Before the Olympics began last summer in London, Ramon Miller made one thing clear. He was the captain of his ship. “This year, I’m doing everything on my own,” Miller said in a July 29 article in The Dickinson Press. “I’m sailing my own ship, so if anything goes wrong, I’m to blame. I’m the captain of everything right now.”
Miller went to London hoping to make an impact and lead his 1,600-meter relay team to the medal stand.
Jamie Kuntz says he just wants to be a college football player. However, a decision he made on Sept. 1 not only derailed those plans, it made the 2012 Dickinson High School graduate the center of national debate and scrutiny that has forever changed his life. Over a span of two weeks in September, Kuntz went from a no-name freshman linebacker at North Dakota State College of Science to the subject of a national news story after he was removed from the team for lying to his coaches about an incident at a game, which led to him coming out as a homosexual in the national media.
Kuntz’s saga is The Dickinson Press’ No. 2 sports story of the year.
Perhaps no person in southwest North Dakota sports exhibited more courage than Jennifer Hartman did in the fall of 2012. The 22-year-old former Dickinson State volleyball standout was put in a position she had never expected less than a year after she completed her final season playing for the Blue Hawks.
On Sept. 18, the day of a road match against Jamestown College, Hartman was named DSU’s interim head volleyball coach following the resignation of second-year head coach Maura Bronte.
“I was surprised,” said Hartman, who is still a student and was in her first season as an assistant coach. “That’s the best word. I went into a little bit of a shock state.”
Of the millions of bus trips taken every year by schools around the country for extracurricular activities, few were as scary as the one the Hettinger-Scranton boys basketball team took on Jan. 13. That afternoon, on their way to play a basketball game against Dickinson Trinity, the team’s chartered bus went off the road when it hit an ice patch attempting to negotiate a curve widely regarded as dangerous along the border of Slope and Hettinger counties three west of New England. Icy road conditions, which were ruled the reason for the accident, caused the bus to go off the road.
After it went off the road and into the ditch the bus came upon an adjacent north-south gravel road, which had a steep incline. The bus hit it hard and launched into the air, rolling onto the driver’s side, which slowed it down to an eventual stop.
Tyler Plummer was one of those people who was easy to like.
“He was someone who it didn’t matter if you knew him for a little bit of time or a lot of time, he made an impact and people just loved him,” said Annika Plummer, his wife.
Plummer continues to make an impact in people’s lives, almost a year after his untimely death.
The Dickinson State graduate and passionate supporter of the Blue Hawk wrestling team died on Jan. 25 at age 33. The Baker, Mont., native had battled cardiomyopathy, a heart muscle disease, since he was diagnosed with a heart infection as a 19-year-old DSU freshman.
In addition to being an avid wrestling fan and a cowboy whose claim to fame was his role as a stunt horse rider in the North Dakota-filmed movie “Wooly Boys,” Plummer was also an organ donor.
After his death, Plummer’s corneas were donated to the Lions Eye Bank of North Dakota. Today, there are two people whom Plummer’s family does not know who can see again because of his gift.
There have been some learning curves for Austin Dufault in his transition from the high-profile life of a NCAA Division I college basketball player to the nearly invisible existence as the lone American on his professional basketball team in the Czech Republic.
There are no more games in front of 10,000 screaming fans.
Though he is getting paid to play the game he loves, Dufault said BK Prostejov — the team he plays for in the Czech Republic’s National Basketball League — rarely fills its 3,000-seat arena. Some games, he said, have fan turnouts that would be similar to the Class B games he grew up playing at Killdeer High School.
Nonetheless, Dufault has earned a starring role in his new home.
This has been a year of transition for Austin Dufault. In January, he was adjusting to a role as a featured player on the Colorado men’s basketball team. By March, he and the Buffaloes were dancin’ in the NCAA Tournament.
Today, he is at his parents’ home in Greeley, Colo., taking a five-day break from his newest job: professional basketball player for BK Prostejov in Prostejov, Czech Republic.
“A lot of changes have occurred in the last year that I’ve had to adjust to and I think I’ve handled them pretty well so far,” Dufault said Saturday during a phone interview.
An outstanding 2012 for the Killdeer High School graduate and former North Dakota Mr. Basketball puts him at No. 6 on The Dickinson Press’ sports stories of the year.