'It's nice. It's just calming' ; Golf a getaway for Red River's Jake Grandstrand after mother's death

Grand Forks Red River's Jake Grandstrand is enjoying time on the links in a way others aren't.

Jake Grandstrand web.jpg
Red River junior Jake Grandstrand eyes the course during a golf tournament.

GRAND FORKS -- Grand Forks Red River boys golf sits in second place currently among all East Dakota Conference teams with 70 points.

On that team, is Jake Grandstrand, who for him, golf's become much more than just a game within the last year.

"I didn't do much last summer, just cause I was going through a lot of stuff," said Grandstrand.

At the height of dealing with a global pandemic and a lost golf season came a gut-wrenching loss.

"I knew that it was gonna come at some point in time," he said.


On April 9, 2020, Jake's mother Erika died of breast cancer. It was the second time she'd battled the disease.

"It was bad, like stage four and all over her body," said Grandstrand. "It was just unstoppable."

When Jake heard the news that his mom's cancer had returned, he knew he needed to take advantage of her final days.

"When we got told the second time that it came back, that's when it really sunk in that I gotta do more things, 'cause I won't get to experience as much as normal people do," he said. "Everybody still has their moms coming to everything and it's different, lots of changing."

But before she died, Erika got to see Jake accomplish his goal of winning a state hockey championship as Red River knocked off Fargo South-Shanley in 2020.

"Going into it I thought that it might be the last game that she watched me, so like it was pretty nerve wracking 'cause I wanted to show up with her last game there," said Jake. "The first thing she did was come give me a hug, so it was pretty nice."


A little over a month later, she was gone, leaving a deep pit in Jake's heart.

"The hardest part is just not having her at my games and stuff and not seeing her after every single day," he said.

In Erika's absence, Jake's since found golf to be his peace.

"It's nice. It's just calming," he said. "Most of the time I'm just out here trying to forget about everything."

But even golf tends to remind Jake of his mom sometimes.

"Sometimes I get competitive, but - well most of the time I do, that's how my mom was, she was very competitive in everything that she did," he said of her.

When things get tough, Jake's friends and his coach step in and provide a shoulder for him to lean on.

"My golf coach here, he just talks to me about how everything's been going, if everything around the house has been good, and my friends they just make me laugh and make me have a good time," he said.


Losing his mom's been tough on Jake, but the way she battled, and the way she lived has left an everlasting impact.

"It drives me every single day to just fight through everything," he said.

Jake is currently a junior at Red River. He has a brother, Kale, who is four years younger.

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