UND coaches sound off on retiring nicknameThere’s a quote painted in UND’s locker room at Ralph Engelstad Arena reminding the players to honor the Sioux tribes in how they perform and carry themselves on the ice for each men’s hockey game.
By: Brad Elliott Schlossman, Grand Forks Herald
There’s a quote painted in UND’s locker room at Ralph Engelstad Arena reminding the players to honor the Sioux tribes in how they perform and carry themselves on the ice for each men’s hockey game.
Even if the team is not wearing the Fighting Sioux logo on its jerseys in the future, coach Dave Hakstol says the team’s approach won’t change.
“I can’t begin to put into perspective what that means inside of our locker room,” Hakstol said. “I can tell you it is very important and something we take very seriously. It’s something we will continue to carry forward.
“I want to make sure we honor the traditions of the Fighting Sioux in the right way. The decision was made, a decision out of control of the program, that we have parameters in front of us to move forward. Something that’s very important to me is to make sure we properly honor the traditions and make sure there is never anything of negative connotation associated with the Fighting Sioux name attached to the reason we changed it.”
Hakstol joined other high-profile coaches at UND on Friday morning at Hyslop Sports Center to address the media in the wake of Thursday’s decision by the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education to retire the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo.
Like Hakstol, football coach Chris Mussman, women’s basketball coach Gene Roebuck and men’s basketball coach Brian Jones all expressed disappointment in Thursday’s developments.
They all talked about traditions their teams carry in relation to the nickname and how they don’t see any of them changing.
Even Roebuck, whose team may find conference affiliation because of the decision, couldn’t find much happiness in it.
“If given the choice of keeping the name or getting into the Summit,” Roebuck said, “I’d definitely go with the Fighting Sioux.
“I lived 18 years right around the Spirit Lake nation. I got to know a lot of Spirit Lake Native Americans who I call my friends. I think it’s a sad day. Sixty-seven percent of the people spoke and only 33 percent were heard. To me, that’s not what it should be about. We live in a democratic society.
“I think the people at Spirit Lake needed to be heard. I really believe the people at Standing Rock, if given the opportunity to be heard, would have followed in Spirit Lake’s footsteps.”
Mussman said he received a call Thursday night informing him of the board’s decision. He said it was a strange feeling knowing that the nickname and logo will be retired.
“We have so many traditions within our program and we take pride in representing the Sioux,” he said. “That won’t go away. It’s not going to disappear overnight. We’re going to cherish the time we do have to represent it and we’re going to continue to represent it in a positive way.”
Hakstol and Roebuck both debunked a comment saying that the nickname has hurt recruiting.
“When we get a recruit on campus, it’s a very positive thing,” Roebuck said. “The way we use the Fighting Sioux name, we use it in the right way. There’s a lot of pride in the program being able to represent the Fighting Sioux.”
Hakstol added: “It’s not only a strength in recruiting for our program, it’s a brand of strength for recruiting for our university. It’s a source of great pride. You travel throughout country and see the pride and passion of not only our alums, but the recognition of others as you travel through airports and different communities.
“We are where we are this morning, but let’s acknowledge the pride and passion that exists with this name and logo.”
Jones said he’s the newest coach of the group to arrive at UND and that he continues to learn more about the Sioux nation, tradition, history and pride.
“We were so close to getting this thing the right way,” Jones said. “To not see it play out completely, I think that’s what we’re all scratching our heads about. It’s hard, but this school and university and athletic department are built on the people and the relationships. The relationships are a lot bigger than the name.”
Reach Schlossman at (701) 780-1129; (800) 477-6572, ext. 129; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.