his town is what taught him the values to be successful in athletics and beyond. "One thing I learned from being around the people in Ellendale was that they supported me and it kind of balances back," he said. "When someone does something for you, you learn to do it back to others. Whether it was through the things I was involved in or embracing the family aspect of a small town. That was very big." The senior was a stellar athlete for Ellendale High School. Hinton won three consecutive North Dakota Class B state titles in the triple jump, winning the event in his sophomore, junior and senior seasons. Add to that, two long jump titles in his junior and senior seasons for the Cardinals. Even when he did not win the state title, he was runner-up, earning second place in the triple jump as a freshman and in long jump as a sophomore. To date, he has the fifth longest triple jump in North Dakota high school history. With that level of success, it's easy to see why North Dakota State became interested in having Hinton's jumping services. Through it all, Hinton has used his small-town demeanor and mindset to be successful in Fargo. "There's a little bit of that because generally in a small-town population, there is not much variety in competition. Big cities usually push that or strive

to be on top," Hinton said when asked if he has a chip on his shoulder coming from a small area of the state. "I feel I have to represent now and do my best to do that. It's so cool to even communicate with people back in Ellendale about what's happening here. That encourages me and keeps pushing me forward." Hinton has pushed forward each season for the Bison. As a freshman, Hinton took 12th in the triple jump and long jump at the Summit League Indoor Championships. He followed that up with a 10th place finish in the triple jump at the outdoor conference championships. In his second year in Fargo, Hinton only improved. Not only did he leap a career-best 47-11.00 in the triple jump at the Summit League Indoor Championships, but he also earned runner-up honors for that jump. He went on to place sixth in the triple jump at the outdoor conference championships. Last season was easily the most successful out of his three seasons at North Dakota State. Hinton was an All-Summit League performer in the triple jump during the indoor season, extending his career mark in the event to 49-06.50, sixth best in school history. That was good for third place at the indoor conference meet. He also placed third at the outdoor conference meet in the triple jump and took fifth in the long jump, a vast improvement from the season before.

17


"One thing I learned from being around the people in Ellendale was that they supported me, and it kind of balances back. When someone does something for you, you learn to do it back to others." - Kelle'Mon Hinton

Now, in his final season as a Bison, Hinton has gotten off to a fast start. He won the triple jump in three of NDSU's first five meets. He finished runner-up and third in the other two meets respectively. Hinton has also seen great strides in the long jump in his senior year. He finished in the top five in the event in three of NDSU's first five meets as well. Hinton was also the conference’s indoor runner-up in the triple jump. Time is of the essence, and with a long road slate ahead of him and the team, he knows he'll have to be focused and ready. "The time is cruising. Our

18

BISON ILLUSTRATED M A R C H 2 0 1 9

first away meet was in Nebraska, and it was a different dynamic after having half a year of no meets and then only home meets," Hinton said. "Jumping there really showed me that I needed to get focused and get set. Being at home is a totally different atmosphere from other places. I'm just excited because I'm expecting to do great things." Despite being from Ellendale, Hinton sees plenty of similarities between his hometown and Fargo. Mainly, it revolves around pride. "In Ellendale, it's Cardinals. We have a lot of Cardinal pride, but also they have a high respect for NDSU and they hold true to that. Being here, I haven't seen or experienced such pride," he said. "I was hosting a recruit and he said he'd been to big school after big school and none of them compares to how much we support each other and cheer each other on. Being in Ellendale, I'd see a lot of that. One of my favorite things was being at a volleyball game and having a nice cheer section for the ladies. That was fun." While he is striving to be great, Hinton is aware that these are his final months with teammates and coaches. He says he has taken a step back this season and allowed himself to enjoy and soak up his senior season. However, he is quick to point out that leadership and mentoring are important for him this season. "I keep thinking about everyone who is

under me now. I'm trying to embrace them to the point where they feel welcome or just be a mentor to them," he said. "How can I still help them while I'm still here? That's a huge thing that I'm looking forward to doing, partially because people have done that for me and I want to continue that." Not only is Kelle'Mon Hinton expecting to be great in the jump pits, but he wants to be great in other ways, too. Mainly, that's being a mentor, a support for the underclassmen below him. Knowing the importance of reciprocating support is something Hinton learned growing up in Ellendale. While he will surely be great in the triple jump and long jump this outdoor season, being a leader is a different kind of greatness. It's a type that cannot be paralleled. Kelle'Mon Hinton has put in the work, time and effort to be great. He has already had phenomenal moments this season too. Therefore, he should no longer be "expecting" greatness; he is already on the path to greatness.

KELLE'MON HINTON Senior

EVENTS Jumps HOMETOWN Ellendale, North Dakota POPULATION 1,394 HIGH SCHOOL Ellendale High School HIGH SCHOOL ENROLLMENT 144 students


Sophomore Allie Mauch traces her success on the volleyball court all the way back to her days in Barney and Wyndmere, North Dakota.

HOMETOWN HOMETOWN ROOTS

20

BISON ILLUSTRATED M A R C H 2 0 1 9


II It's no surprise to hear Allie Mauch say she owes much of her success to her hometown. She looks to the figures, coaches and family that guided her through her prep school years. Because of those people, Mauch made her way to the top level of collegiate volleyball at North Dakota State. Mauch knows she would not be in Fargo if not for those proud people in Barney and Wyndmere, North Dakota. Now, she feels it is her time to give back. Growing up in Barney, North Dakota, a town of 52 people, Mauch, like many students in small-town North Dakota, was forced to commute for school and sports. However, she did not have to look far, attending school in nearby Wyndmere. The town of 429 North Dakotans lies just 10 miles to the west of Barney. A short trip indeed. The primary quality Mauch sees in her hometown is the work ethic of the community. She feels that work ethic has carried over into her time at North Dakota State. "Wyndmere is a community of hard work," she said. "The school, both in academics and sports, they work their butts off. It's one of the top schools in the state in

academics and I pride myself on their hard work." In athletics, Wyndmere is a co-op alongside Lidgerwood in volleyball and basketball, the two sports Mauch played in high school. It was clear early on that Mauch was destined to succeed in volleyball, despite being a two-time all-region performer in basketball. She was a two-time all-region and all-conference selection in volleyball. Mauch also amassed more than 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs in her career. Outside of high school volleyball, Mauch was a member of two Junior Olympic teams with her 16-under team winning the 2015 national tournament. Safe to say, Mauch had Division I aspirations in mind. Yet, being from such a small school in North Dakota can have its drawbacks in the eyes of college coaches. Lucky for North Dakota State volleyball, they did not ascribe to such a misnomer. "Sometimes you hear 'oh they're from a town of only 12 kids in their class, they can't do much'," Mauch said. "Size really doesn't matter when it comes to sports. You can have all the talent in the world, but having the work ethic is what's important." When describing her town and what it's like growing up in a small area of the state, Mauch was quick to respond from an athletics lens. "Just the feeling of going to a night game, 7 o'clock, Thursday night or Tuesday night game

and the small town pride that's brought into the gym," she said. "It's unlike any other feeling and even going to the Class B tournaments, whether it's boys or girls basketball, girls volleyball, anything, it's just electric. I've never felt anything like it." Small-town pride. What is that? How would one describe it? For many North Dakotans who grow up in larger pockets of the state, the idea of small-town pride seems foreign. Allie Mauch views it as something you can't truly describe. Yet, she best defined it through her own life, where she suits up each game as a Bison for the people of Barney and Wyndmere. "I feel the pride is in my heart and how much my community has done for me," she said. "Being able to play for my community. It's just giving back, that feels good." Giving back is another barometer of success for Mauch. She credits her high school coaches, who were instrumental in getting her to NDSU for making her a better player and person. Now, she feels it is her turn to return the favor with her play on the court. "Wyndmere got me to where I am now and just the coaches I've had in Wyndmere or JOs all throughout high school that got me to where I am now," Mauch said. "The morals they have instilled in me, I hope to carry on the rest of my life."

21


Mauch has indeed given back in a short career in Fargo. Just a sophomore now, Mauch made an immediate impact for Jen Lopez and the Bison volleyball team. She played in all 28 matches as a true freshman, finishing the year with 162 kills, 69 blocks and 55 digs. Mauch's kill and block numbers that season were good for third and second best on the roster, respectively. She followed her phenomenal freshman campaign with another strong season this past fall. Mauch ended the season with an impressive 290 kills, 78 digs and 52 blocks. That kill mark was best on the Bison roster by a 41-kill margin. Perhaps most importantly, the Bison defeated Omaha in the first round of the Summit League Tournament. NDSU came in as a six seed, with Omaha being the three seed. With their upset over the Mavericks, the Bison became the first six seed to upset a three seed in Summit League history. While having that upset in their back pocket is impressive, Bison volleyball wants more in 2019. With almost their entire team returning next season, NDSU looks to have as formidable a roster as any across the Summit League. That excites Mauch and the rest of the young Bison. However, this offseason remains crucial for player development.

22

BISON ILLUSTRATED M A R C H 2 0 1 9

"The most exciting thing for me is the chemistry we have on our team. We're not just teammates, we're friends and at the same time in practice, we can be enemies and really get on each other, but it's always for the best. Abbi [Klos] is always pushing us whether that's on the court or off the court whether that be in academics, volunteering in the community, she's always pushing us to be our best," Mauch said. "That's something a lot of players, not just Abbi, have brought onto themselves this year in leadership roles. That's really important on a team if you want to get where you want to go. Being able to hop on board the ship, everybody's got to be on it to get where you want to go which is the Summit League championship this fall." With that mindset and chemistry in mind, do not be surprised to see North Dakota State volleyball contending for a league title this fall. It also would not be surprising to see Allie Mauch leading the charge for the Bison. Her work ethic and hometown roots continue to show through despite being over 50 miles away from home. In that sense, Allie Mauch is already accomplishing her goal of giving back to her community. One can only assume she'll continue accomplishing that goal in the two years she has left on campus.

"Size really doesn't matter when it comes to sports. You can have all the talent in the world, but having the work ethic is what's important." - Allie Mauch

ALLIE MAUCH

Sophomore

POSITION Outside Hitter HOMETOWN Barney, North Dakota POPULATION 52 HIGH SCHOOL Wyndmere High School HIGH SCHOOL ENROLLMENT 104 students


PILLAR PILLAR OF THE COMMUNITY

Cordell Volson suits up each day for his community.

24

BISON ILLUSTRATED M A R C H 2 0 1 9


Nine-man football is a staple in communities around the state of North Dakota. For several nine-man teams in the state, they are forced to combine multiple towns together to cobble together a roster. Cordell Volson, a redshirt sophomore offensive tackle for North Dakota State, is a nine-man product. So was his brother Tanner, who recently completed his football career in Fargo as the top center in FCS. The Volson family hails from Balfour, North Dakota, a town of just 26 people. Therefore, to play high school football, Cordell had to attend school in nearby Drake, North Dakota. Drake High School combines the towns of Balfour, Anamoose and Drake. Together, those three towns have a population of 528 people. Coming from such a small area in the state, Volson prides himself in playing for his community. He feels the values instilled in him there have guided him to North Dakota State. Because of that, he suits up each game for his community. “A big thing for me is just hard work. Coming from a small town and a blue-collar background, you work for everything.

It’s something my parents instilled in me and I mean, it’s gotten me this far, so I’m pretty thankful for that,” Volson said of the values he learned growing up in Balfour. “Another thing for me is when I played, I cared a lot about my town and my community and that was something I played for. Some people just play to get a scholarship or make all-state or whatever, but for me it was always to try and take my town and community one more step to something they’ve never experienced. They’re paying great dividends here.” It has paid dividends indeed, Volson redshirted his first season in Fargo in 2016. He then played in nine games his redshirt freshman season in 2017. This past season, he saw action in all 15 of North Dakota State’s games. Not just that, he has seen his body develop in ways he would have never intended. For those who doubted Volson and where he came from, it’s proof that gems can be found in the smallest corners of North Dakota. “Along the way there’s been a lot of people that tell you can’t do this or that because you’re from Drake or you play nine-man or there’s 15 kids on your team or you come from a high school of 80 people,” Volson said. “A lot of people are telling you that they’re going to find kids in Texas or places that are big. I came in here at 250 pounds, it’s a developmental program and I definitely had to overcome some obstacles.”

Volson says he came to Fargo weighing 250 pounds. In three years, he has gained 61 pounds, weighing in at 311 pounds on NDSU’s 2018 roster. While size is a vital key for offensive linemen, this growth for Volson is further proof of Jim Kramer’s ability to develop student-athletes in the weight room. It’s not as if Volson wasn’t impressive coming from Drake High School, either. He played offensive and defensive line as well as tight end, fullback, linebacker, punter and kicker. The younger Volson was also named to the all-region and all-state teams twice in his prep career. Cordell’s brother, Tanner, will go down as possibly the greatest center in school history. He won the Rimington Trophy this year, which is awarded to the best center in the FCS. We spoke with Tanner in late January, after he played his final game as a Bison. When asked how he defines the football program, Tanner verbalized it as such: “Whatever work you put in is what you’ll get out of it in the end. The harder you work, the more likely your are to succeed.” Cordell wholly agrees with his brother’s statement. In fact, he is living proof of that statement. He feels that hard work is one of the key qualities NDSU coaches look for when finding prospective recruits. In small-town

25


North Dakota, hard work is a value held in high esteem. “He hit the nail on the head there. The coaches go out and recruit the kids they think are going to fit into the system. They bring them in and the ones that want to be great, end up being great,” Volson said. “They push you every day and want you to be great, and a lot of it comes on you and how great you want to be. Do you want to be average or do you want to be great? It comes down to how hard you want to work.” Part of becoming great for Cordell has been incredible support from his family. There is not a week that goes by where you can look into the Fargodome crowd and find a few Volson jerseys. The Volson family (and the Balfour area) is also known for their traveling ability to cheer on their sons. Cordell knows not to take that level of support for granted. “It’s pretty neat. From my parents to my little brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends from around the whole town and community, it’s pretty special to have that,” he said. “Some games there’s 100 people from my town there and it’s pretty neat to see that. It’s pretty special.” Because of that community support for him, Volson feels it necessary to reciprocate that support. The area that taught him so many lessons is still special to him. So much so, that he hopes to have left behind a legacy that inspires future football players in the area. More than anything, he takes

26

BISON ILLUSTRATED M A R C H 2 0 1 9

pride in his community’s commitment to hard work, whether that be on the football field or on the farm. “You talk about pride, the area I come from we’re all blue-collar. We all work from sun up to sun down, and we all take pride in the work we do. There’s nothing more satisfying than looking back on a hard day’s work and seeing what you’ve accomplished. Pride is something I learned at a young age,” he said. “When I was a kid, a lot of kids want to play for the Vikings or the Cowboys, but I looked up to the guys playing high school football. I wanted to wear that Raider uniform and that was something I took pride in and I hope there’s kids around now that want to wear my jersey.” There is still work to be done and progress to be made for Volson, though. With a few holes to fill on the offensive line, Volson is sure to step into a starting role in 2019. Also, with a new position coach in A.J. Blazek, Volson knows it’s pivotal he takes on a leadership role as spring football approaches. “It’s huge, I want to step up and do whatever I can to keep the rams moving forward. The rams are something pretty special, playing for your brother. It’s just another thing that becomes a part of your journey in life and something you don’t want to let down. Coach Riley would always talk to me last year about being a leader and leading

those guys. He wanted me to lead as a redshirt sophomore, my third year here, and there’s guys like my brother and Luke Bacon who grew up just down the road,” he said. “Having a coach want to lead guys like that, guys who I looked up to, it’s special. I’m looking forward to this year, though; there’s going to be some challenges. Learning the new ways Coach Blazek is going to coach us and losing a bunch of seniors, but I think it’ll be fun and the challenge will be fun. I know that all of us in that o-line room are going to be ready to go.” While he will face challenges on the field, Cordell Volson knows he will have the full support of everyone back home. If he continues to suit up for his community and embody its values, he will no doubt succeed. Like he said, it’s worked for him so far. It’s hard to deny the benefits that come from Cordell Volson’s good, old-fashioned Balfour work ethic.

CORDELL VOLSON

Redshirt Sophomore

POSITION Offensive Tackle HOMETOWN Balfour, North Dakota POPULATION 26 HIGH SCHOOL Drake High School HIGH SCHOOL ENROLLMENT 90 students


Lidgerwood legend Peyton Frolek is building off her historic high school career at NDSU.

BUILDING BUILDING A RÉSUMÉ

28

BISON ILLUSTRATED M A R C H 2 0 1 9


"Definitely work ethic, I think that is just a big part of small towns. Being humble and just your small town pride," she said. "You want to work hard to represent your school, and I think that had definitely carried over here." Many think of a résumé and equate it to their career. It may drum up memories of an interview or even a past job that wasn't exactly the most enjoyable experience. Yet, in simple terms, a résumé is just a collection of experiences that ultimately lead to success in your chosen field. Athletes have a résumé too. Much like a person would avoid putting their very first job on a résumé, an athlete would maybe avoid recalling their first game, event or race. In most cases, it's irrelevant. That is not the case for Bison sophomore mid-distance runner Peyton Frolek. The Lidgerwood, N.D., native has seen nothing but success. Thanks to her impressive results in what is a young career, she may have trouble narrowing down what to put on her athletic résumé. Not many can say that, whether that be athletically or professionally. It started for Frolek at an early age. Growing up in Lidgerwood, a town of just 652 people, she was taught work ethic at an early age. Frolek believes that the drive to work hard is a quality all small towns share.

With Lidgerwood lying just 75 miles southwest of Fargo, she was certainly in North Dakota State's backyard. Setting her goals high and working towards those goals was her strategy in getting recruited by big schools, despite being from a small area. Regardless of what her goals were, it was Frolek's results in high school that caught the attention of the Bison coaching staff. She was named North Dakota Senior Athlete of the Year for Class B track & field. While that is a high honor, Frolek's numbers at Lidgerwood High School are perhaps more impressive. Over the course of her prep career, Frolek was a five-time state champion in the 800m, 1600m and 3200m, winning the 1600m and 3200m crown twice. She was also a state runner-up in the 800m her senior season and was a runner-up in the 400m and 800m during her junior year. Running cross country as well, Frolek was a state runner-up twice. The icing on top? She was one of the best girls basketball players in Warbirds history, scoring more than 1,000 points in her career.

Ultimately, track & field became Frolek's focus. Thanks to her impressive marks, she joined the Bison last season, running cross country and competing in the indoor and outdoor seasons. Coming in as a freshman, Frolek felt she had something to prove based on where she came from. While the women's track & field roster is full of Class B products, she still came to Fargo looking to prove people wrong. "You're definitely out to prove yourself," Frolek said. "It doesn't matter where you're from, you can still do good things at a big school." She did indeed prove people wrong in her true freshman season. Running cross country, Frolek was NDSU's number three runner in two meets. Perhaps more impressive was the immediate impact she made during the track & field season. During last year's indoor slate, she finished fifth in the 800m at the Summit League Indoor Championships. Frolek finished at the same spot at the conference's outdoor championships. However, she was a part of the dominant women's 4x400m relay team. That foursome won the Summit League Outdoor title last year. In just one year, Frolek burst onto the track scene in Fargo, becoming one of the program's rising stars. For her, it's about being a good representation of the community she came from. Lidgerwood pride still runs deep in Frolek's blood.

29


PEYTON FROLEK Sophomore

EVENTS Mid-Distance HOMETOWN Lidgerwood, North Dakota POPULATION 652 HIGH SCHOOL Lidgerwood High School HIGH SCHOOL ENROLLMENT 88 students

"Wanting to work hard and do your best to represent your community," she said. "You want to make your community proud and make your community look good." Frolek has not seen a drop-off in her sophomore campaign either, she has continued to impress as the indoor season concluded. While she did not run cross country this season, Frolek was more than prepared as the indoor season began. At NDSU's second meet of the season, the Thundering Herd Classic, Frolek was the runner-up in 1000m and her 4x400m relay team took runner-up honors as well. She also finished second in the 800m at the Mark Colligan Memorial at the University of Nebraska. At the Bison Open in early February, Frolek took the 400m and 600m crown. Her 4x400m relay team took runner-up honors. Lastly, she took runner-up honors in the 800 at the conference’s indoor championships. North Dakota State is now past the point in their schedule where they will have meets inside the Shelly Ellig Indoor Track & Field Facility. Lucky for them, four of their first five indoor meets were at home. That has since changed, as the track & field team will hit the road for the duration of the outdoor stretch. To keep her momentum going, Frolek believes it comes down to the simple things. "Remembering to do the little things," she said.

30

BISON ILLUSTRATED M A R C H 2 0 1 9

"Sometimes it's hard with traveling and you get really busy, but I think making sure you're putting in the extra work, doing all the little things. If you forget to do those, the little things add up to big things." In such a young collegiate career, Peyton Frolek has wowed not just her coaches and teammates, but fans and casual viewers of track & field. For those "in the know," they are not surprised at all. Given what Frolek did in Lidgerwood, her success was imminent, regardless of what school she choose to further her career. Peyton Frolek's résumé becomes more and more impressive as each day passes. She will certainly have a tough time fitting it all on one page once her Bison career is over, that's for sure.

“It doesn’t matter where you’re from, you can still do good things at a big school.” - Peyton Frolek


Rose From

CONCR The Rose That Grew From Concrete Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete? Proving nature’s laws wrong it learned to walk without having feet. Funny it seems, but by keeping its dreams, it learned to breathe fresh air. Long live the rose that grew from concrete when no one else ever cared. - Tupac Shakur

32

BISON ILLUSTRATED M A R C H 2 0 1 9


RETE Sophomore guard Jordan Horn has always used basketball as an escape.

BY Nolan P. Schmidt FEATURE PHOTO BY Hillary Ehlen ACTION PHOTOS BY Nolan P. Schmidt

Y

ou can take one look at North Dakota State sophomore guard Jordan Horn and assume he’s your everyday, normal Division I basketball player. However, as you talk with Horn and hear his story, you’ll find the St. Paul, Minnesota, native is anything but ordinary. Horn’s life has seen its trials and triumphs, just like any other. Yet, given where he came from and the forces working against him, no one could have guessed that Jordan Horn would make it to North Dakota State in the first place. Horn grew up on the east side of St. Paul, an area he still has a great deal of affinity for. In fact, he has the city’s skyline tattooed on the inside of his left arm. Though he loves where he came from, the east side of St. Paul has some of the highest crime rates in the area. What may be considered shocking to some was just normal for Jordan Horn as grew up. “It’s kind of the inner city area, I lived on the better side of it. It definitely does get a little rough. Where I grew up and the people I was around, it

was all in kind of a bad area,” Horn said. “I was always around the bad things whether it be drugs, gang violence, I was always around that stuff as a kid. Growing up, playing outside, going to the park, I always saw that stuff. That’s what I grew up around.” The 6-foot-2 sophomore did not grow up in the most traditional of homes either. Horn and his biological brother Brandon were raised by Carla and Paul Thompson, their grandparents. Carla is Jordan’s biological grandmother while Paul has no blood relation to Horn. Obviously, he stills considers Thompson to be his grandfather. Horn’s parents were often traveling, creating an unstable environment for Jordan and Brandon. “My mom and dad were kind of in and out, they were traveling a lot. My mom was working, so they’d go from Minnesota to Chicago, Chicago to Florida, just kind of going back and forth,” Horn said. “That wasn’t very stable for me and my brother. Ever since I was born, my parents were always in and out.”

33


That’s not to say Horn’s mom and dad were distant when he was young. However, that changed when Horn was in middle school. “In eighth grade, my mom ended up leaving my dad, just kind of left out of nowhere. I was getting ready for a basketball game and I got pulled out of school, my dad called me and said she just left,” he said. “I haven’t really talked to her, talked to her maybe once after she left and ever since then I’ve probably talked to her one time in four years. Talked to her once last year, but haven’t spoken to her since. I don’t know where she’s at or anything. My dad has been around a lot lately, he’s been helping me financially and stuff because that hasn’t always been great in my household. My grandparents, they raised me and they’re like my mom and dad in a sense.” Jordan and Brandon were not the only ones living and growing up in their grandparents home. Horn has three older brothers outside of Brandon, those three brothers were either related to Jordan through mother or father only, not both. Yet, all of the siblings have lived in Carla and Paul’s house throughout their lifetime. Because of his different parent dynamic, Horn went through his prep school years having to correct teachers and friends as to who his guardians were. He was quick to point out to friends that they should be grateful for a stable family dynamic. It is something Horn still preaches to this day on social media. “It was a lot different. Even for school conferences and stuff, people would say ‘have your mom and dad stop by’ and I would have to correct them and say my grandparents would be coming,” he said about the differences between having a traditional family and his own. “Seeing a lot of my friends in school or people around me, I would just say that they are really lucky and blessed to have a mom

34

BISON ILLUSTRATED M A R C H 2 0 1 9

and dad that are still together, raised in a nice home, stuff like that. It’s been different, but I love it because it’s part of what makes me so unique and different.” In his younger years, before diving deep into basketball, Horn says he almost got caught up in the bad influences surrounding him in the community. He says many young kids on the east side of St. Paul are attracted to that lifestyle and many get caught up in it for life too. “It’s easy to get caught around because when I’m at the park, I would walk there and walk right into that environment. There are people that I’m really close to that were in that and as a young kid, you really don’t have a choice but to be attracted to it because that is all you see and all you know. So as a young kid, I was attracted to that stuff and I wouldn’t say I was a bad kid, but I was just being a kid growing up in the environment he’s in,” he said. “I started to see that I couldn’t benefit from it in any way. There are fights, there are drugs, everything around me, you can stop the game and look around and see something happening. Basketball was just always that one thing that I could always go and get my mind clear of everything. It’s an escape from the outside world and what I grew up in, that was huge because basketball probably saved my life in that sense.” As Horn alludes to, it was basketball that became his primary focus in life and not what was going on around him. From an early age, Jordan was interested in the sport, growing up playing in his backyard with his brothers. The fuel to compete was cultivated by playing with his older, bigger brothers. His middle school years was when he really began to focus his full attention on the game that brought him to Fargo. “Once I got into about middle school that was the point where I started to really love basketball and I wanted to make it

“There are fights, there are drugs, everything around me, you can stop the game and look around and see something happening. Basketball was just always that one thing that I could always go and get my mind clear of everything. It’s an escape from the outside world and what I grew up in, that was huge because basketball probably saved my life in that sense.” - Jordan Horn


something I do. I wanted to use it as a way out of my situation and my position of where I grew up at. I’m the only man in the family to graduate high school and go to college, so that was really big for me,” Horn said. “Using basketball as a way out instead of many other ways I could’ve gone, basketball was the best thing for me. Fifth, sixth, seventh grade was when I would start getting off the bus and I wouldn’t go home, I’d go straight to the gym and workout for a little bit and then go home and go back a little later.” That hard work and commitment to the game paid off for Horn. As he moved along in his prep career, he became a rising star in the Twin Cities metro area. By his senior season at Tartan High School, Horn was a Minnesota Mr. Basketball finalist. He averaged 19 points per game in his final high school season. Before that, he averaged 17 points per contest in his sophomore and junior seasons. Surely the hard work did pay off, but Horn also had several outlets of support and motivation from his family and his community. “My grandparents were always number one supporters. To have older brothers of course and all those guys at the park who may have been doing those bad things and involved in the bad stuff in the area, they would always tell me to stick to basketball,” he said. “They would say I am going to be the one who makes it out and goes and

makes us proud and go off to college and do all these great things. That was a huge motivation for me because I didn’t want to let my grandparents and family down, but I wanted to make my city proud of me. To know I did right and got out the right way.” That’s not to say Horn’s basketball journey has been an easy either. His grandma, the woman who raised him, was diagnosed with Leukemia when he was young. She is still fighting the disease today. Though he did not understand the scope at first, he says his grandmother’s situation forced him to mature faster than others his age. “I remember when she told me when I was younger that she had Leukemia and I didn’t really know. I was young and didn’t really know what it was, but I knew cancer was never a good word to hear, so I knew it was bad,” he said. “Now that I’ve grown up and matured, I kind of knew the severity of her condition and I could see she was getting sicker and weaker.” To this day, Horn admires his grandmother’s strength and courage but knows she remains in pain too. “She never shows it, that’s really the crazy thing about it. You could have never met her, but you can tell she’s up and moving and upbeat. She works every single day, only one working in my house back home. She goes grocery shopping every day after work, so she’s up and moving,” he said. “At the same time, I could hear her from my room back home up late at night, she’s crying, screaming, in pain, so when I got older I could realize that she was in a lot of pain.” Horn coped with this news with basketball. He says he is often consumed by thoughts of what could happen to his grandmother. When that occurs, Horn hits the gym. “A lot of thoughts come into your head because I don’t want to

35


lose her because she’s my number one,” he said. “Basketball was my everything, so if I start to think or my mind starts to wander what could happen, basketball was that one thing where my mind could get off everything.” Despite Horn’s situation, he was still succeeding on the floor. However, he was not highly recruited coming out of high school. That was when he was offered and choose to continue his athletic and academic career at Siena College in Loudonville, New York. Playing in 30 games for the Saints, Horn averaged nearly eight points per game, including a 29-point game against Niagara on January 5, 2018. Despite the success at Siena, the distance from home kept eating at Horn. “It just happened to be 18 hours away from home. My grandma and my grandparents didn’t like the distance and I thought it’d be good to come closer. I definitely grew a lot as a man in that year, I learned a lot, but at the same time it was really hard to be away from my grandma and my grandpa,” Horn said. “I wouldn’t say I was trying to get away because where I’m from is part of me, part of my toughness, my make-up, my personality, so it never really leaves. Instead of glorifying what happens, I want to glorify where I came from and put my city on the map.” So Horn decided to transfer away from Siena in hopes of finding a place closer to home. Lucky for him, North Dakota State head coach Dave Richman had his eyes on Horn dating back to his high school days. After talking with Richman and visiting campus, Horn decided to become a Bison with three seasons of eligibility remaining. Horn was impressed with Richman because of his care and want to accommodate Jordan’s two biggest fans, Carla and Paul Thompson.

36

BISON ILLUSTRATED M A R C H 2 0 1 9

“I definitely think it’s a lot like home. When I was going through the transfer process and talking with Dave, he was very comfortable with me. He made sure that not only I was a priority, but he was talking to my grandparents a lot, which was big,” Horn says of the transfer process. “Fargo is a place that’s a lot like home, it’s three hours away which is amazing. My grandma got to see me for the first time in college, so that was super nice to see her and spend some time with her. I see a lot of people I went to high school with and it’s close to home, it’s a lot like home. It just has everything I need to be successful.” In his first season in Fargo, Horn has played in 19 games, averaging just over four points per game. Of those 19 games, Horn has scored in double figures three times. This includes a 10-point performance against South Dakota on December 29 that was instrumental in a Bison victory. Since coming to Fargo, Horn has found a new way to express himself other than basketball. He has taken up rapping and music as an outlet to share his voice. “It’s just like a sport. I think music, poetry, sports, whatever, it’s just an escape from reality,” he said. “It gives you a chance to release whatever is inside of you and put it out in words or a book, whatever it is. It’s just a good way to express my feelings and get that stuff out of my head.” Of the nine tracks on Horn’s SoundCloud page, almost all of them are deep dives into his life, upbringing and where he came from. The words are as personal and deep as any popular rapper today. It would be easy for Jordan Horn to be cynical. Being what he has been through, seeing what he has seen, any regular person would fight negativity


with more negativity. As you are well aware by now, Jordan Horn is not an ordinary person, he is unique. Rather than have a negative outlook on life because of his circumstances, he is as positive as any human you’ll meet. Whether on the court or off, you can see that Horn exudes positivity and happiness. A far cry from the situation he was brought up in. “My whole outlook is that I’ve been through so much in my life and I’ve seen so many bad things, lost some people to where I don’t think anything can put me down. No matter what, I want to be positive no matter what and have a positive outlook on life,” he said. “Whenever things aren’t going good, just knowing that things will eventually get better. I’m always going to be the best and most positive person on the court, off the court, locker room, on the bus, plane, whatever, I want to be the most positive person.” Tupac Shakur once wrote a poem entitled “The Rose That Grew From Concrete”. It was written between 1989 and 1991, but not released until after Shakur died. He speaks of a rose that defies nature by growing through a crack in the concrete. Shakur personifies the rose, saying it had dreams and stayed true to those dreams, to the point that it began to breathe. Jordan Horn is a rose that grew from the concrete. He believed he could rise and grow in the most unlikely of places, a place where many are confined beneath the surface. He stayed true to his dreams and his aspirations. In turn, he continues to breathe freely above the surface at North Dakota State. Long live the rose that grew from concrete.


38

BISON ILLUSTRATED M A R C H 2 0 1 9


BY Nolan P. Schmidt PHOTO BY Hillary Ehlen

Alley Cats

M

any see one thing when they look at NDSU baseball’s 2019 roster on paper.

They’re young.

Tod Brown’s squad has just four seniors accompanied by 13 juniors, 14 freshmen or redshirt freshmen and five sophomores. That is a youthful team, to the point that it may worry some coaching staffs. Yet, many of the sophomores and juniors on the roster got extensive time on the diamond in 2018. Because of that, Bison baseball may not be as young as the casual observer believes. Couple that experience with the experience of the team’s four seniors and you have a solid day-to-day unit. Outfielders Jayse McLean and Alec Abercrombie are two of those four seniors. They believe that taking on a leadership role is necessary, but they are not worried about young guys needing to be led. “The biggest thing to do is to share your experience. After four or five years in my case, you have the ups and downs whether it’s injury or struggling to adapt to Division I baseball. The biggest thing is to make the new guys and the young guys feel comfortable,” said McLean, a senior from Great Falls, Montana. “When you’re young, the hardest thing

is understanding that you’re here for a reason and you have the capability to be here, otherwise we wouldn’t have recruited you. Instilling that confidence and that comfortability of playing at a high level and meeting expectations. That’s tough as a first timer and just trying to share my experiences is the biggest thing.” McLean has been with the program for five seasons, taking a medical redshirt in 2017. Abercrombie, a Shoreview, Minnesota, native is less worried about players needing leadership from their seniors. “We do have a heavy sophomore and junior class with only four seniors. Making those guys feel comfortable and maybe putting them in a leadership role and telling them that this is their team too,” he said. “A lot of the juniors understand that I mean, we have talented guys across the board with every class. I’d say it’s not something I’m worried about, there is a lot of leadership and a lot of talent at those levels and they’re going to help us win.” North Dakota State is always at a minor disadvantage each season because they do not play outside until their first game of the year. Because of that, it can be really easy for a team to begin a season cold from the plate. The lack of live at-bats in preseason training could prove detrimental. However, McLean and Abercrombie are quick to point out that just because they practice inside, they still get useful at-bats indoors and throughout the offseason. “We have the bubble now, so we get live at-bats. Most guys, before we play 39


our first game, we get 30 plus at-bats against our pitching. It’s a little different coming out of the bubble, but for a lot of it, that’s a pretty good representation of what you’re going to see. The only real difference is that it matters and it’s wins and losses that go on our record. I think our facility certainly help us prepare better than what we used to do,” McLean said. “On top of that, we all play summer ball. Each one of us gets 100, 200 atbats in the summer, same with fall ball where we get 50 at-bats. That’s used to try and lessen that learning curve, lessen that adjustment so it doesn’t take two weeks or three weeks for guys to get comfortable and start hitting. It’s certainly a challenge, but I think we do the best with the opportunities we have, playing in Fargo, North Dakota, where is 50 below outside.” McLean was impressive at the plate last season. He hit for a .250 average, had seven home runs and 31 RBIs. That performance garnered him All-Summit League recognition. Before the season, he was named a player to watch for NDSU, who was picked third in the preseason poll. For Abercrombie, he believes coming out of the Dacotah Field bubble is challenging, but guys just want to get outside more than anything. “Coming out of the bubble is a challenge. We get a lot of at-bats, but I think there is also that excitement just to get outside,” he said. “That kind of takes away any nerves, when you have as many at-bats as Jayse said, even though we might be coming off only 3040 at-bats right now, we have a couple hundred to pick up from last year. I’d say everybody is just so excited to get outside that it’s not really something they’re worried about.” Getting outside for Bison baseball requires them to travel all across the United States. The team will not play its first home game at Newman Outdoor Field until April 5. In the interim, the Bison will travel to California, Texas, Colorado, Mississippi and Nebraska before hitting their conference slate in late March. That travel can prove difficult for student-athletes, especially with their academics. McLean and Abercrombie have found a nice balance though. “With the travel and the school, it all 40

BISON ILLUSTRATED M A R C H 2 0 1 9

Alec Abercrombie

Jayse McLean

#3

#24

Senior

Senior

Hometown: Shoreview, Minnesota

Hometown: Great Falls, Montana

Major: Sports Management

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Finished 2018 with a .959 fielding percentage

Finished 2018 with a .974 fielding percentage

(.969 lifetime fielding percentage)

(.976 lifetime fielding percentage)

comes as one big thing. You’re waking up early, playing baseball three days a week at the highest level possible and you’re getting on a plane. That mixed in with schoolwork is a challenge, but you have your teammates,” Abercrombie said. “There’s 30, 40 guys around you that are going through the same thing. Everybody that gets on the bus is facing the same challenges, so it helps to have those guys around you to support you, help you and everyone has the same thing in mind and that’s winning.” Relying on teammates is another strategy McLean ascribes to when it comes to prioritizing academics. “You still have time. There are 24 hours in a day and granted, we’re on the field for six or seven hours which takes a big chunk of the day. In the hotel rooms, buses, airports, you have time to do your work if you need to. The hard part is getting yourself to do it,” McLean said. He was named to the All-Summit League Academic Team and was a Google Cloud Academic All-American last season. “With 30 or 40 guys, there’s a lot of distractions and a lot of things you’d rather be doing and so a lot of that is just holding yourself accountable, holding yourself to a standard that the coaches expect, your teammates expect. It’s certainly a challenge, but I think that we all want to play so bad and school is part of it. You have to perform in school and if don’t, you don’t play. So, you have to make the choice, if you want to play

Division I baseball, you’re going to have to get used to it.” Having played most of their career together, both McLean and Abercrombie are pretty cohesive in the outfield. Both had at least a .950 fielding percentage last season. With communication and chemistry being vital for outfielders, McLean and Abercrombie have it mastered. “One thing you get used to is the range of your teammate and stuff like that. For example, I know how far Alec can go and I know what balls you can get to. You get used to that, it sounds simple and stupid, but you get used to how guys call ball and when they call it,” McLean said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a huge learning curve but it’s important because you’re running around, there’s walls, other people, but we’re usually pretty good about communication. We don’t get a lot of reps in the bubble because it’s only so high, but we’ve been playing together for a few years so it comes pretty natural after a point.” Abercrombie agrees with McLean. “Knowing one another’s range out there is huge. The way you call it too, after playing together for so long, it’s like second nature.” With a young team or any baseball team, there will be stumbling blocks. McLean and Abercrombie know that the game ebbs and flows each day. When asked how they succeed as individuals


and as a team this season, they both use similar terms: Focus, effort and preparation. Both do agree that mindset is a large part of succeeding on the diamond. “Bringing that effort to the field every day is going to go a long way for us because we have a young team. Throughout the season, guys might go down, guys might slow down on the bat, we need somebody to step up,” Abercrombie said. “Like last year we had Carter [Thompson] step up, really helped us out and we still didn’t win the championship. We need more guys to step up with that effort. We’re looking forward to that, we have four seniors, we got a few juniors that have experience and we’re looking for that next guy or two to really step up and make a difference on the team.” McLean looks at a little differently. For him, guys need to have confidence in themselves, especially if they do hit a slump from the plate or in the win-loss column. “A lot of that is being focused and coming in day in and day out prepared. There’s going to be bad days, but the biggest thing you can do as a baseball player is limit that. You might for 0-10 on a weekend, that’s going to happen, but don’t turn it into 0-25 because you’re pouting and feeling bad about yourself,” he said. “There’s going to be some lumps with some young guys learning some stuff. There’s going to be hiccups, there is every year and that happens with pretty much every team, it’s just how baseball is. The goal of baseball is to limit those and maybe scratch out some gritty wins by playing hard and doing the little things right. The biggest thing for sure is showing up with energy and focus and don’t use anything as an excuse to not be the best every day.” In the general sense, Bison baseball is “young” in 2019. However, they have the experience at the necessary positions to be challenging for a Summit League title this season. One thing Tod Brown does not need to worry about is his outfield with two stellar senior leaders in Jayse McLean and Alec Abercrombie.


Mike Kjellerson

Nathan Koens Mason Ankenbauer

Bobby Knodel

Jenny Swenson

Kathleen Gallais

Stephanie Wittman Trish Shannon

42

BISON ILLUSTRATED M A R C H 2 0 1 9


Lucas Lammert

Meghan Smith

Ashley Hool

Essential Personnel

Honoring the NDSU Sports Medicine department during National Athletic Training Month.

T

hroughout the athletic training community, March is recognized as National Athletic Training Month. Used to spread awareness about the important work of athletic trainers and sports medicine departments, 2019’s slogan for the month is “ATs Are Health Care.” At North Dakota State, the sports medicine office is comprised of 11 people: six athletic trainers, and five athletic training graduate assistants. Each is responsible for one to two sports and the well-being of its student-athletes. While athletes and coaches are essential personnel at NDSU, the sports medicine crew is on that list as well. They travel with their teams, tend to injuries, no matter how severe and sacrifice a great deal of their time and effort for the betterment of Bison studentathletes and the athletic department as a whole.

BY Nolan P. Schmidt PHOTO BY Hillary Ehlen

Often times, sports medicine departments are overlooked or taken for granted in the eyes of the casual fan. However, behind closed

doors, they shoulder a massive responsibility for the athletic department. If their job does not exist, teams are not kept in good health, which directly impacts the product you see in the field of competition. As coaches are responsible for implementing game plans and strategies for their teams, the NDSU sports medicine department does something similar. Rather than draw up a play on a whiteboard, they’re implementing strategies to have the best possible outcome for athletes when it comes to their health, injury recovery and well-being. Whether we as fans know it or not, we owe many thanks to North Dakota State’s sports medicine department. They help provide the high-quality athletic performances you witness each season. Studentathletes and coaches are surely indebted to them as well. So, we want to thank these 11 people for keeping our Bison healthy, well and on the path to athletic success. You may never know the true impact you have, but know that it is wide and deep.

43


sports med team Mike Kjellerson Director of Sports Medicine Sports: Wrestling Rewards of working with NDSU sports medicine: Personally, it’s the student-athletes I get to meet and see as they grow for five years. To see them come in as a young kid to grow up to be an adult. The relationships I get here are the most rewarding thing that I see. After being here for so many years I see these guys come back with their families and their spouses and they’re always stopping by to say hi. Those are probably the most rewarding things, the relationships that I’ve had with several studentathletes. Professionally, just letting them enjoy what they came here for at a high level. To participate in their sport, but at the same time, keeping them safe and to have them maintain that high level of health. Also to have them at peak health when they leave here so they can continue that in their normal life. It’s the one thing I always say, there is life after this so you have to remember that you’re going to want to be playing catch with your kid in the backyard, so we have to make sure we’re taking care of ourselves through these five years. It doesn’t have to be a medical hardship either, they can come in and lean on us for pretty much anything too.

44

BISON ILLUSTRATED M A R C H 2 0 1 9

Ashley Hool Assistant Athletic Trainer Sports: Women’s Basketball, Men’s Golf Rewards of working with NDSU sports medicine: Everybody here is like a family. I can ask anybody that works here if they’ll help me with something or if I need coverage or just need somebody to talk to, they’ve got my back always. It’s really good to have a great group of people to work with. Especially athletes and coaches too, they’re great to work with and welcoming, especially me being a new athletic trainer here.

Trisha Shannon Assistant Athletic Trainer Sports: Women’s Soccer Rewards of working with NDSU sports medicine: I feel like being with the team, I love the aspect of always being with that team. The girls joke and they call me “mom” and I hate it, but I just think the aspect of being with them all the time. As terrible as an ACL or a season-ending injury is, it is so amazing and rewarding to see them come back stronger and better than they were before. I think I’ve had three or four girls come in with an ACL or get an ACL here and just being able to work with them through that whole process is pretty amazing.

Jenny Swenson Bobby Knodel Assistant Athletic Trainer Sports: Football Rewards of working with NDSU sports medicine: Just being able to help the athletes get over injuries and keep them on the field or get them back to the field as quick as they can. Some guys are trying to play after college, so just to help them and give them the best opportunity to play as long as they can and at the highest level they can.

Assistant Athletic Trainer Sports: Men’s and Women’s Track & Field and Cross Country Rewards of working with NDSU sports medicine: It’s the athletes that we work with and the coaching staff we work with. The fun seasons that track & field has had in the last few years of conference championships. Some of the significant injuries and you work with them for three months to a year and a half sometimes. To see them go out and do well and come back where they started and finish strong.


Stephanie Wittman Assistant Athletic Trainer Sports: Men’s Basketball, Women’s Golf Rewards of working with NDSU sports medicine: The most rewarding thing out of the job is when you have an athlete get hurt and they work really hard in their rehab and the moment they get back on the court and they can do what they came here to do, that’s probably the most rewarding thing. This year I had a kid who tore his meniscus, was out for six weeks, worked really hard and six weeks later he’s a high minute kid and is doing really well. That just makes me feel really good about myself that he is able to do what he loves to do.

Lucas Lammert Nathan Koens Athletic Training Graduate Assistant Sports: Baseball Rewards of working with NDSU sports medicine: Making those connections with athletes and having their trust. As you put in all this hard work and see their gratitude and their thankfulness for you. There’s never a down part about it, there’s always an upbeat attitude and it just makes you feel good inside knowing you’re able to help someone through their athletic career and throughout life in general.

Kathleen Gallais

Meghan Smith

Athletic Training Graduate Assistant Sports: Men’s and Women’s Track & Field

Athletic Training Graduate Assistant Sports: Volleyball

Rewards of working with NDSU sports medicine: I love coming to work every day, I love seeing the athletes come in. Obviously, I wish it were under better circumstances for them, but I love seeing them work hard and be passionate about getting better and returning to play. It’s very rewarding to see somebody who has been working so hard at not only technique stuff for their sport but also just the physical stuff to get back into the game and seeing them perform the way they would have before injury.

Rewards of working with NDSU sports medicine: That feeling you get after an athlete gets hurt, they’re out for a while, they go through rehab with you and everything and then they finally come back and you see them play for the first time. You get to finally see all the hard work that they’ve put in, you’ve put in, pay off. That just makes the job a lot more rewarding and it gives you that good feeling of actually doing something well because this is a job where you definitely have a tendency to doubt yourself.

Athletic Training Graduate Assistant Sports: Softball Rewards of working with NDSU sports medicine: My favorite part about being an athletic trainer and NDSU, in general, is that athletic trainers are pretty unique healthcare providers in that we’re with our patients, our teams pretty much every day. It’s a day-to-day relationship, we spend a lot of time with our athletes and you really get to know them. I love that personal connection you get with them. Obviously, you stay professional, but you really get to know each one of them, their quirks and all that stuff. Other healthcare providers see patients after and before an injury. We’re in a unique position where we get to see our athletes before an injury occurs, right during an injury and then the whole time afterward. Again, that just helps build that relationship. We’re with them during the whole injury process and for me, it’s really rewarding to see an athlete who had been injured, slowly but surely get better through rehab and all the treatments that we do.

Mason Ankenbauer Athletic Training Graduate Assistant Sports: Football Rewards of working with NDSU sports medicine: Seeing the success of our student-athletes. My favorite thing is seeing a guy come off of injury and celebrate getting back to full go. Just the success they have, the football team especially and the travel opportunities and places I’ve gotten to see because of football have been awesome.

45


TEAM MAKERS

attention: team makers!

The single game football ticket request process is changing slightly for 2019. Here is what you need to know.

For Team Makers and Bison Pride members, requesting single game football tickets is a staple each year. However, Team Makers is changing the way they do the requesting process slightly for the 2019 season. Here are a few things to note as you begin requesting single game tickets. • Single game tickets can ONLY be requested online this year. Find the ticket request form on ndsuathleticfund.com/game-day/ tickets. • If you are not a current Team Maker/ Bison Pride member, you must contribute a minimum of $100 by May 31, 2019 to be included in this offer. • The deadline for requesting single game tickets is May 31. Don’t wait, fill out your request form today. • At that time, Team Makers will rank all requests by priority points and meet as many as possible. You will be notified via email by July 15 whether you received tickets. No cancellations or quantity changes will be accepted after notifications are sent. All tickets must be paid for by Monday, July 29 or they will be removed from your account. • Team Makers guarantees you will receive tickets to a game IF you rank each home game. In that past, members have only requested one or two games they wished to attend (i.e. South Dakota State, Illinois State, etc.). There are only a certain number of tickets to go around, so do not limit yourself to only one or two games. Rank each Bison home game for 2019 and you will receive tickets!

46

BISON ILLUSTRATED M A R C H 2 0 1 9


How to properly rank and fill out your single game ticket form. DO

DO NOT DO

Note: This example is from the 2018 season not 2019. Find the updated form on ndsuatleticfund.com.

The maximum number of tickets you can request is based on your giving level. The numbers are as follows:

Finally, here is the price breakdown for single game football tickets this season.

Booster ($100): 6 tickets

9/7 vs North Dakota $56 sideline $46 end zone

Green & Gold Captain ($250): 6 tickets Captain ($500): 8 tickets Bronze ($1,000): 8 tickets Silver ($1,500): 10 tickets Gold ($2,500): 10 tickets Bison Club ($5,000): 10 tickets Thundering Herd ($7,500): 10 tickets Circle Of Champions ($10,000): 10 tickets All American ($15,000): 10 tickets Full Scholarship ($22,300): 10 tickets

9/21 vs UC Davis $56 sideline $46 end zone 10/12 vs Northern Iowa (Homecoming) $56 sideline $46 end zone 10/19 vs Missouri State $41 sideline $31 end zone 11/9 vs Western Illinois (Harvest Bowl) $56 sideline $46 end zone 11/16 vs South Dakota $51 sideline $41 end zone

Team Makers Executive Director Pat Simmers, President Chris Haugrud, Minnkota’s Mary Aldrich and City of Fargo’s Jen Pickett

Minnkota Presents Team Makers With Check Thanks to their new recycling program during the football season, Team Makers was given a $1,000 check from Minnkota Recycling on February 13. The program, which began this season, was an effort by Team Makers to not only keep the tailgate lot and our Earth clean, but an initiative to raise more money for NDSU athletics scholarships. Figuring in the growth this program will see in the future, look for that $1,000 number to grow as time goes on for NDSU Team Makers. They hope to double that mark next season.

Remember to rank each of these games one through six on your single game tickets form. Failing to do so will not guarantee you tickets in the first place.

47


cara L DO HOW WEL OW YOU KN

beatty uld What wo ? Cara say

S

ophomore softball players Cara Beatty and Sam Koehn are new to the program this season. Both transferred to North Dakota State in advance of this season. We tested Koehn and Kara O'Byrne, a fellow sophomore, to see how well they know one of the newbies on the roster. THE QUESTIONS

CARA BEATTY

KARA O’BYRNE

SAM KOEHN

1. If you were stranded on a desert island, the one thing you’d bring with you is...

My dad (He'll catch us both some fish)

Her dad

A swiss army knife, very practical

2. Your favorite professional sports team is...

Vegas Golden Knights!!

Vegas Golden Knights

Definitely the Las Vegas Golden Knights

Yes, I have never been pulled over

Yes

She doesn't have a car here but I would say so.

Mint chocolate chip

Red velvet

Mint chocolate chip or mint chocolate

Frankie Valli

Mike Trout

This is a hard one, there's so many! Maybe someone off of the cast of Grey's Anatomy or Gossip Girl?

Waffles (my mom's homemade are the best)

Waffles

Waffles

1 - I never forwarded those chain texts 5 years ago.

2

Probably a zero! Bad things have a way of finding Cara, like getting hurt, tripping, etc.

3. Would you consider yourself a good driver?

4. Your favorite ice cream flavor is...

5. Who is one famous person you’d love to meet?

6. If you had to pick: waffles or pancakes?

7. On a scale from 1 to 5, how lucky do you think you are?

4

tie

4 49


POpQUIZ WITH NDSU ATHLETES

The funniest person on your team is...

Your pre-game/match/ race/round ritual is...

Tim Heikkila

MEN'S TRACK & FIELD

Heikkila dazzled last season in cross country, earning All-Summit League honors. He followed that up with a third place finish in the mile run at the Summit League Indoor Championships. He also finished fourth in the 1500m run during the conference's outdoor championships. More recently, the Brule, Wisconsin, native took the 3000m title at this season's Bison Open.

Alex “Bart” Bartholomay

Michael Otomo

WRESTLING

Otomo, a transfer from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, has broken into the Bison starting lineup at 184 pounds. Otomo began the season wrestling unattached, but was still able pick up a tournament win at the Jimmie Open in early November. Making his first start against Oregon State on December 20, Otomo earned a 10-6 decision victory. He also earned a hard fought decision victory against Northern Colorado on January 27.

In this order: Wake up. 10 minute shake out. 3 cups of coffee with big breakfast. Listen to entire “Stoney” album by Post Malone. Watch “Kevin’s Famous Chili” scene from The Office.

Dylan Droegemueller always keeps you on your toes.

After weigh-ins, I have to eat banana bread. The second period of the match before me I have to sit down and relax. Then before my match starts I have to shake my legs out before I shake my opponent's hand. Weird things you develop when you have been wrestling for 16 years.

The funniest person on our team would be Lauren (Reimers), but don’t tell her I said that! We have a lot of funny people on our team!

I don’t really have a specific pregame ritual, I don’t believe in a lot of superstitions!

Probably Jed (Baranczyk)

I have to slam a full Monster (Energy Drink) before my warm up to get pumped.

Parker Harm

A couple sprints in the outfield right before the game.

Maddie Hansen Hansen played her first season in Fargo last year, transferring in from Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She started in 36 of the 40 games she played last season. By year's end she nabbed seven doubles, 18 RBIs and an impressive .995 fielding percentage.

SOFTBALL

Dax Wallat

MEN'S GOLF

The Federal Way, Washington, senior has been a staple in Steve Kennedy's lineup the last few seasons. He competed in seven tournaments as a junior posting a 75.45 stroke average. This season, he posted a solid second round 70 in the Zach Johnson Invitational to lead the Bison to a second place finish in the tournament. Outside of that, Wallat competed in three of NDSU's four fall tournaments

Tucker Rohde Rohde has become one of the most reliable fielders in the Summit League. Playing in 48 games, Rohde had an impressive 1.000 fielding percentage. At the dish, the Scottsdale, Arizona, product hit for a .269 average, a 19-point increase from his freshman season. He also drove in 21 runs and had two home runs.

BASEBALL

50

BISON ILLUSTRATED M A R C H 2 0 1 9


If you could live anywhere besides Fargo, where would it be?

What’s the luckiest thing to ever happen to you?

Who is your favorite professional athlete (any sport)?

Oulu, Finland or Oulu, Wisconsin

Being roommates with Alex Bartholomay since my freshman year

John M. “Red” Pollard, Seabiscuit’s Jockey

Miami, Florida. Where it is warm 24/7

I won a brand new jet ski in a raffle.

Conor McGregor, the guy is a legend.

In the middle of nowhere somewhere in eastern Iowa!

When I was younger I was driving through snow on my 4 wheeler and I crashed into a giant rock and got flung through the air onto a frozen pond and walked away with no injuries!

Yadier Molina, he’s been my favorite my whole life!

Anywhere south of the equator

Got the opportunity to play golf at NDSU.

Jordan Spieth

Newport Beach, California. Love the beach.

Since I'm all the way from Arizona, I was lucky to find a college in NDSU where I've made lifelong friendships and connections.

Both are retired now but Chase Utley or Peyton Manning

51


Where Are They Now? Always Connected Helping usher in a new era of Bison softball, Andi (Padilla) Farnam has remained connected to the game and program that offered her so much. BY Nolan P. Schmidt FEATURE PHOTO BY Hillary Ehlen

52

BISON ILLUSTRATED M A R C H 2 0 1 9


t t

There are so many moments in the grand history of North Dakota State softball that can be considered "programdefining" instances. The three straight appearances in the Women's College World Series in 1973, 1974 and 1975? Those are a few. Moments that surely put the program on the map and set the tone for the success to come. The six straight North Central Conference regular season titles from 1999 to 2004 are another. Add to that, a Division II national championship in 2000. Then the transition to Division I. Since making that move after 2004, Bison softball has seen more program-defining moments. The string of Summit League dominance, including 11 combined regular season and conference tournament championships. You can also add the NCAA Regional

victories over Mississippi State and Oklahoma the last two years to that category too. However, if you were to ask followers and fans of the program, there might be one specific moment or string of moments that have truly defined Bison softball. At the very least, it has defined the Division I era. These program-defining moments took place in 2009, the program's first season of postseason eligibility in Division I. The result was as remarkable as any. Andi Padilla (now Farnam) was there. In fact, she was the backbone of the roster, holding down the mound on a day-to-day basis. Farnam was a wildly successful prep pitcher for Don Lugo High School in Chino Hills, California. In her senior season, she compiled a 10-3 record, including nine shutouts and a stingy 1.21 ERA. Her impressive career out West caught the eye of NDSU head coach Darren Mueller, who was in his third year at the helm at the time. Farnam just wanted to find a place where she could make a difference. The Fargo cold did not deter her from being

interested in becoming a Bison. "During the recruiting process, I was wanting to go to a school where I could make an impact. I had received a letter from Darren, and he had mentioned that they were in the transition and that they were very successful in Division II and were wanting to recruit players that could build a foundation heading into Division I," she said of her recruiting process. "For me, it was finding the right fit. I was interested in going away for school, that wasn't a big concern for me, but I just wanted to make sure I went somewhere I felt comfortable and that I had a good team environment and I could make a difference in the program and not just be a role player. I really wanted to make a difference." Ultimately, Farnam choose to continue her career at North Dakota State. What that meant for her and other recruits was missing the chance to play in the postseason for most of their collegiate softball careers. North Dakota State had made the move to Division I in 2004 and was rendered ineligible for postseason competition until at least 2009. While that fact could become an albatross around

some team's necks, it was not the case for the Bison in 2006, 2007 and 2008. North Dakota State won 28 games in 2006, 34 in 2007 and an impressive 37 in 2008. That season was also the program's first in the Summit League. With that impressive mark, the Bison were conference regular season champions but were still unable to compete in the conference tournament. Farnam credits the coaching staff for not allowing the team's mindset to change despite the postseason absence. "A lot of the credit goes to the coaches Darren and Jamie (Trachsel). They knew where they wanted us to be. Each season, it was tough to know you weren't playing for a championship. For us, it was a level of excellence we tried to meet. We knew that we were going to get better, so it was really just a matter of feeling like we did our best with our opportunities," she said. "In 2008, when we were actually in the Summit League, it was so satisfying to win the conference based on record. Of course, it was disappointing to not be playing in the tournament, but we were so excited because that was our goal." That momentum transitioned into the offseason before the

53


2009 season for the Bison. For the first time, they would be eligible for postseason competition. With six seniors on the roster, including Farnam, North Dakota State knew this year could be special. Little did they know, they would embark on one of the greatest runs in program history. Farnam and the rest of the players and coaches knew they had the foundations of success laid down heading into 2009. "We had a very good upper class. We had some strong

personalities. Just like a lot of other teams, we were put through some pretty grueling workouts. I feel like those really bring people together. Looking back on those now, I probably wouldn't want to go through them again, but they definitely made an impact on us as a team. It kind of just made our personalities come out," she said. "We knew that we worked so hard and that when we stepped on the field, we weren't going to be outplayed or outworked because we had done the preparation. Our

coaches were great leaders for us too. I think back to the recruiting process and the transition and knowing our class would only have one year of being eligible for NCAA Regionals, there was so much build up coming into senior season and I felt that we had nothing to lose and everything to gain. It was empowering." For the team as a whole, they won a staggering 38 games, another improvement from the season before. To that point, it was their highest win mark in the Division I era, too. This included wins over big names like Notre

Dame, Utah and Creighton. Much of this success on the field can be attributed to Farnam's ability on the mound. She pitched a mind-blowing 246 innings over the course of that 2009 season. Farnam won 26 games to just 12 losses, highlighted by a measly 2.27 ERA. Never known to be a strikeout pitcher, Farnam was still able to down 127 batters, and her opponents only hit for a .221 average against her. She also pitched eight shutouts that season. For a season as long and arduous as softball, Farnam was


able to stay healthy and durable all season. Much of that is thanks to offseason conditioning and her pitching strategy. "It takes a lot of conditioning. With pitchers, we always needed to be pretty well conditioned, our legs needed to be strong. If your legs are strong, it will allow you to have the endurance to pitch a lot of innings. I tried to get ahead in the count, limit opportunities for the other team. We had a really good defense and I think we were seventh in the nation in fielding percentage as a team, so we were pretty awesome," she said. "It made me feel like I didn't have to do everything. It was definitely a team effort and getting through the innings, I feel like I tried to limit walks, sometimes I would get a little walk happy. Just being conditioned and relying on your teammates. I was never the type of pitcher that was

going to strike everyone out, so I really needed to make sure I hit my spots and I was getting ahead in the count and doing my job. Knowing what I can control and what I can't." The Bison were able to win the Summit League Tournament in their first year of eligibility. They defeated number one seed and regular season champ Western Illinois to earn a berth in an NCAA Regional. Farnam was named the tournament's MVP and was an All-Summit League First Team selection. Unfortunately for the Bison, they were immediately met with perennial powerhouse Oklahoma in the Norman Regional. The Sooners were ranked in the top ten in the country at the time. North Dakota State remained unafraid by the powerful Sooners. The Bison beat Oklahoma 1-0 in an 11

inning stunner. Farnam pitched all 11 innings, gave up only two hits and struck out four Sooners. Even to this day, she has a hard time remembering that game. "The Oklahoma game for me is kind of a blur in the sense that I was so focused. Looking back, I know this was probably the peak performance in my career at NDSU. I remember feeling in total command of my pitches and I wasn’t afraid to throw to the OU hitters because I had a stellar defense behind me. I was not thinking ahead, I really just tried to keep myself in the moment and what I could control then," she said. "I remember an Oklahoma fan, I was throwing a no hitter through however many innings, and it's a cardinal sin to tell a pitcher they're throwing a no hitter. That Oklahoma fan made a point for multiple innings to say 'hey number three, did you know you're

throwing a no hitter?' trying to get in my head. For me, I didn't care I was throwing a no hitter, that was not a concern of mine. I thought it was funny that we were getting those Oklahoma fans riled up because they were not expecting that from us." With the win, the Bison were moving on in the Norman Regional. Next up was Tulsa later that day. Despite pitching 11 innings earlier in the day, Farnam pitched a complete game against Tulsa, tossing seven more innings. While she struck out six, she surrendered a late two-run home run in the top of the seventh inning. This gave Tulsa a 2-1 lead heading into the final frame. Farnam recalls the bottom half of that inning fondly. "The most memorable moment was in the second game of regionals against Tulsa. We were up by one


run in the top of the seventh, and I gave up a two-run home run. I felt awful, it was the worst feeling in the world because I just didn't want to put my team in that situation. So we went to the bottom of the seventh inning," she said. "Thankfully we were the home team and we ended up scoring two runs with two outs to win the game. It was the most incredible ending to a really emotional game. For me, it's something me and my teammates still talk about and that was just incredible. I cried, I was so excited and relieved because I didn't want to let my team down at all. For us, that was a peak emotionally." North Dakota State went on to beat Tulsa the following day too, winning the Norman Regional. Farnam pitched another seven innings, giving up only two hits and a run in a 4-1 Bison win. North Dakota State dropped two games to Arizona State in the Tempe Super Regional to end their remarkable season. Farnam moved back to California after graduation from NDSU. While she contemplated returning to school for her master's, she received a call from a familiar voice, Darren Mueller. "I had actually moved back to California for a year and a half, and I was thinking about going back to school. I was in touch with Darren and he had said a grad assistant position was open, Director of Operations,"

56

BISON ILLUSTRATED M A R C H 2 0 1 9

she said. "I remember talking to my parents and just saying, 'Am I really going back to Fargo?' As much as I really wanted to, it'd be hard to leave my family again, but it was the best decision I made. For me to be part of the team again, it allowed me to know some of the younger players and some of the recruits. It was kind of a no-brainer." That is when Farnam became the Director of Softball Operations for the team. She held that post for three years. In that time, she learned just how committed head coach Darren Mueller is to his players and fellow coaches. "He's dedicated. He expects a lot from us, but he also puts in the work himself. I feel like he really cares about you, and that was a big draw for me when I came to NDSU," she said. "I stepped on campus and I felt so comfortable, he and Jamie did a phenomenal job of really creating a family. Darren has kept that going; he cares about you so much and he knows how to coach players on what they need. He also knows how to bring in other coaches, he knows what compliments his coaching style." While departing NDSU in 2014 was challenging for Farnam, she was ready for something new. She was working at Scheels in Fargo when she decided she was striving for something more. That was when she sought out more information about Bell Bank. "I was wanting

something different. I had recognized Bell, but for me, I was looking for a really great company and a place with a lot of growth opportunities," she said. "Then, I found Bell and that is kind of their motto. I really found a home here at Bell, and it's just a great family work environment." As they say, the rest is history. Farnam has worked at Bell Bank as the Mortgage Operations Assistant Manager since 2015. She says she sees plenty of parallels between Bell and her time at NDSU. "It is important to have a family setting and a family environment. A lot of the employees are very proud to work at Bell. I work in the real estate division, and I have a great team and we work really hard and try to be the best that we can be for our customers," she said. "It does correlate to what I had at NDSU where you're demanding a lot from yourself." Yet, Farnam remains heavily involved in the sport that offered her so much. She currently sits on the board of directors for the North Dakota Softball All-Stars. They plan and execute a yearly series with the best high school players in the state. Their goal is to bring more exposure to North Dakota softball and its players. "We meet several times a year and we go over what went well the year before and what we can work on," she says of the board of directors. "We

really just try to make it an enjoyable experience and get more exposure for these athletes." For Farnam, having a hand in the all-star series keeps her connected to a sport she wants to help grow in the state. "I love having a connection to softball; it's a huge part of my life," she said. "I like being able to have a different role. Softball in North Dakota is still growing and building, but for me it's really important to make sure softball continues to grow." Andi Farnam may be one of the most revered pitchers in recent memory at North Dakota State. Not only did she pace one of the most unlikely runs in collegiate softball, she spearheaded it. When we speak about "program-defining moments," one cannot help but bring up the 2009 run to the Super Regional. Andi Farnam was a vital part of those defining moments in Bison softball history. She continues to pour herself out for the sport of softball, too. The game gave her so much and provided so many avenues, she feels it's necessary to give back to the sport that made her who she is today. In that sense, Andi Farnam is no longer creating "programdefining moments", but "life-changing moments" for future generations of North Dakota softball players.


the ross

Report

Uglem is a native of Northwood, North Dakota, and covers NDSU basketball and football for Bison Report, a division of 247 Sports.

BY ross uglem

a corner turned

The concern about North Dakota State's men's basketball team was understandable, to a point. NDSU had seen their overall record drop for three consecutive seasons. They'd even seen their first losing record since Saul Phillips guided the Bison to a 14-15 record in 2010-11. Still, though, such concerns were and remain short-sighted. Both head coaches of NDSU's Division I era, coaches so good they were lost to bigger and better contracts with larger universities had the blood of losing seasons on their hands. It happened once to Tim Miles and twice to Phillips. Miles is considered by many to be the architect of the program and Phillips coached what is, to this point, the greatest Bison hoops team of all time. Upon reaching your hands, North Dakota State is likely in the Summit League Tournament and is most certainly seeded in the top half. The Bison navigated the league with a .500 or better record, despite not having a senior on the team. Despite not having a senior on the squad, North Dakota State took on all comers in the non-conference portion of their schedule. New Mexico State (league champion), East Tennessee State, Gonzaga (league champion), UC Santa Barbara, Iowa State, Montana (league champion) and Missouri State (currently tied for first in the Missouri Valley) were (aside from what happens with Iowa State of the Big 12) all top three or better in their respective conferences. The Bison played 'em all, Missouri State was the only one of those games in Fargo. That trial by fire left the Bison with a

58

BISON ILLUSTRATED M A R C H 2 0 1 9


win/loss record that left much to be desired, but toughened up these young members of The Herd.

stay together they'll be the favorites in the Summit League next season and set up for the future moving forward.

A huge part of that turnaround was the play of JuCo transfer point guard Vinnie Shahid. Shahid's presence on the team was perhaps a direct result of the transfer decision of former point guard Khy Kabellis. The Bison obviously missed their point man in '17-18. It showed with a rough assist to turnover ratio and a 5-9 league record. That was NDSU's worst mark in their league since '01-02.

The Bison have three teams ahead of them in the standings. South Dakota State loses multiple time Summit League Player of the Year Mike Daum, Tevin King and Skyler Flatten. Omaha will say goodbye to their best guy in Mitch Hahn and starting wing Zach Jackson. Purdue Fort Wayne also says goodbye to the franchise, Jon Konchar. Joining Konchar in graduation will be Bison-killing sharpshooter Kason Harrell.

Shahid started out a little shaky, but as of this writing (two games left in the regular season), Shahid leads The Herd in points per game, assists and steals. He is the consummate point guard. As rare as it may seem for a JuCo transfer junior player to be selected a team captain, Shahid accomplished just that. He was voted a leader in the offseason by his teammates, all of whom had basically just met him.

Certainly transfers out of NDSU or into other teams could affect the balance of power next season. Shoot, the Bison might be the number one or number two seed in the tournament and falter. That does happen. The overarching point is, though, that the corner has been turned. They've immediately returned to competitiveness in the Summit after a one year absence and their future is extremely bright.

Leading this turnaround was an excellent stretch of basketball, starting with a home victory on January 6 over Dickinson State and finishing with a home win over Oral Roberts on Valentine's Day. Over that period the Bison won seven of nine, including three road victories. Road wins had been hard to come by.

As I've mentioned, no one from this year's team is projected to graduate or leave, but even beyond that the future is exciting. Breckenridge High School's Noah Christensen had interest from Creighton and Nebraska but chose to shut down his recruiting and stay "home" at North Dakota State. He'll arrive on campus in the summer of '19.

It is the expectation that this season will not be treated like a stepping stone to next year, that the Bison will show up in Sioux Falls with winning on their mind. Dave Richman, after all, has a very impressive 6-3 record in the Summit League Tournament despite that tournament being a de facto home arena for South Dakota and South Dakota State.

Key contributors Rocky Kreuser, Sam Griesel, Tyree Eady and Cam Hunter all have at least two more seasons to give the Bison, which is to say nothing of young talents Jordan Horn, Jaxon Knotek, Odell Wilson and Jarius Cook, the latter being one of NDSU's biggest recruiting "wins" in program history.

Huge strides were made this season. The Bison beat Missouri State, who could be an NCAA tournament team in the Valley, they beat UCSB by 19. They were 10-3 in the SHAC and those three losses included 17-point (SDSU), 16-point (Purdue Fort Wayne) and a 12-point (Omaha) leads against the top teams in the conference. The Bison swept the Fighting Hawks for the first time since the schools started playing each other twice a season in Division I. If the Bison don't (or didn't) accomplish their goal of winning the league and moving on to March Madness, if they

The slogan from the marketing department (a slogan that came directly from the head coach) was to Embrace The Journey. I can understand why that has been difficult for some. Coming into this season, it was unclear where that journey was going. The team's defensive identity, recent struggles and certainly the dominance of South Dakota State in the conference has not helped matters. I pleaded with the good people of BisoNation to Pack the SHAC just a few months ago in this very column. Asked them to indeed embrace this journey. I would ask now that folks agree and buy in. It's pretty clear to me where that journey is headed.


slaubaugh's

scoop

Don’t you dare count out the Bison in Sioux Falls

T

he North Dakota State men’s basketball team will take the court at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls as a far different team from the one who fought their way through a brutal non-conference schedule before the new year. No, this version of the Bison is much, much better. Just a month ago, North Dakota State fans were filled with mixed emotions. With the team struggling through a rough stretch, the Bison were seemingly on their way to their second consecutive season below .500. However, within the last half of conference games, the Bison have completely rewritten the course of their season. As of writing this, the Bison have won five of their last seven -- all against Summit League foes - and a half-court shot away from six straight wins. North Dakota State seems to be peaking at just the right time before the Summit League Tournament. But what, exactly, has transpired to get to this point?

60

BISON ILLUSTRATED M A R C H 2 0 1 9

Embracing the 3-point revolution Hosting a high volume of three-point attempts has become the name of the game in basketball today. With advanced analytics, we know that attempting a three-pointer is, in the long run, simply a better idea than attempting most mid-to-long range two-point jump shots. Players don’t see a huge increase in accuracy when shooting, say, a 16 or 18-foot jump shot when compared to a three-pointer (approximately 21 feet from the basket) -certainly not enough to merit taking that shot considering that the slightly longer shot is worth 50 percent points more when made. It follows, then, that taking a bunch of long two-point shots is generally an ineffective strategy unless you can make them at a rate of at least 50 percent higher than you can make threes. On paper, shooting 33 percent from deep is more beneficial than shooting 50 percent from two. Also, for the most part, anyone who is good at hitting shots from 16 feet is going to be good at

BY DAN SLAUBAUGH Slaubaugh is a Bismarck, N.D., native and is currently a senior at North Dakota State University. Slaubaugh has spent time as an intern for NDSU athletics.

hitting them from 21 feet, so the logical approach to offense is to shoot more threes than long twos. Looking at North Dakota State’s roster, Dave Richman has assembled a group built around maximizing the three-point shot. In past seasons, fans -- including myself -- grew tired of the weavecentric offense the Bison would run that resulted in contested threes late in the shot clock far too often. This year, those types of offensive possessions have started to decrease and a much more entertaining pace-and-space style has been installed. This has forced opponents to spread out, extending their defense all the way to the three-point line instead of packing the paint, leaving the Bison with more open space for their plethora of sharpshooters. The Bison rank second, behind Purdue Fort Wayne (28.8 attempts), in the Summit averaging 26.4 three-point attempts per game. That’s a high in the Richman era, and at a respectable 36 percent clip. Generally, if a player hits 37 percent or higher from deep, that player is considered to be a three-point marksman. Well, the Bison have four of those. Jared Samuelson, a former walk-on and one of Richman’s most reliable players, has been unconscious from deep, drilling threes at a 46.6 percent clip on four attempts per game.


In addition, Deng Geu is hitting 39 percent, Rocky Kreuser 38 percent, while Tyree Eady is at 40 percent. Point guards Vinnie Shahid (36.6 percent) and Cameron Hunter (36.7 percent) have been dependable threats from deep as well. While this has been a more entertaining brand to watch, it’s also led to a very respectable 73.7 points per game in conference play -- good for fourth in the Summit behind high-profile offenses Omaha, Purdue Fort Wayne and South Dakota State, respectively. Their young talent has blossomed For the first time since being named head coach of the men’s basketball team in 2014, Richman has fielded a youthheavy squad. With nine underclassmen and zero seniors, the Bison are young by anyone’s standards. Looking back, it’s fair to suggest the youthful bunch has benefited from a brutal non-conference schedule that included road games at Gonzaga and Iowa State as well as a trip to the Bahamas, leaving them without a home game for nearly a full month. We knew, with such a young group, the record may not be pretty heading into conference play. What was more important was their development, and how they would potentially respond to adversity. Some two months later, it’s safe to say “the youth movement” in Fargo was expedited in the process. A look at some of my player observations, straight from my Bison Illustrated notebook: • Junior college transfer Vinnie Shahid has developed into one of the best scoring guards in the conference. • Tyson Ward continues to attack the rim and provide good size and length on defense. • Jared Samuelson shoots lights out from deep while generally being a pest on the opposite end. • Rocky Kreuser does a fine job protecting the rim while providing dead-eye shooting. • Deng Geu has looked like the best player on the court in at least five

games this season. • Cameron Hunter is seemingly always in control of the game. • Sam Griesel is a do-it-all future star and the best Bison freshman since Paul Miller. • Tyree Eady continues to provide instant offense and size at the wing off the bench. In addition to finding themselves offensively, they’ve also shown signs of improvement on the defensive end. In a recent six-game stretch, one that saw NDSU go 5-1, the Bison allowed 70.8 points per game. On the season, that would rank third-best in the Summit League. Now, the Bison only faced one top four offensive opponent during that stretch, so they absolutely have more to prove. It is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, however, and clamping down on defense when an offensive drought ensues will increase their chances of making noise in Sioux Falls. It’s cliché, and I hate cliché, but anything can happen come tournament time. For the Summit, which has been very unpredictable this season, this couldn’t be more accurate. This includes Oral Roberts defeating Omaha on the road, South Dakota handling Fort Wayne by 14, NDSU losing to SDSU by 18 on January 24, and then a month later on a 40-foot shot from revenge. One thing is for sure, if the Bison continue their commitment on the defensive end and sacrificing personal statistics for the betterment of the team, they have the talent and possibility of reaching the goals set forth at the beginning of the season. And for Dave Richman, that means nothing less than a conference title and a trip to the Big Dance. I’m Dan Slaubaugh and this is your Slaubaugh Scoop. Thanks for reading. Have a wonderful March. Go Bison. *All statistics are accurate as of February 28, 2019


the magic of march

T

There’s an old gym on the corner of Northern Pacific and Second Avenue in Esmond, North Dakota. Locals call the place the Esmond Hall, or, simply, “the Hall.” Inside the Hall, two aging basketball hoops pay silent tribute to days gone by when Esmond was a North Dakota hoops hotbed. The EsmondMaddock girls made seven appearances at the state Class B tournament in the 1980s. One of the greatest Class B teams in North Dakota history was the 1987 Esmond-Maddock squad that finished 25–0. That banner proudly hangs in the Maddock High School gym. Like that team, there are scores of small towns across the upper Midwest landscape that

62

BISON ILLUSTRATED M A R C H 2 0 1 9

have similar stories, aging basketball hoops with frayed nets, and farm kids casting baskets into the wind, in places like the Hall, or make-shift courts in quonsets, dreaming of sinking that March buzzer-beater. That one shining moment as the iconic CBS anthem following the men’s Final Four goes. “The ball is tipped, and there you are, you’re running for your life, you’re a shooting star...” I was never very good at basketball. I love the game, though, and have loved it ever since I was a kid. Pa Swany would drive a carload of Maddock boys to Esmond for pickup games with the Hoffners, Leiers, and others at the Hall. One night 20 years ago, back in March 1999, stands out. The Hall didn’t have heaters, or windows, for that matter. We played in hooded sweats. It was so cold that you could see your breath. It didn’t matter the temperature was below freezing, outside and inside. We had a place to play full court hoops out

BY JOSHUA A. SWANSON *Swanson is a native of Maddock, N.D., a proud NDSU alum and a lifelong Bison fan.

FOLLOW @swany8

of the snow. After a couple hours of pickup ball, we drove the 20 miles back to Maddock and our house sitting in the shadow of the grain elevator at 109 Dakota Avenue. That same night, some 1,618 miles to the southwest, in much warmer weather, a largely unheard of college basketball upstart called Gonzaga was playing the Florida Gators at American West Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. You’d think American West Arena was as far removed from the Hall as you could get. Here’s the thing. It wasn’t. Not really. To borrow from Gene Hackman and the basketball gospel, Hoosiers, “Strap, put Ollie on your shoulders. Measure this from the rim. Buddy, how far? Ten feet. I think you’ll find it’s the exact same measurements as our gym back in Hickory.” The magic of March. Kids from snow-covered farmland running in the shadows of winter playing the same game in a freezing building as the NCAA Tournament in a modern-day basketball cathedral being beamed into millions

Photo Courtesy Of Joshua A. Swanson

SWANY SAYS


of homes and captivating a nation. The familiar thud-thud-thud of an orange ball echoing on a wooden floor common to both. In our old kitchen back in Maddock, there was a small 13-inch television sitting on the countertop by the bread drawer. That’s where a group of teenage boys flocked to watch the ‘Zags and Gators in that Sweet 16. Gonzaga was a Cinderella, a true David fighting Goliath. Of course, we pulled for the underdog. The teams traded baskets in the closing minutes. “Cinderella still alive in Phoenix!” proclaimed Gus Johnson with 15.4 seconds left and Gonzaga down by a point. With 4.4 seconds, Johnson, like the ‘Zags, leapt into our college basketball consciousness with his euphoric call when a tip-in from a missed runner gave the underdog the lead, and the win. “Hall, the runner … loose ball … it’s good! … Shannon, from the corner, and it’s over! Gonzaga, the slipper still fits!” That next Christmas, my parents got me a Gonzaga t-shirt that I’d wear in pickup games for years before it was lost in a series of moves between North Dakota State and Creighton, where I went to law school. I was getting older, but March Madness never did. Creighton had a really good team my first year there in 2007, featuring Anthony Tolliver and Nate Funk. As a college hoops nut, I went to most Bluejays home games. The ‘Jays made the NCAA Tournament and faced a tough Nevada team in the first round, ultimately losing in overtime. Along with most of my classmates, we skipped Professor Fenner’s Constitutional Law class to watch Creighton’s game at DJ’s Dugout Sports Bar in west Omaha. The excitement of my school’s team in the NCAA Tournament was surreal for someone growing up playing pickup ball at the Hall. Things would get more surreal my last year at Creighton. In 2009, North Dakota State’s legendary team of Ben Woodside, Brent Winkelman, Mike Nelson, Lucas Moormann and Mike Tveidt became the first in NCAA history to qualify for March Madness in their first year of tournament eligibility. A few days before my birthday, I covered NDSU playing in the NCAA Tournament at the Metrodome, packed

with tens of thousands screaming Bison fans, for this magazine. The day before the game, I’ll never forget an arrogant Bill Self scoffing when a Fargo reporter asked him whether he was concerned that NDSU would have more fans in the Metrodome than Kansas. The reporter was right. Bison fans outnumbered Jayhawks fans at least 3-to-1. Woodside had one of the best games of anyone in that year’s tournament, putting up 37 points as NDSU came within a few possessions of a giant upset. That giant upset would come a few years later, and NDSU was America’s Cinderella, if only for a few hours. The arena was buzzing. Earlier in the day, in Spokane, Wash., a No. 12 had already beaten a No. 5, and the Bison were on the doorstep of repeating the scene against No. 5 Oklahoma. My heart was pounding out of my chest sitting at the media table courtside at Veterans Memorial Arena. I was so excited as my fingers flew nervously across the keyboard, miss-hitting keys trying to comprehend what was going on. My brother, then an assistant athletic director for NDSU, was nervously pacing in the corner area where the team runs out. We exchanged can you #$%^(&* believe this looks. It was March 2014 and the Bison were on the brink of the biggest win in program history with the entire nation watching. Our Bison. NDSU. On the biggest stage. With the blue bloods. The biggest sporting event in the world. The Bison scraped and clawed, and clawed and scraped, with a puncher’s chance, only down three points, 66–63, in the waning seconds. 18.2 seconds. Taylor Braun drives hard to the lane. 4.8 seconds left. He’s cut-off by a defender, sees Lawrence Alexander on the right wing. I’ll let the late Scott Miller fill in the rest with his unforgettable call. “Braun, spins to the paint, looking for a short jumper, kicks it right side to Alexander for three. It’s in! It’s in! We’re tied! Timeout Oklahoma. It’s 66 all. Can you believe it. My, oh my!” Braun to Alexander. Buckets. My. Oh. My, indeed. The Bison toppled the Sooners 80–75. The headline in the New York Times said it all – “North Dakota State Thinks Big, Has Fun, Earns Attention” – with a full-on arm pump by Alexander in the nation’s paper of record punctuating the

“The Hall” in Esmond, North Dakota

point. New York Times reporter John Branch wrote, “No one, at least this side of Mercer, is having more fun than North Dakota State. And no collegiate athletic department is riding a bigger crest of momentum.” From the shadows of elevators and wind-worn nets dotting the landscape to March Madness. The article tells the story of a scene at a bar in Washington, D.C., “erupt[ing] in excitement when guard Lawrence Alexander made a 3-pointer to force overtime, and patrons cheered the Bison to victory, 3,000 miles from Spokane and a world away from the college’s campus in Fargo.” “And all the years, no one knows, just how hard you worked, but now it shows …. in One Shining Moment, it’s all on the line, One Shining Moment, there frozen in time.” I get chills thinking about it, sitting there with my brother after the game, in disbelief, thinking back to where NDSU came from when we were kids playing pickup ball in the Hall and rushing home to watch March Madness and some upstart called Gonzaga. To sitting there, at the NCAA Tournament, taking in the scene, Saul Phillips with an ear-toear smile triumphantly walking to the NDSU section and thrusting the Bison horns into the air. Mark my words. It will happen again. Why? Because the magic of March. 63


Profile for Spotlight Media

Bison Illustrated March 2019  

North Dakota State brings in student-athletes from all corners of the globe. Some of the most successful and beloved Bison come from our ver...

Bison Illustrated March 2019  

North Dakota State brings in student-athletes from all corners of the globe. Some of the most successful and beloved Bison come from our ver...