MOORHEAD — Noah Christensen struggled with mental health issues during his senior school year at Breckenridge (Minn.) High School and also into his redshirt men’s basketball season at North Dakota State.
After he left the NDSU program last fall, Christensen said he was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Christensen, who committed to the Concordia Cobbers on Tuesday, Jan. 26, to continue his career, wanted to share his story to bring awareness to mental health.
“People going through it, it is real and you need to talk to someone about it and it will get better,” Christensen said. “You do need to open up about it and don’t feel like you’re weak or soft. … Spread love and not hate, that’s the biggest thing.”
Christensen said he decided to leave NDSU near the end of September, a decision that was officially announced Nov. 11.
“I went through a tough patch at the end of August, early September, and some suicidal (thoughts),” said Christensen, who is 20 years old. “I decided it was best for me to hang it up and get my mind right. All the NDSU guys were super supportive which was awesome.”
Christensen said one night in late September is when his thoughts of suicide were most intense. Sitting in his car, he decided to call his older sister, Ally Christensen, for support. The next day he went to the hospital.
Christensen said Bison assistant coach Kyan Brown was one of the many people who helped him through a difficult time along with his NDSU teammates and the coaching staff.
“If it weren’t for them and my family and my faith, I wouldn’t have gotten through it I don’t think,” Christensen said.
Christensen added Maleeck Harden-Hayes, his roommate at NDSU, and Bison guard Tyree Eady were also among his Bison teammates that helped. Christensen said there was a “buddy system” while he was at NDSU and Eady was like his older brother on the team.
“I feel blessed. I feel blessed that I went to NDSU and met a lot of great guys,” Christensen said. “I’m still always going to root for those guys. I’m thankful for the relationships I built there and I’m also very excited to start my new journey at Concordia.”
Christensen said he started counseling a couple months ago.
“I’m finally feeling like myself, feeling like my junior year in high school, so I’m excited,” Christensen said.
Christensen said he could start to feel he was losing his passion for basketball during his senior year of high school in 2018-2019.
“All the pressure and anxiety built up from going Division I and all that pressure,” he said. “It was tough. I kind of went through it my senior year and didn’t really tell anybody and then it followed into my first year at NDSU. I lost the love for the game and then it was tough on me mentally.”
Christensen said one of the main reasons he decided to transfer to Concordia is first-year head coach Tyler Bormann, who coached Christensen for part of his prep career at Breckenridge.
“I trust him a lot. I like what he sees and what he’s trying to build at Concordia,” Christensen said. “The love for the game is back. I’m itching to get back and get in the gym and get in the gym with my teammates.”
Christensen is taking this semester off from school and plans to join the Cobbers for the 2021-2022 season. He said he has four years of eligibility remaining.
The 6-foot-9, 220-pound Christensen spent one redshirt season with the Division I Bison before he decided to transfer to Concordia, a Division III program that plays in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Christensen scored 1,861 points during his high school career with the Cowboys, making him the school's all-time leading scorer. He also grabbed 966 rebounds during his prep career.
Christensen is excited for his future at Concordia and also thankful for his past.
“God has a plan. You can schedule and have a schedule as much as you want, but in the end God only knows what’s going to happen,” he said. “I feel blessed that I went to NDSU and met a lot of great people. I feel blessed and more mature from that.”