Bison Illustrated December 2014

Page 1

team makers:

Meet the People Who Make Bison Athletics Go Round

December ‘14

2 new coaches Fresh Look New Team Big Opportunity

dave richman Men’s basketball coach

Experience Big Ten Resume Unearthing the Tradition

maren walseth women’s basketball coach


Meet the Precision Team! Plumbing, Electric & HVAC Specialists | Serving the FM Area for over a decade

701-238-1753 1935 4th Avenue NW West Fargo, ND


DECEMBER 2014 | VOLUME 9 ISSUE 5 Bison Illustrated is a free publication distributed monthly (10 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.



Spotlight Media


Mike Dragosavich



Get to know men’s and women’s basketball coaches Dave Richman and Maren Walseth and what it will take for the Bison to overcome every challenge this season. We break down each team individually with all the story lines you need to know about.


Josh Swanson, Joe Kerlin, Steve Walker, Terry Ludlum, Paul Bougie, Jason Denman Cody Bickler


Lisa Marchand, Cody Bickler, Erica Rapp




Pat Simmers was a Bison football player and coach. Today, Simmers is the communicative leader of Team Makers.

Meet eight every day Bison fanatics that make up a small portion of Team Makers.

AT A GLANCE 86 Joey Blackmore

20 Bison Shots

90 Where Are They Now?

22 Tailgating 36 Lawrence Alexander


Brent Tehven Craig Holmquist Tracy Nicholson, Paul Hoefer, Paul Bougie, Alicia Stuvland, Tiara Law


Kristen Killoran


Codey Bernier


J. Alan Paul Photography, NDSU Athletics, Tiffany Swanson, Joseph Ravits, Andrew Jason, Sadie Lascelles


Heather Hemingway


Ryan Perreault, Wes Offerman, Ryan Anderson, Jeff Schwartz, Colle en Heimstead


Nick Schommer



Joe Kerlin Sarah Geiger, George Stack



Andrew Jason




Paul Bougie

Chris Larson, Peyton Berger, Hal Ecker

FOR ADVERTISING CALL 701-478-SPOT (7768) or email

96 Deep Threats 122 Pop Quiz

43 Scheels Arena

77 Sporting Calendar

78 The Streak


82 Bison Super Fan

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Bison Illustrated is published monthly by Spotlight Media LLC. Print quantity exceeds 40,000 per issue. Printed in the U.S.A. Bison Illustrated does not necessarily endorse or agree with content of articles or advertising presented. Bison Illustrated assumes no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts or photographs. Bison Illustrated is NOT an official publication of North Dakota State University. Send change of address information and other correspondence to: Spotlight Media LLC. 502 1st Ave N. First Floor Fargo ND, 58102 or


Mike Dragosavich

This month I did a lot of looking back in order to look forward. At Bison Illustrated, I look at 2014 and I can’t do anything but smile. What an awesome year for everyone in Bison Nation. I want to say thank you to everyone who has helped make Bison Illustrated one of the best magazines in the nation. Thanks to my team at Spotlight Media, all of our advertisers, coaches, athletes, alumni and fans. All of us together make a wonderful team.


We had a mission this year to extend the NDSU spirit through Bison Illustrated. We distributed the magazine statewide, built an app for fans to read the mag from anywhere in the world and increased the quality of editorial. All of this was to keep spreading the tradition of what NDSU is all about. There is a big reason we named our clothing line “One Herd.” We really believe together Bison Nation is one, and we all have each other’s backs. I often wonder if I could feel more pride in what I do. It would be hard. Thanks, Bison Nation!


1 John Hayes sports the one and only “Drago” Jersey before a game.

Fresh into office, President Dean Bresciani holds up Spotlight Media’s first issue.

3 My buddy Michael Buchanon with the 88 Jersey on his BDAY.



The Under Armour Senior Bowl trading card.


Now that my deep thoughts are done, I thought I would share some of my Bison past photos, because you have to know where you came from in order to know where you’re going.

47 yard fake punt pass. My arm was sore after the game.

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4 Press check to make sure the championship issue was perfect!

7 Kickin’ Subscriptions. “Didn’t pull a hammy.”

8 My aunt Cyndy and Grandma representing at an all-star game I played in.

9 Posing for my cover shoot when I was in Bison Illustrated in 2007.

10 I broke the all-time Senior Bowl punting record.



Singing karaoke for a New England Patriots charity event. Song was “Let’s get Physical” by Olivia Newton John.

Long nights of work before deadline. It all pays off.


The Team Maker In All Of Us FROM THE EDITOR One of the many goals we have every month is to provide Bison fans insightful information into a world they know little about. Some months we leap into the coaching world with the football coaches and last month, we peaked our head’s inside the athletic directors office. But for this month, our goal was to go explore the world of Team Makers.

Joe Kerlin Editor, Bison Illustrated CONTACT ME


can’t lie to you guys. My preconceived feelings towards Team Makers weren’t always the best. ESPN documentaries like “The U” and Sports Illustrated investigative stories have always turned me, a simple fan, off to what boosters mean to universities. I believe sports fans tend to get caught-up in the negative. You hear a report about the one bad apple giving student athletes benefits for competing in athletics. These reports are enough to damage anyone’s perception of what donors do for universities. The reality didn’t hit until I got this job and started interacting with Team Makers on a weekly basis. Now I don’t even think of the word “booster” when I read, hear or type Team Maker. I think generosity, pride, supporter, caring, and the ultimate fan. When the baseball team took the field during the first quarter of the Bison game earlier this season to receive its Summit League championship rings, I couldn’t help myself but not only thank the players for bringing home hardware for NDSU, but thank the men and women who donate a portion of their hard earned money so the athletes could wear their accomplishment on their fingers.


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Team Makers do more than provide championship rings, practice facilities, recruiting and travel expenses for all 14 Bison athletic teams. They also provide scholarship money that allows student athletes to focus on their studies and developing themselves into being the best they can be in their sport. Who wouldn’t support an organization like that? It has also been enjoyable this month to learn about where the revenue comes from to support NDSU Athletics. NDSU is one of the highest in the Missouri Valley Football Conference when it comes to revenue created through contributions. Not every school has an extra three million dollars sitting around from generous donors. I cannot stress this fact enough. Bison Athletics goes nowhere without its contributors. The Team Maker organization is at the heart of this. But the biggest revelation came this month when I was speaking to the people that makeup the Team Maker organization. These men, women and families are the biggest Bison fans you’ll meet.

Rarely do I get time to sit down with hardcore Bison fans and talk about the team. I finally got the opportunity to do just that when the Blotsky family was generous enough to let me inside their home. I have never cut so much from an interview. The Blotskys and I went on so many tangents while talking about Team Makers that by the end of recording our conversation, an hour had passed. Usually, as a reporter, you like to stay on subject and control the conversation. None of this happened with the Blotskys, but I didn’t mind. I’d like to thank the Blotskys for allowing me into their home for a lively discussion about Team Makers and the Bison. It’s individuals like the Blotskys that make Team Makers such a special organization. They opened up my eyes more to what being a part of the Bison family is all about and the degree of integrity NDSU has for its student athletes and its supporters.

Go Bison,

Joe Kerlin

It Takes a village FROM paul bougie CONTACT ME



ey, we’ve got a bubble over Dacotah Field. Hey, we are in the playoffs again. Hey, we are playing basketball on ice. Hey, our wrestling team is in the Top 25. How does all of this come together in one month you ask?

YOU. Yes, YOU. Or should I say, those of you that are Team Makers. In the December Bison Illustrated, you will learn so much more about NDSU Team Makers and the importance of this organization to NDSU Athletics’ success. You will hear it not just from myself, and Pat Simmers, senior associate athletic director and Team Makers executive director, but you will read the stories of people just like you, who have joined Team Makers. This month you will learn more about our two new basketball coaches, Dave Richman and Maren Walseth. I had the pleasure to meet with both of them and let me tell you, they are the ones to get the basketball programs on the right track. I also want to take a moment to thank those of you who come up to me and visit about Bison Illustrated in the tailgating lot. I appreciate you sharing what you like and what you would like to see changed in the magazine. Hearing from you, the readers, is the only way we know what we’re creating each month is worthwhile for Bison fans. The holidays are here, so between shopping for the Bison fan on your holiday list (check out or visit the kiosk at West Acres in Fargo for great gift ideas) and making delicious cookies, take time to sit back, relax and enjoy the December Issue of Bison Illustrated.

Happy Holidays and Go Bison! Paul Bougie



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BISON SHOTS NUTS AND BOLTS Before the first NDSU men’s basketball exhibition game against Minot State, players from the Fargo Force hockey team helped make the transformation from hockey ice to basketball court. With the Sanford Health Athletic Complex (formally the Bison Sports Arena) under construction, the NDSU men’s basketball team will call the Force’s ice home for two seasons. In order for the Scheels Arena to host basketball games, a transformation must take place. Before every basketball game, volunteers will gather to place the pieces of the court down to make the venue suitable for a basketball game. The Force players help with compensation for their work going towards their end of the year party. Read more about the Scheels Arena conversion on page 43 Photo by Sadie Lascelles



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When Bison Tailgating

hits the road

Bison Illustrated hit the road this month to check out the best of the best in Bison tailgating. We caught up with fans down in Cedar Falls, Iowa, hours before the Bison squared-off against Missouri Valley foe Northern Iowa. By Joe Kerlin Photos by Tiffany Swanson


B I S O N I L L U S T R A T E D • D E C E M B E R 2 014

he Bartels have been tailgating at Bison football games since the early 1990s. They travel to every game, even the ones in the Eastern Time zone. “We’re originally from St. Louis,” Sharon Bartels explained outside her bus. The Bartels are notorious for heading back home to spend time with family, but usually skip out to go to Bison games at Youngstown State or Southern Illinois instead.

Tube Man Tailgating

us G s i This

The bus only travels with the Bartels to close away games in places like Vermillion, S.D., or Cedar Falls, Iowa. But there was almost never a bus to begin with. “I wanted a boat because I like to fish,” Bartels said. She came home from setting out to buy her boat and shocked everybody when she came home with a tailgating bus. The beacon of hope that’s usually perched on top of the bus is named Gus. Gus didn’t make it on the bus at Northern Iowa because of the windy conditions, but he remained in eyesight, welcoming Bison fans who made the journey to Cedar Falls. Gus is an “airdancer,” or more commonly referred to as a “Tube Man.” Gus has become so popular he has his own Facebook page called Gus T. Man. Bartels urges everybody to go “like” him. Tube Man Tailgating is led by Bartels, who works as a community forestry specialist for NDSU’s North Dakota Forest Service. The Bartels have two kids who graduated from NDSU, and welcome fans of all ages to their tailgating spot every Saturday.



he NDSU Alumni Association makes its presence known at every Bison football game. From selling the trendiest Bison gear to providing free cookies and coffee to Bison alums looking to mingle with former classmates – the Alumni tent has it all for Bison fans on the road.

NDSU Alumni Association

In Cedar Falls, Iowa, the alumni tent gave away a free Bison replica jersey. All you have to do at these raffles is give them your name and contact information, and free Bison gear could be yours. The Alumni Association reaches out to alumni in certain areas during away games. For example, against Western Illinois this season, the Alumni Association reached out to alumni close to Macomb, Ill., to ask if they wanted to set up a tent for the Bison game. You can be sure of one thing with the Alumni Association: they’ll never miss a Bison football game.

rs u o y e b d l u o c This


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any Bison faithful claim to have originated the first Bison tailgating bus, but as the numerical system works, there can only be one “first.” And that’s exactly what “The Original” Bison Bus or “TOBB” tailgating group is. They first rolled out their “old, old mini motor home” decked out with Bison decals in the mid-1990s and were the first tailgating crew to have a Bison bus. Unfortunately, all great things must come to an end. The end of the road for TOBB happened during the first home game of the 2013 season. TOBB was bus-less all of last season until the final game of the year. “We bought the bus and we all said, ‘Nobody is going anywhere in the bus until the Bison play an away game,’” Glenn Rivard, an original group member, said. The purchase happened at the same time the Bison started its playoff run. So for three frozen tailgates, the group gathered around in their six spots and used a friends trailer for pregame festivities in the West Lot. “Christmas morning, at about five in the morning, I tore all these seats out of this sucker,” Rivard said, standing inside the bus in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Fifty-seven seats were removed and in came four booth-style seating areas and a bar in the back.


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THE NEW TOBB “We put the seats in New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day we took off (for Frisco, Texas), and we were still putting in seats. We bolted the pilot seat down while we were still on the road. I was putting in the rubber somewhere down the road in South Dakota. We were fully dressed by time we got to Oklahoma, anyway,” laughed Rivard, remembering the group’s eventful trip to Texas last year. The new TOBB was a smash hit in the tailgating lot outside FC Dallas Stadium in Frisco the morning of the third-straight national championship game. Rivard estimated 600 people came to their lot to tour the new bus. Rivard said the group is implementing new elements to the bus this year, but fans will have to wait for another trip to Frisco to see what the TOBB group has up its sleeve.

out k c e h c inside the

Dave Richman By Joe Kerlin |


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Photo By J. Alan Paul Photography



The Halberstadt’s-clad Richman wanted to avoid the facility distraction, so he brought someone in before a practice who has played and was successful amid transition. “When I went in to talk to them, the first thing I thought about was that Hoosiers movie when they get to the big game and they take out the tape measurer and the basket is still ten feet from the floor and the dimensions are still the same,” Bills hall of fame enshrinee Phil Hansen said. “Yeah, there’s going to be some transition, some turmoil and everything won’t be perfect. But there are a lot of things that will remain exactly the same.”

The Bison men’s basketball team is coming off a season for the ages. after losing six seniors from last season’s team, the 2014-15 Bison will look to reload and revamp themselves into Summit League contenders, all while playing inside a temporary home at Scheels Arena.

SPECIAL GUEST The 1990 Bison football team

was arguably the best football team ever assembled at North Dakota State University. Led by Buffalo Bills Hall of Famer turned-radio-color commentator Phil Hansen and the offensive juggernaut of Tony Satter and Chris Simdorn, the undefeated Bison won the Division II National Championship. Fans adored the Bison, watching with anticipation to see how much they would win by each game at Dacotah Field. The same angst was felt towards what was developing just north of the gridiron. FargoDome plans were approved in late 1988 and construction began the following year. Over the following seasons, the football team was displaced to Cardinal Muench for practice. What could have easily been a distraction for the Bison was a minor hurdle they overcame with poise. Jump to 2014 and the men’s basketball program is facing a similar challenge. First-year Head Coach Dave Richman will be tested with obstacles all season with his young roster. The Bison lost six seniors, three of them starters, from a team that won the Summit League championship and a NCAA Tournament game, the first in NDSU’s 11-year Division I history. On top of personnel changes, the Bison are also calling a new facility home while Sanford Health Athletic Complex construction continues. The Bison will play 14 games this season at Scheels Arena and again next year until construction at the SHAC is complete October 2016.

Hansen explained the transition will eventually become routine for the players, and they will have more important things to worry about once the schedule picks up with games every week. The Bison were picked to finish fifth this season in the Summit League, as outsiders view the Bison as a rebuilding team, due to the loss of three seniors.

NEW LOOK Not only is the location of the court different this season, the starting five has changed immensely. One of the heroes from the Oklahoma upset, Carlin Dupree, has earned his way into the starting rotation, said Richman. The sophomore guard from Milwaukee was not redshirted last season by Saul Phillips because of his ability to back up Alexander at the point. Dupree played in 25 games last season in a limited role, but shined when it mattered most in the NCAA Tournament, scoring four points in overtime after Taylor Braun fouled out. Forward Chris Kading also saw extensive minutes in last year’s tournament with TrayVonn Wright getting himself into foul trouble in the second and third round games. Kading will be injected into the Bison starting lineup for the first time this season along with Dupree. A lesser-known asset cracking the starting five will be redshirt freshman and local Fargoian, AJ Jacobson. The Bison lineup may look small on paper, but that’s a transition Richman said he is ready to make. “We’re going to have to find some different ways to score, there’s no question,” Richman said. “But our identity always on offense is we have to take care of the ball; take care of the ball and take good shots.” 29



“They know how to win in the Summit League. Now let’s see how quickly they can bring the guys along with them and get them on par with that, too.” -richman Redshirt freshman A.J. Jacobson, sophomore Carlin Dupree, and junior Chris Kading will join the starting rotation with Lawrence Alexander and Kory Brown, for the first time this season.

OLD FAVORITES Taking care of the ball

shouldn’t be a problem for the Bison with returning point guard Lawrence Alexander ready to start his 100th game. The one they call “L.A.” has averaged over 34 of a possible 40 minutes every season during his Bison career. Already a 1,000-point scorer, L.A. will be the featured ball handler once again for Richman and his staff. Returning to the starting lineup for a third year is junior guard Kory Brown, who has built a reputation as being a menace on defense. But fans want to know when Brown will take the next step on offense. “He’s been all over the offensive glass and his shot has been better than what people give him credit for,” said Richman. “He’s not a guy that’s going to be a high volume shooter by any means, but he’s definitely a guy that has a shot that keeps the defense honest.” Brown has been a lightly-used shooter on offense, averaging just over four field goal attempts a game during his career. But his field goal percentage rivals Marshall Bjorklund’s at 58 percent last year. From a production standpoint, returning starters L.A. and Brown will be relied on heavily, but it’s the off-the-court adjustments that Richman has been satisfied with.

“I think from a vocal leadership standpoint, I think Kory Brown has been dynamite,” Richman said. “Lawrence Alexander has done a tremendous job in practice leading by example, and then Chris Kading is a guy we need to be more vocal and he’s done that over the past few weeks.”

WHAT TO EXPECT The Bison come into

the season without four of its five leading scorers from last season’s Summit League Championship campaign. With six seniors graduating last year, Richman said it’s natural to expect a young team. The Bison bring in seven freshmen this season, including Jacobson. But Richman said he doesn’t see the youth changing the culture NDSU Athletics has built over the years. “Winning is a mentality,” said Richman. “And our guys, especially Lawrence and Kory, they know how to do that.” Richman said. “They know how to win in the Summit League. Now let’s see how quickly they can bring the guys along with them and get them on par with that, too.” The Bison will open their season with two tough road tests against Texas and Iowa before returning to Fargo for their regular season Scheels debut against Kennesaw State. 31




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The women’s basketball team has been in the middle of an identity crisis over the past handful of seasons. But with new head coach Maren Walseth, the Bison will look to regain their supremacy in women’s basketball.

CULTURE IDENTITY In 2007, the Penn State women’s basketball program was in flux. Long time head coach Rene Portland resigned after 27 seasons with the Lady Lions amid a scandal involving a former player. Not only was Penn State without a coach and with a bruise on its program to overcome, it had endured two-straight sub-.500 seasons after 12 conference championships and 21 NCAA tournament appearances in 25 years. It was time for a change. A culture change is what slowly developed the following season, although it may not have reflected in the wins column. Coquese Washington was named head coach at Penn State in the spring of 2007. It was tough sledding for Washington in her first season. The Lady Lions finished 10th in the Big Ten and experienced another losing season in 2008-09. The Lady Lions may have kept losing, but Washington was in the process of rebuilding a once proud women’s basketball program. In 2012, Penn State won its first Big Ten championship in seven years and won again the next two seasons. Washington has been named Big Ten Coach of the Year three consecutive seasons. The Penn State women’s basketball program was back on top. Assisting Washington at Penn State over the past seven years has been Penn State alum, Maren Walseth.

ENTER WALSETH Walseth enters her first season as women’s head coach in a similar situation when she entered the program at Penn State. She is looking to use the lessons learned by witnessing Washington build a conference championship-winning program after years of despair. “The lack of wins last year and what not don’t intimidate me,” Walseth said this summer. “They don’t scare me because I have walked into that situation before and have been a part of a rebuilding process.” Walseth said she recognizes the similarities in Penn State in 2007 and NDSU in 2014, but sees more than just the lack of winning. The women’s basketball history of success is one of the strongest you can find in the country. With five NCAA Division II championships, three-time runner-ups and six conference championships, success is in the DNA of Bison basketball. It’s now Walseth’s mission to restore order. “I was a good fit for this position,” Walseth said. “There was the history and there was the great team, then there weren’t very many wins to build a program again, and I have been through those situations, where to other people perhaps scary, but to me it was comforting.”



“The lack of wins last year and what not don’t intimidate me. They don’t scare me because I have walked into that situation before and have been a part of a rebuilding process.” -walseth

With only six wins last season, the Bison are looking to hit the restart button this season. They’re off to a good start, getting their first mark in the win column after defeating Kent State in the first game of the season.

READY TO GO The Bison were picked to finish last in the Summit League preseason poll. But don’t tell them that. The first game of the season, the Bison beat Kent State, 74-68, at the Bentson Bunker Fieldhouse and Walseth’s new playing style was on display early. “She wants us to play up-tempo, and I think we have done well to get used to that and I think it’s going to stay and it will do well for us,” said junior forward Marena Whittle. With the Bison lacking size in the interior, they will have to rely on their speed at the guard position. Senior Brooke LeMar returns for her second season at NDSU, and if history tells us anything, it’s that LeMar likes to run-and-gun. Last season, former head coach Carolyn DeHoff described LeMar’s speed as quicker than former 1,000-point scorer Katie Birkel. “She runs with the ball as fast as she runs without the ball. She’s really tight with her handles and is a really good decision maker, too.”

Joining LeMar in the backcourt is another speedster and player with experience, Kahla Becken. The junior enters the season with eight career starts, but will be LeMar’s complementary piece leading an up-tempo charge. “Maren’s vision says we need to improve everyday,” assistant coach Keith Dickhundt said. “We cannot take a day off. They say it takes 31 days to build a habit, well we go seven days in a row and take a day off, then we have to start that 31 days over again.” The Bison players’ and coaches’ confidence certainly wasn’t derailed by the preseason poll, and that’s a part of rebuilding the winning tradition for the women’s basketball team. With Coach Washington’s blue print, Walseth is ready to be the architect for a new, more successful women’s basketball team.



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Lawrence Alexander’s


LONE SENIOR ON THE MEN’S BASKETBALL TEAM, LAWRENCE ALEXANDER SITS DOWN WITH US TO TALK ABOUT THE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE. BUCKETS Taylor Braun sat at the postgame podium alongside his teammates moments after walking off the court with their school’s first NCAA Tournament victory. “It was supposed to be an iso (isolation) for Taylor coming out of the huddle,” point guard Lawrence Alexander told the media, referencing the last possession of regulation. Braun sat back in his chair reflecting on the team’s performance, acting like this win was anything but unchartered territory. Alexander continued, “But I told him (Braun) if nothing was there, I will be on the right wing and he just gave me the bounce pass and I took the shot.”

Braun slowly leaned forward and spoke into the microphone, this time playing the role of reporter directing a question his teammate’s way. “And what did you say when the ball was in the air?” asked Braun in rhythm, as if he was throwing a lob pass to Alexander who was hanging in the air awaiting an alley-oop pass. “Buckeeeetts,” Alexander said, prolonging the pronunciation like he would if he was joking with friends back at Logan Park, the location of his childhood basketball memories. The media room rolled with laughter, marveling at the soon-to-be NCAA tournament darlings. The shot Braun and Alexander were referencing was the three-pointer that sent the Bison’s first game of the NCAA tournament into overtime against Oklahoma. The Bison eventually prevailed in extra time to win its first

12 GUARD no.

6’3’’ 190 Senior

From Peoria, Ill.

tournament game in program history led by Alexander, or more commonly known as “L.A.” “I can’t lie, I still watch it to this day,” admits L.A. The seniors on last year’s team were some of L.A.’s closest friends. He was happy he could help the seniors leave their mark on the program and hit a clutch three for his friend TrayVonn Wright, the one who took L.A. under his wing when he arrived in Fargo. “I was looking up to Tray,” L.A. said last season. “I mean, I’m not going to tell him that now (laughs), but I was looking up to Tray, because he showed me what to do and what not to do.”

AFTER ‘THE BIG DANCE’ L.A. is from Peoria, Ill., a town of 115,000 people, two hours southwest of Chicago and seven hundred miles from NDSU. He was brought to Fargo by former Bison head basketball coach Saul Phillips in the fall of 2011 and L.A. forced himself into the lineup from day one. L.A. had a fruitful freshman season and his achievements were acknowledged when he was named Summit League Newcomer of the Year. His early success has led to a remarkable career, pushing his former coach into confessing his love for L.A. “He’s my point guard, and always will be,” Phillips said bashfully after the NCAA tournament victory. With L.A.’s big smile and shy demeanor, it’s no surprise both his teammates and coaches gravitate to their point guard. Teammate Kory Brown was drawn to NDSU because of L.A. “He’s probably one of the main reasons I came here,” said Brown, who was hosted by L.A. on his recruiting visit. “He reminds me of myself; he’s a goofy kid. He’s serious when he has to be, but we hang out and do fun stuff all the time.” Carlin Dupree was also hosted by L.A. during the sophomore’s visit, and Dupree said he sees L.A. the same way L.A. saw Wright, as a little brother. Dupree grew up in a similar environment as L.A. His family was there, but there was little opportunity for a secondary education. “We didn’t really have much, you know,” said L.A. before practice after 37


the team’s first road trip of the season. “We were both kind of on the border line whether or not we’d get into school.” Dupree attended Bay View High School, just a few miles south of downtown Milwaukee, Wis. Alan J. Borsuk of the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel wrote in November that several years ago, when Dupree was attending: “Being a Bay View High School student meant you weren’t likely to be getting a rigorous education.” Borsuk also said Bay View was “unsteady,” had a “troubled culture” and had a reputation of “safety problems.” When Dupree left Bay View to visit NDSU, L.A. was straightforward with him. He told Dupree that Fargo may not seem like much, but what you gain from going to NDSU will last a lifetime. L.A. said he told Dupree during his visit, “Look, I’m here, I’m making it, come here and continue to work. Work hard everyday and you’ll like the results.’” Dupree took L.A.’s advice and earned his way onto the court amongst a senior-laden basketball team last season by filling a role off the bench. The highlight of Dupree’s season was his four points in overtime to seal the upset over Oklahoma, and said he’s better prepared coming into this season. “I look up to him,” Dupree said. “Anything he does I would probably follow him. It just kind of happened naturally, to be honest with you.”

BACK TO WORK Leadership is a trait easily seen in L.A.’s game. Sports pundits would classify L.A. as a shoot-first point guard, meaning someone who looks to score before facilitating within the offense. Averaging 11.7 points per game in his career and hoisting more shots than anyone on the team this season proves this theory. If you ask L.A., he says he got his scoring gene from his father. “I talk to my father on the phone every day,” L.A. said as he explained how his father is the man who gave him his first basketball and introduced him to his first basketball blacktop, Logan Park. L.A. continued, telling the story of his father’s playing days in California, when Lawrence Sr. scored 60 points in a game. Big games run in the Alexander family and it showed when L.A. made four three-pointers 38

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Carlin Dupree, Jordan Aaberg and Lawrence Alexander cheer with jubilation during the NCAA Tournament Selection Show last season.

on his way to a 28-point game on the biggest stage of his life in the NCAA tournament. When asked what his father thinks is more impressive: his 60-point game or L.A.’s game-tying three, he said with a laugh, “He (Lawrence Sr.) would probably still say his 60-point game.” L.A. returned from his visit home this spring refreshed. “Going home gave me an opportunity to escape basketball and school and spend time with my family,” L.A. said. “It was very relaxing.” Going home also gave L.A. a chance to spend time with his father and said most of their conversation revolved around the game of basketball. They even watched the recording of the Oklahoma game together. “He critiqued me to see what I could do better and what I could’ve done,” L.A. said. “My dad is my number one fan, so he’s going to tell me what I did right and what I did wrong. Just even his advice is so precious to me.”

L.A. has already taken his father’s words to heart and is hoping for a great senior season. He said he hopes to sign an agent at the end of the season and see where his basketball career can take him. But for now, he knows his focus is with the young Bison basketball team this season. “I’m not a talkative guy, I’m the type of guy that leads by example,” said L.A. “That’s probably one step I’m improving on, being more vocal.” L.A.’s contributions to the Bison basketball program will never be defined by a quantitative stat. He may have started in over 100 games and scored over 1,000 points, but he knows the real legacy he is going to leave on the basketball program. The NCAA tournament run will always be remembered, and the lasting image Bison fans will recall is L.A. swishing a threepointer, launching the Bison program into the national spotlight with one simple word to summarize it all – buckets.


How does this big freshman class compare to the other classes that you have seen come in during your time here?

“Yeah, like you said it’s pretty big but I think this is the most polished freshman class to come in since I’ve been here. We have Paul (Miller) who is playing well right now. We have Evan (Wesenberg), people haven’t really seen him play yet, but he’s probably going to be a big piece this year. Jake (Showalter) just shoots the ball incredibly. Spencer (Eliason) is taking a red shirt this season and he’ll pan out in a couple years, but I think this might be the most talented freshman class since I’ve been here. They have a great future.”

How does your dynamic work with Coach Richman?

“Me and him have always had a close relationship, but people didn’t really notice it because Saul (Phillips) was there as coach. But behind closed doors, I can always go to his office and talk if I need something or if I need help going through something, he’s always there. So Dave and me, we just have that nephew-to-uncle relationship.”


31 starts 1062 minutes FIELD GOALS


What was the Summit League Championship ring ceremony like during the football game?

12.8 points/game

“It was really nice. I kind of got the chills, standing out there and listening to the people out there cheering you on for the achievements you received last year. It was a good buzz and a chill moment.”


34 starts 1164 minutes FIELD GOALS


Have you been able to stay in touch with those guys at all?

10.8 points/game



Do you feel like a babysitter on this team with so many young players on the roster?

33 starts 1134 minutes FIELD GOALS


11.1 points/game

“At some point in time, yes, I do feel like a babysitter (laughs). I knew going into this season I would have to step up and be more of a leader more than I was last year. Everybody has called me grandpa or old man around here so, I’m used to it now.”

“Pretty much talk to them every other day. TrayVonn (Wright), me and him had a really close bond compared to anyone else. I talk to him most of the time. I see Jordan (Aaberg) everywhere because he’s still in Fargo, but everybody else I talk to every other day.”

What’s your plan after this season?

“Hopefully have a good season and I can hire an agent and continue to play professional basketball. If not, finish up my degree and try to find a coaching job somewhere.”


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Ice to Hardwood The Scheels Arena Conversion Story

Scheels Arena opened its doors Oct. 30, 2008, and has hosted Fargo Force hockey ever since. They have welcomed high school hockey players, graduation ceremonies and performers to their arena, but for the first time this winter they will host basketball. The NDSU men’s basketball team will call Scheels Arena “home” for the next two years while they wait for their new home, the Sanford Health Athletic Complex, to be built. We took an exclusive peek inside to see what it took for Scheels Arena to transform from a hockey haven to a Division I basketball arena. By Joe Kerlin | Photos by Sadie Lascelles, Tiffany Swanson, Mitch Highman of mJoy Photography




After the last hockey skate clears the ice, Joel Conway and his crew begin the first step of an eight-hour process. Conway and his crew skip the Zamboni and go straight to the ice decks. The black polyfiber is about an inch thick and is the only thing separating the ice from the basketball court, and players and fans sitting courtside. There are too many ice deck pieces to count for Conway. He estimates around 400-500 ice decks are pieced together like a gigantic hockey-to-basketball conversion puzzle. These puzzle pieces act as an insulator for the ice. Very little cool air seeps from the cracks and the ice goes virtually untouched when shielded by a group of ice decks. “The ice will remain unharmed unless someone spills a drink and it goes through the cracks,” Conway said. “But we go out there after the ice deck is up and we’ll shave it with the Zamboni and have skateable ice.”


attended NDSU in the Fall of 2011 and majored in Business Management. Brooke began at Wylie in our Management Training program. She is now a Driver Manager. She manages a group of over the road drivers at our Fargo corporate office.


is a Business Analyst at E.W. Wylie. She has over 20 years experience in the accounting/ finance field. Kathy earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from MSUM and her Master of Business Administration degree from NDSU in Dec ’08.


various professional office positions at our Corporate West Fargo Office. APPLY ONLINE: 1520 2nd Ave NW West Fargo, ND 58078 (701) 277-7540 (800)-737-4132

Happy Holidays from everyone at E. W. Wylie!



With one layer of material separating the ice from the basketball court, condensation is a serious question regarding player safety. But Conway isn’t worried about condensation affecting any basketball games. “They (players) should never feel any cold or condensation on the floor itself,” Conway said. “From my experience, I’ve never had that happen on the basketball court.” The Bison will play on the same court this season as they have in the past. The basketball court comes in 210 individual 4x8 foot pieces. Fifteen rows of 14, 4x8 pieces are placed on top of the ice deck, starting with the mid-court strip. From there, four groups of three work their way out from center court ending with the out-of-bounds area. There are links in the floor to connect each piece. There are two screws on each side that are drilled in to secure the pieces together. To ensure the pieces are close as possible together, one person uses a rubber hammer to push the pieces together.

This step is new to Conway and his crew because they are used to building stages for concerts and events.


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Once the ice is covered and the basketball court is down, the glass protecting fans from flying pucks is removed. Many hockey arenas use acrylic glass as boards, but Scheels Arena uses tempered glass. This is because tempered glass is stiffer, provides an unobstructed view for fans and is more likely to withstand a slapshot. The downside of using tempered instead of acrylic surfaces during the removal process is that tempered glass is heavier. Conway estimates each section weighs around 300 pounds. The sideboards are smaller and lighter. A team of five is used to remove these boards, but if the boards were acrylic, it would only take two. Once the 136 sections of glass are removed, a black drape is used to cover the boards. During the season, NDSU will have its own cover that will be green and gold.

To remove the glass from behind the goals, Conway’s team uses a forklift with three big suction cups.


A basketball court is much smaller than a hockey rink, so this gives Scheels Arena space for floor seating. There are 432 seats on the floor, 216 on each side, placed in six rows of 18. All floor seating is general admission to students.



What went into the process of finalizing the twoyear deal with Scheels Arena?

“From our side it was ‘Could we get the dates? Can we make it work between hockey and basketball with the conversion?’ … We were willing to give NDSU the dates they needed and work the hockey schedule around it, and I think that was the tipping point when they realized they could get the dates here, get the schedule with their conference they needed to be able to play.”

Is hosting a basketball game something you ever imagined doing here at Scheels Arena?

“No. I never would’ve thought we would host NDSU basketball for two years. And I think it’s amazing.”

What kind of opportunities does this give the facility?

“We’re excited because it should bring out new people, people that aren’t necessarily hockey fans. But it also opens up the possibility for a state or regional basketball tournament or volleyball. People will see it’s more than a hockey arena we have in Fargo. It’s a venue that can host different sporting events.”

What about the Summit League Tournament?

“(laughs) Wouldn’t that be something? I don’t know if we’ll ever see that happen, but we are going to be hosting the Globetrotters, they’ll be coming here in April, which never would’ve happened if NDSU weren’t going to be here.”

What should fans expect who have never come here before to watch basketball?

“My background is basketball. I think people are going to be pleased with sight lines, how intimate the venue is. You’ll have a seatback chair and a cup holder, which they’ve never had and I think they’ll need to be reminded that they’re sitting in a hockey arena. It’s not going to feel that way when you walk in and see the court and the hoops and the dashboard covered and the glass out.”

Who are the other part-time people you will bring in to help with the conversion process? “On the conversion out of basketball, we’re going to be doing it as a donation, whether it be a high school’s or church group where they’ll bring in 20 people and we’ll give a donation to them to help pick the floor up and convert it back to a hockey rink. We have every game filled expect for tomorrow night and we have the hockey team tomorrow night. We thought this would be a great way to give back to the community and give people who are always looking to raise money a chance to come in. It’s a little bit of physical work, but other than that it’s really not that difficult.”

Are you hoping to draw more fans to hockey games by hosting NDSU basketball? “I think we’re going to see some similarities. I think NDSU is going to draw some hockey fans that have never (gone) to a NDSU basketball game to say, ‘Well, let’s check it out and see what it looks like.’”



so, what happened to the bsa bleachers? Grant Koenig and Blaine Mikkonen started their own business in 2013 with one thing in mind: every piece of wood has a story. With the help of Phil Bruckbauer, Koenig and Mikkonen have found early success and the future is getting brighter now that they have their hands on Bison history. We interviewbombed their photo shoot last month and you can see their products on page 108 and at How did this company start?

“We started out of Blaine’s apartment garage in south Fargo. We started by doing the junk market, which is at Eco Chic. Maria was the owner of Eco Chic. She had this market and asked if we wanted to build some stuff for it. So we went to South Dakota, ripped apart a house and built as many products as we could. We took them to the junk market two weeks later and almost sold out of everything we had. We knew we had something here. From the junk market we got custom orders. We said ‘let’s take a leap.’ Now we have two shops, one in West Fargo and one in Davenport.”


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As far as the quantity of material, how would you guys measure that?

“Every board we get is 16 feet, which is huge. It is all clear pine. It is all super high quality material. To pay for that now would be expensive. It’s just of the era, which is so cool because you don’t see it all the time. As far as the quantity goes, we have a lot. We could probably make about four thousand coffee tables.”

Where are your main places to go and get material? “We started by going to this house in South Dakota and getting all the wood we could and getting started. We did that for probably the first six months. That was our only way of getting material. The demand got higher and we realized that wasn’t our best use of time. Now we deal with a company that sells the material. We buy from them and build from that. We still buy it from Craigslist and things like that, but we don’t have the time to rip apart houses anymore. However, that was the fun part. That was the discovery phase. We were trying to build a business but at the same time you are unraveling something else. You would tear off a board and there would be an old beer bottle that also was part of the story. That is the core of the business. Each piece we build comes from something else so it has a story to tell.”

There is no shortage of value from the Bison Sports Arena material. How did this opportunity come about?

“It just fell into our laps. We were working with a company at the time. We went into the situation saying all or nothing. We said there was no point in us taking some of it; we want all of it. With both of us being NDSU grads, we felt we could put it back into the community and bring it to the people that we best saw fit in a practical use. We haven’t ever seen the furniture side of an NDSU product, let alone something that has so much nostalgia to NDSU. That’s where we saw the opportunity and why we said we needed all of this.”

It sounds like you guys went into it saying “Let’s get it all and whatever people want, we will make it until we run out.”

“We have come to the conclusion now that there is no way we are going to run out of the material. ... However, the coolest part is the value in the numbered boards. The numbered boards actually relate to the BSA. A lot of people ask for a certain number because it was their seat. We also have a small batch of the original bleachers that were in there.”

I know you guys haven’t really marketed this yet, but have you estimated how many people will come to you?

“This is the first we will have marketed it. We don’t want to over estimate our craft because a lot of times something we really like isn’t always received that way. We are just trying to throw out the main pieces. The strategy will be to direct them to our website where there will be a pre-order. We are starting to produce the items now so we will have items on hand.”

Do you guys have prices yet?

“Coffee table and bench are both $399. The sign hanging on the wall is $199. The small one with the bison head on it is $49.”

Is there any different feeling for you guys working with these pieces rather than a random piece from a house? “The only difference for me is all the pieces have a story. It’s cool to see all the history of the BSA. It is fun to create pieces that people are excited about.”





DSU’S SUCCESS is what drove Pat Simmers out of his home in Grand Forks. He arrived in Fargo as a student athlete in 1970, a year after Ron Erhardt led the Bison to its third Division II national championship. During Simmers’ four-year playing career, the Bison tallied a 32-6-1 record. Simmers went straight to the coaching ranks after receiving his degree in education from NDSU in 1974. After a coaching run that sent him across the country, the winning culture at NDSU eventually brought Simmers back to his home in Fargo. He got involved at the school when he was named Team Maker Executive Director and has been living up to the tradition of success ever since. It takes a former student athlete to know what they need most. Simmers proves this time and time again by rounding up donors and organically growing contributions for NDSU Athletics through Team Makers.


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customer service. We are looking to go national and looking to get more members that are looking to enjoy the experience and are proud of the program.

Q&A When was your first experience with Team Makers?

“I always say this: I’m passionate about Team Makers because I was one of 12 kids and never had a bed to myself until I came to college. Team Makers gave me a scholarship to make this possible. What are we really doing at Team Makers? We are creating options for young people so they can be as good as they can be.”

What year did you quit coaching and get into Team Makers? “1997. I coached high school and college ball at NDSU and the University of Tulsa. I was the offensive coordinator for the Badgers at Wisconsin for three years. When I was let go there, I continued speaking around the country about option football and I ended up in Houston, Texas, as an athletic director and head high school football coach. I coached my boys in high school. My oldest son (Chris) decided to go here (NDSU) instead of the Air Force Academy, and so I told my family we were moving home. I had three kids play here and I quit coaching, which I never thought I would do.”

Why did you quit coaching?

“My whole career has been about family. I had a great run as a coach. I have been to places I never thought I would be; 50-yard line with guys like Bo Schembechler and Bobby Bowden and guys like that. I had a great run, but when push comes to shove, it’s about family first. I quit college coaching to see my kids. I coached my kids in high school and I quit coaching high school football to see my kids play in college.”

How did NDSU originally sweep you away from Grand Forks?

“Out of high school, I was highly touted as a wrestler more than a football player. NDSU was defending champs in football and finished in the top five in wrestling, and Fargo was only about 80 miles away. I had to get out

of Grand Forks, too. I tell everybody I was a Sioux fan until I reached puberty (laughs).”

So tell me about the growth of Team Makers. “When we started in 1997, we were a $6-to700,000 organization. Today, we are a touch over $4 million. That includes donations, other revenues, gaming and trade. Our cash donations this year are $3.4 million.”

What happened? What went into that growth?

“The transition was a lot of it. I give Dick Rayl, who is no longer with us, credit. He was president of Team Makers and vice president of finance. His vision was, as the transition started, minimum donations weren’t going to get it done. That’s when we started our scholarship program. It was supposed to be inflated to keep up with our doubling tuition costs. We opted to freeze that number and work on getting more Team Makers rather than more donations from each one of them. The transition, the implementation of the scholarship program and premium seating, is where the majority of gains have come from.”

Is that something you anticipated going into the transition?

“We talked about how we were going to get to a million dollars. It took 40 years to get to $600,000. The biggest jump was after the 2011 season. We won the national championship and we sold out all the season tickets for the following year. There was suddenly a million dollars worth of new money. After the championship is when we went from $2 to approximately 3 million.”

So the increase in donations correlates to the success of the football team?

“Yeah, a lot of it. It’s a lot of pounding the pavement in between those highs, you know? You go out and you sell and you sell and sell. Today, my job has changed to more about

“A lot of what I do is recruiting, training and managing volunteers. The volunteers are what make us different. Everybody knows somebody. We have changed our Board by diversifying it. We are younger. Our demographics have changed. If you look at what we’ve done well with Team Makers, you’ll see we have females involved. We have younger people involved. We were a dying breed when your average age is 53 and you have 35 males and no females. You’re going to die, and all organizations die if you don’t get new blood. And that’s a big part in why we are continuing to thrive. We have had three female presidents (Joan Deal, Shirley Solberg and Norma Borgeson). When I started in 1998, in Team Maker’s 48-year history, we never had a female in charge. Maybe I have a little more vision than I give myself credit for and I don’t need credit. That’s why I probably don’t care much for credit (laughs).”

So is the success of Team Makers solely relied on the football team’s success or will the diversity of the group help it prosper in the long run? “I think, for one, we need to continue to grow as a national organization. That doesn’t mean five figures from all those people. That means receiving donations of three figures. It’s important to get people on the Team, that’s really our pitch right now. Across the country, our alumni are proud of what is happening and walk around in their Bison gear. We are at 3,000 members and we want to work our way to 10,000. The only way we can do that is to get outside the region.”

What are some other ways you’ll be able to attract new members?

“I think as we go forward, I think the Sanford Health Athletic Complex, or “SHAC”, is going to help us build a basketball clientele, with independent donations per seat. We have an independent donation per seat in football and we will have an independent donation per seat in basketball. We will have some crossover fans that are just Bison fans that go to everything, and I see us creating a basketball-only group that will watch football on TV, but will want a seat for the basketball games.”





Pat (far left) played for the Bison from 197074, and his three sons played for the Bison. From top to bottom, Chris, 1995-99; Chad, 1997-2002; Ryan, 1999-2004.

individual. If you try to find what makes us different and you can’t put your finger on it, to me it’s easy. It’s that watch group in North Carolina; it’s the way Team Makers migrate to Texas. It’s who we are.”

What are you most proud of as a Team Maker?

“What I’m most proud of as an alumnus at NDSU and being a part of this organization is if you look across the country, where there are 400 student athletes and everyone of them has a chance to win a ring. We are the only FCS school that can say that. There are maybe 15 schools in the whole country that can say that.

What do you have to do to become a Team Maker?

“Go online and fill out a form. One hundred dollars is the minimum and that’s only $10 automatic withdrawal a month. Right now, donations are anywhere from $100 to $48,000 per year.”

How does Team Makers compare to other university organizations outside this region?

“We run like a Big 10 school. When we look at what we do and how we do it, we don’t look at our peers. We look at institutions above us. We look at the quality of the experience because the way we do business is as good as anybody in the country. If you look at Bison athletics, the quality of the experience is as good as it gets.”

How do you make the athletes today aware that Team Makers is helping them? 56

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“We put the sign on the practice field that says Team Makers Practice Facility. We buy their rings when they win championships. We also fund the student booster group, which is called the Herd Club. We have been more than pleased to help the Herd Club and let the student body know, hey, here are the Team Makers, they’re helping us out and we educate them on what we, as Team Makers, really do.”

Are the Thursday luncheons a way for you guys to get Team Makers interacting with athletes?

“With the NCAA and restriction of boosters, it’s hard to interact a whole lot with the student athletes. You need to have a certain amount of separation. We are constantly trying to get our athletes to understand we are different and we’re here for a reason. We do it because of all our people. From the guy sitting in the last row of the end zone to the guy giving a million bucks, is what Bison Nation is all about. It’s about all of us, not just one

“I hired an assistant and he played baseball at UND and received his MBA at NDSU. I asked him, ‘What’s the difference?’ He said, ‘You guys care about baseball.’ (Laughs). ‘You care about every sport.’ We know who rows the boat. Football rows the boat. But I think part of our culture is, there are 400 kids that come here to see how good they can be as a team. Not very many schools can say that. Team Makers has afforded a lot of that and again, that’s a part of our culture. We’re just different. “I thought this was great. R.J. Urzendowski, when they interviewed him, he said ‘You know, you look at North Dakota State and I said I’m going there because they just win. And you think as an outsider all they do is win and it’s automatic.’ Then he said, ‘Then when you get here, it’s not automatic. We work our butts off. We do all the little things right. We win for a reason.’ And I thought that was insightful from a young guy right out of high school transitioning to DI and who came here because all we do is win. He thought it was an automatic piece, and it’s not an automatic piece. It’s a work ethic; it’s a certain toughness. That’s the way it has been for generations. And Team Makers have been a big part of the success over the years and it will continue to be a big part.”


By The



Numbers are numbers until put into context. According to information collected by the USA Today, we can see where NDSU ranks among fellow FCS and Missouri Valley Football Conference. *There are 252 intuitions in Division I. Only 230 were listed by the USA Today.

#116 Southern Illinois

$20.2 million

14.9% $3 million

#124 North Dakota State

#122 Illinois State

$19.3 million

10.8% $2.1 million

#129 Northern Iowa

Top Missouri Valley Football Conference Revenue By combining every school in the MVFC, we can rate where the conference ranks in the FCS.


#116 Southern Illinois


Total Revenue

$20.2 million

14.9% $3 million


% Revenue from Contributions Revenue from Contributions

$18.9 million

16.4% $3.1 million

#136 Missouri State

$15.5 million

8.5% $1.3 million

#151 Youngstown State

$16.9 million

14.2% $2.4 million

#140 South Dakota State

$15.1 million

9.5% $1.4 million

#162 Indiana State

Money figures courtesy of

REVENUE CATEGORIES Other Ticket Sales, Rights/ Licensing, Student Fees and School Funds.


Contributions Includes amounts received directly from individuals, corporations, associations, foundations, clubs or other organizations by the donor for the operation of the athletics program. Report amounts paid in excess of a ticket’s value. Contributions include cash, marketable securities and in-kind contributions such as dealer-provided cars, apparel and drink products for team and staff use. Also includes revenue from preferential seating.

B I S O N I L L U S T R A T E D • D E C E M B E R 2 014

$13.6 million

4% $543,000

#178 Western Illinois

$11.7 million

4.3% $502,000

$12.8 million

5.9% $745,000

#192 South Dakota

$11.0 million

8.3% $920,000


These are the universities that bring in the most revenue through 2013 that play football in the FCS.




2014 Revenue Season (millions) Record



James Madison




$2.1 million






$1.6 million






$5.7 million


New Hampshire




$1.1 million


Stony Brook




$1.7 million


Rhode Island




$2.0 million








Coastal Carolina






North Dakota




$3.5 million


William & Mary




$3.3 million


Cal Poly




$1.5 million


Southern Ill.




$3.0 million






$3.1 million


Sac St.






Illinois St.




$2.1 million






$1.3 million






$3.1 million



Notable Contribution Leaps


Many universities have made notable leaps in contribution revenue over the past handful of years. To compare what Team Makers has done, and potentially can do for NDSU Athletics, here are other examples of schools benefiting from increase in donation dollars.

Revenue (millions)


Total Revenue Contributions NDSU Total Revenue NDSU Contributions


The way North Dakota State measures its contributions is the donations made through Team Makers. Contributions have been on the rise over the past nine years and have been estimated to exceed $3.4 million in 2014.




$18.9 $14.86

15 10

Factors for Increase: • North Dakota Champions Club • Impact Scholarships





$3.49 $18.9














$62.4 $55.2



15 $7.9


Factors for Increase: • National Cyclone Club • Brand awareness built through Network






B I S O N I L L U S T R A T E D • D E C E M B E R 2 014

Revenue (millions)

Revenue (millions)

25 60

$20.6 Factors for Increase: • 49er Club • Six million dollar revenue increase after its inaugural first football season in 2013 • Moving to Conference USA (FBS) next season

20 15 10

$5.7 5










B I S O N I L L U S T R A T E D D E C E M B E R 2 014



any Bison fans know the accomplishments of NDSU teams on the field and the professional progression of NDSU coaches and administrators since the transition to Division I in 2004. Equally as important as championships on the field have been the people spectating, sitting in their seats for every home game and watching their donation dollars being used for the greater good of the NDSU Athletic program. These people are Team Makers. They are the driving force behind funding NDSU through contributions made every year. Here are five stories about eight Team Makers doing their part to chip in for the success of NDSU Athletics.

By Joe Kerlin | Photos By J. Alan Paul Photography 63



Surprised by the authoritative tone, Leo Blotsky finally had enough. He needed his own seat so he and his wife could support Jeff Bentrim and the boys on their way to multiple Division II championships. Finally, in 1990, Leo Blotsky got his seats. After the FargoDome was built, the Blotskys continued to get two season tickets and sit exactly where they wanted too, just above the 30-yard line marker. Unlike the madness in the parking lot before games today, the Blotskys rarely tailgated before football games.


Bison family

Leo Blotsky used to love sitting in the student section at football games. Although he was long past his days of attending class, he and his wife Donna Blotsky would get bundled up in their winter boots, winter jackets, with at least three or four layers and sit as close as they could to the players at Dacotah Field. Leo Blotsky has a keen eye. He said he liked to watch the players warm up before the game to see how every Bison player was moving that day. It’s a tradition he continues to this day. “One game we were heading to our seats and the attendant stopped us,” Leo Blotsky said. “They said, ‘You can’t sit here. This is for the student body, period.’”

By Joe Kerlin Photos by J. Alan Paul Photography


B I S O N I L L U S T R A T E D • D E C E M B E R 2 014

“Then we started to go to all the away games, very seldom do we miss an outof-town game,” said Leo Blotsky. Donna Blotsky added, it was their son Todd Blotsky that turned these regular Bison fans into Bison tailgaters. Todd Blotsky, past member of a nameless group of Bison fans that lost their seats after bringing bells into the stadium, swears he only gets the chills when the lights go off inside the FargoDome before the Bison run out of the helmet. He traded his bells in for a spot in the tailgating lot with Thundering Herd tailgating, former Bison player Steve Dahl’s group. “Our group is so unique,” said Todd Blotsky. “This spring ball, we had all the seniors from last year. We had big Billy Turner there; we had Brock (Jensen) tailgating there with Ryan Smith. That doesn’t happen at any tailgating spot.” When Leo and Donna Blotsky started to get involved, Thundering Herd quickly put Leo Blotsky in charge of the soup, a vital part of any tailgate during the blustery winter months.

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“How many people don’t even get a chance for their team to do it once in their lifetime? There are a lot of people who never ever experienced this.” - Leo Blotsky

where the future was going for the Bison football program. They had the coaches and players in place. All they needed was experience. Simmers reassured him the Bison would recover because up until 2009, the football team had three losing season since 1964. “He said, if you want to lock down yourself into tickets, do it now, because this is where we’ll end up,” Todd Blotsky said. Todd Blotsky bought in, becoming the last of the Blotskys to become a Team Maker. His father Leo Blotsky is happy he made the right decision, because in two short years, the Blotskys were headed to Frisco, Texas, to watch the Bison play for a national championship.

This is what the Blotsky garden looks like during the summer. The Bison was purchased this past summer and is a signature piece of the backyard’s ambiance.

The Blotskys’ daughter, Theresa, joined the tailgating and said she has been going to games ever since she was in high school at West Fargo. Theresa Blotsky joined Team Makers six years ago so she wouldn’t have to worry about grabbing tickets for her and grandma. Theresa is 18 months older than her brother Todd Blotsky and was quicker at pulling the Team Maker trigger. Turns out, Todd would need some convincing from none other than Pat Simmers after the Bison went 3-9 in 2009. “We were so dejected because we had such a good record in ‘06 and ’07,” Todd Blotsky said. He said Simmers told him


B I S O N I L L U S T R A T E D • D E C E M B E R 2 014

“I’m so glad our family has had the opportunity to do all three games,” Leo Blotsky said. “How many people don’t even get a chance for their team to do it once in their lifetime? There are a lot of people who never ever experienced this.” The Bison have always been an integral part of the Blotsky family. From the cold days at Dacotah Field to the Texas sunshine, the Blotskys have always shown their support to their favorite football team. Donna Blotsky said she plans to commemorate the recent Bison success with a scrapbook of article clippings of each game dating back to 2011. She hopes she won’t have to make it any time soon and said she can’t wait to get back to Frisco.


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Zach Vraa is having another great season for the Bison, leading the team in pass receptions. His playmaking ability has eased the pressure on first year quarterback Carson Wentz.

Johnson said, marveling at what Vraa has accomplished at NDSU since overcoming two shoulder injuries early in his career. “I tell ya, that shows a lot about the kind of person he is and he never quit.”

TRIBUTE to the

Bison Way

Louise Johnson’s Bison story takes us back decades, but she’s not counting. “Just say it was a 1,000 years ago,” Johnson said with a laugh before a Team Maker luncheon. Johnson received her master’s degree in education at NDSU and has been a Team Maker “forever.” She said she doesn’t remember a time when she wasn’t a part of the organization. Her husband Roy Johnson started a scholarship fund under their name, and is given to a football player each year. The past five years, the Roy and Louise Johnson’s scholarship has been given to wide receiver Zach Vraa.

By Joe Kerlin


B I S O N I L L U S T R A T E D • D E C E M B E R 2 014

“I’d love him for a grandson,” Louise

After redshirting his first year in the Bison program, Vraa finally took the field for the first time against Lafayette in 2011. He caught two passes, but didn’t finish the game. Vraa nursed a broken collarbone for most of the season before attempting a come back. While prepping to get back on the field, he broke his other collarbone and his freshman season ended in a sling. But that didn’t stop Vraa from having one of the greatest careers a Bison has ever had. Vraa is currently third in all-time receiving yards, tied for third in receiving touchdowns and fourth in receptions. Every step of the way Louise Johnson has been there, rooting for her beloved Bison. “You could say we fell in love with each other,” Vraa said smiling, remembering the first time he met Louise Johnson at a Team Maker Endowment luncheon. “No, she was welcoming, and we talked really easily and we got to know each other really well from there on.”

“How could it not when you have three national championships and you have men, and that’s the correct word, men, who go to the center of the field after the game and pray?” - Louise Johnson

Vraa came into the Bison program not knowing anything about Team Makers. Over the years, Vraa said he has learned the bond between Team Makers and the players is a deep connection. Louise Johnson said he has really shown an appreciation for what she and her husband have given to NDSU Athletics. The student athletes show their appreciation every season by writing letters to their scholarship donors. Enclosed in these letters is the student athlete’s gratitude towards the support and a plan they give their donor for what the student-athlete will do in the future with the free education they’re receiving. “Louise was an old English teacher back in her day and she said it was one of the best letters she has ever received,” Vraa said. “Might have been a little biased, but who knows?” Louise Johnson was married to Roy Johnson for 62 years, before his death in 2011. He held offices in the NDSU Alumni Association and the NDSU Development Foundation. Roy Johnson was also a president of Team Makers for one year. To this day, Louise Johnson attends every Team Maker function in her and her husband’s name. She sits with her niece and sister-in-law, Margaret, at every Thursday luncheon. Louise Johnson said she is proud to be a part of the recent athletic success. She added she isn’t surprised at the growth of Team Maker members because of the type of people these student athletes are at NDSU. “How could it not when you have three national championships and you have men, and that’s the correct word, men, who go to the center of the field after the game and pray?” Louise Johnson said. “That’s the kind of men that this school attracts. When they show that type of qualities it is easy to support.”


rapidly involve rhinestones of the Bison head and NDSU logos. “You walk around at tailgating and there are a lot of women out there wearing the rhinestone shirts,” said Anton. “My wife and I are always seeing what else we can do with the machine.” Anton admits the projects he does with NDSU gear aren’t the most profitable work, but he doesn’t see the value of supporting the Bison as tangible. He says the value comes from getting involved in the community to support a program that has brought positive recognition to the area he grew up in.

Bison bond through

RHINESTONE Growing up across the river in Moorhead, Kirk Anton can’t remember seeing this much green and yellow in Fargo. After moving back to FargoMoorhead in 2009, green and gold is how Anton gets to know his neighbors.

By Joe Kerlin Photo by J. Alan Paul Photography


B I S O N I L L U S T R A T E D • D E C E M B E R 2 014

“In my neighborhood, I can drive around and look at tailgating vehicles,” Anton said. “I take a picture and make sure I check out his setup in the tailgating lot and I can get to know a neighbor because we already have something in common.” That “something in common” is the love for supporting the Bison. Anton is the founder of Heat Transfer Warehouse, a wholesale supplier and distributor of heat transfer materials for textile and garment decorations. Anton became a Team Maker this summer and got his business involved, too. “I met Pat (Simmers) many years ago, back when the Bison were considering a hockey team,” Anton said. “We started Heat Transfer, got everything right and now we’re at a point where we’re like, ‘We’ve done the tailgating, we’ve done this and that, let’s get involved in Bison stuff.’” Founded in 2010, Heat Transfer Warehouse distributes its materials nationally and has two other locations in Las Vegas, Nev., and Cincinnati, Ohio. Anton said he has no idea what happens to his materials after he ships them off to clothing manufactures or other customers. But with the boom of the Bison brand, Anton says he’s starting to notice his product scattered across Bison Nation. The latest projects that have been arriving

Anton and his wife Tricia visit 10-12 tradeshows a year across the country. Back when Anton worked at a sign company, he would attend the same shows, telling people he was from Fargo. He said he’d get the usual “Huh?” expression from people, as they only knew Fargo from the Coen Brothers film. But now, he says that’s changed because of the national success of the Bison football and basketball programs. “If you wear an NDSU shirt,” Anton said, “guarantee if you’re out on a trip for three or four days, eventually someone will have a connection with you.” Anton really started to take notice of the widespread support for the Bison when he was overseas this summer. He and another one of his associates had just landed in Munich, Germany, and had gotten off the bus downtown. What happened next was the last thing Anton expected to see on a different continent. “We turned the corner and I saw yellow and I said, ‘Nah, it can’t be’ and then I was like ‘Yeah, it is,’” explained Anton between chuckles of laughter. What the guys saw turned out to be a former wrestler wearing an NDSU shirt in Munich. Anton and his friend were lost, so they asked for directions and the fellow Bison fan was able to help show them the way. From his own neighborhood to the middle of Europe, Anton sees Bison Pride everywhere. He says he can’t wait to continue his relationship and involvement in NDSU Team Makers.



love at

THIRD SIGHT Norma Borgeson didn’t know what she was getting into before going to her first Bison football game. She was on her third date with a new boyfriend and had never sat in the FargoDome to watch the Bison.

“Once you get involved, it just snowballs and it’s almost a relationship thing. For example, our tailgate group started with four to five people and now it’s upwards to 40 people.”

By Joe Kerlin Photo by J. Alan Paul Photography

As fate would have it, Borgeson not only fell in love with her date, Dave Borgeson, but she fell in love with a team she has worked most of her adult life supporting through the Team Makers organization. “My passion for Bison athletics and Team Makers really started pretty simple with just following ‘your’ team,” said Norma Borgeson. “Believing in them, getting behind and supporting them.” After Norma and Dave Borgeson became Team Makers in 1997, because they simply wanted seats to call their own at the FargoDome, Norma got involved with a Team Maker fund drive team led by Joan Deal. Deal became the first female president of Team Makers and another woman on their team, Shirley Solberg, became the second. It was a special fund drive team that included three eventual Team Maker presidents. It was a recognition these three women deserved after creating a cookbook called “Tailgating Traditions.” The cookbook alone raised enough money to fund an entire scholarship for a student athlete. Norma Borgeson became the third female president of Team Makers back in 2011,

after Don Carlson nominated her for the Executive Board in 2006. During her time as president, Norma Borgeson helped Team Makers reach their goal of donating over $2 million dollars to scholarships for Bison athletes and helped fund the first trip to Frisco, Texas, for the FCS championship game by going beyond the call of duty with fundraising.

the catalyst, but I think its one of those things that it’s just so fun to be a part of. It’s a domino effect and it just builds.”

Norma Borgeson doesn’t see a reason not to become a Team Maker and isn’t surprised at the growth of the organization from 1,500 members before NDSU went Division I to over 2,200 members today.

“They put more hours in a day than most people working one job,” Norma Borgeson said about Bison athletes. “I think they feel supported and to know my education is taken care of, I can just pay attention to my academics and do what I love to do.”

“Once you get involved, it just snowballs and it’s almost a relationship thing,” Norma Borgeson said. “For example, our tailgate group started with four to five people and now it’s upwards to 40 people. … The success draws people in as

Not only is it fun to mingle with fellow Team Makers, Norma Borgeson also enjoys the gratification of knowing she is helping young student athletes excel in their sports and not worrying about paying tuition.

Norma Borgeson can relax in her homemade tailgating chair every Saturday knowing she has made a difference in Bison athletics through Team Makers and urges other Bison fans to do the same.




The outside linebacker from Bottineau and Williston, N.D., transferred to North Dakota State University before the 1983 football season. Under the guidance of Don Morton, Dahl walked-on his first year after transferring from Minot State and was a role player during the 1984 season. In 1985, Dahl was put on partial scholarship during the magical championship run that gave the Bison its second Division II championship in three years. Dahl came back to the NDSU program in 1994, not as a coach or administrator, but as a Team Maker. “You are basically coming back to your roots,” Dahl said. Morton recruited his former linebacker back to the NDSU program after the old ball coach spent time with Division I-A teams at Tulsa and Wisconsin. Dahl said Morton wanted to get former players back into the program. Dahl was more than willing to get back on board. He said it was the same reason he transferred to Fargo in college, “It was about coming back to the family and the Herd.”


herd For Steve Dahl, it was a nobrainer to get back involved with the university that had given him so much during the 1980s.

By Joe Kerlin


B I S O N I L L U S T R A T E D • D E C E M B E R 2 014

Around that same time, Dahl started selling pharmaceutical drugs and knew he could make a meaningful contribution to a program gearing up for a transition into Division I. After Dahl joined, the director of Team Makers changed to another one of Dahl’s former coaches, Pat Simmers, after Morton left to take over at Microsoft. “That was the connection,” Dahl said. “And once you get connected back into the program, you look at it from a different perspective. You’re looking at it not as a player or coach, you’re looking at it through the eyes of a spectator that has a lot of knowledge about the program.” The knowledge of the program has also made Dahl somewhat of a celebrity in the tailgating lot. Thundering Herd tailgating is where the party is every Saturday before kickoff. Today, Dahl is known as Thor in the tailgating lot and is also known for having all the former Bison players stop by his place to

sign the famous ceiling in his bar, especially the class of 2011. “My daughter was dating Matt Phillips at the time,” said Dahl. “Matt had graduated the year before and I had met all of his teammates.” Dahl’s relationship with the seniors on the 2011 team sparked from there and he and his wife, Pam, were asked to the senior parent’s banquet after the regular season. The 2011 Bison had just come off its first loss of the season to Youngstown State. Dahl said the moment they walked in the door Stacy Veldman, Matt Veldman’s mother, asked Dahl to speak to the team about the 1985 season. Dahl’s 1985 team was riddled with injuries to begin the season and their record had fallen to 7-2-1 before the last game of the year. The Bison would beat the University of North Dakota 49-0 in the regular season finale, but the polls still had the Bison out of the playoff picture. While Dahl was home for Thanksgiving the next week, he got a phone call from his coach to get himself back to Fargo. Several teams ahead of the Bison in the polls had lost, and the Bison moved up in the ranking and were selected as the eight seed in the playoffs. “They made me tell this story and at the end it was like: Now, go on an unbelievable run like we did and prove to everybody you can do this,” Dahl said. The 2011 Bison brought that attitude with them through the playoffs and were crowned champions in Frisco for the first time. The Herd is the collective feeling of family at NDSU and it’s originally what brought Dahl to NDSU. Today, Dahl is still a part of the Herd and is more than proud to call himself apart of the Team long after his playing career ended.



SPORTING CALENDAR 2014-2015 Brooke LaMar will look to lead the Bison back this season


DECEMBER 7 Men’s Basketball at Montana

JANUARY 2 Women’s Basketball vs Oral

Women’s Basketball vs Mayville State (Fargo) 7 p.m.


2 Men’s Basketball vs Oral

Women’s Basketball at Northern Iowa (Cedar Falls, Iowa) 7 p.m.


4 Women’s Basketball vs

13 Men’s Basketball vs North

4 Men’s Basketball vs South

(Missoula, Mont.) 8 p.m.

Dakota (Fargo) 7 p.m. NBC ND (HD)

14 Wrestling vs South Dakota State University (Fargo) 2 p.m.

14 Women’s Basketball at New

Mexico State (Las Cruces, N.M.) 3 p.m.

16 Men’s Basketball vs Akron (Fargo) 7 p.m.

19 Women’s Basketball at Cal

State Fullerton (Fullerton, Calif.) 9 p.m.

21 Women’s Basketball at

Grand Canyon ( Phoenix, Ariz.) 3 p.m.

21 Men’s Basketball vs Kent

State ( El Paso, Texas) 6 p.m.


Men’s Basketball at UTEP / Alcorn State ( El Paso, Texas) 6 p.m./8 p.m.


Men’s Basketball vs Northland College (Wis.) (Fargo, N.D.) 2 p.m.

Roberts (Fargo) 4 p.m.

Roberts (Fargo) 7 p.m.

South Dakota State (Fargo) 1 p.m.

Dakota State (Fargo) 4 p.m.

8 Men’s Basketball at Omaha (Omaha, Neb.) 7 p.m.

8 Women’s Basketball vs IUPUI

(Fargo) 7 p.m.


Women’s Basketball at Denver (Denver, Colo.) 2 p.m.

14 Men’s Basketball at South

Dakota (Vermillion, S.D.) 7 p.m.


Women’s Basketball at South Dakota (Vermillion, S.D.) 7 p.m.

16 Men’s Basketball vs

Western Illinois (Fargo) 7 p.m.

16 Wrestling vs University of Northern Colorado (Fargo) 7 p.m.

17 Women’s Basketball vs Fort

Wayne (Fargo) 2 p.m.

17 Women’s Track and Field Bison Classic (Fargo) TBA


Women’s Basketball vs Brandon University (Exhibition) (Fargo, N.D.) 7 p.m.


Wrestling vs Midlands Championships (Evanston, Ill.) All Day


Wrestling vs Midlands Championships (Evanston, Ill.) All Day




the streak

10/20/2012* South Dakota Sioux Falls, S.D. W 54-0


he Bison football team’s remarkable 33-game winning streak was snapped last month against Northern Iowa. We celebrate the 749-day winning streak by taking a look back at the opponents the Bison defeated during this threeseason stretch.

10/27/2012* Southern Illinois Fargo, N.D. W 23-17

Photos By Carrie Snyder, Yasser Shaikh, Dave Samson, Dennis Hoff, Mike Williams, NDSU Athletics, J. Alan Paul Photography, Brent Tehven, Matt Sather, Ben Gumeringer, Saluki Media Services, Indiana State Athletics, Richard Kraszynski, Ryan Perrault, Joseph Ravits, Kimberly Hill and WIU Visual Productions.

11/3/2012* Missouri State Springfield, Mo. W 21-17

streak breakdown

11/10/2012* South Dakota State Fargo, N.D. W 20-17

Stats tallied over the 33-game winning streak





11/17/2012* Illinois State Normal, Ill. W 38-20



23.5 7906-3257

12/1/2012 South Dakota State Fargo, N.D. W 28-3


12/8/2012 Wofford College Fargo, N.D. W 14-7


12/14/2012 Georgia Southern Fargo, N.D. W 23-20


52.3% - 27.6% 88.2% - 69.6%

1/5/2013 Sam Houston State Frisco, Texas W 39-13



B I S O N I L L U S T R A T E D • D E C E M B E R 2 014

*Conference game

8/30/2013 Kansas State Manhattan, Kan. W 24-21

11/9/2013* Illinois State Fargo, N.D. W 28-10

8/30/2014 Iowa State Ames, Iowa W 34-14

9/7/2013 Ferris State Fargo, N.D. W 56-10

11/16/2013* #15/15 Youngstown State Youngstown, Ohio W 35-17

9/6/2014 Weber State Ogden, Utah W 24-7

9/21/2013 Delaware State Fargo, N.D. W 51-0 9/28/2013* #6/6 South Dakota State Brookings, S.D. W 20-0

11/23/2013 * South Dakota Fargo, N.D. W 42-0

9/13/2014 Incarnate Word Fargo, N.D. W 58-0 9/20/2014 #4/3 Montana Fargo, N.D. W 22-10

10/5/2013* #4/4 Northern Iowa Fargo, N.D. W 24-23

12/7/2013 Furman Fargo, N.D. W 38-7

10/4/2014 * Western Illinois Macomb, Ill. W 17-10

10/12/2013* Missouri State Fargo, N.D. W 41-26

12/14/2013 #11/11 Coastal Carolina Fargo, N.D. W 48-14

10/11/2014 * #12/13 Southern Illinois Fargo, N.D. W 38-10

10/19/2013* Southern Illinois Carbondale, Ill. W 31-10

12/20/2013 #15/15 New Hampshire Fargo, N.D. W 52-14

10/18/2014 * #22/23 Indiana State Fargo, N.D. W 34-17

10/26/2013* Indiana State Terre Haute, Ind. W 56-10

1/4/2014 #5/4 Towson Frisco, Texas W 35-7

10/25/2014 * South Dakota Vermillion, S.D. W 47-7 11/1/2014 * #18/19 South Dakota State Fargo, N.D. W 37-17





Super fan Roy Faught HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A BISON FAN? Five, 10, maybe 20 years? We guarantee that Bison fan Roy Faught has you beat when it comes to fan longevity. He has been part of the Bison faithful long before College GameDay came to town and gave NDSU the national exposure, and long before the Bison were hoisting national championship trophies in Frisco, Texas. We sat down with Faught to see what makes him the ultimate Bison Super Fan.

By Cody Bickler | Photos By Tiffany Swanson 82

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Roy Faught with his children (left to right) Mike, Lynda and Richard.


Faught is a native of Absaraka, N.D,, where he has been part of generations of farmers. Author of his autobiography, “My Admissions: The First 99 Years,” he recently celebrated his 100th birthday. Faught has been through significant historical events in his lifetime, such as the flu pandemic of 1918 and the Great Depression. As far as diehard Bison fans go, you won’t find one better than Faught. He is a season ticket holder and still attends every home game. The luxury of being indoors at the FargoDome is very different from the days when the team played outdoors at Dacotah Field. Faught remembers being at all the outdoor games and the differences between then and now. “I don’t like when people complain about anything about the Dome,” Faught said. “We have it made. We get to watch a great team and we get to watch them play indoors.”




Faught shows the first document he received labeled with “NDSU” instead of “NDAC.”

There is no question fans are spoiled today. Many do not know what it is like to cheer on the beloved Bison while fighting the harsh North Dakota winters. Moving the football team indoors isn’t the only change Faught has experienced during his years of Bison fandom. One historical transition he recalls is the name change from “NDAC” to “NDSU.” NDAC stood for North Dakota Agricultural College. On November 8, 1960, the school made the change when its field of study expanded beyond agriculture. Faught’s son, Richard, was part of the board that played a role in changing the name to NDSU. Faught also was there for the start of NDSU Team Makers. He played a part in the founding back in 1950. Team Makers today has turned into a major force in helping NDSU grow. The group provides scholarships for many student-athletes. Without the contributing founders like Faught, many student-athletes today could not afford to attend NDSU. NDSU has grown immensely over the years. With loyal supporters like Faught, NDSU will continue to be a university on the rise, beyond just athletics.

Faught flashes through the great memories from years of Bison fandom.

Right now, NDSU football doesn’t know losing. But if the Bison ever go through a rough patch and start having a losing season, a true fan is with their team through all the great times, but also the bad times. Faught has seen it all, and still remains loyal to his favorite team. Nothing can change his love for NDSU. He is the model of the ultimate Bison Super Fan.


Joey Blackmore By Joe Kerlin | Photos by J. Alan Paul Photography


oey Blackmore’s football career under the helmet for the Bison was painfully unfulfilling. Although he may not have completed all his goals on the field, his three knee surgeries have acted as a blessing in disguise. Blackmore’s football career under the headset is off to a magnificent start. After completing his two undergraduate degrees in physical and social science education, Blackmore has made the transition to a full-time grad student without missing a beat this fall. And oh, by the way, while juggling his 15-credit class load, he’s a full-time defensive assistant for the Bison, helping the players he used to play with remain one of the stingiest defenses in the FCS. Blackmore also plays a role in recruiting and can’t wait to see what the future holds with the program he loves.


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WHEN YOU WERE IN HIGH SCHOOL, WHAT WAS THE DECIDING FACTOR TO COME UP TO FARGO? “Out of high school I had a bunch of track scholarships and I was also getting recruited by Coach Polasek who is the offensive coordinator here now. I ended up signing a track scholarship here. I was going to run track and do that whole gig and was really happy about it. Then in the summer I realized ‘Oh shoot, I don’t know if I cannot play football. The whole time Coach Polasek was in contact with me. He convinced me to forfeit my track scholarship and be a preferred walk-on here. That’s how I got started in the program here. That was all within the summer. I think it was June when I finally made my decision.” HOW DID COACH DON LARSON TAKE THAT? “I swear to this day he probably still knows my GPA (laughs). My first three years every time I’d see him he would say ‘Great job with the 3.6 last semester.’ I just like ‘Okay coach, I am a junior now, I am not coming out for track.’ (laughs) He was really good about it. When I called and told him he said ‘Well at least we got you at the right school.’ It was really good. I kind of had a unique way of getting to where I am.”

WAIT, WHY WOULD HE CARE ABOUT YOUR GPA? “He just wanted to show he knew everything about me. He was always trying to reel me in like, ‘Maybe just for a spring? You’re clearly doing well in school.’” SO YOU REDSHIRTED YOUR FIRST YEAR IN 2009. 2012 WAS YOUR LAST YEAR THAT YOU DECIDED TO HANG IT UP? “I was officially done playing for my career was fall camp last year. So 2013. That was my last go around after a couple knee surgeries. About halfway through fall camp, Coach Klieman and Coach Bohl told me to take fall camp off and see how it goes afterwards. After about a week of not doing anything but coaching, that’s when my knee still wasn’t getting better. They said to me, ‘If you hang it up, you better stay around. We really want you to be a part of this program still.’ And I wanted to too. At that point in time, I never thought in a million years I would get into coaching. I said I would do it to help out and I just fell in love with it really. Yeah it all happened really quick. If you would have asked me a year and a half ago would I be coaching division I football, I would have said not a chance. The hours they put in is so much work. But I just did it and I fell in love with it. Now I can’t see myself doing anything else.”




“The overall working with the athletes and being around people who are a lot like me and have the same goals as me. I think the biggest thing is the guys have the same mentality as me. I am a double major in social science education and physical education. I realized that the division I football culture is how my mindset is. I think I would have a hard time working with high school kids, especially if I was trying to coach high school with how intense it is here (NDSU). Like Coach Kramer. With that 09’ class, that’s when Coach Kramer was at his highest intensity. Everyone in my class and Colten Heagle’s class, there is just something a bit different about us.” WHAT WERE YOUR DUTIES AS THE STUDENT COACH? “I was initially supposed to just help out with the scout team. After about two weeks of that I took over the scout team completely, which was a rare thing for a student to be doing. That was my responsibility during the season. Once the playoffs hit, that was when Coach Klieman and Coach Standard, who is now at Wyoming said, ‘Joey, you need to get into this.’ That’s really the first time I ever thought of doing this beyond just helping the


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team out. From there, in the winter I was a really big part of recruiting as far as official visits and everything like that, then it picked up. When Coach Klieman decided to stay here, that’s when I said I would stay.” WOULD YOU SAY COACH KLIEMAN WAS ONE OF THE BIGGEST FACTORS IN BECOMING WHO YOU ARE AS A COACH TODAY? “Oh yeah. one hundred percent. If everything were to go perfectly how I would want it to go, I would be with him my whole career. Period. He is awesome to work for. Plus he was my position coach for three years. Plus Coach Polasek coming back, I really couldn’t picture a better place or better working environment. I’m really close with Coach Polasek and Tyler Roehl. Having us all here and Hank Jacobs, too, who was apart of my recruiting class. He’s the offensive ops guy. The chemistry in the office is awesome.” IS IT SIMILAR TO THAT ‘09 FRESHMAN CLASS? “Yeah. I think that is key too. You always hear horror stories about people hating going in to work, or a defensive staff that gets in a yelling argument every day. That just doesn’t happen here. And that’s really good for us.”


"Truthfully I think one of the biggest reasons for where we are today is Coach Kramer. He set the tone the winter after that 3-8 year. Coach Kramer and the seniors that year, Cyrus Lemon, Landon Smith and Lee Vandel and Matt Gratzek. Those guys said, ‘hey, this is not going to fly.’ That winter and summer was by far, hands down the hardest thing I have ever done in my whole life. They don’t even have any idea how bad it was. Our ‘09 class, I think another thing that made us so successful was we were just so close. There were no cliques, you could say. We all got along. After Colten’s (Heagle) class, there were classes where guys kept quitting. That just didn’t happen with

us. I think the main thing was we were all so close together. You just don’t see that. Even with Colten’s class, we always joke that we were all one class with how tight we were. I roomed with Mike Hardie and Cole Jirk and Colten Heagle. That’s intermixed and a lot of times you don’t see that. There were no cliques in the classes. You know I’d have Marcus (Williams) at my house, Shep (Bryan Shepherd) and Colten was always over and Emanuel (Kyle). There were no separation at all. I think that was the biggest aspect to it. If you can keep a class together, especially a talented class, and they buy in and have great chemistry, which is incredible. You credit that to what we’ve done. It’s clearly remarkable.”









































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By Cody Bickler | Photo by J. Alan Paul Photography

A three-time NCAA Division II national champion. 1995 NCAA Division II Most Outstanding wrestler. Four-time NCAA All-American. Sounds like a sure bet Hall-Of-Fame induction, right? These are just a few of the many career achievements of former NDSU wrestler Brian Kapusta.





rian Kapusta’s incredible wrestling career at NDSU was recently rewarded with his induction into the Bison Athletics Hall Of Fame. The Pennsylvania native wrestled for NDSU at 118 pounds from 1991-1995. He had a career record of 108-17, an astounding winning percentage that ranks him fifth alltime in NDSU history. Talk of Bison athletics goes handin-hand with talk of Bison pride. Kapusta is a native of Greensburg, Penn. It is more Penn State Nittany Lions and Pittsburgh Steelers territory. However, like the Bison faithful so often do, they impressed Kapusta during his time at NDSU.

“I train with state champions one day a week,” said Kapusta. “I am 42, but I still go with them pound for pound. It is fun.” He is, after all, a three-time national champion. This is a huge opportunity for the young wrestlers to learn and grow from Kapusta’s experience. He can show them what it takes to be successful on and off the wrestling mat. Kapusta is shown here dominating his opponent on the mat during his hall of fame career.

“Our first national tournament we had more fans at Northern Colorado than anybody else,” said Kapusta. “It was amazing. I’m a Pittsburgh Steelers fan and those fans travel. It’s amazing. The Bison travel like the Steelers.” Today, Kapusta is still very much involved in wrestling. He is the head coach of the Hempfield Area Junior Olympic wrestling program in Greensburg, Penn., and also volunteers at the Young Guns Wrestling Club. He still goes out on the mat and wrestles against some of the best high school wrestlers in the country.


at NDSU left him with wisdom and experience to use for the rest of his life. This has proven to be extremely useful in his daily life, as he passes them on to all the wrestlers he coaches, as well as his children. He knows what it takes to be successful: an incredible person for young wrestlers to look up to and strive to be like.


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“Our first national tournament we had more fans at Northern Colorado than anybody else. It was amazing. I’m a Pittsburgh Steelers fan and those fans travel. It’s amazing. The Bison travel like the Steelers.” – Brian Kapusta



KAPUSTA lives in Greensburg, Pa., with his wife, Shanelle, and their three children, Riley (11), Lucas (10) and Nico (6). He also has a daughter, Hayley, who is currently attending Minnesota State University Moorhead. Both of his boys have taken up wrestling, just like their father.

Q& A: BI:

How did you get to NDSU?


“I spoke to Sammy (former coach) and he had said something about NDSU. He got ahold of Bucky and said ‘I have got a good guy here for you’. Me and Bucky go round and round because we say ‘Who is the best ever to come here from Pennsylvania?’ He says he is and I say I am. Everybody was great. They were all very supportive: teachers, other coaches. It was unreal.”


What was it like coming all the way to NDSU?

BK: “A lot of guys on the team took 94

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ACHIEVEMENTS me in. For the older guys on the team, I was like their younger brother. Being from 1200 miles away, it was nice to have that.”


What do you think of the NDSU program?

BK: “Excellent. They have always

been good. I honestly think the next five years they will be a Top 10 team. I think the kids want to come here. I didn’t want to go anywhere else. When I looked at this school, I didn’t want to go anywhere else. I didn’t even think about it. I could have had three quarters of a ride to Pitt. (University of Pittsburgh), but I didn’t want to go there.”

• Two time NCC’s Most Outstanding Wrestler (‘92 & ‘95) • 86.4% win percentage • 108 career wins • Division II National Champion (1993-95) • 1990 USA Wrestling Dream Team (103 pounds) • 2014 Bison Athletic HOF Inductee


here’s no shortage of pass catching weapons at Carson Wentz’s disposal. The first year quarterback has spread around the rock to 18 different receivers this season. Senior Trevor Gebhart has hauled in 14 receptions this season for two touchdowns and said before the season, he didn’t expect any loss of production with the quarterback change. “They are both great players in their own unique way,” Gebhart said, comparing Wentz to former quarterback Brock Jensen. “I suppose when you normally have a QB change, there is a lot more of a change, but all of our wide receivers have worked with Carson for the past few years. It is very evident.” The Bison offense was prolific in 2013, averaging over 38 points a game and just over 457 yards per game. With Carson Wentz at the helm, there’s been little dropoff in offensive production.

By Joe Kerlin | Photo by J. Alan Paul Photography

That doesn’t mean Wentz hasn’t gone through some growing pains. During the only loss this season against Northern Iowa, Wentz threw for 132 yards and one interception.

FOR YEARS Bison football has been defined by its ground and pound game. But these group of wide receivers and tight ends are out to prove that they can be just as important in the Bison offense. They have shown their worth this season by helping a first year starting quarterback and making plays when it matters most.


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Carey Woods

Led by sixth year senior and the “grandpa” on the team Kevin Vaadeland is joined by a mix of youth and experience as reliable pass catchers for the Bison. SENIOR CAREER STATS ZACH VRAA



Games Played: 41 Receptions: 151 Yards: 2,384 Touchdowns: 23

Games Played: 54 Receptions: 62 Yards: 672 Touchdowns: 12

Games Played: 46 Receptions: 75 Yards: 765 Touchdowns: 4

“It’s a little tough when you play better teams that show some different things than what they have shown on film all year. Teams tend to do that when they play us,” senior wide receiver Zach Vraa said. “But as the weeks go by, he adjusts to defenses quickly and determining the pass routes we are running he can usually find the right guy.” Vraa’s point was proven the following game against Missouri State. Wentz bounced back from the loss by completing 68 percent of his passes for 247 yards and five touchdowns as the Bison blew out the Bears 45-10.


Trevor Gebhart

Kevin Vaadeland Nate Moody

Andrew Bonnet

Zach Vraa


The biggest weapon at Wentz’s disposal is Vraa. The speedy deep threat fought through a leg injury earlier in the season but is now back to 100 percent and averaging more than 15 yards per reception. Jensen was able to utilize Vraa best by using the deep ball and this year Wentz has gradually improved his chemistry with Vraa. “It’s a little different because there’s a different quarterback, different coaches and now teams can see it coming so they can scheme against it well,” Vraa said. “But Carson and I are still working at it so hopefully we can get a couple more.” Carey Woods arrived at NDSU as a highly touted recruit out of Bemidji, Minn. He is expected to be the next big playmaker in line to succeed Vraa after this season.

When the homerun isn’t there, Wentz has been compensating with the loss of Ryan Smith by throwing to as many underneath receivers as possible. Carey Woods, Kevin Vaadeland, Andrew Bonnet and Gebhart have been big contributors in the passing game this season. But most surprising has been first year player RJ Urzendowski.

“HE’S STEPPED UP AND MADE SOME NICE PLAYS FOR US,” VAADELAND SAID. “WE DIDN’T REALLY EXPECT THAT, BUT I GUESS THAT’S WHAT YOU GET FROM A FIRST YEAR PLAYER.” Vraa reiterated that sentiment and hopes to see more young receivers step up during the playoffs. With the help of experienced receivers and contributions made by the underclassmen, Wentz has been able to answer the bell this season, proving to Bison Nation he is the guy to lead the Bison back to Frisco.

As a group, Vraa, Bonnet and Gebhart have scored eight touchdowns this season and have caught 68 passes, helping first year quarterback Carson Wentz lead the Bison back to the playoffs. 98

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Knutson? ld What wou Evan say?


ake no bones about it, the Bison wrestling team is littered with young talent. But the undisputed leaders on the mat are seniors Evan Knutson, Kurtis Julson and junior Hayden Zillmer. We asked Knutson tough questions about himself and asked Julson and Zillmer how they think Knutson would respond. THE QUESTIONS




1. What’s your favorite genre of music?

Varies on the time, but most often country


2. What’s your favorite TV show?

Sons of Anarchy


3. Where in the world would you like to visit?

Some of the islands in Indonesia

Somewhere in Europe



Large animal veterinarian


4. What’s your dream job?


Rap music or Christian rock Sons of Anarchy



5. How old were you when you started wrestling? 6. Who is your biggest celebrity crush? 7. What’s the last movie you saw in a movie theatre?

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Jennifer Aniston

Jennifer Lawrence

Rebel Wilson

Guardians of the Galaxy



2-7 TIE

2- 7 TIE

O S N I B m fro

By Joe Kerlin Photos by J Alan Paul Photography

Junior Darius Anderson has come a long way since joining the Bison in 2012. Anderson’s heart is at running back, but this season he is developing into a future threat in the slot receiver position. At first, the move was uncomfortable for the speedster. Being in an uncomfortable situation is nothing new for Anderson who started his college football career at Valley City State. Growing up in HAWAII, the challenges for an 18-year-old moving to a region with sub-zero temperatures thousands of miles away from home are numerous. Anderson told us his story and the lumps along the way to becoming a x-factor for the Bison offense.

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Makapu’u Point, Hawaii


ran with Coach Bohl timing me. They called me a week later and told me they had a spot for me on the team.”

receiver and quarterback, but I would say mainly it’s the linemen because they’re so big.”

“In high school I was getting recruited. Basically, Valley City gave me the most scholarship money. I had a bunch of other D II and NAIA schools giving me offers, but Valley City gave me the best scholarship, and I just decided to run with it. I did pretty well my first year there and I felt like I could play at the D I level so I thought I would come here and walk-on and see where that would take me. It ended up working out for me. I’ve enjoyed it here since.”



HOW DID YOU APPROACH BOHL ABOUT TRANSFERRING FROM VALLEY CITY TO NDSU? “I emailed them a bunch of times and wasn’t getting anything back so I decided to walk in to Miss Margie’s office. At the front desk, I asked if they had any walkon opportunities, and they told me the certain day to come in and show them what I’ve got. I went in, met Coach Bohl, ran a 40-yard dash and that’s about it. They lined me up on the 20-yard line and

“There is actually around 35 schools. My island is the main island for high school football. The private schools play each other and the public schools play each other. Then at the end of the year, the private schools will play against the public schools in the tournament and that’s how we do it. We separate them in division one and two. Football is really big in Hawaii.”

AS FAR AS THE TALENT GOES OUT THERE, IS IT REALLY CONDENSED? OR ARE THERE JUST A FEW DARIUS ANDERSONS HERE AND THERE? “The type of talent you see in Hawaii is more offensive and defensive linemen I would say. That’s where you get a lot of recruitment. We do have some talent at

“I get a lot of people asking if I surf. I don’t really surf because I’m not good at it. I did it once and it ended horribly. A lot of going to the beach is the one thing. Usually a lot of things that people think are true. My teammates tease me saying ‘How do you even have electricity? Because you live in teepees and grass huts?’ (laughs) Other than that, I would say everything is pretty spot on with the beaches and surfing.”

WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST? “The beach and the weather. It’s a huge difference going from 70s and 80s year round to this.”



MAJOR: Criminal Justice FROM: Valley City State University HOMETOWN: Kapolei, Hawai’i POPULATION: 15,186 HIGH SCHOOL: Island Pacific Academy









“Valley City was rough. ... Coming here (Fargo) was okay because I had somewhat of a grasp on it, but my first year at Valley City I was struggling. I didn’t have a coat so I had to put on layers of sweaters. Didn’t have gloves, had to go buy gloves two weeks in. It was just a whole different situation for me that I have never been through before.”

“Yeah, they switch me around a lot. They put me in the slot. I was more at the running back position in the beginning of the year, but now they have me in the slot. I just go wherever they tell me and try to make the best of it.”

HOW OFTEN DO YOU GO BACK HOME? “I went home in the spring last year for about a week. And summer I went home for two weeks. Usually it is once a year I go back for around two weeks.”

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT FARGO? “Everybody is so nice. It is so welcoming, I would say. Back home you get that, but to an extent. Around here, everybody I meet is friendly and helpful. That’s a different feeling I’ve gotten here and it amazes me.”

HAVE THERE BEEN ANY CHALLENGES WITH THE POSITION CHANGES AT THE BEGINNING? “It was really rough transitioning from running back to wide-out in the beginning because I was learning the plays again. My heart is at running back but you gotta do what you gotta do to get on the field. I do whatever it takes to help my team out.”

WANT MORE Check out the Bison Illustrated App! Available for Android, Amazon, and Apple devices.

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B I S O N I L L U S T R A T E D • D E C E M B E R 2 014 Answers

1. Kent changed to Tent on jersey 2. Changed letter C to letter B on wall 3. Poster removed from back wall 4. NDSU logo removed from scoring tablet 5. Stats changed on scoreboard









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Jace’s Space Success Breeds Success



s a kid growing up in northeast South Dakota, I was raised firmly in the middle of the North Central Conference or as we called it, the toughest Division II conference in the country. To the south was South Dakota State University, Augustana and University of South Dakota, and to the north was the University of North Dakota and NDSU. Being a South Dakota kid, my allegiance was to my home state and even though SDSU was closer, I fell in love with USD. My first memory of Bison football was back in 1986, when the announcer passionately said after the Division II playoff semifinal game, “Bring on the Bison!” The following game was my first real introduction to who this juggernaut of a football program was and would still be to this day. My Coyotes fell in the National Championship 27-7. It was never close, and the programs haven’t been close since. The Bison don’t just have USD’s number, they are dominant against everybody. In the past 52 seasons, the Bison have come out above .500 in 49 of them. They have 11 National Championships and the last three consecutive FCS titles. And the Bison don’t show any signs of slowing down and are the team to beat in the Football Championship Subdivision. Let me clarify that. They are not just the best team in the state, region or conference; they are the premier program in the FCS. What makes the Bison so dominant? It’s as simple as this: winning breeds winning.

“What makes the Bison so dominant? It’s as simple as this: winning breeds winning.”

Since that first taste of the Bison dominance, every year they simply reload and never rebuild. The worst season they’ve had in recent memory was during transition from Division II to the FCS Division. Even when they had they went 3-9 in 2009, it was short lived. Prior to being eligible to participate in the FCS playoffs, during the five-year transition phase, the Bison managed to have two one-loss seasons. One season ended as the ranked team in the FCS and a win over the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers in 2007.


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The Bison have a winning program that brings better recruits to campus. The recruits fall in love with the program, the atmosphere and the fans. The program has been so successful that ESPN GameDay has not once, but twice come to downtown Fargo to broadcast their show. The success has even spilled over into other programs. The men’s basketball team made its second appearance in the NCAA tournament, which included an opening round upset win over Oklahoma. The area has received publicity from the Bison football team, basketball team and even indirectly from FX’s new series “Fargo.” Fargo will even be hosting the NCAA Regional hockey playoffs this spring at Scheels Arena. All positive signs that are pointing in Fargo’s direction. I’ve read in the past where people joke: “Fargo is a real place?” Yes, it is a very real place with real people with a very real football program. Just ask a number of the region’s FBS schools. Some student athletes may not want to venture to a small town in the chilly upper Midwest, but the fact is, Fargo isn’t that small and it’s an oasis on the prairie.

This community is growing exponentially with new neighborhoods popping up almost overnight and the most popular and trendy shops and restaurants not far behind. Once student athletes come to Fargo, they love it and are loved by the fans, which creates a perfect match that continues to grow this programs dominance. Some players simply come to the program as walk-ons because they want to be part of this special program. They spend seasons practicing, imitating the current starters’ every move, in hopes of duplicating their success once their number is called. To get to a point where players are willing to wait multiple seasons to get their chance shows how special this program has become and how the depth of this team continues to grow. * Jason Denman is a South Dakota native that has found his way into the middle of Bison country. Denman co-hosts a weekly podcast called “Gene & Jace’s PodBash.” You can find it at podcast/gjpodbash.

walker’s word Back to the Playoffs, Back to the Routine



or the fifth straight postseason, the Bison have made their way into the FCS playoff bracket. This is quite the accomplishment for the Thundering Herd, and if it wasn’t for a “questionable” call at Eastern Washington in the 2010 quarterfinals, NDSU could have been going for five-straight national championships. That being said, five straight trips to the playoffs and a chance to win four national titles in-a-row is something special. Unlike 2010, when the Bison made their first FCS playoff appearance, things will not be new for this group of players. A difficult schedule has strengthened them, they know what the atmosphere in the dome will be like and they know the Alumni Association will throw a great party in Frisco, Texas. Football teams love consistency, and knowing a proven method of going through the playoffs is in place should allow the Bison to focus on the task at hand. Coaches don’t have to deliberate when and how long to practice. Players don’t have to worry about what the days will be like. They have all been there before. As for the fans, well, they know what to do. Now they need to prepare for an amazing second season in 2014; the post-season is here. It is no secret that Gate City Bank Field at the FargoDome is a great home field advantage. Just ask the poor fans and players from Georgia Southern and other schools that have tried to beat the Bison inuring the FCS playoffs, in the dome.

“A difficult schedule has strengthened them, they know what the atmosphere in the dome will be like and they know the Alumni Association will throw a great party in Frisco, Texas.”

Many have tried, yet none have succeeded. Something special happens in the dome during a playoff game, that makes the energy that much more spectacular. The fans cheer a little harder and a little longer, and I truly believe that the players feed off of that. In fact, I know they do. There is no better feeling as an offensive player than when you are on the sidelines watching your defense dominate in ear deafening loudness, and then you take the field and complete silence spreads across the dome (except maybe scoring a winning touchdown). The FargoDome has a great home team, and a great home team advantage! This year’s version of NDSU football has a few different faces from the back-to-back-to-back national champions, but many are still the same. The good news is, throughout the entire 2014 campaign, this year’s Bison have shown the program is still on the rise with great players and coaches. This means there are even more great things in store. Get your tickets early. Get to the tailgate lot on time. And make sure we do our part as fans to make it impossible for the opposing offense to communicate. Get ready, Bison fans. The 2014 playoffs are here! GO BISON.




o, do I make this sound all somber and sad because I’ll miss you all? The good times and the bad.

Or do we close the chapter of the story and move on to the next? Perhaps we just say it like it is: this is my last official month as your Team Makers president, and it has been a blast. I could not have asked for a better experience. The people that I have had the opportunity to meet, the places I have been (except the sidelines during a real game. Missed that.) All I can say is ‘wow.’ But I have more to say because they gave me the whole page. To some I have said during my year as Team Makers president, ‘I have lost a football coach, both the men’s and woman’s basketball coaches, the athletic director and the women’s track coach.’ That might not look like the best track record to hang my hat on. This is true. But let’s look on the bright side. We got a new athletic director in Matt Larsen, a new football coach in Chris Klieman, new men’s basketball coach Dave Richman, women’s basketball coach Maren Walseth, and women’s track coach Stevie Keller. Add all the incredible performances from our student athletes on and off the field, and I’d say we’re doing just fine as an athletic department. I have so many people to thank. Thanks to the Team Makers Executive Board, this group of people made my job a lot easier. I would also include the entire Team Makers’ fund raising teams, without you there is no one to spread the word about Team Makers and gathering support for NDSU Athletics. 118

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Bougie’s Farewell “I could not have asked for a better experience. The people that I have had the opportunity to meet, the places I have been (except the sidelines during a real game. Missed that.) All I can say is ‘wow.’”

A special thank you goes to senior associate athletic director and executive director of Team Makers Pat Simmers. It was your guidance that got me through the whole process of the executive board, fund raising chair and president. For those of you that work closely with Team Makers, there is a lady who really runs the show. That person is Helena Johnston. Helena, it was you that told me where to be and when and that really helped the Board and myself stay on the same page. Last, but not least, a thank you that goes beyond Bison Athletics, and that is for my friend Joan Deal. It was Joan that got me back involved with the Bison and involved in Team Makers. For those of you that don’t know Joan, she was the first female president of Team Makers. Joan was the one that got me to the executive board. As I write this, Joan is fighting her own battle with cancer, but Joan has said to her doctors she is like the Bison. She is a second half team, and she wants to kick cancer’s ass. So if I had to bring all the experiences I have had with NDSU Athletics and Team Makers, it all comes down to one – Joan. My time is up, but don’t worry, I am not going away. There are still projects to work on; there are still many who don’t know about the Bison. So I’ll still be around, in the West Parking lot, with my plastic tailgating approved Das Horn (from and always ready to meet new friends! Thank you all. Go Bison, and that’s the bottom line ‘cause President Bougie said so! * Paul Bougie is the President of Team Makers. Team Makers is a non-profit organization committed to raising scholarship money for student-athletes and assisting them in earning degrees for a successful future.

1620 13th Ave. East -West Fargo 701.364.3725 -

swany says BY JOSH SWANSON


e know the identity of this North Dakota State football team. That needs about as much explaining as who Santa Claus is

to my nephew. He’s only five and both are commonly accepted knowledge for him. One is a jolly, round fellow in a big red suit that brings him Christmas presents. The other is a stout, gang-tackling defense spearheaded by a corps of veteran players that have gained a reputation for their ferocity, coupled with an offense that is as smashmouth as you’ll find in college football. Even for a five-year old, my nephew understands who the Bison are and how they play the game. The best Christmas present for this uncle is the pride he takes in forming the Bison horns with his little hands and hoisting them in the air for his favorite team. It’s pretty awesome. He has his green and yellow Bison overalls – just like his Grandpa Dave. I tell you, my nephew is such a stud fan that he has a laminated roster that he wears on a lanyard around his neck so he knows who’s making the plays, although he rarely has to double check it. Just don’t tell him that his uncle is getting him another Bison jersey this year for Christmas! He’ll want to wear it for the playoffs. Just like a kid before Christmas, Bison fans are getting amped up for that special time of year – the FCS playoffs. But instead of being nestled all snug in our beds while visions of sugar-plums dance in our heads, it’s visions of escaping the winery wonderland of Fargo for a few days of fun and sun in Frisco, Texas and the dream of raising a fourth straight 120

‘Twas the night before Frisco

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national championship trophy on that stage in Toyota

“How great is the atmosphere in our big brick igloo? Better than Frosty the Snowman’s attitude in a raging blizzard, that good. While my chestnuts will not be roasting over any open fires at tailgating, I fondly remember recent December tailgaters where the thermometer dropped colder than the Grinch trying to steal Christmas.”

Stadium. That’s all Bison Nation wants for Christmas, especially now that we have our new basketball arena under construction. In December, the FargoDome comes alive. It’s busier than the North Pole. The hustle, bustle and electricity of the playoffs is nothing short of magic. Look around the stands of the Dome during the playoffs. Fans who are normally reserved throughout most of the regular season suddenly rise to the occasion like Rudolph’s shiny red nose. The hopes of Frisco has their faces glowing too, and it’s not from the pregame tailgating on the frozen tundra of the West Lot. Okay, maybe some of it is. These kids, from 1 to 92, are hoping Carson Wentz can guide the Bison sleigh to the four-peat. How great is the atmosphere in our big brick igloo? Better than Frosty the Snowman’s attitude in a raging blizzard, that good. While my chestnuts will not be roasting over any open fires at tailgating, I fondly remember recent December tailgaters where the thermometer dropped colder than the Grinch trying to steal Christmas. We were unfazed like little Cindy Lou from Whoville. Not even 40 below wind chill can stop us from harking the heralds and the Bison sing: “glory to another championship ring!” Rest assured, no matter what the Dome will be jingle-bell-rocking when the Gold Star Marching Band plays their drums for us as we march to Frisco, “pa rum pum pum pum.” This festive spirit was highlighted by ESPN commentators during the FCS Playoff Selection Show



the Sunday before Thanksgiving. “The thing that hasn’t changed, the FargoDome,” began college football analyst Craig Haubert. “Very tough [place] to play. It’s extremely loud. If you ever go outside, it’s extremely cold. There’s nowhere to run, there’s nowhere to hide.” The truth is, all those other teams really can’t stay (in the FCS playoffs) because baby, it’s cold outside. We’re not much bothered by that cold, though. In fact, you know it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas when Bison fans flock to, Scheels and the NDSU Bookstore to stuff their stockings with care in hopes that Thundar will soon be there. Because ‘twas the night before Frisco. When the lights go out and “Thunderstruck” starts playing, there’ll arise such a clatter. You’ll spring from your seats to see what’s the matter. Away towards the big inflatable helmet they’ll rush with a dash, and blinking green and yellow cell phone apps light up like a flash. And what to your wondering eyes will appear, but a team clad in green and yellow and one heck of a cheer. With a brand new coach so lively and quick, you’ll know in a moment he must be St. Chris. More rapid than a stampede his Bison came and he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name: Now, Crockett! Now, Heagle! Now Dudzik and Vraa! On, Carson! On, Emanuel! On Thorton and Hinz! To the top of that Frisco stage, to the top of the wall, now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all! So, to you and yours, best wishes for a joyous and blessed Holiday season. I hope to see you from Fargo to Frisco, and we can cheers to the mighty Bison. As always, everybody up for the kickoff, the march is on!

*Swanson is a native of Maddock, ND, a proud NDSU alum and a life-long Bison fan.


QUIZ Who will you be with celebrating the holidays with this year?

What’s your favorite holiday dessert?

If you were to go caroling, what song would you sing?

My family back home in WI.

My favorite holiday dessert has got to be pumpkin pie.

I would definitely have to sing Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

Justin Scherkenbach Last season Scherkenbach posted a 3-1 record and was named to the Western Wrestling Conference Coaches Honor Roll. As a redshirt sophomore, he looks to build on his freshman season coming off an injury.


Alisa Brown Brown is one of three seniors on the women’s basketball team this season. Her leadership will be a key factor in the success of the team this year.

My teammates and my family

My grandma’s cherry pie

Rudolph the RedNosed Reindeer


Jordan Champion After two seasons of learning behind All-American corner Marcus Williams, Champion has stepped into the starting lineup as a junior. He has shined as part of the dynamic pass defense for the Bison this season.

If I am not able to make it home I’ll probably celebrate with some teammates.

Sweet potato pie.

I’ll be celebrating the holidays with my family and friends, as well as my girlfriend and her family.

Pumpkin pie with ice cream

Jingle Bells


Anything pumpkin

“Oh Happy Day” - The Edwin Hawkins Singers

Jingle Bells, it’s a classic!


CJ Smith


The ball-hawking corner has made a number of significant plays in his time as a Bison including an interception in the championship game against Towson. As a junior, Smith is having an All-Conference worthy season shutting down opposing wide receivers.

Lauren Cammack As a senior, Cammack has played in 21 matches. She has posted .81 kills per set this season. Being one of three senior, she brings experience and leadership to a young team.



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What’s your favorite memory playing in the snow as a kid?

What final exam are you most ready for?

My mom was video taping my brother and I when we were super young and my brother threw a snowball and hit her camera right out of her hands.

I’m most ready for my Econ 105 final.

Going sledding with my brother and sister and throwing Sierra Bonham (soccer goalie) in the snow twice last year ;)

I didn’t get to experience snow until I came to NDSU.

I wish I could say BioChem 460...

Child development

Building snow forts

Business Management

Building a fort with my brother and our dogs always ruining it.

Forensic Psychology