Between the Pipes

This site is about sports, life or whatever is on my mind at the time.

One rule change maybe hurting the intergrity of the game

January 28th, 2013

As many know, my favorite sport in the world is hockey. I love to watch it, play it and talk about it with anyone who shares my interest.
So it isn’t hard to see why I have come to enjoy covering area hockey games more than any other sport played in this area.
However, throughout the many games I have covered this season, I have come to notice one thing that has me a little worried about the integrity of the game, especially at the varsity level.
That one thing is the overabundance of 5-minute major penalties being dealt out by officiating crews during games.
Don’t get me wrong, I do understand the reasoning behind the heightened severity of checking-from-behind and boarding penalties. I remember the day Jack Jablonski was hit from behind and paralyzed during a hockey game while playing for Benilde-St. Margaret. I will admit that hits like those should be outlawed from the game, and players whose only purpose on the ice is to hurt another player should not be allowed to play the game.
However, I feel like — in some instances — 5-minute majors are being handed out rather quickly and more frequently than called for.
In the games I have covered this year, there have been many games where at least one — if not two or three — 5-minute major penalties have been whistled. A good amount of the major penalties given out were deserved, but there were many more that were very borderline calls that could have just as easily been 2-minute minors or not even been called at all.
In every one of those games, the team that has taken the brunt of the penalty minutes from the calls has gone on to be scored on one or more times on the penalty kill. And more times than not, that one penalty was the difference in the game.
In saying that, I don’t have a problem with a team being punished for the actions of its players, but the punishment should fit the crime.
Last week, I covered a game where there were two 5-minute majors handed out, both to the same team. Up until that point, the team had been holding its own in a tie game in the second period.
However, after taking the first penalty, said team allowed three goals during the five minutes their player was in the box, essentially killing any chances it had at making a comeback.
To add insult to injury, the same team was assessed a second 5-minute major penalty toward the end of the second period. During the subsequent penalty kill, the team gave up another chunk of goals — all but putting the game out of reach for good even before the third period could be played.
The first of these two penalties was a textbook checking-from-behind, with a player receiving a cross-check in the back in the open ice without an obvious reason for why such an aggressive hit was needed. I had no problem with that player being assessed the 5-minute major, because it was a vicious hit of the type that needs to be taken out of the game completely.
However, the second 5-minute major given out was very weak and very easily could not have been called at all. The player who received the penalty was skating up the ice and ran into the back of a player from the other team who had been skating backwards. To me, it looked like two players running into each other and didn’t seem to warrant a 5-minute penalty. Maybe it could have been a 2-minute minor, but a major penalty was a stretch, at least in my eyes.
Another part of receiving a 5-minute major, aside from the 10-minute misconduct that goes along with it, is that I find a little odd that a referee has the ability to decide whether or not to give the offending player an additional game misconduct — which means the player has to sit out the next game.
As I have said before, I have no problem with a player getting what they deserve. So when a vicious hit is given out that could have or did cause another player harm, I can agree with kicking a player out for another game as part of their punishment.
But I don’t quite think leaving the call up to the referee’s discretion is a good thing, because some refs might not think the same as others and may give a game misconduct to a player who didn’t deserve it.
Losing a player to a game misconduct not only affects a team for that game, but the next one as well. It isn’t fair for teams to lose players for extra games when other players get off because one ref didn’t think a certain hit was worth a game misconduct.
If a hit was vicious enough to warrant a 5-minute major, then a player should lose the right to play in the next game as well. It should not be a judgment call by the referee, because if the hit wasn’t vicious or malicious in nature, then the player shouldn’t be getting a 5-minute major for something that could have been a 2-minute minor.
The one saving grace I see for this string of 5-minute major calls is that the hockey leagues that implemented the stricter rules on those types calls in only trying out the new rules on a one-year basis and will review the changes after the end of this season. From where I sit, I cannot see this rule being as strict next year as it has been this year, but maybe I am in the minority on this issue and way off base in my opinions.
I would like to close by saying that when I bring this point up about the 5-minute major penalties, I do not mean to say that I don’t care about the safety of players of all ages. I know that the leagues are only trying to protect players from vicious and malicious hits that could harm them in any way.
However, hockey is a physical, high-speed game where injuries can come from anywhere and at any time without a vicious hit needing to be involved.
I am just expressing my feelings on how a simple rule change meant to protect players can go too far and start to take away from the game that I love.

Deck the halls

December 10th, 2012

With the temperature dropping into the teens and snow finally on the ground, the weather has finally taken a turn for the better, in my opinion that is.
As most of you probably know, I love winter in all its forms. I love the snow, the cold and the ice. Well, when it stays off the roads that is.
I couldn’t have been happier when I saw the first flakes of snow falling from the sky late last week when I woke to find a blanket of white covering the trees and ground outside my window. Snow was the one thing that had been missing from my life these last few weeks and now that it is here, I hope it never leaves.
Some of you might wonder why I wish for more snow and cold weather when there is more than enough already here. Well the answer is simple. Snow is one of the best things about the winter season and means that, in most cases, Christmas is not far off.
My family, as I believe I have mentioned before, loves everything about Christmas. Be it the decorating of the house or the joys of the holidays. We love all of it and are sad to see it go when the New Year comes around.
If you were to turn onto my street back in Hudson, Wis., you wouldn’t have a hard time telling which house was ours.
My mother kind of goes a little crazy with the house decorations, and that is putting it lightly. Every tree, bush, patch of lawn and window is decked out with lights, Christmas ornaments or holiday knick-knack. And let me tell you, even if I might be a little biased, it is the best looking house on the block.
And if the outside is overloaded with decorations, then the inside is bursting with them. Just like the outside of the house, there isn’t anywhere you could look and not see some kind of holiday ornament, tinsel or some other Christmas goodie.
Even though some people might find the number of decorations excessive, I love it and wouldn’t have it any other way. The Willi house at Christmas time will always hold many good memories for me from my childhood.
The all-day Christmas movie marathons on Christmas Eve is one of my favorite holiday traditions and I will be disappointed if it should ever come to an end. Another favorite is Christmas morning when we all come together to open presents and eat breakfast as a family. In short, the Willi home at Christmas time is the only place I ever want to be.
Sadly, my own apartment here in Worthington will not be nearly as well decorated or Christmas-y as my parents’ home. The extent of my holiday decorating is two little Christmas trees with lights I’ve set up around my living room.
I know it isn’t much, but it is better than nothing when it comes to Christmas. And that is one of the main reasons why I am praying for more snow to fall, because if nothing else, more snow on the ground will make me feel more at home and hopefully tide me over until I can make it home for the holidays in a few weeks.
So bring on the snow, Mother Nature. I doubt you could snow so much as to make me hate seeing those wonderful white flakes fall from the sky. Well, as long as I can make it home for the holidays that is.

Playoffs vs. Bowls

November 29th, 2012

There has been very little for me to talk about with regard to the realm of sports in my last few columns, but this week, I do have a sports-related topic I am very excited to talk about.
As most of you know, I graduated from NDSU just this last spring. Not only was my senior year one of my best years of school, but it was also the most exciting when it came to Bison sports.
The NDSU football team made it all the way to the Football Championship Subdivision National Championship game in Frisco, Texas, and being a member of the Gold Star Marching Band, I was able to follow the team down to Texas and join in the celebration after the Bison took down Sam Houston State to claim the title.
I believe I have talked before about how awesome an experience the trip to Frisco and the subsequent Bison win was for me and the rest of the marching band, but if it were not for the playoff system the FCS uses in place of the bowl system of FBS the best experience of my college career would not have been possible.
I bring this up because this weekend NDSU will once again do battle with the South Dakota State Jackrabbits, a team the Bison held off a few weeks back in a 20-17 win at the Fargodome. More than anything, I wish I could be there this weekend to watch the action between these two bitter rivals on the biggest stage.
This matchup most likely would never have come to be if both of these teams were in the FBS because the bowl system makes it very hard for two teams from the same division to meet in a bowl game unless they are both at the top of the polls and make it to the BCS championship game. That reason alone is enough for me to find the FBS wanting when it comes to postseason play.
The postseason is the best thing about every sport on the face of the earth. Not only do the games become more important, but they become faster, more heated and a ton more fun to watch for the fans.
From football to hockey, postseason tournaments are what sports teams and fans alike live for. Without those playoffs, there would be no real way to know who the best team in the country is. Because with a playoff system, anything can happen, and even the least likely and most lowly team can win it all when it comes to the postseason.
The way the FBS allows a computer system and the coaches to choose who should be playing for the top prize just doesn’t sit right with me. How can the best team be weeded out from the masses when just two teams are allowed to duke it out in the arena for the top spot? It isn’t possible.
This year’s BCS championship game looks like it will come down to undefeated Notre Dame and the winner of the SEC championship game this weekend. I was happy to see the Fighting Irish go undefeated this year, because then at least they deserve to be in the top spot in the BCS and have the chance to fight for the championship.
However, in other years, no one goes undefeated and a dozen or so teams are sitting at the top of the polls with one or two losses who have a right to fight for their lives to get to the top. And those are the times when the bowl system fails miserably. Those are the times when a playoff system shows its true colors because it allows the best teams to prove they are the best or fail trying.
Besides being good for the sport, playoffs are good for the fans because the games are more abundant, more intense and more exciting. Fans can’t wait for the playoffs because the atmosphere at a playoff game is like nothing else in the world.
Yes, a regular-season game against a hated rival can have a similar feeling to it, but there is nothing like seeing that same rival again in the playoffs when losing means going home dejected and empty-handed. And winning a game in the postseason against that team you hate is just that much sweeter than any regular-season win can ever be.
Those are just a few reasons for why I believe the bowl system is flawed and needs to be replaced. If I took the time to go over every little thing I find wrong with the BCS, I wouldn’t be done writing this column until the BCS championship game was long gone.
In closing, I am sad that I will be missing the NDSU vs. SDSU game this weekend, but my heart will be there with all my friends and fellow members of the Gold Star Marching Band as they cheer the Bison on to victory. *knock on wood*
GO BISON.

So You Know You Can’t Dance…..

October 17th, 2012

In this world we live in, there are some people who can dance and then there are those who would fall flat on their faces if they ever tried. My talents lie somewhere in between the two extremes, but dancing has still been something I have tried to avoid at all costs.

I have never liked dancing and never had any desire to learn more about the art. My only experiences with dancing have been at weddings and a few school dances. But for the most part, I stayed as far from a dance floor as I possibly could.

My friends have always bugged me to come out dancing with them, telling me that it will be fun and that I won’t have to worry about looking stupid. But I would always tell them no. So eventually they gave up on me and just stopped suggesting it at all.

Case in point, this last weekend I was at a local festival with some friends enjoying some live music and generally enjoying the company of others.

The moment I walked into the festival tent, I couldn’t help but notice the large area cleared of any chairs or tables that couldn’t be anything else but a dance floor. I kept my distance as always, trying to avoid making eye contact with anyone who might have been dancing at the time in order to guarantee that I wouldn’t fall prey to the passing dancer who wanted a partner.

It wasn’t hard to stay clear of that section of the tent without drawing attention to my reluctance to step foot on the dance floor. For most of the night that is.

About two hours into my night, one of my friends, who had been a little late to the party, finally showed up and attempted to tempt our little merry band of miscreants to come join them on the dance floor. I was able to resist because it was still early and the urge to dance hadn’t really hit my friend all that hard yet.

So I toiled away a few more hours without incident, but I could sense something dark looming and I knew my time of freedom from the music would soon be coming to an end. That is when the same friend who had pestered me about joining them for a dance earlier made a second round in another desperate attempt to bring more people out onto the dance floor.

Once again, I tried to resist, but this time my friend made it clear that there was no way I could get out of it without making them extremely cross with me. And as much as I dislike dancing, I hate making my friends mad at me even more.

So I gave in and let my friend lead me onto the dance floor for the first time in a long time. I tried to get away with moving as little as possible in order to avoid actually showing my horrid dancing skills as long as possible. But I didn’t get away with it for long, for soon enough, my friend decided they were going to make me dance if it was the last thing they did.

At that point, my will to resist finally crumbed and I started to move my hips to the music in a feeble attempt to not look stupid with so many other people around me. However, I soon realized that no one really cared how bad my dancing was, they just wanted to dance with their friends.

This was when I finally understood that I could look as dumb as I could and no one would laugh at me. It was then that I figured out that I wasn’t actually as bad of a dancer as I had thought. And above all else, I was actually having a good time.

So now, dancing doesn’t really scare me as much. I may never win “So You Think You Can Dance,” but I will no longer shy away from dancing with my friends when the opportunity arises. I might even try to add in a few new moves next time.

The “Sprinkler” and the “Worm” are still cool dance moves, right?

 

Story telling at its best…

October 8th, 2012

For those people who know me best, it might not come as a surprise that I have a bit of a TV addiction. Not in any really bad kind of way, but my DVR is recording at least three to four shows on any given night of the week.
I know that might seem like a lot, but as a budding writer, and hopeful best-selling author in the future, I find TV shows to be a good way to learn the ins and outs of writing gripping and compelling narratives.
I will admit that some of the shows I watch aren’t exactly story driven. Shows like the “Big Bang Theory” or “How I Met Your Mother” do not have much meat on their bones when it comes to a deep story like you might find in a good book, but shows such as “Once Upon a Time” or “Doctor Who” more than make up for any lack in story telling I might find in other shows.
For those of you who haven’t heard of or seen “Once Upon a Time,” shame on you! In my opinion as a humble reporter, “Once Upon a Time” is one of the best written and well thought out shows on any channel today. And if you aren’t watching it already, you really should give it a chance.
“Once Upon a Time” far and away outshines any reality show or half-hour comedy with the shear amount of depth it is able to shell out week after week. Not only are there two storylines going on at once, but they continuely intertwine and overlap as the narrative moves forward.
Although it might seem like a lot to process, the writers for the show do a great job of bringing everything together to make sense by the end of every episode. However, that does not mean they don’t leave you with more questions than you might have had before the episode began, but in my opinion that only makes the show that much better.
If you have yet to watch the show, the premise is a little out there. As the title suggests, the main plot of the show is that the fairytale characters we love and know from every Disney movie or bed time story has been transported to our world by an evil queen.
Then one day, the protagonist’s child she put up for adoption years ago arrives on her doorstep telling her that she is the daughter of Prince Charming and Snow White. Not only that, but she is also the only person who can save those aforementioned fairytale characters and break the curse that sent them to our world in the first place.
Taking a leap of faith, the protagonist leaves her regular life to follow her son to the little town of Storybrooke, somewhere in Maine. Once there, she begins to realize something is not right with the people there, even if she is reluctant to believe the crazy story herself.
As each episode goes by, the writers reveal the true identity of the happy inhabitants of Storybrooke. And you might be surprised to find out who the seemingly innocent people really are deep down inside. These revelations, above anything else, have been one of the best parts of the show as a whole.
And the way the writers give you little bits and pieces to the bigger whole is another extremely compelling bit of story telling that goes a long way to prove just how good they really are. It keeps you guessing and makes you want to tune in each week to find out just who everyone really is. And some times, it might just surprise you who your favorite character really is.
As I was saying earlier, I love “Once Upon a Time” because of the writing and the way the show just keeps getting better every episode. Not only that, but the writers continue to find new ways to twist the story that you never see coming.
But another reason I really enjoy this show is because it is a show my whole family can really enjoy. I miss those nights when I could just sit down and have my sisters and parents all around me enjoying a good show with each other.
So, in case I haven’t hammered it into your head yet, you need to take a chance on “Once Upon a Time.” It is one of my favorite shows on the air today and I know more than a few of you will agree with me once you make your first visit to Storybrooke.

The fans and the game

September 24th, 2012

It is about this time every year that NHL teams across the country open up training camp in preparation for the start of the regular season.

It is a joyous time for any hockey fan because it means the bodies will soon be smashing, the pucks will soon be flying and the players will soon hit the ice to begin their quest for Lord Stanley’s Cup.

But this year, training camp has been pushed back. The preseason games where up-and-coming stars get the chance to test their mettle have been canceled and the regular season looks like it might be in jeopardy once again due to a lockout. And all of this because the players and the owners cannot agree on a few points and come to an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement.

It is hard for me to wrap my head around the reasons behind this lockout. Both sides seem to be solely focused on themselves and not on what really matters: the fans and the game.

First off, the fans should be the leagues main concern in everything they do, because if there are no fans, there is no NHL. The league lost a good chunk of fans after the last lockout erased a whole season of hockey back in the early 2000s.

Now, just as fans were finally starting to flock back to the arenas and starting to watch more and more games on TV, another lockout hits the NHL. All because the owners and the players are worrying about where the money is going and who can get the most out of a new agreement.

That kind of thinking will get the league nowhere with the fans who are already unable to go to games due to increases in ticket prices or casual viewers who will not be able to see any games if this lockout continues.

How is this thinking going to bring more fans to a game that has yet to become as main stream as basketball, football or baseball?

In short, it won’t.

The NHL needs to appeal more to the casual fan and make it easier for them to enjoy the game like the die-hard lovers of hockey do. Those die-hards may never lose hope on the NHL, but that won’t go a long way to expanding the appeal of the game to sports fans across the country.

However, as important as the fans are to the game, the NHL seems to be losing sight of what makes hockey such a great sport: the game itself.

I am sick of professional sports continually becoming more and more about how much money can be made rather than playing and enjoying the game.

There are very few people who can go to work every day and play a sport they love. So, I fail to see why the money even matters.

I understand that a person needs to make money to support themselves and their families, but at the same time, it isn’t like the minimum salary a player can make (in any sport) isn’t more than enough to get a normal family through a year without too much to worry about.

I’m not saying that every player is like this or that it is even a majority of the players, but obviously somewhere along the line, money has become way more important to the game than the 60 minutes between the start and finish that the players are on the ice.

I also understand that this lockout is about more than just the money, but in the end isn’t it always about the money? There are probably some other issues that I don’t quite understand as an outsider looking in, but if a fan like me cannot grasp what the holdup is, then how can the casual fans?

In the end, all I am trying to say is that the NHL needs to get its act together and figure out a way to avoid losing another season to arguing and bickering.

I for one will not be happy if another NHL season is flushed away just when I was starting to get excited that the Minnesota Wild might be able to finally turn things around and make a deep run at the Stanley Cup. And I’m sure there are thousands of other fans out there who agree with me.

I need my hockey and I need it sooner rather than later.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow….

September 18th, 2012

It is hard to ignore the fact that the weather has gotten colder over the last few weeks; although I can’t say that I am disappointed.

Being a hockey player, it isn’t hard to imagine why summer is not my favorite season. I don’t care for the dry heat, the temperature or the lack of precipitation that accompany the summer months.

It can’t be hard to guess which season is my favorite. I’ll give you a hint: if there isn’t snow on the ground, I don’t like it.

If you guessed winter, you are right. I can’t get enough of winter. The cold. The snow. The snowmen that adorn the yards across the city. The frozen ponds turned hockey rinks. I love it all. I even love the sub-zero temperatures and the blowing winds that chill me to the bone.

For those of you who might think that I am just a tad crazy after what you just read, I will not deny that it does sound a bit crazy when you first hear it. But I have a very solid theory that I can use to back up my ravings of winter’s magnificence.

The theory is this: when it gets hot, you can only take off so much clothing, but you can always add more layers when it gets cold. Mind you, it takes a lot for me to get cold. I still wear shorts far into October and November even when the temperature drops into the 40s. But I still stand behind my theory none the less.

The only situation where I throw my theory out the window is when wind is added to the mix. I can stand outside in the freezing cold with just a light jacket and jeans, but the second the wind picks up I am grabbing for as many layers as I can find.

Anyway, there are plenty of reasons I love winter asides from the cold and the snow. For one, my favorite holiday is Christmas. Not because of the presents, but because I just love that time of year where people start to think about others more than themselves. It makes me warm inside to think about all the good people do around the holidays.

Plus, Christmas has always been a special time with my family.

My dad is the biggest Christmas nut you will find. He listens to Christmas music 24/7, much to the chagrin of his co-workers and family. He forces us to watch Christmas movies all day Christmas Eve (not that we always complain mind you).

The joy the holiday brings to him and the rest of my family has rubbed off on me in the last couple of years because now I can’t watch a Christmas movie without tears coming to my eyes. I just love that time of year and it only adds to my love of winter as a whole.

So you won’t see me complaining about the temperature dropping as fall creeps in. It just means that winter is not far behind. I can’t wait for the snow to fall again.

 

It is Bison football time….

August 28th, 2012

This week is the start of the college football season for many teams. But there is really only one team I care about: The North Dakota State University Bison.

More than anything else about college, I am going to miss getting to cheer on NDSU football with the rest of the Bison faithful.

I can still remember the first game I ever went to at NDSU way back in my freshman year, which was a 41-6 beat down of Austin Peavy at home in 2008.

The players came onto the field to the music of Thunderstruck by AC/DC and burst through the giant NDSU football helmet onto the field. I was on the field with the marching band at the time and I remember how much I jumped when the cannons fired to tell the fans the Bison were in the house.

The rest of the game is pretty much a blur to me, but I will not forget what it was like to be part of that Bison family during football games. The Bison faithful was not only present at every home game, but they almost always had a good representation at the away games as well.

Through the years, my love for the Bison has only grown. And with NDSU taking home the FCS Championship trophy last season, I am beyond excited to get to see what the Bison can do this season.

It should be another good season for the team, with many of their star players returning from last year’s squad as well as new players getting their chance to shine. The sky is the limit for this team and I am only sad because I won’t be able to see more than one game this year.

Besides missing the game itself, I will also miss the Fargodome itself. Not only is it where the Bison play week in and week out, but it is where I got the chance to perform with the Gold Star Marching Band every home game. Those memories will always be with me and I will enjoy every chance I get to step back on that field when I can.

If I could, I would be at all the Bison home games, but I just will not have the time with work and everything else going on in my life this year. But my heart and spirit will be with the Bison and the rest of the Herd, including the Gold Star Marching Band, when they start up their new season this Saturday against Robert Morris at the Fargodome.

Luckily, I still get to see the Bison play this season when they travel to Sioux Falls, S.D. to take on the University of South Dakota Coyotes in October. It should be a good time and I will enjoy every second of it.

That’s it for now.

Go Bison!

Throwing rocks at houses…….

August 24th, 2012

I know that I have talked about my love of hockey a few times in this blog, so I figured this week I would talk about one of my other favorite ice sports.

And before you start wondering what a six-foot-tall, 240 lbs. man might look like in tights, I’m not talking about figure skating. No one would be safe if I hung up my hockey skates and took up figure skating. It would not be pretty.

Anyway, back to the topic of this blog. The ice sport I am referring to is curling. I picked up the sport two winters ago when my college roommate convinced me to start a team with him and a few of my other friends who lived next door to us in the dorms.

At the time, I knew very little about curling other than you threw rocks at houses and Canadians really liked their curling. But I had caught a few matches with my roommate and I couldn’t help but start to like the sport.

When we started practicing as a team, we weren’t very good. Some of my teammates didn’t know how to walk on the ice without falling over, but they eventually got the hang of it.

After a few practices we started to be pretty good for people who had only just picked up the game a few weeks before.

The league we joined was newbie league where people in the area could take their try at curling. It was part of the Fargo-Moorhead Curling Club in Fargo, N.D. which was conveniently just a few blocks away from my dorm at NDSU.

The year went on and we continued to get better. We had some good nights, but we also had our share of bad ones too. But by the end of the year, we were at the top of our league and got a pretty high seed heading into the playoffs.

To our surprise, we made it to the finals where we were able to claim victory once again. For our efforts, we got some pretty nifty FM-Curling Club t-shirts as well as congratulation from the other team we had faced.

Because we had so much fun the first year, me and my friends decided to join the league again my senior year, where we once again took the championship for the second year in a row.

I don’t know what it is about curling, but I have really grown to love the sport, both watching it and, even more so, playing it. I have never had so much fun with a group of friends as I have when we would go curling on Thursday nights.

Sadly, our team won’t be able to defend our title for another year with our team going their separate ways after we all graduated from college last spring.

I will always remember my teammates and the good times we had while curling. Not only that, but I don’t think I will be able to forget the people we played against either since curling is one of the rare sports where you can be bitter enemies on the ice, but be best of friends once you get back to the locker room. That was one of the best things about curling and is how I wish all sports were like.

Curling is one of the main reasons I wish I was still going back to NDSU this fall even if it meant I had to take more classes. It would all be worth it to get another chance to step on the ice and throw more rocks at houses. I will for sure miss all my curling buddies. I hope you are all reading this and remembering things as fondly as I am.

That’s if for now.

Good Skating.

 

I’m with the band…marching band that is.

August 9th, 2012

One of the things I am going to miss the most about college, besides the sports, is marching band.

The Gold Star Marching Band of NDSU (in Fargo, N.D.) will start their band camp later this month. And even though I am done with college, I really wish I could go back and be part of the band for one last year because being in the NDSU marching band was the most fun I have ever had and I will miss the band more than anything else about my college years.

My marching band career started in my last two years of high school. Once I graduated from high school, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be in marching band any more. But when I found out NDSU had a marching band I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to continue my marching career.

Moving to Fargo as a freshman, I didn’t know many people at school, so marching band was where I got the chance to meet new people without having to try too hard. Throughout my four years in the band, I met a lot of people I am still friends with today and a few of them have become my best friends who I will hopefully keep in touch with for the rest of my life.

But aside from making friends in marching band, the GSMB became my escape from the rigours of classes and homework. I could always look forward to going to practice every Monday, Wednesday and Friday where I would be able to lose myself in the music and the marching. It gave me a chance to refocus my mind and relax before hitting the books.

However, practices weren’t always super fun or relaxing. There were times the wind got so fast that it became hard to move around the field, let alone keep your music where you could see it. And other times we got rained on, snowed on and every so often, we got hailed on.

And on the worst days, it got so cold that there was no possible way to stay warm even when you were wearing multiple layers of winter gear. But there were still super special occasions when everything hit us all at once, making practice anything but enjoyable.

Even with the weather in Fargo constantly being against me and the rest of the band, practice was where I wanted to be because it was the way we learned our shows.

And performing at the Fargodome is what I loved doing more than anything else when it came to marching band. Not only was it just fun to be on such a big stage, but it was also extremely peaceful and somewhere I could lose myself in the performance, even if for just a little while.

The feeling I got while performing was unlike anything else I have ever felt. It was a lot like what I used to feel while playing hockey, but with music instead of ice. I can’t really explain it, but I always came away from any hockey game or marching band performance feeling alive and happy. It is one of the biggest things I will miss about marching band.

With four years of marching at NDSU under my belt, there are a ton of experiences that I will always remember. However, the best experience, and the one that will stay with me the longest, is when the band got the chance to play at the FCS National Championship game in Frisco, Texas. That is one trip I will never forget for the rest of my life. We played out hearts out throughout the whole game, both in the stands and on the field, and had thousands of Bison fans cheering us on from all around the stadium. That is a feeling like nothing else.

And the fact that NDSU won the game was just an added bonus that made the whole experience just that much better.

But, like I said before, I am going to miss being part of the NDSU marching band, but I know that the members will continue the legacy of the Gold Star Marching Band and make me proud the call myself a Bison and an alumni of the GSMB.