Jay Liggins was 11 years old when he left Memphis, Tenn. He remembers it was a Thursday.
Just four days earlier, his mother had made an abrupt decision to move he and his 10 siblings across the country to escape inner-city violence and find a hometown more suitable for raising a large family.
Of all places, they ended up in Bismarck, N.D., a city one-tenth the size of Memphis in a state none of them had ever been to and knew little about.
“It was such a random decision,” Liggins said.
Yet it was one that became incredibly fateful to Liggins’ future, despite numerous challenges he would end up facing along the way.
Later this month, the former Dickinson State University standout cornerback will likely get an opportunity to be the first Blue Hawk signed by a National Football League team.
“It’s an opportunity of a lifetime,” Liggins said. “It’s something I wanted to do, and the fact that it’s in front of me, I had to grab it.”
So far, the Rio Olympics have been pretty chill for Trevor Barry.
The Bahamian high jumper and Dickinson State University alumnus said he has been spending a lot of time in the training room, taking advantage of the free massages and physical therapy offered to the athletes.
“Just relaxing until it’s time for showtime,” he said.
Showtime is Sunday for the 33-year-old two-time Olympian, who’ll compete in the qualification rounds with the hope of making Tuesday’s finals.
To them, he’s a “legendary” coach, a man who helped teach the meaning of humility and camaraderie, or someone who simply gave them a chance when no one else would.
To all of them, however, he’s coach Hank Biesiot.
“They just don’t make ‘em like him anymore,” said Randy Gordon, a longtime head football coach for Dickinson Trinity and a member of the first Dickinson State team Biesiot coached in 1976.
We’re a generation or more removed from the last time the Dickinson State football team had a season this bad.
Before Saturday, the Blue Hawks had never lost 10 games in a season.
It marked only the second time since World War II that a DSU football team has finished a season with one win. When the Blue Hawks were still the Savages in 1966 under head coach Orlo Sundree, they went 1-7. Sundree would only last one more season and DSU would go through two other coaches before promoting Hank Biesiot to the head position in 1976.
More than three decades of success followed. Few team records still stand that weren’t set in the Biesiot coaching era.
Janae Moore set an enviable standard for Dickinson State student-athletes. She was strong in the classroom, and fearless and physical on the basketball court. When it came to Blue Hawks, she was about as good as it got.
On Wednesday, DSU lost one of its shining examples of a student-athlete when Moore died in a car accident near her hometown of Sidney, Mont.
She was only 20 years old, would have been a junior for the Blue Hawks next season, and was well on her way to establishing an excellent career as she played a key role in trying to build the women’s basketball team into a perennial success.
Moore’s death is the second time in four years that DSU has had to deal with the untimely death of a standout athlete.