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Michelle Turnberg, Published January 13 2012

Turnberg: Champions’ greeting was sign of class

By virtue of my college experience, I’m a Cobber and a Dragon. One of my closest friends played basketball for the Gophers. I have a family member who played hockey for the Wild.

I grew up in Minnesota cheering for the Vikings, Timberwolves and Twins – regardless of how bad their seasons turned out to be.

I confess that my loyalties haven’t been focused on the Bison. Don’t get me wrong, I love sports and good sporting events. I just haven’t had the cause, or the inclination, to get connected to NDSU athletics.

But I will cheer for the Bison next year.

I took my kids to a movie on Sunday – the day after the Bison won the National Championship title. We were in line to get popcorn and an Icee when a group of very large college-aged men, dressed in green and gold, approached the counter.

A man linked with the group (he looked to be a proud father) declared, “These are national champions!” My kids and I had watched the game and were cheering for the Herd to win. But when my kids overheard these men were “real live Bison players” you would have thought Brett Farve, Tom Brady and Drew Brees all walked into the theater.

I imagine the young men looked like giants to my second- and third-graders. I told them to go congratulate them on their victory, so they walked up, excited, star struck and somewhat apprehensive, and told the players “good job.”

The players all took the time to shake their hands, asked my kids their names and thanked them for their support.

It maybe took 30 seconds, but their simple and sincere greeting will stay with my kids for years.

For anyone that says athletes aren’t role models, I say, guess again.

My kids talked about it all night. They wondered what movie the players were going to, or if the paparazzi were nearby. The next day they shared the encounter with their teachers and classmates.

What an impact a few kind words and taking the time to pay attention to your youngest fans can have.

Well done, men. Not only are you National Champions, you have demonstrated something perhaps more impressive: class. And, for what it’s worth, you have added at least one more fan next year.

Michelle Turnberg writes a weekly column for SheSays.