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Jeff Kolpack, Published July 19 2012

New opportunities arrive in area with AAU girls basketball team

Fargo - Tired of seeing talented North Dakota girls playing for out-of-state basketball teams, Adam Jacobson decided to bring girls amateur basketball to the Red River Valley.

“There’s a lot of it in Minnesota, and there’s never been an opportunity for girls in North Dakota,” Jacobson said. “A lot of those Minnesota programs were coming into Fargo and Grand Forks and taking kids from North Dakota and playing with them in Minnesota and we saw opportunity with that.”

Jacobson is the head coach of the ND Pro Amateur Athletic Union U-17 girls basketball team. This is the first year for ND Pro, and the team boasts a 10-girl roster.

Sarah Jacobson – no relation to Adam Jacobson – Kelly Weir and Jessica Anderson represent Fargo Shanley High School. Katelyn Olson and Alexis Tappe are from Fargo Davies.

Ellie Ripplinger and Taylor Hammer play for Grand Forks Red River High School and Grand Forks Central, respectively.

Cassie Thompson and Allison Burns play for Grafton, which last season won the North Dakota Class B state title. Alexis Tappe, the only out-of-state player, is from Frazee, Minn.

“It’s been really fun,” Weir said. “It’s a good experience. The girls are really nice, and we’re melding together pretty well.”

The ND Pro team has played in tournaments such as The Battle of the Hardwood in Minneapolis and the Nike Tournament of Champions in Chicago, Ill., where it took sixth place in a 32-team pool.

At these tournaments, it’s not rare to see coaches or scouts from Division III, Division II and even Division I colleges looking for talented athletes.

Providing the chance to be seen by college coaches and travel the nation has always been on the mind of the team’s coach. Adam Jacobson hopes next season draws a larger number of athletes in order to expand the program.

“I’ve got a great group of kids that love basketball,” Jacobson said. “The goal next year is we want to get two or three teams, a couple young ones and one elite-type team. Right now, we have 10 kids involved and next year we want 30. We just want to get the word out that this is here.”

The ND Pro team will compete in the North Tartan Meltdown in the Twin Cities area starting Saturday.

“It’s been a good experience,” Sarah Jacobson said. “You kind of get a reality check when you go out to the bigger tournaments, but it’s fun to see where you stand against other teams in the country. I hope to continue playing here.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Glenn Pursley at (701) 451-5549