Big Sticks baseball is back with local ownership

Dave Ouellette watched nearly every Badlands Big Sticks home game in the baseball team’s inaugural season.

Ouellette, a Dickinson businessman who owns Yum Froyo & More and other businesses, could often be found on the concourse at Dakota Community Bank & Trust Ballpark last summer manning the popular soft-serve ice cream stand.

“I basically hand-served those cones all summer at most every game,” Ouellette said.

The Big Sticks compete in the Expedition League, the United States’ newest collegiate wood-bat summer league comprised of college baseball players from throughout the country.

While there were early uncertainties coming into the season about what the team and the league would be like, most apprehension faded fast as the Big Sticks went from hosting 400 fans in their home opener to regularly selling more than 1,000 tickets a game by the end of the summer.

Big Sticks games became a summer entertainment hub in Dickinson and good baseball followed as well, as they won the Lewis Division and finished in second place in the league, falling to Western Nebraska in the league championship.

The more Ouellette watched, the more he liked what he saw. So much so that he decided to buy the team from Expedition League President Steve Wagner.

Continue reading “Big Sticks baseball is back with local ownership”

Dickinson State enters the esports game

Tucked away in the back corner of the Dickinson State University Student Center basement, adjacent the cafeteria, is a room like many others on campus.

Seven desks, each with large computers and monitors, complete with webcams, line the room’s interior walls. Next to each desk sits large, comfortable-looking upholstered leather chairs. To the unknowing eye, the room appears to be nothing more than an upscale computer lab.

However, in the fall, the small room painted in DSU blue, white and gray colors will be the core of what the university hopes becomes its next extracurricular activity, and potentially even its next varsity sport.

The lab is home to DSU’s fledgeling esports program.

Continue reading “Dickinson State enters the esports game”

Learn more about the work I’m doing by following me on LinkedIn

Since I left journalism in October 2016, I’ve turned my sights on being a professional marketer. My wife always said I’d be a natural fit for sales and marketing and, wouldn’t you know it, she was right. After a brief stint working for the state of North Dakota, I’m now the marketing manager for Baker Boy, Inc., a family owned baked goods manufacturer in Dickinson, N.D. 

It’s an amazing place where I work with outstanding and driven people determined to make the best products possible, including the innovative new Magic Ring Donuts — America’s only filled ring donut. A big part of my job, however, is promoting and building our brands, including The Donut Hole. With that, I’m diving headfirst into the world of writing articles about my work on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn has become a great place for my colleagues and I to share the work we’re doing to promote Baker Boy’s brands, products and commitments to our customers.

This week, I spent some time up in the Bakken oilfield working at an amazing convenience store that’ll soon become the largest location yet for Baker Boy’s licensed bakery case concept, The Donut Hole. Please check out my LinkedIn article to learn more about this great idea and how it’s working for C-store operators.

After playing days end, Dufault discovers new track as Lakers coaching associate

NOTE: This story is scheduled to appear in the March issue of the Heart River Voice, of which I am a contributing sports feature writer.

After Austin Dufault scored an interview to be a coaching associate for the Los Angeles Lakers, it took him about 10 minutes to realize the job opportunity was with one of the most storied franchises in professional sports, not its minor-league affiliate.

The confusion, laughable now, was created by the job history of the people who connected Dufault and Lakers head video coordinator Will Scott. Not to mention the National Basketball Association team shares a nickname with the G-League’s South Bay Lakers.

“For about the first 10 or 15 minutes I was on the phone, I just assumed he (Scott) was with the South Bay Lakers,” Dufault said. “We were talking for a while and he kept saying, ‘Luke likes things this way.’ … I’m like, ‘Wait, are you talking about the Los Angeles Lakers?’”

Dufault, a Killdeer High School graduate, didn’t hesitate when Scott eventually asked him to join Lakers head coach Luke Walton’s staff as a coaching associate. He handles video preparation and some scouting duties alongside two other coaching associates.

“It’s a paid internship,” Dufault said, describing his position. “We work all of our practices and all of our home games. We’re on the court helping guys out with pre-game workouts. They throw me in drills a lot. I’m used as a defender a lot when guys are working out.”

Continue reading “After playing days end, Dufault discovers new track as Lakers coaching associate”

Blessed with speed: Blazing-fast Trinity senior Kaden Kuntz stars on the track and football field

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

Kaden Kuntz was only 10 years old when when he began to understand he had the gift of speed.

He had qualified for the Hershey National Junior Olympic Championships in two events, the 50 and 100 meters. He chose to run the 50 meters and became national runner-up.

The Dickinson Trinity High School senior said that was “the first time I realized I had some speed behind me.”

Kuntz hasn’t slowed down since.

Today, he can make a legitimate claim to being the fastest high school athlete in North Dakota.

He’s the reigning Class B state champion in the 100 and 200 meters — last spring, he clocked the state’s fastest 100 time in three years — and also won the long jump title. He was the catalyst for the Trinity boys winning their first track and field state championship since 2006, and figures to put them in the title hunt again this spring.

“He’s probably one of the best track athletes we’ve had in a long time,” Trinity track and field head coach Craig Kovash said.

Not only that, Kuntz’s speed and abilities on the football field helped him earn him Class A senior athlete of the year honors as he helped the Titans to the state semifinals. Just before Christmas, he signed to play college football for North Dakota State University.

Along with his athletic success, Kuntz’s coaches said he’s a standout in the classroom and has embraced a sense of leadership during his senior year.

“Not just his athleticism, but his leadership skills for setting an example for all those kids around him,” Trinity head football coach John Odermann said. “I can’t say how proud of I am of the young man he’s become and the example he sets for the underclassmen.”

Continue reading “Blessed with speed: Blazing-fast Trinity senior Kaden Kuntz stars on the track and football field”

More on the Blue Hawks in China

The Dickinson State basketball team poses with the Northwest A&F team, as well as numerous coaches and officials, including DSU President Dr. Richard McCallum.

Here’s a quick update on the Dickinson State men’s basketball team’s trip to China according to an e-mail from head coach Ty Orton.

On its second day, the team visited Tiananmen Square and ate “unique foods” in the alley food shops nearby. Needless to say, senior Nathan Lebsock and freshman Zach Edward didn’t enjoy their fish and brains combo meal.

Everywhere the players go, they have been asked to take numerous photos “This adds 15 to 20 minutes of extra time at every place we venture to. The people are impressed with the size of our guys and that they happen to play basketball,” Orton said.

On their third and fourth days, the Blue Hawks spent time at Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University in Yangling and played in two basketball games. “The tour was fun and very informative for the players and coaches,” Orton said.

The teams first game was played in front of 4,000 students who Orton said took off a national holiday to stay and watch the game. Orton said he was told the university turned away more than 8,000 students who wanted to watch the game in the packed facility. “The game was a great success and everyone involved enjoyed the experience,” he said.

Sophomore Matt Lee was named the game’s Most Valuable Player after scoring 15 points and grabbing 10 rebounds as the Blue Hawks won 82-67.

The team played in game with mixed teams on their fourth day.

On the fifth day, yesterday, Orton said the team was having trouble finding an Internet connection or cellphone reception.

View more team photos on their Flickr page.

The Dickinson State men's basketball team poses in front of the Forbidden City in Beijing.

DSU basketball team makes it to China

Note: The Dickinson State men’s basketball team is in China until April 8. Throughout their trip, I’ll be receiving emails from head coach Ty Orton and writing updates on the blog about what they are doing.

The Dickinson State men’s basketball team has made its way to China. The team left Dickinson at 7 a.m. Thursday and ended the very long day in Beijing.

They took a bus from Dickinson to Fargo, flew from Fargo to Chicago, had a two-hour layover and a 45-minute runway delay before the 14-hour flight from Chicago to Beijing began.

“We were all in coach and we were packed in like sardines,” DSU head coach Ty Orton said in an email.

Orton said the flight was an interesting study in the behavior of each player and coach.

Assistant coach Mark Svagera, who stands about 6-foot-7 and according to Orton, “never sits still,” didn’t sleep the entire flight and was always moving.

According to Orton’s email, Carl Dynnesson, the Blue Hawks’ 6-foot-7, 320-pound center, and Destry Sterkel,  a 6-10, 340-pound center, told him “they hope China really likes them because they will not do the flight again.”

Senior center Derek Pauley and assistant coach Brandon Thomas, both 6-6, slept the entire way. Keep in mind, the team were flying coach.

As for freshman guard Brock Boos, who had never been on an airplane before Thursday?

“Brock was, and still is, shocked at everything that is going on,” Orton said.

Since arriving, Orton said the team has been continuously approached about the trip.

“The guys are also starting to realize that this is a trip of a lifetime,” he added. “The guys have been complimented numerous times about their behavior and how well they represent DSU. That is always great to hear.”

The team, who is 14 hours ahead of us in Dickinson, visits Tiananmen Square and the Olympic Village today and then takes a 2½-hour flight to Xi’an at 9 p.m.

The team is in China for 10 days representing the university on a friendship tour that includes two basketball games at one of DSU’s partner universities, Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University in Yangling, China. The team is scheduled to return April 8.