The 2008 University of North Dakota men’s basketball recruiting class was the first in the school’s history brought to Grand Forks to play Division I basketball. With four seniors on this year’s squad and an eye toward the future, the seven members of the class all willingly accepted to redshirt in order to be seniors on the first Division I postseason eligible team at UND (2012-13). The bond this group is developing during their time on the sidelines this season will only help them in seasons to come and the coaching staff is glad the group has taken to each other so well. The following is a precursor to a blog on a weekend adventure the group has planned to do some ice fishing in Warroad, Minn.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. - With the varsity squad set to play at South Dakota on Saturday (Jan. 31), the seven redshirts on the men’s basketball team set off for an ice fishing excursion to Warroad, Minn., this weekend.
Warroad is the home of six-foot-11 inch center Mitch Wilmer and the tallest player on the team is an avid outdoorsman. He is eager to get his fellow rookies on the ice to try their hand at bringing in some walleye and saugers.
“We are going to have a lot of fun, especially the guys who have never done this. They will just have to get used to the cold,” Wilmer said. “Being out there all day will be tough on a few of them I’m guessing. They will probably get really tired and sore from the day.
“They will get tired from the propane heater and looking down at their bobbers all day. Actually, they really don't have any idea at all, but we will get them ready.”
The ‘We’ Wilmer is referring to is himself and fellow Sioux teammate and ice fisherman Nick Haugen. The point guard is also a native Minnesotan (Rockford) and has spent his fair share of time fishing on the slick surface.
Wilmer, Haugen and the five ice-fishing rookies will be fishing about a half-mile from the Canadian border on the Lake of the Woods. Luckily, Wilmer’s uncle has a decent ice house that can be put to use if need be, but primarily the group will be using portable houses.
One advocate of the trip is head coach Brian Jones. The third-year coach is excited to see his redshirts developing a closeness that he feels will only help on the court in years to come.
“These guys take a lot of pride in where they come from and the hobbies they have,” Jones said. “I know Mitch has been looking forward to this trip for a while and I think it is pretty cool that they all want to give it a shot. We want our guys to have the best college experience possible and that is not just academically and athletically.”
With athletes, competition is natural and pride will be on the line during their time on the ice for most fish caught and perhaps the biggest. The winner will likely be either Wilmer or Haugen, but the two veterans will be keeping a close eye on their fellow teammates making sure they are learning the ins-and-outs of the process.
Goodman has done plenty of fishing on unfrozen ponds and lakes back in his home state of Missouri, but he is looking forward to the new experience of being out on the ice.
“I don't really know what to expect on this trip. We have a farm back in Missouri and I fish every chance I can, but it's a little different than fishing through a hole in the ice,” Goodman said. “I told Mitch we are going to have to drive with the windows down, so if we fall through we have a chance to swim out. I think it will be a lot of fun.”
As much as he is looking forward to being back on the Lake of the Woods, Haugen is also looking forward to seeing how the two Missouri boys fare.
“I want to watch Spencer and Doug get out there and experience fishing on the ice,” Haugen said. “With this group of guys we are guaranteed to get a bunch of laughs, so were all looking forward to having a fun weekend.”
While his team will be on the hardwood in Vermillion, Jones is glad that his redshirts are taking the weekend to be together off the court.
“The neat thing about this group is even when they don’t have to be together, they want to be,” Jones added. “They are going to benefit on the court from spending all this time together off of it. You get to know someone a little better. You learn which buttons to push to get them motivated. I’m excited to see what this group can do I the future for us.”
And the head coach has his own predictions on how the weekend will go. Leaving Wilmer out of the prognostication because of his experience, Jones has Haugen reeling in the first fish, Allard catching the most and Goodman getting shut out. As for who will catch the biggest fish, he left that one as a toss up.
The redshirts are going to break from the fishing to check in and see how their teammates are faring in the DakotaDome on Saturday. “We are going to be tracking those guys for sure,” Wilmer said. “That’s our team and hopefully we’ll both be successful come Saturday.”
On Sunday, check back at www.fightingsioux.com for a complete blog on the Chronicles of the Redshirts as the group will collectively share some tales from the weekend in Warroad.