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Chris Murphy, Published March 27 2013

Love for UND hockey puts Bison student in unusual position

Fargo - Brittany Gefroh, a junior at North Dakota State, often walks through campus wondering if the eyes of passing students are widening or rolling because of what she’s wearing. The 21-year-old journalism and web design student is not taking a religious or political stance with her clothes.

She’s just showing pride for her favorite team, which happens to be the University of North Dakota men’s hockey team.

“It’s such an embarrassing feeling,” Gefroh said. “I feel like people are staring at me and thinking I don’t belong. It’s always nice when I find another Fighting Sioux fan wearing Sioux stuff, but it’s rarely.”

Gefroh has combined her love of hockey and writing into a blog titled, “For the Love of Hockey,” which she writes about teams in the Dakotas and Minnesota, but she never tip-toes around where her allegiance stands.

“When you watch the Sioux, you’re going to see professional players,” Gefroh said. “I love hockey, and I love the Sioux. It’s that simple. If people can’t accept that, then that’s fine. It’s a passion of mine.”

Gefroh was a basketball girl growing up in Bismarck. No one in her family liked or played hockey. She was sure she was going to be drafted in the WNBA, until reality set in in eighth grade when she quit basketball.

In 2010, Gefroh’s hometown Bismarck Bobcats junior hockey team – whom she interns for – won the Robertson Cup in the North American Hockey League. That sparked her interest in hockey.

It was UND center Rocco Grimaldi, however, who was responsible for her new love of hockey and the Fighting Sioux.

“He is a Christian hockey player, and my faith is also important to me,” Gefroh said. “I started following him on Twitter, and I realized he played at the rival school. I met him at a fan fest last season, decided to buy tickets and went to my first game at the Ralph (Engelstad Arena). It hooked me in from there. The team in Bismarck was pretty good, but the speed of the guys that are going to play in the NHL is so fast and physical.”

Gefroh sees nothing wrong with falling in love with Ralph Engelstad Arena or UND

“I feel like it’s OK, because we don’t have Division I hockey team at NDSU,” Gefroh said. “I guess I could cheer for the Gophers or some other team, but because of Rocco Grimaldi and the Sioux, I really got into hockey. I’ve decided if people don’t like it, that’s their problem. I’m still a Bison fan.”

And if NDSU gets a Division I hockey team?

“I would support them, but just because they aren’t the team I fell in love with first, I’d still be a Sioux fan most of all,” Gefroh said.

Gefroh hopes to one day cover hockey in the media or public relations fields. There’s no better way to build thick skin required to cover sports than to openly cheer for the rival of your college.

“I actually just got my first negative comment for my blog,” Gefroh said. “A guy was like, ‘Why are you writing this blog that no one is going to read? If you go to NDSU, you shouldn’t do this. You could make life a lot easier for yourself if you didn’t like the Sioux and go to NDSU.’ That was a little discouraging, but I don’t really care.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548