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Marney Gellner: Top of Her Game
by Marci Narum | Photography: Margo LaPanta When CBS affiliate, KXMB-TV in Bismarck hired the first female sports anchor in western North Dakota nearly 22 years ago, the station’s management had no doubts. Marney Gellner was right at home with the sports team. “She was just really good, so the decision was easy to make,” recalls Mike Chaussee, the news director who hired Marney to fill the weekend sports anchor position in May 1996. Marney had just graduated from Bismarck’s University of Mary with a communications degree and completed an internship at the TV station when the job opened. She swept the competition. “She was the best person we found for the job, which says a lot. When you’re looking for talent, you need somebody who’s passionate and dedicated and smart and has communication skills. What she always had, that you can’t really teach, was presence. And she had it the second the camera came on.” Mike says Marney also knew what she was talking about. This was her wheelhouse. “I was a total jock,” Marney shares. “I played basketball and volleyball, I was in track, and I played softball in the summer. Basketball was by far my favorite sport.” Today, Marney covers NBA, WNBA, and MLB games on Fox Sports North (FSN) in Minneapolis. She moved up to the major sports cable network in six short years, becoming a sideline reporter and play-by-play announcer in October 2002. “My main three are Twins, Timberwolves, and Lynx,” Marney shares. “I probably travel more with the Timberwolves and that can be hard. FSN does 75 games for the Wolves. I like the roof and the clock of basketball. Baseball games can sometimes take a long time. But I like the vibe and the chill of baseball. And the Lynx are awesome. I do play-by-play for the Lynx. They did win the championship last year and four of the last seven. “Play-by-play is a challenge because I never feel like I can stop preparing. I read both teams’ game notes, go through stats, and read articles. But I always feel like there’s one more piece of information I could have read or one more tidbit I could have found. I’m always prepared. But I never feel like I’m finished.” FAST BREAK Marney’s leap to the big leagues didn’t surprise Mike Chaussee—nor Pat Sweeney, the sports director at WDAZ-TV in Grand Forks who put her in an anchor chair 18 months after Mike did. “She came in 1997 and stayed for two years. She did everything we threw at her; there wasn’t much she couldn’t do,” Pat shares. “In addition to anchoring the weekends and reporting, she hosted the UND basketball coach’s show. “I’m very proud of her. I can’t take claim for her getting that far. She has the talent to be where she is.” “She was going to go places,” Mike adds. After her move to Grand Forks, Mike says he got a phone call from the news director from WISC-TV in Madison, Wisconsin, who was going to hire Marney. “Pretty much the entire conversation was about how it’s going to be nice to have her work in Madison for about three days because she’s on to bigger and better things. “The thing we did [at KXMB] was encourage her to find other women in the business who could mentor her. I didn’t feel like I could do that. I knew she had the talent but I didn’t have the background and experience of what she was going to go through.” MARNEY’S MENTOR Mike encourage Marney to reach out to Minneapolis sports reporter, Michele Tafoya, who worked at Midwest Sports Channel (MSC, now FSN) as a sideline reporter for the Timberwolves, a position Marney now holds. “I said, ‘I can’t contact Michele Tafoyyya!’” Marney says emphatically, dragging out Michele’s last name. Then she smiles and confesses: “I probably called twice a week.” Marney was determined to actually talk to Michele one day. “I just admired her. Her work is so polished. She doesn’t make mistakes, she is so good at what she does. She is the bar. That was when she was at MSC. Now she’s doing Sunday night football [on NBC], the Olympics, Super Bowl. It doesn’t even matter that she’s female. She’s not the best female sports reporter. She’s the best sports reporter. “And I love her!” Marney says, raising her hands, elation in her voice. Marney’s admiration for Michele is no longer from a distance nor one-sided. “She carries herself well,” Michele shares about Marney, who she considers a friend. “I really love the fact that she just owns everything about her work. She’s very skilled at preparation, that’s clear. She’s always well-prepared. She’s just strong in her presence.” The two TV sports professionals get together occasionally and share a lot in common. “She’s a mom, we both have two kids, and we exchange Christmas cards,” Marney says. “We talk about what it’s like to travel and be the mom traveling, leaving your husband and kids at home, and doing homework over Facetime.” Michele calls Marney bright, internally-motivated, comfortable, emotionally intelligent, and even-keeled—qualities that have given her a strong foundation from which to do her job. “This is a job that can be difficult for men and women,” Michele says. “You can get criticized for anything. I think people see someone on TV as a product and not a human, so you hear compliments and you hear a lot of criticism. So my only advice to her was be true to who you are. You know what you’re doing.” Marney was a female sports broadcast pioneer in North Dakota in the mid 90s. She didn’t think much of it; it was a job she wanted and knew she could do. Michele says Marney went into the field with the same mindset she did in 1993. “I didn’t go into this thinking I’m a woman in a man’s world. I went into it thinking I’m a journalist in the sports world. Has it been predominantly, historically a man’s field? Yeah, okay. That’s a fact. Now what? Does that mean you have to go in feeling angry or feeling minimized or trivialized? That’s your choice. Make the right choice. Put your head down, work hard, prepare really hard, and do the right things. It seems to me that Marney’s been able to accomplish that.” NO FINE LINE Because of her success, young, aspiring sports reporters now seek Marney for her advice. “I tell the females, you’ve got to be so conscious of relating to the athletes and coaches. There is a huge benefit to having a friendship and a rapport. But there is a line—not a thin, little line—a big, thick, black line that you cannot cross because your reputation, your professionalism, everything is gone with one little step across that line. I established long ago the big, bold line that I won’t go anywhere near. I’m friends with a lot of the athletes. I’m also friends with their wives. There’s a big difference between being friendly and being flirty. And you cannot be flirty in this job or you will not last.” Marney never imagined her career as a sports reporter would last this long. She loves her job, but the bold lines Marney had in mind for her television life—were comedy lines. “I was trying to figure out how to get to SNL (Saturday Night Live). I wanted to be a writer. I kept a sketch notebook in high school with teachers’ quotes and sayings, thinking those would be such good SNL characters! “When I was in Madison I took a class at The Second City [Improvisational Theatre] in Chicago. One class—Intro to Beginner’s Improv. I drove to Chicago for eight weeks in a row and that was really hard to do on one of my two days off. But I did it because obviously, this is how I’m getting into SNL. “I’m still not sure if SNL is looking at 44-year-old writers,” she says. WITTY & HARD-WORKING Marney’s high school basketball coach could see that happening. “Everyone on the team gravitated to her,” Greg Limke remembers. “She displayed amazing leadership qualities and had a bubbly personality. You’d look to the back of the bus and there’d be a huddle, everybody laughing. And who’d be in the middle of it? Marney Gellner. She’d be doing something and everybody would be laughing.” Marney, a 5-foot-4-inch guard for Minot’s Bishop Ryan Lions tore her ACL her junior year. But she came back from the knee injury stronger; as a senior, she was the team’s best three-point shooter and was named All-District. “She had that grit and that toughness, even with a damaged knee, loving the process of trying to get better every day.” Greg was coaching boys basketball in Mandan when Marney started her job at KXMB-TV in Bismarck. She showed up at practice one day to interview Greg—and he made a prediction. “I just smiled and told her I’d be watching her on ESPN. She’s pretty much done that. To watch where she is today, it’s a real thrill to see her on air. I always stop and watch if I see her doing an interview when I’m sitting in a restaurant, watching a game, and I’ll say, ‘Hey, I coached that girl.’” HER HOME TEAM The thrill Marney get from sports is mostly from the sidelines now. She points to her right knee. A new injury to it—a torn meniscus—limits her. But Marney and her husband, Matt, have two smaller—but more important—reasons to be on the sidelines: their kids. Grady is nine. Finley, named after the small North Dakota town, is seven. “My kids play basketball. Finley plays softball and Grady plays baseball. So we’re just getting into the routines of practices and games. I love that, that’s awesome. That’s going to have to be my sports for the next several years.” Marney was born in Langdon but grew up in Minot. She’s the second of three children. Her older brother, Rob, lives in Grafton, and her parents, Lola and Dewey, live in West Fargo. Her younger brother, Ryan, covers NDSU football for KVLY TV in Fargo. Marney still has that smooth, comfortable, on-air presence Mike Chaussee saw when he hired her in 1996. Now a seasoned, professional sports reporter, Marney is more at home than ever in front of a camera, interviewing the likes of Brian Dozier and Karl-Anthony Towns. Fans adore her. Her winning smile and personality, combined with her talent and skills, have put her at the top of her game. There is only one place, though, that really feels like home field for Marney Gellner: her home state. “We try to get back to North Dakota. It’s a big deal for me to get there to see the family. That’s one thing that’s a huge part of me and who I am, having that foundation, having been raised there, feeling that connection to home. That comfort level. There is nowhere I feel more ‘me’ than when we’re home.” Marney and middle school teammates at Minot Bishop Ryan Marney with husband, Matt, and kids Grady and Finley Photo courtesy: Margo LaPanta Photo courtesy: Margo LaPanta Letter Marney received (and saved!) from Michele Tafoya Margo LaPanta has a gallery of photos she took of Marney at a recent Timberwolves game on her website. Click here to see those photos, and more of Margo’s work.
Lessons from Sports
By Jody Kerzman Submitted Photos The goal of any athlete is to win. It often takes years of training, hours in the gym, in the pool, or on the field. And even then, only a select few will ever win championships, set records, or move on to the next level. Still, many athletes who have done all those things say sports are actually about much more than winning and losing. Four women who were standout athletes in high school and college share how sports helped shape them into successful career women, wives, and mothers. Lynette (Mund) Johnson In 1984, Pat Smykowski of Lidgerwood was named North Dakota’s first Miss Basketball. It was then that 12-year-old Lynette (Mund) Johnson declared that she too would be Miss Basketball one day. “I wanted to be her,” Lynette recalls. “I knew I had to put effort in.” Lynette went on to accumulate 2,645 total points in her high school basketball career; she is the sixth all-time top scorer in North Dakota Class B girls basketball. In 1990, her dream came true when she was named North Dakota’s Miss Basketball and earned a scholarship to play basketball at North Dakota State University, just like Pat Smykowski had. Lynette played for Coach Amy Ruley for four years. “My freshman year we lost the national championship by two points,” she remembers. “We won the national championship the next three years and my senior year we went undefeated. It was a pretty cool way to go out. “I learned so much from Coach Ruley,” Lynette continues. “She taught discipline, leadership, and the importance of doing the right thing. As a college basketball player, I had to make sacrifices too. I never went on a spring break trip because we always had practice. And maybe the best lesson I learned from playing college basketball was how to manage my time.” And when she thinks back to her “glory days,” Lynette remembers moments, not scores. “I don’t remember how many points I scored in college; it wasn’t important. It was all about the team and the team’s success. We all bought into that and I think that’s why we were so successful. “Still to this day though, when I hear the songs ‘Thunderstruck’ and ‘Sweet Child of Mine,’ I get goosebumps. Those songs take me back to college,” she adds. After college, Lynette taught English and coached girls basketball in West Fargo and Missouri. When she moved to Bismarck in 2008 she decided not to coach. She taught English at Bismarck High School for seven years and has been an assistant principal at BHS since 2015. Lynette says all her years of basketball played a very big part in making her the woman she is today. “It’s that self discipline, self respect, time management, confidence. All those things come with being on a team. Setting goals and knowing what it takes to reach those goals and knowing it is possible to reach those goals if you put the work in,” she explains. “Sports teach discipline; if you have practice, you should be there and you should practice hard the whole time. You don’t like the coach? That’s life. You’re not going to like everyone you deal with. You need to get along and figure out how to work together. “I miss the camaraderie but I feel fortunate to work at a school where as a teacher and administrator we still have teams. When I was teaching, I had my ‘English team’ and now as an administrator we are a team. Our goal is different than winning a game; our goal is to help our kids be successful. We are always reviewing data and brainstorming how we can better prepare our kids. I feel this is the perfect job for fulfilling my desire to be on a team.“ Alison (Adair) Ritter Alison (Adair) Ritter grew up playing every sport she could—basketball, volleyball, softball, soccer; she even tried track and field for one season. But it was softball that had her heart. “I started playing fast pitch softball when I was six,” remembers Alison. “My dad and brother played college baseball and my dad was even recruited professionally. Softball was always the sport I knew I’d play in college.” Softball led her to South Dakota State University in Brookings, South Dakota. Alison was a three year starter for the Jackrabbits. “I played multiple positions at SDSU and played every position on the infield,” says Alison. “College taught me that sometimes you’re going to be in situations that you don’t want to be in, or you might be in a situation that isn’t the best. You have to work through that. You can’t quit.” But by her senior year, Alison knew it was time to move on from softball and focus on her career and her life off the field. “I had school to focus on and I had an internship to do. I was ready to focus on my career. I knew softball wasn’t right for me anymore. It wasn’t a hard decision to quit my senior year, but it was difficult because it meant my softball career was over.” Alison says if not for those three years of college softball, she would not have graduated college on schedule. The importance of school was enforced in the locker room. “My coaches told us we were students first and we just happened to get to play softball. They made sure we went to class and that we got good grades.” Being a student athlete taught Alison how to multitask, a skill she uses daily as public information officer for the North Dakota Mineral and Resources Department, a wife, and a mom to two young boys. She also credits softball for teaching her the importance of doing things she’d rather not. “I didn’t want to play first base my sophomore year but I did. There are things in my job today that I don’t necessarily want to do, but I do them because if they don’t get done our team at work suffers.” Alison’s boys, ages five and four, have picked up on her love of sports. Boedy, age five, has just started wrestling. “I see him wrestle with a gigantic smile on his face and I smile. I just want them to enjoy sports. I want them to be happy,” says Alison. Kate (Moser) Black Kate (Moser) Black’s high school memories revolve around sports. She excelled at volleyball, basketball, and track at Bismarck High School. Kate was recruited by several colleges for both volleyball and basketball, but decided her future career was most important, so she enrolled at North Dakota State University to study mechanical engineering. But as it turned out, her basketball career wasn’t over yet. “The NDSU women’s basketball team had been plagued with injuries and they were down in numbers. The coaches came to watch intramurals and asked me to come try out,” she recalls. “It had always been a dream of mine to play basketball for the Bison, so it was pretty cool when I made the team.” Kate was the eighth player off the bench in the Bison’s 2005-2006 squad. “I knew I wasn’t going to be a star, but I got more playing time than I expected. It was awesome. I got to play for Amy Ruley; playing for her was a special experience.” After that season, Kate went back to playing intramural basketball. She tore her ACL and figured she wouldn’t play again. She got involved in other activities on campus, including student government, volunteer organizations, and was even voted homecoming queen as a senior. But then, Kate was once again called on for her basketball skills. “I had come home for Christmas break and I got a phone call from a member of the team,” Kate recalls. “They were once again plagued with injuries and asked me to come back and help them finish out the season. Three days later I was in Kansas City playing basketball as a Bison! I am so glad that I took advantage of the opportunity both times. When I contemplated playing both as a freshman and as a senior I just thought ‘how many people get this opportunity?’ I got to travel and see great things. I am glad I had the experience.” It was an experience Kate says helped shape her into the woman she is today. “What I learned in a nutshell is how I wanted to be treated and how I wanted to treat others. Sports put you in difficult situations. You’re not always winning. I learned how to interact with other people in stressful situations. I’m still drawing parallels between my life now and sports.” Her life now is that of a wife, a mom to three girls ages four, two, and four months, and a mechanical engineer for an oil and gas company. “I learned there is more to life than basketball. When I was done after my freshman year I found other things to define me. And I realized while I loved sports, I didn’t need sports to be myself.” Angie (Welle) Edinger “My claim to fame is that my team went undefeated against UConn,” Angie (Welle) Edinger laughs. Angie’s Iowa State team matched up against UConn in the NCAA tournament her freshman year. “We were not supposed to win,” says Angie. “I remember calling my parents after the game. They came to our next game and saw us get smoked by the University of Georgia. If we would have won that game we would have gone to the Final Four.” Angie played for the Iowa State Cyclones all four years of college and last fall was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame. Prior to that, she was a standout player at Fargo Shanley High School, leading the Deacons to two state titles. Angie is the fourth all-time top scorer in North Dakota Class A girls basketball and was Miss Basketball in 1997. “I played volleyball, basketball, and tennis in high school and I loved every sport I played, but basketball was definitely my first love. The opportunities I have been given through basketball still amaze me. My Iowa State team took a European tour after my freshman year and before my senior year I was a part of a Big 12 All-Star team that went overseas. I got to play in Norway, Sweden, Germany, Denmark, and Austria. I never would have seen those countries if it wasn’t for basketball.” These days, Angie stays busy as wife to Ryan and mom to six-year-old Lily and three-year-old Fletcher. As Dean of Students at Bismarck’s Legacy High School, she still relies on her lessons learned on the basketball court. “I really try to encourage kids to get involved in something. I believe you have so much more pride in your school and in yourself when you’re involved in something. It teaches you how to be resilient, how to handle adversity, how to work together on a team, and time management. “There’s so much more to life than a basketball game, but the things you can learn from playing that game are just priceless.”
Inclusive Sports: A Movement in the Making
by Jamie Christensen | Submitted Photos An idea. A passion. A movement. Inclusive Sports in the Bismarck Public Schools (BPS) was an idea which emerged during the summer of 2017. BPS athletic directors saw that Inclusive Sports—a program that combines students of all abilities onto the same team and allows them to compete for their school—was a hot topic nationally. In other parts of the country, largely through collaborations with Special Olympics, high schools have been establishing inclusive sports leagues. A handful of states have a form of Inclusive Sports sanctioned through their high school activities association, and still other states are creating programs at the collegiate level. True classroom inclusion and peer-to-peer mentorship classes in North Dakota have already been bringing students of all abilities together, and it was clear in Bismarck that taking this next step into inclusive sports programming would build upon that—taking those friendships and opportunities to the next level. “When we surveyed students to gauge interest last spring, it was evident we had many students who believed in inclusion,” says Ben Lervick, Century High School activities director. “Our passion and drive really comes from our youth and their demand to include all students.” In August of 2017, the school board approved launching the program at BPS, providing salary funding for coaches and site coordinators. Fundraising was identified as a need for equipment and facility costs. Based on student feedback, this first year includes flag football, bowling, and track. This is the first school-based program in the state and it caught the attention of a couple whose son with special needs is currently in elementary school. “Just in my lifetime, I’ve watched kids with special needs go from being imprisoned, hidden away, kept separate and not equal, to being tolerated, to being sidelined, and slowly included in school and the community. I’ve especially noticed the progression of inclusion in sports,” says Beth Nodland. “First these kids observing from the stands, then on the sidelines as water boys and girls, and mascots. “Then to being student managers and team assistants, to being allowed to dress and sit on the bench. Some are allowed to play—if only for the last minutes or the last innings of the last games of the seasons—usually where the other team’s players don’t really try, or pretend to try. Everyone cheers as a kid runs in a touchdown or drops in a series of perfect three pointers (which they could have been sinking all season long). It’s progress, it’s great. But we’re not done. We must move forward.” With hope that in a few short years a strong program will be in place for their son and others, Beth and her husband, John Morrison, launched an endowment to support the fledgling BPS Inclusive Sports Program with a $10,000 donation. The community responded with their checkbooks, too, on Giving Hearts Day in February, boosting the total raised for the program to more than $40,000. “We live in a community that believes in creating authentic inclusive experiences for all students,” says Dallas Hinderer, Wachter Middle School activities director. He says the support has been overwhelming. “We have fans packing the sidelines during cold football games in the fall and standing room only at our bowling competitions this winter. The unwavering support from parents, community members, BPS school board, and our other high school athletic programs has been second to none. The true friendships that are being created in our practices and competitions are very powerful and are the real reason this program is a success.” BPS is working to fully establish and improve the programming currently offered. It believes with a solid foundation, inclusive sports will grow, and would like to expand the program to the middle schools within two years. Everyone involved hopes this spark started in Bismarck ignites a movement across the state—allowing for teams to travel to other communities for competitions. Continued development and support is needed, but if the Bismarck launch is any indication, it makes one believe that it’s only a matter of time. Click here to see what the students and families have to say! Click here to find upcoming Inclusive Sporting events: Search the BPS activities calendar for “Unified,” such as “Unified Bowling.” Are you interested in helping out? To make the Inclusive Sports Program run, BPS is in need of coaches and officials and are looking for volunteers to help make sure that things run smoothly. BPS is also seeking funding to help offset the cost associated with the purchase of new equipment, uniforms and rental fees associated with bowling. If you are interested in partnering with BPS with your time and/or resources, please contact Ben Lervick or Sara Bohrer at Century High School. Click here to learn more about donating to sustain the program. Jamie Christensen is a full time Realtor® with a background in public relations, marketing, and journalism. She also is a wife and mother of three, and she hopes all of her kids get to participate in BPS Inclusive Sports in the future.
13 Reasons my Life is Anchored in Sports
By Lee Timmerman | Submitted Photos Sports, for many people, is their passion. For me it’s been my life. I’ve been fortunate to cover sports as my profession full-time since 1986. I started part-time in 1982 and I began the KFYR-TV part of my career in 1989. When asked what sports mean to me, the list is long. Here are just a few reasons I love sports so much: Playing baseball, football, and basketball was my driving force in grade school and high school. Without the discipline learned from my coaches I’m not sure how well I would have done with the books. In college at Southwest State in Marshall, Minnesota, my best GPA was always during the spring. We traveled so much during baseball season that I was forced to manage my time. Funny how scheduling time to do homework actually helped my grades. I also was on the football team at SSU but funny how lack of speed kept me off the field on Saturday. I did get a few tackles on special teams, though. Here’s an indication of how much sports dominate my life and my thinking: I can’t seem to remember how old my mom is, but I do remember her surprise 50th birthday was during game six of the 1991 World Series. By the way, that’s the game Kirby Puckett made the catch and hit the homer that sent the Series to game seven, which the Twins won! Oh yeah, my mom will be 77 this year. I get nervous every time just before they turn the mic on. I always have and I love that little jolt of energy I get right before I go on the air live. The most nervous I’ve ever been in my life is when I had to speak at the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association awards banquet. It was worth it—I was blessed to have my work judged the winner of the National Broadcast Sports Story of the Year. It was a series about adding a possible third class of basketball in North Dakota. The best part of my job is I get to cover sports and athletes. The worst part of my job is sports are usually played on nights and weekends so the hours are not very good. We just finished our 11th season of televising the North Dakota State Bison and my favorite thing to do on TV is be the analyst for football games. Next year, we’re planning to add a telestrator (a device that allows its operator to draw over a moving or still video image). That’s going to be fun. One of my favorite questions to ask students is, are tests hard? They’re usually not hard if you study. I spend roughly 24 hours each week on Bison football in the fall and we’re only on the air for about three hours for each game. It’s what you do when people are not watching that makes the difference. Every good coach I ever had told me that! Even though I’ve been doing it for decades, it’s still strange that a 10-12 hour day covering sports boils down to only about eight minutes that anyone gets to watch during the 6:00 and 10:00 news. People may think we live in the “middle of nowhere” but it is surprising how many big time sports people I’ve been able to talk with over the years. Michael Jordan, Dale Earnhardt, Bob Costas, and Al Michaels are a few that come to mind. I really miss being on a team. It’s my experience that the camaraderie of a sports team can’t be duplicated. I’m paying for it now with pain but I played six years after the doctors told me to stop throwing because I loved being on a team so much. I don’t really miss playing the game but I sure do miss my teammates. Lee Timmerman is a sports fanatic and an award-win- ning sports anchor who always dreamed of being a farmer like his dad. Instead, he chose sports broadcasting. He has been sports director at KFYR-TV since 1989. Lee and his wife, Amber, live in Bismarck.
An Uphill Battle: Rolling into the Big Leagues
by Amber (Schatz) Danks | Photography: SnapChad The BisMan Bombshellz burst onto the North Dakota roller derby scene eight years ago. “When we very first started in 2010, I think a lot of people thought tutus, fishnets, and sexy girls in skates. We had 60 women in this picture. When we got the skates and actually started practicing, I think that 60 turned into like 20, then 10. It kept dwindling once they realized we actually have to learn to skate, train, and be in shape,” says Rena Mehlhoff, Bombshellz president and player. Since the Bombshellz started, the team has experienced its share of ups and downs, but the core group of players will celebrate a huge win this summer: gaining apprenticeship with Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA). That means the roller derby team can play in more competitive tournaments and sanctioned games, get ranked, and have resources from around the world. “They have members in England, Australia, New Zealand, Argentia, and Japan. It’s worldwide. So now by being part of that membership, we get to have that mentor relationship. There’s a big communication forum online that now we get to interact in. So, if we have questions about leagues or rules, we have that wide range of people to ask our questions,” says Rena. The team hopes to find out if it becomes a full-fledged member of WFTDA in May. To do that, the Bombshellz have to host a mock-sanctioned game against Fargo, a WFTDA team, and uphold standards for everything from skills tests and quizzes to providing accurate scorekeeping, officials, and track conditions. NEW SCHEDULE, NEW SKATERS The team isn’t getting any time off because of the WFTDA status. To align with the WFTDA bout schedule, it was necessary for the Bombshellz to adjust their season. Instead of starting practice and bouts in the fall and finishing in the spring, the Bisman Bombshellz will begin a new season this spring, with final bouts in the fall. That means many of the players will be training this year with no off-season. To help prepare for upcoming bouts and their new status, the Bombshellz are looking for more players. They have recently lost five players—three moved away and two retired. Rena, known as Anne Thrax on the track, didn’t play last year due to an injury, but says the WFTDA status brought her back. “Couldn’t stay away I guess. They kept on bugging me, and I said, if you guys get a WFTDA apprenticeship, I’ll come back, and then they got it, and I said, ‘Okay I suppose.’ We train twice a week, skate twice a week. It is full contact and injuries can happen. But the thrill of the game is just amazing.” DIAMOND (PRINCESS CUT) Players do have to be competitive. Diamond Stokes thrives on that, and is incredibly dedicated to her team. She travels to practice in Bismarck from Medora, around 133 miles one way, twice a week. “My boss is really great about letting me leave work early, if practice is at 6 p.m.” Diamond is an accountant by day, but her passion for roller derby sparkles though when she talks about the sport. “I’m super competitive, but I don’t get the opportunity to do that too much. I’m an accountant. I sit in an office all day and do numbers and reports, so this is a good opportunity just to get out and exercise and do something competitive and fun. Push people around, get a little aggressive, which is not how I am normally like all the time.” She has advice for anyone thinking about giving the sport a try: “It’s fun and something you wouldn’t normally do, so it’s nice to get out of your comfort zone. If you’re scared, bring a buddy. It is exciting just to be able to say to your friends, ‘Hey I did this crazy bootcamp.’” JADE (LL COOL JADE) Jade Schirado coached hockey and played for a year at the University of North Dakota. After moving back to Bismarck three years ago, she missed being part of a team, and was approached by a co-worker to join the roller derby team. “I told her, ‘I think I’m ready, let’s do this.’ She let me borrow her skates and I did two fresh meat practices; they tested me out and I was part of the Bombshellz right away.” And while she had ice skating experience, Jade says it took some time for her to get used to using a toe-stop. She had learned how to take a fall in hockey, but taking a hit in roller derby is completely different. “It’s more like football on skates.” Although she didn’t like roller derby to begin with, she says she now loves it and wants to grow the sport as big as she can. “It’s fun to be a part of something like this. It’s been around for eight years and there’s still some people that have no idea it exists in town. That’s a fun challenge. It’s fun to figure out ways to get the word out.” She acknowledges being part of WFTDA is a step in the right direction. “It probably won’t happen until we’re all long gone, but the fact we’re laying the foundation, I like being part of that. I was a part of the first high school team for sanctioned girls hockey, so it’s nice to be part of teams laying the foundation for female athletes in the city.” Bootcamps: March 26 from 7:30-9 p.m. March 28 from 7:30-9 p.m. Capital Ice Complex: 221 E Reno Ave, Bismarck, ND Bring ID and mouthguard The Bombshellz next home bout will be April 28 against South Dakota. LL Cool Jade (Photo courtesy: SnapChad) Photo courtesy: SnapChad Photo courtesy: SnapChad Photo courtesy: SnapChad Diamond Stokes (Photo courtesy: SnapChad) Photo courtesy: SnapChad Amber (Schatz) Danks spent nearly 12 years as a news reporter, producer, and anchor. She is currently tackling her toughest and most rewarding assignment yet: being a stay-home mom to her baby girl.
Britta Curl: Hockey Life
by Paula Redmann | Submitted Photos “I like to play hockey and hang out with my friends.” That seems like a pretty typical statement for a high school senior; any high school senior. But it’s much more than typical for Bismarck’s Britta Curl. Britta is back home in Bismarck after spending three weeks in January playing in—and winning—the Women’s World Cup Championship in Russia. She graciously agreed to visit with Inspired Woman at a familiar location: an ice rink. “We’ve been a hockey family forever. My dad played in high school in Cando, North Dakota. I started playing hockey in the backyard when I was three or four. My dad built an ice rink—and he still does—and I just wanted to get out there and play with him and my older brother,” says Britta. “I played hockey on boys teams all through the Bismarck Hockey Boosters program, up until eighth grade, and then I joined the Blizzard team.” Playing hockey with the country’s top players in Russia, and then coming back home to Bismarck seemed like no big deal to Britta. It appears that traveling across the globe, representing, playing, and winning gold for your country hasn’t fazed this humble and grateful Bismarck girl. “It was a great experience and I learned so much. It’s certainly a different pace. I liked meeting my team and making new friends from all over the country. The most memorable part of the championship was when they raised the American flag and played the national anthem. That was pretty cool. But I was excited to come home again. I missed my friends and my Blizzard teammates,” Britta recalls. When asked what she felt are the keys to her success, Britta answered easily and quickly: “Keep your priorities straight. It’s not all about sports. You can still be a kid. I think another key to success is to always have a learning mindset. You can always learn from your teammates and coaches.” So what will the next few months and years look like for Britta? She’ll participate in both track and soccer this spring for St. Mary’s High School. She’ll graduate with her classmates in May. In June, she’ll leave Bismarck for summer school and training at the University of Wisconsin. Somewhere on the horizon, she would like to wear the Team USA uniform in the Olympics. “I’ve just grown up in ice rinks. I enjoy it and want to keep playing,” Britta says. Hear that? It’s all of North Dakota cheering. Britta 101 Who: Britta Curl, age 17, a senior at St. Mary’s Central High School, Bismarck, and one of the top girls hockey players in North Dakota. Britta has committed to playing hockey at the University of Wisconsin. What: Daughter of Gretchen Belzer-Curl and Bill Curl; two brothers, Cullen and Byrne; one sister, Brenna. When and Where: Member of the Bismarck Blizzard Hockey Team for five years. At this writing, the team has won the state girls hockey championship the last three years and is playing for its fourth. Member of the gold medal-winning U.S. Women’s National 18 and Under hockey team that competed at the International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Cup Championships in Dmitrov, Russia, January 6-13. Britta scored four goals and added four assists in the tournament, and was named a Top Three U.S. Player at the tournament. Member of two U.S. Women’s Under-18 Select Teams at the Under-18 Series vs. Canada; 2016-2017 Attended two USA Hockey Women’s National Festivals, 2016-2017 Attended the 2016 and 2017 Girls Select U18 Development Camp The Curl family, from left to right: Cullen, Bill, Brenna, Britta, Gretchen Byrne Paula Redmann is the Community Rela- tions Manager for Bismarck Parks and Recreation District. She married her high school sweetheart, Tom. They have two grown sons, Alex and Max.
Connecting Mind and Body Through Movement and Intention
Terry Eckmann by Nicole Thom-Arens | Submitted Photos Throughout most of her life, Terry Eckmann, professor of kinesiology and chair of the teacher education and kinesiology department at Minot State University, has made a career for herself in the fitness industry. “It was in the early 1980s. Jane Fonda was wearing her leg warmers and headbands and started getting us all moving around and doing aerobics, which is what group exercise was called at that time,” Terry recalls. Her interest in group exercise grew, and she began getting certifications to teach. “When I was teaching aerobics around the community what I saw was that the majority of people coming to exercise classes were people that were under the age of 50, and yet, we had this population—really a large percentage of our population—that was over the age of 50, but they didn’t grow up in the era where you put on a leotard and you went to group exercise class,” says Terry. LISTENING TO HER HEART While in graduate school for her master’s in physical education, Terry proposed a project to engage older adults, which she then defined as 55 and older, in group fitness. As she is now part of that group, Terry jokes that older adults are 85 and older—just to clarify. “I was told by everybody in the community that there was no way that these older adults were going to come to these classes,” Terry recalls. But with minimal advertising, a hundred people called to volunteer for the study. “From that, I started the Trinity Wellness Center at Trinity Hospital, and I worked there and helped them start the cardiac rehab program over 30 years ago,” Terry notes. BOOSTING THE BRAIN Today, Terry works with 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds at Minot State. She’s earned her Ph.D in educational leadership, received several awards and honors in the industry, and speaks at conferences around the world. While attending a conference on the brain and learning, Terry was introduced to concepts that would shift her career once more. “I was expecting to learn different ways—different strategies—to get 19- and 20-year-olds excited about learning, and what I heard were neuroscientists talk about the importance of exercise and cognition—lifestyle choices and aging well—so I started to do some research with university students,” says Terry. Terry and Katie Eckmann jumping for joy in Thailand where Terry presented at the Asia Fitness Conference The research her team conducted found adults between ages 65 and 91 significantly improved their cognition over 12 weeks doing either Zumba or yoga two times a week. This research led to her first book, “101 Brain Boosters.” “A lot of people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s say, ‘Oh, I want to buy this book for my mom.’ We start aging at birth, so, really, it’s the things that we (should all) do,” says Terry. Her second book, “101 Ways to Age Gracefully,” discusses lifestyle choices, gratitude, and the importance of positive thinking. Terry’s third book—”101 Mindfulness and Meditation Practices”—is a project she’s working on with her daughter, Katie, who has been a part of Terry’s fitness journey all her life. “It talks about different concepts of mindfulness,” says Katie, a nationally certified yoga instructor. “And then we explain what these concepts are and what we’ve learned through our yoga trainings and through reading.” “We’re all in hyperactive-mode—going, going, going all the time,” Terry explains. “Phones have kind of taken over our worlds as well. We’re always checking our text messages, we’re doing the social media thing, so we’ve become more and more and more distracted.” MINDFULNESS As a 21-year-old college student, Katie knows how unhealthy mindless scrolling can be. “I’ve noticed it’s a huge distraction for me,” says Katie. “If I’m doing homework, or if I’m working on writing, or doing something that I need to get done, if I just get stuck with something or I need a break, I’ll go on social media, and I tell myself, ‘I’ll just check a few things or get rid of notifications,’ and then I end up scrolling for a half hour, and then I’m frustrated with myself.” The two hope readers will use their new book as a type of journal to practice living in the now. “Most of us live in what happened, or what we have to do, or what’s going to happen next,” says Terry. “The practice of mindfulness trains our brains to do what we are doing right now and enjoy that moment because, really, that’s all we’ve got.” Nicole Thom-Arens is a writer and an assistant professor of communication arts at Minot State University where she teaches journalism and com- munication theory courses and advises the student newspaper the Red & Green.
Look What She Did: Nikki St. John
Dance is life for 42-year-old Nikki St. John. She’s been dancing for 38 years, 22 of them professionally. She owns and operates DFy Studio in Dickinson, where she says she is working to change the face of dance in North Dakota. “There are a lot of dance shows on TV right now, including ‘Dance Moms,’ ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ and ‘So You Think You Can Dance.’ Those shows have taken dance to a new level but they have also created entitlement and glorified what we know dance to be,” explains Nikki. “Dance is an art. It teaches discipline, the importance of rules, and helps keep you grounded. That’s why we chose the name ‘DFy Studio.’ We want people to know that defiance is a good thing when it means defying the odds and staying true to who you are.” Nikki travels often to judge competitions and teach master classes across the nation. When she isn’t traveling, she is teaching at her studio. There, she and four other choreographers are working to bring dance styles of Los Angeles, Atlanta, Florida, and the East Coast to Dickinson. They’re also working on a video to send to “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” Learn more about DFy Studio at dfyyourdance.com and on Facebook.
Look What She Did: Nichole Rohrich
Nichole Rohrich has a passion for creativity and comfortable clothes. “I am mom to three little boys—ages three, two, and two—so I want to be comfortable all the time, but also want to look presentable if I have to run to the grocery store.” That passion, coupled with her fascination of the boutique business, and her graphic design skills, led Nichole to quit her full-time job and launch her own online boutique, The Minted Olive, in November. Nichole had planned to start small, with just three or four designs. But when other boutiques reached out and wanted to carry Nichole’s designs in their stores, she jumped in head first. She’s now wholesaling with two other Bismarck boutiques as well as offering her own line in her online store. “I design all the shirts I sell,” Nichole explains. “My mission is for everyone to live their most comfortable life. I search out different garments, then order one to sort of test out. I wear it and wash it several times to see how it holds up. I look for clothing that is soft, comfortable, and will hold up wash after wash. If it passes my quality testing, I’ll order other sizes.” Check out The Minted Olive online at www.themintedolive.com. Oh, and about the name—Nichole says there’s no deep meaning behind the name, The Minted Olive, other than her favorite colors are mint and olive.
Look What She Did: Lynn Marie Cherry
“No one dreams of writing a book for people who have been betrayed, but here I am, telling you about the book I wrote for people who are stuck in the pain of a broken heart,” says Lynn Marie (Steffan) Cherry. Lynn’s book, “Keep Walking: 40 Days to Hope and Freedom after Betrayal,” has been a lifesaver for many women, including Lynn herself. After learning of her husband’s pornography addiction, the couple attended therapy. Both knew early in their recovery that God was calling them to share their story. “I was in a support group and we had weekly homework where we would write about what we had learned. When I shared my writings, they resonated with the other women in my group. They’d say, ‘That’s how I feel!’ and ‘What Lynn said!’ I realized then I had something to offer other women on the same path. “That inspired me to write a 21-day guide for women going through betrayal. I sent it to a few people, including Dr. Milton Magness who is an expert in sexual addiction. He encouraged me to expand it to 40 days and I published it as a book in 2016. I want women to know there is a way through.” Her book has since won the Reader’s Favorite bronze medal for Christian devotion/study. You can purchase your copy at Bismarck’s Barnes and Noble store and on Amazon; it is currently available in paperback and for kindle. Lynn is a native of Bismarck and a 1987 graduate of Shiloh Christian school. Lynn Marie Cherry Click here to visit Lynn's website
The Secret Sauce for Any Champion
Photo Courtesy: Tyler Ingham/NDSU Athletics by Marci Narum | Submitted Photo It’s late January 2018, two short weeks since the NDSU Bison football team brought home another NCAA Division I Football championship title—its sixth in seven years. Bison pride is still at fever pitch. Ushered in by the rousing energy of the NDSU pep band, Bison head coach Chris Klieman greets an enthusiastic crowd at a Fargo conference center. On stage, he tells the audience, “It’s all about culture.” The group concentrates on every word, (no nodding off during this keynote message), listening to the coach like players gathered in a locker room before a game. “How do you sustain culture and how do you avoid complacency?” he continues. If it sounds like a message borrowed from a business leadership seminar—that’s the idea. But in this case, Thrivent Financial asked Chris Klieman to share from his leadership playbook. As the company kicked off another year of business, Thrivent wanted its financial advisors to sample the ingredients of the Bison football program “secret sauce.” SHOW THEM YOU CARE “Everything that we’re doing within our football program is what a business is trying to do for their employees; a parent is trying to do for their child,” Chris says, during an interview with Inspired Woman magazine. “There are so many correlations,” he explains. Discipline, servant leadership, and fostering great character are fundamental to the Bison football program. “What people see on the field is a great product. What I see off the field is a better product,” Chris says. “For us, it’s the whole person and the ability for that young man to get a great degree, to be able to play great football, but more importantly, to become a man.” Coach Klieman measures success not by touchdowns and tackles—or even championships—alone. It starts with relationships. Trust and team building. Chris leads the program and players with this cornerstone: show them you care. “They play for each other, for sure. They’re brothers; they are really close. But they play for coaches that care, too. You need to show these guys it’s more than just a game. You have to care for them on and off the field. I think our guys really know that all of us coaches genuinely care about their wellbeing. ATTACK ADVERSITY The Bison have an enviable record: 97 wins and a mere eight losses over the last seven seasons. Chris says the championship games are most memorable for him as head coach, but he admits he can quickly recall being in the locker room after every loss. He says those are the times to attack adversity—not the players. “Nobody ever raises a voice in there. Nobody is critical of the guys’ effort or how they played. Those guys are hurting so much anyway.” Chris will ask the team, “So what? Now what? What’s next?” Because he says the losses and hard times will always happen; how you respond in those moments is more valuable. “Adversity brings out the best in a lot of people. Mediocre programs are destroyed by it, good programs survive it, and great programs and great individuals get better because of the adversity.” After a loss, the coach reminds his players, “You’re never defined by a moment—you are defined by an entire body of work.” It’s what Chris wanted his team to know after its loss to James Madison University in the 2016 semifinal game. The coach knew it was especially disappointing for the Bison’s fourth and fifth years seniors, who anticipated playing for the sixth consecutive championship title. Chris says despite the tough loss, those players had made college football history. “We had won five national championships in a row. Think about the amount of lives those guys impacted in a positive way for the five years they were here.” A FEW MORE INGREDIENTS Chris is the first to admit he doesn’t have all the answers. So in the same way Thrivent Financial reached out to him, Coach Klieman relies on his mentors and other successful organizations for ingredients to add to the Bison’s “secret sauce.” “I’m always looking for motivation, new ways to drive kids, new ways to get the most out of these great young men we have here.” The 2017 season kicked off with a message from Will Compton, inside linebacker for the Washington Redskins. “It wasn’t about football, it was about life and how you have to live to a standard. And that standard isn’t just on the field; more importantly, it’s off the field. It’s how you represent yourself, your family, your institution. Wherever you’re at.” After hearing Will’s message, the Bison football team made “Standard over Feelings” one of its 2017 season themes. PASS THE SAUCE Hearing Coach Klieman share a little of the Bison’s secret sauce gave the Thrivent financial advisors a taste of inspiration. “The moment won’t be too big—if you have prepared for it,” Coach Klieman tells them. His playbook seems to have something for everyone hoping to be a champion. Photo Courtesy: Tim Sanger/NDSU Athletics Photo Courtesy: Tyler Ingham/NDSU Athletics Photo Courtesy: Richard Svaleson/NDSU Athletics NDSU Coach Chris Klieman
For the Sports Spectator: Score Points with Appetizers
Article and Photos by Pam Vukelic I grew up before Title IX provided girls equal access to sports. The only team sport available to me was baton twirling. I still have the white corduroy uniform with royal blue lining my mom sewed for me. We did, after all, march in a couple parades! That’s my excuse for still not being much of an athlete. I enjoy a good ride on my bike and am firmly committed to 10,000 steps a day, but I am severely challenged in most any other athletic endeavor. My golf partner and I enjoy each other’s company on the course because we don’t worry that much about the rules of the game. My husband, Jim, try as he might, hasn’t been able to convince me that line dancing is so good for my brain that I should be doing it. I tried, but did not get positive feedback from those dancing near me. As I write this I’m looking forward to a Super Bowl get-together at the home of friends. My contribution to this sporting event, since I know nothing about football, is to bring some food. The turkey sloppy joes on slider buns will provide a little low-fat sustenance. Turkey Sloppy Joes 3 pounds ground turkey 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce 1 14.5-ounce can petite diced tomatoes ¼ cup brown sugar ¼ cup bacon pieces, fried crisp and crumbled 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar ½ teaspoon cayenne 2 tablespoons tomato paste 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce salt and pepper to taste Brown turkey; when partially browned, add onion and garlic. Stir in tomato sauce and scrape any bits (fond) from the pan. Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer to blend flavors. My other contribution to the party is pizza rolls made from ready-made refrigerated pie crust and formed in ice cube trays. Pizza Rolls 1 pre-made pie crust mini pepperoni slices mozzarella cheese, grated pizza sauce egg wash sesame seed Roll pie crust to square shape. Cut in half. Place half over ice cube tray and press to form indentations. Load each impression with pepperoni, cheese, and sauce. Brush ridges with egg wash and cover with remaining half of crust. Press, trim, and cut into pieces. Place on baking sheet, brush with egg wash, and sprinkle with sesame seed. Bake at 375 degrees for 18 minutes, or until golden. Note: A 14-hole ice cube tray provides the best size. Be sure crust is cold or it will break easily. Pam Vukelic is an online FACS (Family and Consumer Science) teacher for the Missouri River Educational Cooperative. Pam enjoys brisk eve- ning walks and always wears her baseball cap with two little built-in headlights for safety.