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Michael Tutsie's daughter is 'that little girl raised by a village'

Michael Tutsie has mastered the art of balancing being a student, football player and dad with a little help from his NDSU football family.

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North Dakota State's Michael Tutsie heads onto the field with his 15-month-old daughter Sarai during senior night ahead of his football game against North Dakota on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022, at the Fargodome.
Alyssa Goelzer/The Forum
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FRISCO — North Dakota State sixth-year safety Michael Tutsie has mastered the art of balancing being a student, football player and dad with a little help from his NDSU football family.

Tutsie's best day on the football field is a day he never would’ve imagined a year and a half ago.

"Running out I just had so much pride. I was so happy to be her dad and to be a Bison," said Tutsie. "I was gonna learn it. I knew I wasn't ready right away, but I was gonna learn every single day."

On August 31, 2021, Tustie's life changed forever when his daughter, Sarai, was born.

"I didn't want it to be an excuse why I couldn't finish my career in football and have anything to do with I have going on," said the young dad. "I just told myself, I'm gonna do this, I'm gonna do it 100% all in. I knew it was gonna be a big change. And it definitely has been but you know, NDSU like, that's one thing I can say this is where I'm had a big part of it."

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In fact, his Bison family has been a support system and extended family to Sarai.

"He took it head on, The whole thing," said Kristin Braun, the wife of NDSU defensive coordinator, David Braun. "This is the first situation where it was, how do we help you navigate this."

At NDSU it's bigger than football.

"That phrase 'football family' is thrown around a lot in this profession and at different programs, but it means something different here," Kristin Braun said. "It's not just said, it's something that people do. The staff, the players. I mean, you talk about that little girl's been raised by a village."

Starting with Michael's teammates.

"Every Thursday, I would lift and I will give her to JP (NDSU senior cornerback Jayden Price) one week and then the next week Dawson (Dawson Weber, NDSU sixth year safety)," Tutsie said.

Coaches and coaches wives.

"We were kind of there for away games," Kristin Braun said. "We've had them over for dinner every Wednesday night this season. Sarai was getting ready to go back to Indianapolis with his parents for about a10-day span because he had a couple of away games coming up. We were sitting at the kitchen table and he's talking about how he's he was anxious about being gone away from her for that long, you know, is she going to forget who I am? Am I going to miss her first steps? As we we're talking about it Sarai let go of the chair and took three steps to Andrew."

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This rambunctious, outgoing toddler with a little tom boy mixed in is making cherished memories both off and on the field.

"I'll take her up to the dome and we'll be hanging out, she just loves being around everyone," Tutsie said. "We'll be in meetings and she's just walking up and down saying hey, pointing at the screen and Grant Morgan will be like, yeah, Sarai, tell them."

The support that means a lot, not only to this young dad, but also his dad and family who are 1,000 miles away.

"I think it's really family here. I mean, couldn't have done without the Entz's and the Braun's and Michael's players and his teammates," said Steve Tutsie, Michael's dad. "There's no way he could have done it. "Those people initiated said, hey, I want to, let us help."

"They're locked in with her for life," Michael Tutsie said. "We're family. She's got 120 uncles for the rest of her life no matter what. Seeing people and the comments that they give me after games saying you have a huge impact on people, you're doing an awesome job being the dad means a lot. The fact that I can have that effect on people, that's what really matters."

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