by Jackie Jenson
photography by Jeremy Petrick Photography
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the game of American football as, “an American game that is played between two teams of 11 players each and in which the ball is moved forward by running or passing.”
Detroit Lakes High School senior running back Ben Nordmark would sum it up rather as, “the best fall sport there is!”
Since he was 11 years old, Nordmark has had football on his mind. Starting out as a linebacker in the local FM League way back in fifth grade, he worked hard to make the DLHS varsity football team as a freshman, eventually becoming that team’s premier running back.
Simply stated, Nordmark has made his favorite fall sport, football, a top priority.
With a new head coach – this is coach Josh Omang’s second year at that coaching position – and lots of hard work, Nordmark says the DLHS team has high hopes for going deep into the playoffs this season.
“To succeed [and get to the playoffs], you have to train hard, be a good team player and have a great coach,” adds the DLHS senior. “We have all three.”
In a game many times determined by inches, Detroit Lakes will have an early trial of their abilities, both mentally and physically. The first game of their official 2017 season is against the team that bested them last year, Rocori.
“It’s [that loss] in the back of our minds,” relays Nordmark. “It’s demoralizing to lose a game you are leading in until the last five minutes, but, you get better by competing against tough opponents,” he continues. “We have a great test early with Rocori; they are our first game this year.”
As Omang enters his second season as the DLHS boys varsity head coach, Nordmark notes the team is well-prepared to successfully compete against their rival.
“Our coach is great. He is organized, modern and a really good guy. I have learned a lot since he got here,” adds Nordmark.
With experience and lots of heart, Nordmark says they are up to the challenge of putting the past behind them and moving on.
As NFL quarterback Robert Griffin III once stated, “Football is football and talent is talent. But the mindset of your team makes all the difference.”
Nordmark will use his running talents to help his team make their goals for the season, punching through to a section victory. Currently, Nordmark sits fifth on the all-time rushing list at DLHS. A record he seeks to break this season. Records, however, are secondary. A team victory at State is the prize.
“We are a good team. We are looking to win this year,” comments Nordmark. “We have a number of really talented and skilled players on the team.”
A true football phenom, Nordmark’s strength is his deceptive speed says Omang.
“Ben possesses a rare combination of size and speed. At 225 pounds, there are many times in games where teams are surprised by his speed. This combination [of size and speed] is also on display on the track in the spring time too,” relays the football coach.
Putting his running back prowess to good use as a sprinter and thrower for the DLHS boys track team in the spring, Nordmark has experienced success in the track and field world as well.
“I enjoy sprinting and throwing,” comments Nordmark, “I like doing lots of different things.”
Always striving to do better, Nordmark’s success as an athlete comes via hard work and relentless training.
“Ben is the strongest player in our program and has a tremendous work ethic in the weight room,” states Omang. “He is also a very physical and aggressive player. Most of this is due to the work he has put in through our speed and strength program.”
His training nemesis, says Nordmark, are the dreaded “big threes.” Those are where an athlete completes a 100-yard bear crawl, 100-yard back pedal and a 100-yard sprint as a training unit.
“Three of those in a row are killers,” remarks Nordmark.
Although difficult, Coach Omang notes Nordmark always trains to the best of his abilities, no matter what is asked of him.
“He is one of those guys that is the first there in the morning and the last to leave everyday-usually making sure the locker room is clean,” explains Omang.
Simply stated, continues coach Omang, Ben Nordmark is one of the finest kids he has known in his 15 years of working in education, someone that is always striving to do better.
“As a team member,” says Coach Omang, “Ben is highly reliable, a leader both on and off the field, and very well liked by his teammates. He is certainly a great player and an even better person. We are very lucky to have him.”
Nordmark would argue that being a true team, working hard and together, is how the DLHS varsity football squad will make this season a memorable one, one that breaks through to sections and on to the US Bank Stadium and State.
To help solidify that sentiment, Nordmark also participates in a joint leadership body called the Unity Council. The unique football panel consists of two to three representatives from each grade to disseminate information and promote a positive team atmosphere. Although he is not a captain this year (there are no captains in this structure), Nordmark notes the council is just one more constructive component of their football program that will propel them to State, the real goal.
With football just starting up along with his final year at DLHS, Nordmark is readying for a strong and successful football season and also to try something new.
“I love math and science but really haven’t decided where I want to go to college or if I will play football. I love football, but I’m not sure if I want to play it in college. Who knows? I am going to take welding this year at school, and I am excited to try something new and see where the year takes me,” concludes the running back.