Last week North Dakota State University hosted a youth football camp. My son was in the oldest age group--8th graders. He was a bit reluctant to give up three afternoons working on a sport he feels he is so good at already. Not to mention he doesn't watch NDSU football as much as his mom.Teenagers!
Day 1: When I dropped him off on Tuesday, Coach Klieman was there greeting campers and we were able to take a picture with him. Talk about a great start. When I picked him up all sweaty and red in the face I wasn't sure who to expect--Jekyl or Hyde. He says, "I wasn't expecting this to be fun." "How's that?" I reply. "They joke around with us, the players and the coaches, they're so nice. They're teaching me stuff I've never learned." I am literally grinning as he is sharing this with me as I was the one who insisted we give this camp a try.
Day 2: I am ordered to depart 30 minutes earlier than planned. He wants to be early so he can play catch with boys he's met from other towns and talk to NDSU coaches and players. Pick up day 2: "Mom you won't believe it! I met Easton Stick today! What kind of engineering program do they have here?" "Great!" I say. Keep in mind, this is a kid who really only wears "the other" shade of green. Again, I am beaming!
Last day: We arrive 30 minutes early again. Upon getting out of the car he reaches over, does the “one arm bandit hug” and says, "Thanks for this mom, it's all really great!" Now instead of smiling I'm tearing up. For those who don’t have teenagers their world is a mix of "whatevers and I don't cares." This was monumental!!
Upon the final pick-up he takes off his flip flop and puts it in my face, "Look mom, Easton signed my shoe! I am never wearing it again!" Then shows me his football with autographs from the whole team. At this point I can't be more impressed.
The final thing he says on our way home, "Mom, we have to go to a Bison game this fall! I laugh out loud! I have been asking him to go to a game with me for years. This was monumental!
I'm a UND alum and used to cheer for the other side. It’s kind of like converting religions, you don’t tell too many people. I'm not sure what the NDSU football program has established for the goals of their football camps. Is it more interest in the sport? Is it more interest in education at NDSU? Is it more interest in NDSU football? Is it to show us that the NDSU football family is a one of kind world class football organization? All goals accomplished! This mom will be looking for tickets to a game this fall to take her new favorite NDSU fan to.
Braun is the dean of students at Cheney Middle School in West Fargo.