UND student athletes ‘give back’ in many ways, including coaching youth sports programs
Teamwork, confidence and a whole lot of fun are just a few of the goals that coaches Noah Schaffner and Jagger Ferden have for their players.
Over the summer, Schaffner and Ferden were first-time coaches for the Grand Forks Park District Youth Baseball program, but they were no strangers to the field as they both have participated in sports growing up and are currently palying football for the UND Fighting Hawks team.
“I came from a family of coaches, so I feel like I have been around coaching my while life,” says Schaffner.
Their experience may be new as coaches, but what they brought to the players was observed by many parents and attendees. “You could see how much they cared about each individual player, and the positive impact they made on them as role models and athletes was tremendous,” said Laura Arneson, parent of a T-ball player.
Every Tuesday & Thursday morning over the summer, Schaffner and Ferden and all of the coaching could be seen staffing waiting with smiles as the T-ball baseball players came filing into Ulland ballpark with their hats, gloves and bats.
When the game was about to start, the coaches would call “Huddle up!” to all the players, who’d then run over to assemble by their coaches with pride. The coaches greeted the players by name, and the energy was contagious as the young players excitedly followed the coaches to their field for the game.
“The kids always make me happy,” says Ferden when describing his favorite part about coaching. “It is always fun to see how joyful the experience is for them, and it made me excited to want to show up and coach them every day.”
Being positive role models are important to Schaffner and Ferden. “I learned a lot from my head football coach in high school. He always wanted to include everyone and build confidence in his players. He taught us to be OK with leading,” says Ferden.
This leadership taught in athletics and passed on to these young athletes will go far beyond the field. Schaffner is currently a sophomore at UND and majoring in Business Economics, while Ferden is a junior majoring in Banking and Finance, and Management. Their leadership experiences will continue to propel them forward into successful careers in business.
“We are so proud to have Noah and Jagger part of the Nistler College,” said Dean Amy Henley. “This is exactly the type of leadership we encourage Nistler students to engage in, and we love seeing how they are making a difference in the lives of these young athletes and in their community.”
Being a part of the UND Fighting Hawks football team has taught Schaffner and Ferden the importance of always representing your team positively and bringing a hard work ethic. “As an NCAA athlete, you never know who is watching. So, we always want to make sure we are making a positive impact,” said Ferden.
“In sports, you learn to be determined, never give up and always strive for something more,” said Ferden. Schaffner agreed, adding, “I always wanted to play for UND, so receiving an offer here was a dream come true.”
“Our football program takes great pride in being part of the Greater Grand Forks community and understands that we are afforded opportunities to be a positive influence on young lives,” said Bubba Schweigert, UND’s head football coach.
“It was pleasing to receive feedback that Noah Schaffner and Jagger Ferden were impacting young athletes by developing personal characteristics that will benefit these individuals throughout their lifetime. Noah and Jagger displayed awesome leadership by making a significant contribution in a positive manner to the youth of our community.”
Schaffner and Ferden’s commitment to their teams was not only impressive but truly touching to witness. “I just loved Tuesday and Thursday mornings,” said Schaffner as he reflected on his season of coaching these first-time baseball players.
“I was once that same kid out on the field, and I want to give them the same opportunity I had. I loved making a positive impact for these kids, and my goal in life is to make an impact wherever I go and see people grow.”