VIRG FOSS: The journey from journalist to fan

FARGO -- I've spent many hours over my lifetime in jam-packed hockey rinks with much at stake in games, surrounded by roaring crowds and pep bands rocking the arena.

Virg Foss
Virg Foss portrait

FARGO -- I've spent many hours over my lifetime in jam-packed hockey rinks with much at stake in games, surrounded by roaring crowds and pep bands rocking the arena.

It was part of the joy I had for so many years covering the Western Collegiate Hockey Association for the Grand Forks Herald.

In retirement, I found that the WCHA playoffs can be enjoyed greatly from a distance as well, far from the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul where the Sioux eliminated St. Cloud State 4-1 Thursday night.

I drove to Fargo to hook up with long-time friend Mark Scott, an avid Sioux hockey fan, a season ticket holder for UND pucks, and a good guy to hang around with.

I got to his home in time to catch the final portion of the afternoon game won by Denver. Then we headed to a great Italian restaurant in Fargo, Johnny Carino's, for a pre-game meal prior to the Sioux contest.


I told the hostess I was a colleague of Marilyn Hagerty at the Herald, so we were given choice seating. It helped even more, no doubt, that we were there around 4:30 p.m., well ahead of the supper rush.

The place is impressive. It's fashioned in Tuscan farmhouse style with a welcoming entryway.

Actually, I wouldn't know Tuscan farmhouse style from a Tucson, Ariz., cactus. But that line in Marilyn's Eatbeat review of the Olive Garden helped thrust her into the national spotlight, so I'm borrowing it in hope fame follows.

Mark and I enjoy more together than Sioux hockey, We both have dogs, his dog Bear being a border collie, my puppy Ole a cocker spaniel. They're now friends, too.

So we played ball with the two dogs in Mark's yard after dinner while waiting for the Sioux game to start. Just two guys with two dogs, enjoying a beautiful day and the company of each other.

There's hardly a room in the Scott house where there isn't a TV set. There's even one in the garage, where we watched part of the Sioux game while Mark smoked his cigar.

We exchanged high-fives when the Sioux scored, and suffered through some very tense moments in the closing minutes as the Huskies pushed to tie the game.

Truth to be told, it was a perfect day. A nice drive, great company, food to die for, fun with the dogs, a Sioux victory and the right to play the regular-season champion Minnesota Gophers.


Mark is a music buff. He was kind enough to burn some CDs of Kingston Trio music (from my college days) so I could listen to them on my drive back to Grand Forks on Thursday night.

I put the old car on cruise control, popped in the Kingston Trio, cranked up the volume capped off a perfect day with some old-time classics.

It was a far cry from so many years of covering hockey tournaments for the Herald, under stressful, tight deadlines, battling to get a good story together and back to the paper on time.

This time, while 15,000-plus fans were rocking the Xcel Energy Center, Mark wore his Sioux gear and I put on my vintage game-worn No. 5 green Sioux jersey with Blackhawk logo from the Scott Sandelin era. Together, we sent our voices skyward toward St. Paul in support of the Sioux.

It's different for me, being a fan, rather than a reporter in these game situations.

I forget that I can cheer now as a fan, something no self-respecting journalist would consider doing on his job.

This Sioux team gives us plenty to cheer about, I must say. Certainly not the most talented UND team I've seen by any means. It may be one that has overcome more adversity than any I can remember and that impresses most of us.

It's not hard to like this team a whole lot. They've made a fan out of me.


Foss is a Hall of Fame journalist who reported on sports for 36 years for the Herald until his retirement. He writes a weekly column from October through April. Contact him at or at (701) 772-9272.

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