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Jeff Kolpack, Published December 30 2012

Kolpack: NDSU’s cowboys take to Texas

Fargo - Merely putting on boots and a cowboy hat does not make anybody a cowboy, unless you attend an ’80s party and go as John Travolta in “Urban Cowboy.” No way.

Real cowboys must roll their eyes constantly at all the pseudo cowboys in the world because there are plenty of them. The real McCoys work on a ranch and think nothing of putting in 18-hour days amid rattle snakes. Real cowboys ride bulls, the kind us fake cowboys freak out at standing 20 feet and a couple of layers of iron fence away.

Real cowboys chew snuff, not Bubble Yum in a packet.

Fake cowboys ride a mechanical bull, and think they’re good at it.

Most of all, real cowboys have real cowboy attitude, a rough-and-tough mindset. You don’t mess with real cowboys.

So as the Division I Football Championship Subdivision title week begins today, with the destination Frisco, Texas, that carries with it a cowboy hat and boots theme, it’s time to determine North Dakota State’s No. 1 cowboy.

“I’m going to say I’m up there,” said linebacker Grant Olson.

Take away his Twin Cities Wayzata background and he has a case. Olson listens to country music, owns a cowboy hat and boots and actually wears them, has a country vocal cadence to him and is cowboy tough as the team’s middle linebacker.

Also in the mix is defensive end Mike Hardie, who shares the same country music taste as Olson. At 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds with long hair, bulls might think twice about letting him on their back for 20 seconds.

Hardie, however, deferred his nomination.

“G.O. throws me around as a big country boy,” he said, referring to Olson. “I enjoy my country music.”

But that’s about it.

By virtue of his rural upbringing in an area of North Dakota where not many people live, a farm one mile from Calio in the northeast section of the state, linebacker Travis Beck was briefly considered for nomination. But one problem quickly surfaced.

“I’m a ball cap guy,” Beck said.

No cowboy hat, no chance.

Beck gave credence to Olson saying his teammate should be from Texas, not Wayzata. But he also called Olson an Urban Cowboy.

That makes for minus points.

For a while, defensive tackle Brian Schaetz was a front runner for best cowboy after it was revealed in high school in Denmark, Wis., he would get up at 4 a.m., drive to the high school to lift weights, come back to the dairy farm and do his chores and then go back to school. Now that’s a real cowboy attitude.

If coaches were included, Craig Bohl would have a shot because he has a family photo riding horses in Wyoming on his desk. But he also has more suits than a Wall Street executive, which is minus points.

Also briefly considered for nomination: wide receiver Nate Moody (because he’s the closest resident to Medora, N.D.) and defensive lineman Anthony LaVoy (sheer size and small town Mahnomen roots).

All the aforementioned players have some cowboy validity. But nobody can hold a rope to junior fullback Andrew Grothmann.

“He has six pairs of cowboy boots, I have one,” Olson said. “Andrew Grothmann is No. 1.”

He’s No. 1 because he lives it and works it on Sundays at the family farm near Hillsboro, N.D. He’s majoring in agricultural economics with a minor in animal science. In the summer, he worked as a loan officer intern for AgCountry Farm Credit Services.

Earlier this year, he was featured on a news story on an agricultural television network. He excelled at two sports in high school that require cowboy-esque discipline: wrestling and football.

So when the Bison players walk off the plane in Dallas this week, they can boast they have one true cowboy on the team. And a whole bunch of pseudo cowboys.


Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia