Conference: Varsity North
Colors: Red, Black, and White
Coach: Ben Fairbanks
Assistant Coaches: Zach Hohloch
Home Field: Ed Clapp Park, Fargo, ND
When the Fargo Warriors took to the field on April 11th at Ed Clapp Park in Fargo for their first outdoor practice of the season, you could see the excitement in the kids, but there was none prouder or more excited than Fargo Lacrosse Club organizer and team manager Matt Noah. “Will you look at that!” he declared as a wave of young men took off across the field for a warmup lap. After years of e-mails, phone calls, recruiting, fundraising, a little coaching, and a lot of selling, his efforts have culminated in the first varsity lacrosse program in North Dakota. “In January the team had no helmets, no uniforms, no money, no coaches, no practice field and a roster of 9 kids but were entered to play in the Minnesota Boys Scholastic Lacrosse Association Northern Conference. Today, the Warriors have a roster of 24 with everything they were lacking in January.”
Also taking to the field that evening was first year head coach Ben Fairbanks who is making his varsity coaching debut. Ben comes to the Fargo Lacrosse Club from Minnesota State University – Moorhead club team where he was team captain for two years. While in college, Ben kept active in youth lacrosse by helping out with programs organized by the Fargo Lacrosse Club and the Fargo Park District. Also working with Coach Fairbanks is Zach Hohloch who was also a team mate of Ben’s at MSU-Moorhead.
Fargo will compete in the Minnesota Boys Scholastic Lacrosse Association (MBSLA) Varsity North Division this spring along with Brainerd, Grand Rapids, Duluth and St. Cloud-North. They will also be in a tournament in Shakopee, MN and are hosting their own tournament 14-15 May. But the game the team is looking most forward to is their season opener at home on Friday, 22 April at 5:30 PM against Brainerd. Besides the anticipation and jitters of the first game of the season and the first varsity game the club has ever played, it also has the distinction of being the first high school varsity lacrosse game in North Dakota, something the boys are taking very seriously.
This may be the first varsity team to hit the field for the Warriors but it is not the first game action for some of the players. Last spring, 9 of these boys participated as the Fargo Sioux in the 9/10 grade level at the Grand Rapids, MN tournament. The MBSLA was very understanding of the situation Fargo was in and allowed players from other teams to pull on Fargo jerseys and play when they were not playing with their teams. The majority of support came from the Anoka 7th/8th grade team where Fargo was able to get coaching help as well as several players and over the course of the weekend, players from St. Louis Park, Maple Grove, and Duluth also became temporary Fargo team mates. Throughout the tournament Fargo competed very well and the hometown boys contributed every shift and, most importantly, gained valuable competitive experience. Fargo ended the tournament 2-2-0 and a third place finish.
The origins of the Fargo Warriors go back to 2006 when the Noah family moved back to Fargo after living in the west and southwestern Minneapolis suburbs of Minnetonka and Chaska where the Noah brothers began playing as 5th and 6th graders. After returning to Fargo, Matt’s efforts include working with the Fargo Park District to organize clinics and club recreational play events to provide a basic familiarization and outlet for Fargo area kids to be exposed to the sport. Besides the early experience of the Noah brothers, all the other players have learned the game through the programs offered in Fargo. The team that takes the field on Friday is made up of players from Fargo, West Fargo, Horace, Moorhead, Dilworth, and East Grand Forks.
Getting the team this far has been helped by a major donation from Scheels in the form of 25 top of the line Cascade helmets to help the team meet league mandated uniform standards as well as an anonymous benefactor that covered the cost of home and away uniforms. The Fargo Park District has been helpful by finding a park the team can call home for practices and home games. More work is on the immediate horizon as just three weeks after the opening game, the club is hosting a tournament for high school varsity and junior varsity teams.
So, in this season of firsts, the team is looking to get it’s first conference win which will improve it’s chances of a seed in the MBSLA State Tournament to be held in early June in the Minneapolis metro area. A state tournament berth would really put a cap on the Warrior’s season of firsts, but it all starts with the first faceoff at around 5:30 PM on Friday.