When informed of the news about my pending employment at the Minot Daily News, my first journalism professor at Illinois Central College, Mike Foster, responded in his typical candid and slightly sarcastic manner.
"Good news .... better wear your woollies." I always called him "The Prof" for a reason, because he is wise. My first impression of North Dakota is that it is COLD, and that Foster, much to my chargin, was right ... again!
Now, that I have a grip on the bone-chilling, frozen tundra that constantly has my Toyota Camry getting caught in parking lots and has forced me to get assistance twice from friendly North Dakotans who lent a hand, the one pressing question on my mind is, "How can I take advantage of this weather?" Thoughts are racing through my head. I feel like I am in limbo, similar to retired Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre's, "What should I do?"
What should I do to take advantage of this winter wonderland? Should I take up snowboarding, pending a team of qualified medical professionals are on duty? Or maybe I should take up curling? Or should I learn how to ski? Or maybe learn to skate. This winter wonderland has a smorgasbord of winter sports that California, Arizona, Missouri, and Illinois, the four previous states I've lived in, don't offer.
I know, perhaps I should hunt for apartments. Surely, scouring through the telephone book looking for a place to call home has to qualify for an Olympic sport in Minot. Obtaining housing is tough and competitive here and should qualify as a sport.
Thanks to the wonderful staff at IRET, I no longer have to crash on Sports Editor Chris Bieri's couch and invade his space.
It's only been a few weeks, and I have been in shock from piles of snow the locals tell me are just a "little spring storm." These piles would cause those in Illinois to stay inside and cancel everything for at least a few days.
Yes, this is bone-chilling cold. I forgot to mention my two-year stint in Scottsdale, Arizona and Southern California. At least there are no scorpions here that love to hide in laundry baskets and sting you when you least expect it.
From covering three Major League All-Star weekends, to covering the Arizona Fall Baseball League, to National Junior College Tournaments, and seeing sports from the amateur to professional level, I can definitely say one thing, "North Dakotans got game." The level of Class B boys and girls and the passion I saw from being a fly on the wall while all the media were trying to decide on Mr. Basketball candidates told me one thing about sports here: North Dakotans are serious about their sports. Dead serious.
The passion of people in Minot from amateur pool to amatuer basketball to high school prep sports is very evident and gives me something to look forward to while covering sports for years to come here in Minot, as this place of cold weather already is beginning to feel like home. Once I purchase a good set of snowtires, I'll be set. I guess getting stuck in the snow is a friendly way of saying "welcome to North Dakota."
Jason Blasco is a sports writer at The Minot Daily News. You can reach him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.