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.

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Opportunity of a lifetime: DSU CB Jay Liggins hoping for shot at the NFL

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.”

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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.”

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Holtz motivates energy conference in leadup to Trump

BISMARCK — Lou Holtz joked Thursday that the last time he was in North Dakota, oil was $100 a barrel and he wasn’t homeless.

The former college football coach and ESPN commentator, who lost a Florida home in a fire last summer, encouraged energy industry leaders and workers to take the recent oil downturn in stride during a speech preceding Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s appearance at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference.

“Quitting is a permanent solution to a temporary problem,” he said. “Until you fly on solar energy, oil is going to continue to be very, very important.”

Holtz, a former board member for Watford City-based Nuverra Environmental Solutions, only lightly touched on energy in his speech and went through standard motivational material that has made him a sought-after speaker nationwide.

Holtz peppered multiple jokes throughout his 40-minute speech. His few moments speaking about oil were tied into his motivational theme, and for a moment, Holtz even got political.

“We all have injustices done,” he said. “It would bother the daylights out of me in this oil business, where our government subsidizes all kinds of fancy things and puts all kinds of restrictions on me. But you can’t be bitter about it.”

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Twins Stop in Rothsay Home to Comfort 8-Year-Old Fan

ROTHSAY, Minn. — The look in Cole Fielder’s eyes said more than words.

When two Minnesota Twins baseball players and two of the team’s all-time greats walked into his bedroom Wednesday afternoon, the eight-year-old didn’t move.

But his eyes did.

“When his eyes go up, that means yes,” said his mother, Dori Fielder.

Twins Michael Cuddyer and Mike Redmond, along with Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew and twotime World Series champion Dan Gladden, visited Cole as part of the Twins Winter Caravan.

Cole has Type I spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a motor neuron disease which causes the muscles to atrophy, and can’t leave the house during cold months.

Doctors diagnosed Cole with SMA when he was just five weeks old.

Today, Cole is in a wheelchair, on a ventilator, has no motor functions and can’t speak. His eyes are his only form of communication.

“I’m sure it’s a little overwhelming for him,” said Redmond, a catcher entering his second season with the Twins. “On the other hand, I’m sure it’s something he’ll remember for the rest of his life.”

The caravan spent more than 30 minutes at the Fielder’s house in Rothsay, speaking with Cole and his family, taking pictures and signing memorabilia.

“I don’t think they realize what they really did for him and did for us,” Dori said.

The players said they do very few house calls during the regional goodwill tour, which also stopped in Duluth, Wadena and Fergus Falls on Wednesday.

“It’s very unique,” said Cuddyer, a third baseman entering his sixth season. “We don’t necessarily get to single homes.”

While the family rubbed shoulders with the players, the youngest members of the Fielder family, 5-year-old Tori and 4-year-old Noah, enjoyed playing with “T.C.”, the Twins mascot, who brought memorabilia items for the kids.

However, the most surprising moment for the Fielder family was the appearance of Killebrew, who wasn’t scheduled to be with the team.

“To come to a home like this, I think, is a pretty special thing to do,” said the 69-year-old Killebrew. “They’re real Twins fans here.”

That may be an understatement.

Everything in Cole’s room is associated with the major league team.

The pennants on the wall, the blanket on his bed and countless other Twins items show the family’s dedication to the baseball team.

The allegiance began when a Twins baseball game caught Cole’s attention four years ago.

“My brother just started watching it a little bit and he started liking it,” said 13-yearold Nick Fielder. “So we started watching it.”

Today, it’s his best outlet and a bonding tool for the Fielder family.

“I didn’t even start watching baseball until Cole started watching baseball,” said his father, Rick Fielder.

Kay Siebert, one of Cole’s former nurses, spent the past two years urging the public relations staff that handles the caravan to make a stop in Rothsay to visit Cole.

Siebert could hardly hold back tears of joy when she saw Cole with the players.

“I was just tickled,” Siebert said. “This is the kind of thing Cole really lives for.”

From Dickinson to Frisco: Area Bison fans confident about chances for fifth national title

Sarah and Jared Twogood, of Dickinson, stand on the fi eld at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, following North Dakota State University’s victory over Illinois State in their fourth consecutive FCS championship game on Jan. 10, 2015.
Sarah and Jared Twogood, of Dickinson, stand on the fi eld at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, following North Dakota State University’s victory over Illinois State in their fourth consecutive FCS championship game on Jan. 10, 2015.

Dave and Kay Moody aren’t exactly superstitious, but they aren’t taking any chances either.

The Moodys made their fifth annual trip to Frisco, Texas, this week the same way they did when they followed the North Dakota State University football team — and their son, senior Bison receiver Nate Moody — there in 2012.

The Moodys left Dickinson on Wednesday to drive to the Denver area and then flew to Dallas on Thursday morning and are staying at the same hotel they did during the first title season, Dave said, when Nate was a freshman who saw playing time in NDSU’s first title win.

“It’s kind of full circle,” Dave said. “That’s what we did the first year and we figured, let’s do it.”

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