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Alumni Central

Teton alumni show fruits have enough money

saved to send us to
of highest team GPA college, so Williston
State scholarships
If athletic scholarships were stock investments, helped a lot."
putting money on any one of the mighty Wil-
liston State Tetons of 1992-94 would have been Leom and team-
extremely smart, especially if the goal was to mate Sean
make a positive difference in the world. Stephens, now
While male basketball players often have a a Ph. D. psy-
"dumb jock" reputation, this team turned those chologist in his
expectations upside down, earning the very home country
highest GPA among 460 U.S. community col- of Trinidad,
leges for two straight years, and they're still helped create
making their mark today. a new culture
at the basket-
We interviewed "Fast Fred" Fridley, Dr. Tracy ball player's
Hjelmstad, Dr. Brett Vibeto and Dave Leom dorm, POPS Brett Vibeto
about those pivotal years that raised the bar of House, now a pri-
excellence for future students at Williston State. vate residence at 603 E. 18th St E. in Williston.
Leom, now a math teacher in Milaca, MN, was
recruited from Watford City High where, at 6'8",
he was known as "Tree" and, along with Frid-
ley, helped Watford City win the state champi-
onship his senior year.
"When I got there, there were loud parties lat
at night so you couldn't sleep or prepare for
classes," said Leom. But he wasn't about t
his academic record slip.
"Sean and I sat down
Leom, who had a 3.94 GPA in high school, with the guys and said,
heard embarrassing reports about some un- This shouldn't be go-
derachieving athletes ing on. If you want to
at Williston State, party, do it elsewhere.'"
he said, but former
recruiter and WSC "We had a mindset
Coach Terry Olson in- and expectation,"
sisted on a change. explained Dr. Tracy
Now Director of the Hjelmstad, now a podi-
WSC Foundation, Ter- atric surgeon at Trinity
ry explains: "We were Hospital in Minot. "The
looking for a better recruiting message was Dr. Tracy Hjelmstad, Podiatric
Surgeon, Minot, NO
caliber player, a better clear: We're
caliber person and a not just look-
Dave Leom, Math Teacher, ing for talent.
Milaca, MN better caliber Eight guys received
student, and We're looking straight As. "From outside
for mature,
"My dad was a parts Dave was all
good people, looking in, you may think,
of that." 'What a bunch of nerds.'
manager at a John Deere who work
dealership," said Leom, Yet Leom hard both on But I take pride in that. We
"He didn't have enough recalls that and off the would beat teams we had
the cost of court,' and no business playing, come
money saved to send us to that became
college was a home, do our homework,
college, so Williston State major hurdle. the standard
scholarships helped a lot." "Dad didn't at Williston." then go watch a movie."
So much so that eight guys received straight As, "I ask for equal effort on the floor and in the
earning the honor for highest GPA in the Na- classroom," said Fridley. "In six years I've had
tional Junior College Athletic Association. seven Academic All-Americans and out of 19
sports at our school, our team has had the
"From outside looking highest academic rating for five years in a row."
in, you may think,
What a bunch of The guys are thankful for the donors and
nerds,'" said Hjelm- professors who helped ^ —^
stad, fresh out of make those glory
an ankle ligament years possible.
surgery. "But I take
pride in that. We'd In turn, Fridley says,
beat teams we had he knows he and oth-
no business playing, ers will return the
come home, do our favor, keeping the
homework, then go Teton tradition go-
watch a movie." ing. "As they say, you
Dr. Brett Vibeto, General never forget where
Surgeon, Williston, ND "Oh, we had you started. I know
our fun at the Teton alumni will
give back once we're Fred Fridley, Coach and
POPS House,"
"Oh, we had our fun said Dr. Brett established."
Teacher, University of Mary,
at POPS House. The Bismarck, I\ID
Vibeto, now a
all-night video games, "My strongest
general sur-
and feeding our high- geon at Mercy
said Coach "What others invest in
cholesterol fish with hot Medical Center
in Williston.
Olson, "was you pays off tenfold, es-
dogs. But there was an huddling pecially at a small college
"But there was
unwritten rule that Wil- an unwritten
with the like Williston State. Your
liston State athletes first guys, tears
rule that Wil-
in my eyes, money, and the one-on-
take care of business." liston State one attention of profes-
after losing
athletes first
take care of the regional sors, is going to affect
champion- everyone in the school
ship of 1994, community in some way."
Fridley, all-time and not being
scoring leader at able to finish
WSC and now my speech,"
a coach and unusual even to this day, he said.
health teacher "It wasn't that we lost, but that I wanted one
at the Universi- more time to call them the champions that
ty of Mary, said they were."
that's a rule
he follows as (For more alumni stories and a full list of
head coach of where the champion Tetons are today, visit
the women's
Aafedts perpetuate
Fast Fred" Fridley