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LAFAKIS: Parting observation, hidden gems define the ‘Magic City’

I’m a naturally inquisitive individual. Don’t worry, I know what they say. Curiosity killed the cat.

However, curiosity is essential in this line of work. Journalists must seek the truth and report it.

Throughout the past 14 months, one question lingered in my mind. Why do these folks call Minot the “Magic City?” Now, I have the answer.

Minot — and its neighboring communities — are filled with hidden gems. Why do I refer to these special spots as “hidden gems,” you ask?

My response is quite simple. There’s a good chance I would have not experienced their beauty if I didn’t move to North Dakota last July.

In no particular order, here are some of the sports-related diamonds in Minot:

— Corbett Field, where my journey began. It showcases a modern flair mixed with a nostalgic charm.

— Duane Carlson Stadium, home to the “Magic Carpet” turf. That turf is remarkable, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed photographing games there while sunsets blanket the field.

— The Minot Municipal Auditorium, a place where dozens of memorable athletic events are held. Seeing the smaller communities come together for basketball and volleyball was special for me.

— The Minot State University Dome, fully complete with exceptional renovations. It was a privilege to shoot basketball and volleyball inside the arena.

— Herb Parker Stadium, a home for athletes during all seasons. I’m all for new experiences, and covering high school football in the fall and college softball in the spring was rewarding.

— Nodak Speedway, where passionate fans and drivers gather. If I did not venture to North Dakota, there’s no chance I would have understood the importance of the race track.

— Maysa Arena, a stadium where hockey players dazzle spectators. If you play hockey, you have my utmost respect. I especially appreciate the athletes’ balance and control.

— South Hill Complex, a state-of-the art softball facility. Learning from Thor Nelson and the Minot Storm was a highlight of this past summer.

— Hammond Park, which features some of the nicest tennis courts I have ever seen. A captivating venue, to be sure.

— Two “holes in one”: Souris Valley Golf Course and the Vardon Golf Club. I’ve learned so much about golf in such a short time. I am definitely thankful for that.

— Jack Hoeven Park, which is special to me because I covered a variety of baseball games there. Back in June, I was moved by the USA Patriots’ performance at the ballpark.

I haven’t even touched on the non-sports gems around Minot and North Dakota. If I listed all of those, this column would rival the “Harry Potter” series in length. The list itself would be longer than a CVS receipt.

One of my college journalism professors, Loni McKown, reminded me of something that carries incredible importance in journalism. She always said to keep stories clear and concise. I’m smiling because I can hear her voice as I type these words.

Here is the clear and concise message: Today is my last day in Minot. I have accepted a new position as a sports reporter at the Dubois County Herald in Jasper, Indiana.

Soon, I will return to my home state — a place I will forever cherish. Although I will be back home again in Indiana, my work here is not done yet. This evening, I will cover the Velva vs. Bishop Ryan football game at Nedrose High School.

I feel fortunate to have covered that particular matchup twice last season. It’s one of the best rivalries in the state.

As I wrote about thrilling contests such as those, the answer to my original question answered itself. Yes, a plethora of palpable gems are interspersed throughout this city.

The true gems are the people.

This chapter of my life offered the greatest learning experience I could have ever asked for. It was an honor to interview and profile the individuals who make the magic happen. I thank the loyal readers of the MDN.

I’m quite grateful to have told my most recent feature story on John Hepper, the athletics equipment manager at Minot High School. He is a prime example of a person who makes the world a better place.

Another word of thanks goes to my editor, Alex Eisen, for listening to my ideas and inviting collaboration on various projects. I will always remember exploring new stories during the COVID-19 pandemic. We handled some unique challenges, and I am thankful for those opportunities.

Minot itself is a hidden gem. When my family and friends in Indiana ask about my memories of North Dakota, I will tell them about all the great times I enjoyed while I was here. I might even convince them to visit. Who knows?

I do know one thing, though. As I reminisce about my experiences, I’ll resist the urge to wax poetic.

I’ll try to keep my thoughts clear and concise.

This is the opinion of Jimmy Lafakis. He covered Minot High School sports and Class B high school sports. You can still follow him on Twitter @JJLII30.

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