Former Sioux hockey players want nickname to stayGRAND FORKS — Doug Smail wants to keep the Fighting Sioux nickname. So does Craig Ludwig. Dixon Ward says he wants to keep it only if it doesn’t hurt development of student-athletes at the University of North Dakota.
By: Kevin Fee, The Forum
GRAND FORKS — Doug Smail wants to keep the Fighting Sioux nickname. So does Craig Ludwig. Dixon Ward says he wants to keep it only if it doesn’t hurt development of student-athletes at the University of North Dakota.
The three prominent former Sioux hockey players were in Grand Forks over the weekend for the Little Caesars North American Showcase midget hockey tournament.
Under a settlement between the North Dakota Board of Higher Education and the NCAA, UND must win tribal approval for its Fighting Sioux nickname and logo or face penalties after Nov. 30, 2010.
Some of the most vocal supporters of the nickname are associated with UND hockey. Smail said talk of dropping the nickname is “ridiculous.”
“The nickname has been carried with pride, it’s gained huge notoriety for the (Sioux) Nation,” said Smail, a UND forward from 1977 through 1980.
“As players, we all were proud of it. We understood the history, especially those of us growing up on the prairie either in Canada or in the States here,” he said. “We understood the pride, the power, the level of depth of passion that people had.”
Ludwig, a defenseman who played at UND from 1979 through 1982, agrees with Smail.
“I’m holding out that they’re going to keep it,” he said. “It is who the school is. Anywhere you go and any time you mention UND or you mention the Sioux, the first thing that pops into your mind is the Indian head (logo).”
Ward said he worries about the negatives from the use of the nickname. The Summit League, for instance, says it won’t consider UND as a possible member for such sports as men’s and women’s basketball until the school resolves its nickname issue.
Some schools also won’t play UND because of it.
Ward, a Sioux forward from 1988 through 1992, said he’s a big believer in tradition but not at the expense of students.
“At the end of the day, if it’s going to hurt the development of some student-athletes, then it’s not worth it ... to sacrifice the development of some student-athletes for a name,” he said.
“I think it’s a great name, it’s a proud name. ... I’d hate to see it go,” Ward said. “But at the end of the day it’s really about the kids.”
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