Baker Boy counts on mom of two MIT-bound ‘math geniuses’​ to lead donut team

Note: This is part of a series of stories “Faces of Baker Boy” I write on some of our wonderful Baker Boy employees who have great stories to tell.

Ask Baker Boy Donut Team Leader Julie Bleyenberg to count the number of donuts coming off Baker Boy’s fry system and she would likely give you a hearty laugh. To get the answer, she could just call her kids. They’d have it figured out in no time.

Julie is a hard-working mom to three children. Two of whom, as she puts it, are “math geniuses.”

Her youngest source of maternal pride, 17-year-old William, will graduate from Dickinson High School at the top of his class Sunday with an unprecedented absence of pomp and circumstance as the Coronavirus Pandemic limits graduation celebrations and ceremonies nationwide.

Julie and her family will watch William graduate while sitting inside of their vehicle during open-air ceremonies on the Biesiot Activities Center football field. In the fall, William plans to join his sister, Carrie, at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

“The only thing that matters is we are together and we are healthy,” Julie said. “Nothing else matters. Also, dude, you got into MIT!”

Continue reading “Baker Boy counts on mom of two MIT-bound ‘math geniuses’​ to lead donut team”

Culture of Champions: Van Ells has powerful Dickinson gymnastics team seeking fourth straight title

NOTE: This story appears in the February issue of the Heart River Voice, of which I am a contributing sports feature writer.

For 36 years, Kent Van Ells has overseen a gymnastics program that annually boasts around 300 athletes from ages 3 to 18.

It’s a time-consuming role with a loaded year-round schedule of late hours and long weekends. But all that time has been worth it for Van Ells.

Dickinson High School has won five of the past six North Dakota state gymnastics titles and will go for its fourth straight championship later this month during the state meet in Jamestown.

“A culture develops,” said Van Ells, who is both Dickinson High School’s head coach and the Dickinson Gymnastics Club coach. “The girls expect the other girls who are coming into the program to keep up with them. They expect to win and to be the best out there.”

In Van Ells’ 36 years as head coach, the Midgets have won nine state championships. The program has 12 titles overall.

As the Midgets enter their final month of the 2018-19 season, they boast the top-two ranked all-around performers in the state — junior Ayanna Fossum and senior Dacia Rambousek — and have six gymnasts with top-five ratings in either the all-around or individual events.

“I’ve been in gymnastics for 10-plus years, and thinking of it being over in a month or two is really hard to take,” said Rambousek, who is also ranked first in the balance beam.

Continue reading “Culture of Champions: Van Ells has powerful Dickinson gymnastics team seeking fourth straight title”