MOORHEAD-Moorhead's Jack Stetz ended his high school athletic career with the Spuds on June 1 in a loss to Brainerd in the Class 4A, Section 8 baseball tournament. That was Stetz's ninth varsity season, playing three in football, hockey and baseball.
"It's hard to think about," Stetz said. "Every coach I've had says once you're a Spud you're always a Spud. I keep that in the back of my mind."
He'll put on a new jersey this fall, as he's decided to play football for the University of North Dakota. The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Stetz will be a preferred walk-on.
"I always dreamt of playing football," Stetz said. "Hockey came later as I grew up, but I always dreamed of playing for a Division I school for football. I thought that'd be the coolest thing ever. Now, it's happening. It's going to take a lot of hard work to get there, but I'm ready to go."
Stetz was on the top forward line in the Class 2A state championship in hockey as a junior and was part of the football team that went to the Class 5A semifinals as a sophomore. He played wide receiver, quarterback and defensive back for football. He finished his hockey career with more than 100 points and was one of the best hitters and base runners for the baseball team. He was a captain for the football team and the baseball team as a senior.
"He's a kid that knows how to compete," UND defensive coordinator Eric Schmidt said. "He played in a lot of big games, whether it was on the field, the ice or the field. He's a competitive kid. He had a lot of opportunities in different sports, and him deciding on football here late was an opportunity to get him on our roster."
For Stetz, it wasn't a matter of playing at the next level after high school. It was a matter of which sport. Moorhead baseball coach Greg Salvevold is still convinced he has a future in baseball.
"Just a dynamic player. made things happen," Salvevold said. "Once he got on the bases he had free reign to steal bases when he wanted. I wish he was playing this summer, and I wish he was pursuing baseball. I feel like he could go pretty far in baseball. He thought football would be the better opportunity."
Stetz played some junior hockey after the high school season, practicing with Brookings (S.D.) in the North American Hockey League. He decided that wasn't for him.
"I liked it, it was great, but I don't think it really suited how I felt," Stetz said. "I just thought about what was best for me and took into consideration what sport I enjoyed the most. I thought about what would be best for me."
That was football, a sport he's been playing since he was 3 years old. His dad, Tim, played football at Minnesota State Moorhead. Tim is a University of Minnesota fan. He'll have to get used to cheering for UND.
"He said he could get used to putting on a UND shirt," Stetz said. "He'll be fine."
Stetz won't be the only Spud at UND. Linebacker Jade Lawrence and kicker Brady Leach are already there. Running back and defensive back Otis Weah is headed to UND this fall for football as well.
"If there's a guy we feel can help our football team, who lives close to Grand Forks, we want them," Schmidt said. "All those guys have come here and fit well. They're hard workers and good character guys, who have a great opportunity to contribute or already have. Definitely something we would like to keep rolling in the future."
Stetz will initially be tried at wide receiver, but could see some time at defensive back for UND. He says he's willing to play whatever position he's asked to play. One thing he'll have to get used to is focusing on just one sport. That and the new jersey.
"It's really weird. It's going to be a weird change, but I think I'll get used to it pretty quick," Stetz said. "It kind of feels weird that the next jersey I put on won't be a Moorhead one. But I'm ready."