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AO1 event gives former Bison QB Stick a chance to revisit community where he developed into pro

The Los Angeles Charger and former Bison QB sees the Carson Wentz AO1 Foundation’s annual charity softball event as a chance to unwind and reunite with teammates and fans.

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Former North Dakota State quarterback Easton Stick is a member of the Los Angeles Chargers in the National Football League. Jake Roth / USA TODAY Sports
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FARGO — The Carson Wentz AO1 Foundation’s annual charity softball game brought some familiar faces back to Fargo on Tuesday, including Los Angeles Chargers and former North Dakota State quarterback Easton Stick.

Stick was among the 28 former Bison football players participating in the event. He said that coming back to Fargo for the game has become a tradition.

“It’s just fun being back around,” Stick said. “It’s kind of become like a little built-in reunion for the former players.”

This is the third time in four years that the AO1 Foundation has put on the charity softball game. The 2020 game was canceled due to the pandemic.

Stick is entering the last year of his four-year deal with the Chargers and will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

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With the optional OTAs done and the mandatory minicamp ending last week, Stick said he likes where he and the Chargers are at going into training camp and the season.

“We had a good spring,” said Stick. “A lot of really good energy in that building right now with some new additions.”

Stick was a fifth-round NFL Draft pick by the Chargers in 2019. Following his rookie season, the pandemic swept across the world and hindered the NFL’s offseason. Three years later, Stick said he is finally experiencing a typical offseason.

“It’s nice to have an offseason officially for the first time,” Stick said. “Just to be in the building around guys and have a chance to install plays and go out on the field and run them. And build a little bit of chemistry with the guys, it’s been fun.”

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Former North Dakota State University quarterback Easton Stick. David Samson / The Forum

The Chargers currently have four quarterbacks on their roster, including Pro-Bowler Justin Herbert, Stick, veteran Chase Daniel and Brandon Peters, a late undrafted free agent pickup.

Stick said he doesn’t know what his role will be this season, but he has confidence in his team’s coaches and fellow quarterbacks.

“I really appreciate the quarterback room that we have,” Stick said. “It’s been a lot of fun and easy to work with, and you don’t take that for granted. The amount of experience in that room is really good, the coaching staff is great. It’s an exciting room and I'm grateful to be a part of it.”

The culture Chargers head coach Brandon Staley has fostered has helped the team become a winning organization. Los Angeles also acquired some seasoned veterans to help in the locker room, Stick said.

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Being back in Fargo and around some of his former Bison teammates has helped him take his mind off the upcoming season, he said.

“Just to have a week or two to clear your mind and recharge, and having a chance to breathe is a big part of it," he said.

Stick said the reasons a lot of players choose to come back to Fargo every year for the AO1 event comes down to Wentz, the impact of the foundation, the brotherhood that teammates share, and the community.

“People keep coming out and watching (the game) and that’s a blast being in front of these fans and getting the chance to interact a little," Stick said. "There’s an atmosphere here tonight, so that’s fun.”

Stick said he drove around the area on Monday night and had the opportunity to see the Nodak Insurance Football Performance Complex, the NDSU football program's new practice facility that will replace the Dacotah Field Bubble. The bubble was one of various amenities that attracted him to NDSU.

“Having a permanent building that matches a lot you see around the country is a really cool testament to the administration, the coaching staff here and just the support of the community," he said.

North Dakota State quarterback Easton Stick leaps against Delaware's Nasir Adderley on Saturday at the Fargodome. David Samson / The Forum
North Dakota State quarterback Easton Stick leaps against Delaware's Nasir Adderley at the Fargodome. David Samson / The Forum

He said he’s excited to see former Bison players Cordell Volson and Christian Watson joining the NFL this season. In 2021, the Bison had nine players on active NFL rosters.

The Bison had won three straight national championships under former head coach Craig Bohl prior to Stick joining the program in 2014. He said that the winning culture the Bison have developed is an incredible feat for the program.

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“It's been good for a really long time,” Stick said. “It’s really exciting and fun to watch, and see the tradition get passed down.”

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