Fargo

We are students.

We are basketball players.

But more importantly, we are human beings.

With those three sentences, Tyree Eady started an expose that would become a quest of sorts for the North Dakota State men’s basketball team this season. His research consisted of a young lifetime of experiences, mainly growing up in Middleton, Wis., but spilling over into the Fargo-Moorhead area.

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North Dakota State guard Jarius Cook rocks a "Walk With Us" warmup Friday, Jan. 15, in Grand Forks. Alyson Vander Steen / Bison Athletics
North Dakota State guard Jarius Cook rocks a "Walk With Us" warmup Friday, Jan. 15, in Grand Forks. Alyson Vander Steen / Bison Athletics

The result was a “Walk With Us” campaign, a team message to not only promote unity and positive change but to raise funds for the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Red River Valley. The T-shirts the team will wear during its warmups all season including against the University of Denver Friday and Saturday night at Scheels Center at Sanford Health Athletic Complex are also for sale at the website store at https://ndsu-walkwithus.itemorder.com.

Eady’s 97 words started at his apartment in Fargo, remained in his head on a drive to the SHAC and took only two hours to complete. They were the product of hours of talking to his parents and teammates.

“This is stuff I’ve experienced my whole life so it was figuring out how to put those words on paper and convey them to other people,” he said. “Once I started, all the ideas were flowing and I couldn’t stop writing.”

As athletes, we must use our platform to speak up for those who can’t.

To speak upon the racial injustices in our country.

In order to stop the violence.

There is more to it than words. The Bison team participated in a video that was also created by Eady, a concept that Eady said was heartwarming in that every player was all in on the project. Each player and head coach Dave Richman took turns in reciting a line at different locations in the SHAC with different backgrounds.

It ended with Eady asking the public “to please walk with us” followed by the team walking away in locked arms.

“I thought it would be really good,” Richman said, “but it ended up being even better than I could have imagined.”

The North Dakota State men's basketball team huddles up wearing their "Walk With Us" warmups Friday, Jan. 15, in Grand Forks. Alyson Vander Steen / Bison Athletics
The North Dakota State men's basketball team huddles up wearing their "Walk With Us" warmups Friday, Jan. 15, in Grand Forks. Alyson Vander Steen / Bison Athletics

NDSU is no stranger to promoting good in the community. Last season, they wore “Landon’s Light” T-shirts in support of Landon’s Light Foundation, in honor of Landon Solberg of West Fargo who died in the fall of 2019 of a brain tumor at age 12.

We must make an effort to understand people who may not look or think like us.

To empathize with their pain and frustration.

So, we stand here, as brothers, as a family, to say.

Will will not be silent.

Eady said the feedback in what has been a controversial topic in the country has been all positive. An exercise science major, he could probably add communications to that list but is happy to leave writing as a hobby.

“I always enjoy doing stuff like that, especially stuff that is meaningful that people can understand, people can side with, watch and enjoy. … As time goes on, you find more and more things you want to say but you need to figure out how to put it on paper. I was in a lot of different places but I thought the one that came together was really good.”

That probably best describes the Bison team. They were in a lot of different places, both literally and figuratively, to start the season. Granted, an 0-6 start was the toughest nonconference schedule in school history, but a young team also looked and played young. Growth, however, came quick somewhere around the Christmas break.

NDSU will take a 5-1 record in the Summit League and 7-7 overall into the Denver series. Not lost on Eady is the connection between a team that is connected with the “Walk With Us” message and one that has looked connected on the floor of late.

The on and off the court vibe goes hand in hand, he said.

“Words can’t describe how proud I am of this team,” Eady said. “Everyone comes from different backgrounds but we’re all doing something together and that’s the biggest thing. With COVID and social justice and everything that is going on, it’s important to stay together and have those tough conversations. This video is a way to influence those conversations and hopefully we get our message across.”

We promise to listen.

To educate, and to continue the conversation.

Please, walk with us.”