NDSU Dining Center went above and beyond during blizzard

By Jeff Kolpack

Forum News Service

FARGO — Nineteenth Avenue North just in front of Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome was closed for more than a day because of the weekend blizzard that hit the Red River Valley. That didn’t mean it was a vacation storm day for the North Dakota State football team.

The Bison did what they could with the Jan. 11 Division I Football Championship Subdivision national title game against James Madison not that far away. That included keeping players in training well fed.

Perhaps the most valuable player of the weekend? If you ask NDSU head coach Matt Entz, it would be the NDSU Dining Center. It did not miss prepping for a meal.

“We have a great team,” said Katie Tarter, the NDSU director of dining. “They’re amazing. Unbelievable.”

Her team includes an array of people and entities, such as the NDSU facilities department that cleared roads and parking lots for the dining staff. A blizzard plan includes the NDSU Department of Residence Life, which provides on-campus rooms for workers who live too far from campus.

In this case, it included Jim Kramer, NDSU’s associate athletic director for athletic performance and Roxanne England, associate director for the dining center. Those two were in constant communication in regards to the football team and the dining center, Tarter said.

“Those two do all the back-and-forth conversations with times and things like that,” Tarter said. “The football team works with us. Based on the weather, they made adjustments.”

That included a continental breakfast for the players on Monday, so the dining staff didn’t have to come in early and prepare hot food items. The main day meal on Monday, then, was more of a brunch before the Bison practiced Monday afternoon.

“When you’re feeding a smaller group, like the football team now, you don’t need as many staff,” Tarter said. “The football team worries about our staff, too, to make sure we’re safe as well.”

For Entz, that meant adjusting the practice schedule on Monday to give the campus and city workers time to clear the roads. NDSU cut its Sunday schedule to a minimum. It canceled a weightlifting session on Monday morning, but Entz said they’ll make that up later.

“We’re trying to do the best we can to stay active,” Entz said.

There are players staying in on-campus dormitories and players who live off campus. To help with transportation, Entz said players with four-wheel drive vehicles picked up other players.

Nobody missed a minute of anything.

“What you don’t want is a couple of days of no practice, then you do feel like you’re behind,” Entz said. “The players did a great job of helping get the other guys here.”

For the true freshmen, especially for the ones from out of state, the blizzard was probably a first-time experience. For the veteran players, it’s just part of Bison football.

“A lot of returning players understand this is the way Mother Nature can be in Fargo, North Dakota,” Entz said. “You take the good with the bad. Regardless, we need to get ready and we need to have every opportunity we can.”

That includes food for athletes who depend on it to maintain strength and speed.

“The people in the dining center — their commitment to not only North Dakota State football but NDSU athletics is off the charts,” Entz said.