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UND FOOTBALL: UND coaches and players meet the public at annual Fan Fest

Freshman linebacker Tahje Hartley, right, gets taken down by Leo Dearinger, 10, while playing a pick up game with kids during the UND Football Fan Fest at Memorial Stadium Thursday evening. Photo by Kile Brewer/Grand Forks Herald1 / 6
Fans gathered at Memorial Stadium Thursday evening for the UND Football Fan Fest where members of the community could chat with players and Head Coach Bubba Schweigert. Photo by Kile Brewer/Grand Forks Herald2 / 6
Freshman defensive back Josiah Montague avoids a defender while playing a pick up game with a group of kids during the UND Football Fan Fest at Memorial Stadium Thursday evening. Photo by Kile Brewer/Grand Forks Herald3 / 6
Freshman linebacker Tahje Hartley throws a pass under pressure while playing a pick up game with kids during the UND Football Fan Fest at Memorial Stadium Thursday evening. Photo by Kile Brewer/Grand Forks Herald4 / 6
UND Head Coach Bubba Schweigert tells Spencer Egland, 10, right, and his mother Tracey that his hair used to be the same shade of red during the UND Football Fan Fest at Memorial Stadium Thursday evening. Photo by Kile Brewer/Grand Forks Herald5 / 6
Freshman fullback Tyler Coyne signs a poster during the UND Football Fan Fest at Memorial Stadium Thursday evening. Photo by Kile Brewer/Grand Forks Herald6 / 6

With plenty of new faces on the North Dakota football coaching staff and roster, head coach Bubba Schweigert said it is extremely important for the fans to get a chance to interact with his players.

UND fans of all ages once again got the chance to do that Thursday at Memorial Stadium, starting with a youth football clinic and ending with the annual Fan Fest.

“It’s been a tradition for UND football,” said Schweigert, “and we love to do it. It’s good for our guys to give back to the community because the community gives a lot to us.

“We want to be good friends with the community; we are a part of it and this is really UND’s football team, Grand Forks’ football team … we just happen to be the guys in the uniforms and coaching uniforms.”

The Fan Fest gave fans the chance to meet the players and coaches, get autographs, and play catch with some of the players.

 Schweigert emphasized that it is important for his staff and players to build a relationship with fans because it is a big part of game days.

“I think it’s always fun when you have a personal relationship or get to know somebody face-to-face,” he said. “The games mean a little bit more. I know there are some people that are going to come to the games whether they know guys or not, but some of these people we want to make a connection with so they feel like they’re really part of it.

“Because they truly are a part of it and it’s important that we fill up the Alerus and this is one step toward doing that.”

Not only was it good for fans, it also gave UND players a chance to get to know their fans.

“It is very good (for the players),” said Schweigert. “The kids are excited to be around our guys and our guys did a good job making it fun for the kids. It’s fun for everybody involved.”

And Schweigert added that the Fan Fest won’t be the last time you’ll see his guys out of their pads and off the field.

“Once again, we really feel part of our responsibility is to reach out and give back to the community,” he said. “So, throughout the year, you’ll see our guys volunteering, whether it’s at elementary schools or different places around town … we want to be a part of the community and give back.”

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