Sports Notes: The View from Fargo

FargoI’ve been asked by more than a few people how life’s been in Fargo as we near the six-month residency benchmark.  What they’re really asking is, “How’s your sports habit working out up there?”

Just fine, thank you.

Here’s the view from Fargo… or as 1940’s WDAY radio broadcasts used to call us, “The Northwest.”

As a diehard Tennessee Vols fan, you don’t see a lot of orange up here.  No matter.  Contrary to popular belief, we have television in Fargo.  Not only that – CABLE.  And go figure, it’s no less expensive than most anywhere else we’ve lived.  Thankfully we’re never more than a remote-click away from Neyland Stadium and Thompson-Boling Arena.

I’ve been able to get my Vols fix just about every weekend.  I’ve even seen a handful of cars with UT license plate frames.  With a little honk, a wave and a “Go Vols!” shouted out the window, life is good. 

Being that this is Vikings country, it’s the rare day I get to see my Chicago Bears.  Generally speaking, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Quarterback Jay Cutler was brought in to lead the team to the promised land.  If they finish 8-8, Chicago may throw a parade.

There are three colleges here that serve up quite a bit of sports.  Early on we found ourselves getting attached to North Dakota State and without question, NDSU has some exceptional teams and players to follow.

Our family has adopted the Bison volleyball team as Our Team.  Coached by one of the classiest people I’ve ever met, Erich Hinterstocker, they’re a joy to watch.  The fact he’s a former assistant at Alabama has not affected our relationship… to this point.  They play in the Bentson Bunker Fieldhouse, a terrific environment to watch a college sporting event.  It’s smalll, it’s warm, it’s deafening.  And the Bison just don’t lose in this place.  For that matter, they don’t lose most anywhere.

Our favorite player, and my older daughter’s athletic role model, is a young lady I’ve written about before, Lauren McLaughlin.  You meet her in person and you’re immediately struck by her sweet, disarming manner.  Then you watch her play.  Passion, intensity and focus.  When the ball is set for her, you expect the ball to explode from the force of her kills.  This is a team to keep an eye on.Bentson Bunker Fieldhouse

With basketball upon us, we’re looking forward to checking out the Bison men’s and women’s teams.  Saul Phillips took the men down to Minneapolis last year for a first round NCAA tournament game against Kansas.  Although they lost, they put the program on the Division 1 college basketball radar.  And Carolyn DeHoff, who came to NDSU from Utah taking over for legendary coach Amy Ruley, enters year two with the Bison.  Though neither program is expected to make waves this season, we’ll have our eyes on both throughout the winter months.

75 miles north of us sits the quaint town of Grand Forks, the University of North Dakota and Fighting Sioux hockey.  It’ll be a treat to watch a game in the remarkable Ralph Englestad Arena.  We saw the place this past summer and it’s every bit as stunning as we’ve heard.  And sooner or later, they’ll figure out what they want to call their sports teams as the university moves forward from the ongoing nickname controversy. 

Ralph Englestad ArenaIf Fighting Sioux is put in the attic, sources tell me “Sugar Beets” is the leading contender.  The University of North Dakota Sugar Beets.  I’m still partial to UND Beet Haulers but no one asked me.

The NDHSAA (North Dakota High School Activities Association) State Football Championships will be played in the Fargodome on November 13 and 14 (the Dakota Bowl).  The A Championship is on Friday, the AA and AAA Championships on Saturday.  It’s been a long time since I’ve gone to a high school football game but this might be just the time to do it.

And roller derby – yes, roller derby – has made its way to Fargo.  The FM Derby Girls beign playing bouts on November 7 against Winnipeg.  Unlike classic roller derby back in the days of the Los Angeles Thunderbirds, Bay Area Bombers and Midwest Pioneers, this is flat-track competition.  I went down to see them practice last week and I came away quite impressed.  This wasn’t about fights and theatrics; this was about speed, skill and strategy.  Anyone going to their opening bout at the Fargo Civic Center won’t be disappointed.

NDSU Volleyball and basketball, Sioux hockey, a little championship high school football, the Vols and the NFL… add to that the diverse options for food before or after a game… and we’ve discovered the culinary possibilities here are extensive…

Indeed, the view from Fargo is just fine… if not a little windy.

Photo credit kylelocket

Filed Under: FargoNDSUNorth DakotaSports

About the Author: Christopher serves up sports on 940 ESPN in Fresno with a good deal of pop culture, films, music and the quirky side of life mixed in. Distinguished guests and contributors from across the nation and around the world regularly join the program. He tackles the most complex stories to ones slightly off the radar delivering depth and humor with a thoughtful perspective. When he was in Fargo, the city not the movie, the program was nominated for Best Radio Show in the region in 2012, 2013 and 2014 by readers of The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. As a writer, Christopher's work has been been published by the Chicago Sun-Times, Sun-Times Network publications, Reuters, USA Volleyball and Team USA, the Official Website of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

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  1. terri says:

    It certainly doesn’t sound like you’re suffering at all. In fact, I’m surprised you’re not suffering from sports overload!
    .-= terri´s last blog ..Scattered thoughts =-.


    Christopher Gabriel Reply:

    Terri, sports overload is not a possibility. 🙂

    With NDSU, volleyball has been a blast. This winter brings basketball and in the spring, softball and baseball return. And did I mention I’m thinking of learning the sport of Curling? Or at least making an attempt at it. The F-M Curling Club has been on my program and since the last Winter Olympics, I’ve wanted to give it a try. Besides, it’s probably a better move for me at this point than midnight ice hockey leagues.


  2. Andy Heller says:

    Fargo is a great area for sports. I was born and raised in Fargo and lived in ND all my life and there is no lack of sports. I think Christopher you’ll be ok here for sports.
    As for cable tv…my cable bill in Jamestown is $34.00 a month for most of the same channels Fargo has. When I watch tv at my dads house, there is only a minor difference.


  3. Mike says:

    Wow… I’ve never been much of an athelete, but I’ve always liked to watch. Seems like I’d never be bored there.
    .-= Mike´s last blog ..UpdateForm =-.


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