Pelican high school graduate is on the NDSU sidelines as Cheer Team squad member
It definitely doesn’t resemble–or feel like–the good old days at North Dakota State University Bison football games.
For starters: The temperatures are never below freezing; the wind never blows; and the rain and snow never fall inside the Fargodome.
This is a stark contrast for those of us from a bygone era.
As a member of the NDSU Gold Star Marching Band, who returned to the old school earlier this football season for an alumni event, football games are certainly a much more comfortable, climate-controlled experience than the old days.
The alumni “Old Star” band joined the “kids” marching on the gridiron for a couple numbers–in our shirt sleeves. Us oldtimers remember our horns freezing solid from the frostbite conditions at the outdoor football field–conditions which could be especially brutal during late season playoffs.
During the October Homecoming 2016 game and alumni reunion, I had the pleasure of connecting with a young Pelican Rapids college student who was also on the sidelines.
Nick Thompson, 2015 Pelican High graduate, is a member of the NDSU cheer team. An electrical engineering major, Nick was active in football, wrestling, baseball and music in Pelican.
“Last year, one of the guys living across the hall from me in the dorms was on the cheer team and one day he invited me to a practice,” said Nick. “I went and loved it and I signed my papers a few days later.”
Back in my day, the football players and band members weren’t the only ones performing in the great outdoors. The cheer team was also in action on the sometimes snow-covered sidelines –including “cheerleader”(as they were known back then) Doug Burgum––newly-elected governor of North Dakota, and former executive with Great Plains Software, which he sold to Microsoft. So, NDSU sophomore Nick Thompson joins a cheer squad with a distinguished and colorful history.
The cheer team practices twice a week, from 6 a.m. – 8 a.m. The group cheers at all of the home football and basketball games, as well as miscellaneous Pep Rallies and special events, according to Nick.
First year team members don’t normally travel for sports event, so Nick hasn’t been on the road with the Bison–but he hopes to in the future.
“Cheer takes some serious athleticism. It’s one thing to push press 130 pounds over your head at the gym–but it’s a little more difficult when you’re push pressing a person,” said Thompson, who plans to try out for the team again next year, too.
Scholarships are offered after a few years on the team, he noted.
“All of my friends and family back home are incredibly supportive of me being on the cheer team,” said Thompson.
Historically, he is very likely the only college-level cheer team member from Pelican Rapids–certainly in recent memory. He’s probably the first Pelican grad in history to cheer for a Division I college program
“I honestly don’t know of any others,” said Thompson.
Thompson also continues to be active in music. His band’s name is “Thin Ice,” and the band has made appearances at several Pelican VFW and street dance events over the past couple years.
Music does provide some extra income, but mostly Thompson and his bandmates enjoy it.
“We want to share the music we’ve written with as many people as possible. We just finished recording our first demo and hope to get that out to the public very soon,” said Thompson.
The band’s next confirmed date in the Pelican area is Dec. 17 at Hillbillies in Erhard.
A “working” student, Thompson is also a part time sales associate at General Nutrition Center in Fargo.
It’s an exciting time to be a Bison. This week, NDSU will face archrival South Dakota State University in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs, at 11 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 10, in Fargo. Look for Nick Thompson, a former black and orange Pelican Rapids Viking now wearing Bison green and gold–cheering at the sidelines.