FARGO — The decision came down to economics. When Dominic Gonnella, the youngest son of Joe and Rachel Gonnella, signed a letter of intent with the North Dakota State football program, his parents in Riverview, Fla., started looking at how best to watch their son play in college.

They looked at prices of flights from Tampa-area airports to Fargo. They looked at having to stay at a hotel for up to two weeks at a time if the Bison have back-to-back home games. There would be other costs, like rental cars. Also, Dominic repeated a question to his parents.

“You’re going to all the games, right?” Rachel said, quoting her son. “We’re like, how are we going to make it to all the games? He said he couldn’t wait to see us in the stands.”

Finally, they said the heck with it. They decided to not only be in the stands for every game but everywhere else, too.

They sold their house and moved to Fargo.

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“We did the math,” Joe said.

There are many days when Joe and Rachel get up in the morning and have to quickly retrain their minds that they are living about the same distance to the Canadian border as it was from their Florida house to the Atlantic Ocean.

It was a decision made with some balance. They wanted to watch all of Dominic’s games, but they also wanted to give him space.

“We were both concerned to stay out of his way,” Joe said.

“Look at us,” Rachel said, mimicking anybody in general. “We’re following our kid to college.”

They were able to do it because Joe is retired from the military and Rachel stopped teaching. They’re also not the first Florida Bison parents to put the Sunshine State behind and move north.

The parents of former Bison running back Bruce Anderson spent a lot of time in Fargo during Bruce’s career. The parents of former NDSU safety Tre Dempsey moved from Lakeland, Fla., and haven’t left.

“Fargo has everything,” Joe said. “Compared to Tampa, Fargo has everything you need. It has a nice, cool downtown that Tampa doesn’t have.”

The Gonnellas love the traffic, or specifically the non-traffic. The plan is to return to Florida at some point, but for now they’re enjoying watching a Bison team that is 4-0 heading into a Missouri Valley Football Conference showdown with Northern Iowa at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome.

Dominic leads the team in rushing with 275 yards on 36 carries, an average of 7.5 yards per carry.

“They try to give me space, but my mom texts me every day 'good morning' and always wants to see how I’m doing after practice,” Dominic said. “After home games we’ll go out to eat, get dinner and talk about the game. It’s nice. It’s kind of like old times after a Saturday youth league game when you go out with your family.”

It’s all in the name of life experiences of following the athletic careers of their two boys.

The oldest, Anthony, was a college baseball player in Florida who is currently in law school in Arizona. Dominic is the starting running back at NDSU.

“I think it says a lot about the family,” said Bison head coach Matt Entz. “Bison family, Bison football but it also includes all these parents. They create relationships, they create connections with other parents and they want to be here. I know it’s been really good for Dom. I saw them after the game on Saturday and it’s great to have them around. They’re so excited to be here and be part of NDSU and Bison football.”

The market changed in the Tampa area where selling made sense. While in the process, the Gonnellas got some affirmation of what they were doing by hearing about other parents doing the same thing at other schools, like one friend who said, “You would not believe how many parents at Alabama do that.”

Joe talked with Tony Satter, the father of Bison redshirt freshman safety Ty Satter, about living in Fargo. They met when both of their sons were being recruited. The Gonnellas bought a twin home and made it through their first winter. It was a mild winter by Fargo standards, thankfully.

“Supposedly it was mild, we’re like, hmmmm,” Rachel said. “Now we’re really scared about this winter. I’m trying to make winter escape plans.”

The future plans also could include baseball. Dominic is a rare two-sport player who spent part of last summer in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. It factored into the recruiting process.

Wanting to play both sports, and with NDSU already booked, Dominic took advantage of the willingness of the Diamondbacks and NDSU to work together. He spent part of the baseball season with the club’s extended spring season and played part of a rookie league season.

He expects next year to be a longer stay in baseball since the FCS isn’t playing its season in the spring like it did last year.

He’ll also be closer to Anthony; the two talk every day by phone. Anthony had MLB organizations talking to him when he was a prospect.

“Dom stuck with both,” Joe said.

And his parents made good on his wish for them to watch every game. They just had to make a long-distance move to do it.

“They’re both retired now so they don’t really have much to do in Florida anymore,” Dominic said, “so I guess they feel like coming out and sticking with me as much as they can.”