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Forum staff reports, Published May 11 2013

Giving mom her due: area sports figures speak about their mothers

Whether it’s for a shoulder to lean on or a ride to the game, area athletic figures discuss their mothers’ dedication to their kids.

Aaron Lien and his mother, Char


Moorhead’s Aaron Lien rolled his eyes after finding out his mother had talked about his hobby of building model stadiums when she was asked for one thing most people didn’t know about him.

“I don’t have anything embarrassing on her,” Aaron said.

No one has more dirt than mom. Char Lien, a 14-year head volleyball coach at Moorhead High School, couldn’t help but smile when thinking about what goes through her head watching Aaron play football and basketball.

“Don’t get hurt,” Char said.

Aaron is the youngest of three Lien boys and finished as the all-time leading scorer in Moorhead history for basketball after playing quarterback for the football team. He is headed to Minnesota State Moorhead for basketball.

“A lot of it is just making sure he’s happy with what he’s doing,” Char said. “I can see he enjoys playing the game, and I can see he loves being with his teammates. It’s enjoyment. I get a chance to sit back and be a mom rather than a coach and enjoy the level of what he’s achieved so far.”

No matter which Lien in which sport Moorhead has had, the common trait is the desire to win.

“She’s a huge inspiration to me,” Aaron said. “I can tell when she’s coaching that she’s super-passionate and wants to win, and that carries over when it’s my turn to get out on the field or on the court. All I ever want to do is win.”

Darren Mueller and his mother, Marie


You will be hard-pressed to find the name of the behind-the-scenes assistant, the role that only a mother could do. Well, it is Marie Mueller, the mom of North Dakota State head softball coach Darren Mueller.

“It’s nice to call her up once in a while and vent when I need to do that,” Darren said. “I don’t do it as much as I used to because I know she gets asked a lot of questions and she’s like, ‘the less I know the better off I am.’ ”

Mom and son are about as Fargo as you can get. Darren grew up in Fargo and graduated from NDSU; mom saw a son who latched on to a softball coaching career when there wasn’t much in the form of monetary reward.

“Her and my dad were very supportive and helped me out in the early years when we were kind of part-time,” said Darren, whose father Lowell died almost six years ago.

It’s not uncommon for Marie to get an invitation to a former player’s wedding. “She gets Christmas cards from ex-players, and I know she appreciates the chance to get to know the girls and their families, too,” Darren said.

You can find Marie at most of NDSU’s home games, when she’s not busy with her real estate career.

A.J. and Sarah Jacobson and their mother, Pat


There are no exact rebounding numbers available for Pat Jacobson while practicing basketball with her son A.J. and her daughter Sarah, but Pat, a former North Dakota State All-American basketball player, enjoys the job.

Like their mother, A.J. and Sarah have excelled playing basketball. Both A.J. and Sarah play basketball and soccer at Fargo Shanley and said their mother has been a helpful resource when it comes to basketball.

“She has always been there from the start,” said A.J., a 6-foot-6 senior who was named North Dakota Mr. Basketball and is a North Dakota State basketball signee. “It was her putting the ball in my hands. It was her encouraging me to keep going and persevere through the tough times. She has helped me become the player I am today.”

Sarah, a freshman, was a Class A all-state first-team selection.

“She has had a huge impact not only on my basketball career, but my life,” Sarah added. “She is the biggest role model that I have. I look up to her for everything.”

Pat said she and her husband, David, are happy that their children are good people.

“It has been fun seeing them grow and mature over the years,” Pat said.

Steve Laqua and his mother, Faye


For as long as she can remember, Faye Laqua knew her son would make athletics his career.

“The day he could hold a ball, he threw a ball,” she said. “We didn’t have nice lamps in the house because the balls were always being pitched one place or another. He’d play from morning until night.”

That son is Minnesota State Moorhead head football coach Steve Laqua.

“I think I learned work ethic from her as far as being able to find a way to get things done,” said Steve, who played football, basketball and baseball for Cavalier (N.D.) High School. “I’m thankful for being raised in a great home and thankful for the influence that she did have on me.”

Faye said when Steve was growing up, whatever sport was in season was his favorite. In college, he chose football, playing for North Dakota State.

That led to a coaching career that has seen him coach at both the high school and college levels.

“He followed his dream,” Faye said. “We’ve always told him, ‘Don’t plan for a job that you’re not going to love. Love what you do. It will be your life.’ ”

Steve said he learned perseverance from his mother, a trait he thinks helps him as a coach.

“We are going to do something when no one else thinks we can do it,” Steve said. “She has that attitude.”

Faith Dooley and her mother, Kari

Casselton, N.D.

Whether after a volleyball match, a basketball game or a track meet, Central Cass junior Faith Dooley can always count on her mother, Kari, to be there for her.

“When I have things to vent about, I always tell her,” said Faith, who is committed to play volleyball at the University of North Dakota. “She always has the answers.”

Kari, mother of two, owns Shear Advantage hair salon in Casselton, N.D. When she isn’t working, Kari and her husband, Joe, attend the sporting events Faith and their freshman son, Jacob, participate in.

The Dooley’s are an athletic family. Kari, a 1991 graduate of Chaffee (N.D.) High School, played basketball and ran track while Joe, who also graduated from Chaffee, played basketball, football, track and baseball.

Faith, 6-foot-3, has continued the family’s athletic tradition in a big way, being a part of the Squirrels’ 2011 Class B state championship volleyball team. She also had a breakout season in basketball this year, helping Central Cass to the Class B title game.

“Faith is a level-headed girl in everything she does,” Kari said. “And I just try to encourage her in whatever she does.”