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Eric Peterson, Published November 02 2011

Peterson: Groettum presses on after loss of father

Moorhead - When Kasey Groettum needed his Minnesota State Moorhead teammates most this fall, they were there for him. It had nothing to do with football.

Groettum’s father, Greg Groettum, died on Oct. 15. The funeral was a few days later in Lisbon, N.D. A group of MSUM coaches and players were there.

“Seeing those players and the coaches come made me realize that they are always here for me,” said Groettum, who is from Lisbon. “They are like my family now; that made me realize that I’m part of the team.”

Kasey said his father had been in a Fargo hospital in the weeks leading up to his passing, but he didn’t tell the team. He didn’t want it to be a distraction.

The Dragons had just returned from a road game at Bemidji State when Kasey found out that his father, who was 52, had died.

His mother, Kathleen Groettum, was waiting for Kasey when he got off the team bus.

“She came up and told me the news and that was tough,” Kasey said.

MSUM head coach Steve Laqua found out the next day that Kasey’s dad had passed. For Laqua, there was no question he was going to attend the funeral for Kasey’s father.

“I was once told that weddings are voluntary, but funerals are mandatory,” Laqua said. “You don’t ever have words for times like that, but just being around is helpful. So we felt it was important being around. It’s tough. … It makes you appreciate the family you have, the time we have together.”

Kasey said he would watch football and baseball games with his dad all the time when he was growing up. Kasey said his dad was the main reason he got involved with sports.

Greg was unresponsive the final time Kasey visited him in the hospital. But that’s not how Kasey will remember his dad.

“The biggest memory I have of my dad is he always loved sports,” Kasey said. “He was the Vikings’ biggest fan I think.”

A true freshman, Kasey earned a starting spot at offensive guard for the Dragons this fall. He will be making his sixth straight start at 1 p.m. Saturday when MSUM hosts Northern State.

Kasey has been a solid contributor in his first college season, despite being undersized.

He stands 5-foot-10 and weighs 240 pounds.

“He’s a scrapper,” Laqua said. “He’s going to play from whistle to whistle. He’s going to do the little things that help him overcome some of those size things. He’s a competitor.”

Kasey has also shown resilience.

“I just kept thinking my dad would want me to play,” Kasey said. “He wouldn’t want me to hold back and use it as an excuse. I try to keep working hard, keep going. I know he’s always looking after me.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found

at peterson.areavoices.com