Faryn Dupuis is planning to attend Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College next year, but it just so turned out the Cloquet senior got a little extra campus tour on Tuesday.
Dupuis already attends the school daily as a part of her Post-Secondary Enrollment Option program through Cloquet, but on Tuesday the Fond du Lac Ojibwe School point guard was playing girls basketball at FDLTCC.
Like a good number of girls playing for the Ogichidaag this winter, Dupuis goes to Cloquet High School, but suits up for FDL through an athletic agreement between the two schools and the Minnesota State High School League and its officials.
On Tuesday, FDL game’s with visiting Northeast Range was originally scheduled for their usual Cloquet venue; however, a scheduling conflict moved the contest to nearby FDLTCC.
For the 5-foot-3 Dupuis, it was her first time - “other than pick-up games” she said - that she played on the college court.
“I liked it,” admitted Dupuis, who scored seven points in the Ogichidaag’s 57-37 defeat before about 75 fans Tuesday.
Dupuis wasn’t the only one with connections to FDLTCC, as current Ogichidaag coach Kami Diver, now in her second season, played for the Thunder from 2011-2013.
Diver, also a 1,000-point scorer from Cloquet, said there was a poster board of her outside the gymnasium Tuesday.
“When they saw me on there, they let me have it,” Diver said with a laugh. “They’re a bunch of jokers and they all got a kick out of it. They had a field day with that one.”
Diver noted that FDLTCC athletic director and women’s basketball coach Laura Sylvester ushered them around Tuesday. Sylvester was Diver’s coach when she played there. For Diver, it was a first time coaching in the gym.
“It definitely brought back some memories,” Diver said.
Along with Dupuis, Diver said Kaila Dufault scored 10 points for FDL (1-3), while Ashlee Antell-White added six in a game the visiting Nighthawks led 32-12 by halftime. FDL’s one win this season was Dec. 1, over Faith Christian School 55-35.
Statistics and scores aside, Diver explained many of her girls this winter are “first-year players.” Looking at their roster, many can’t even drive. In fact, a lot carpool and rideshare from CHS on a daily basis to attend practices.
Speaking of practices, Diver - again assisted by Travis Brown - has done a 360 spin with the small tribal program. Diver has implemented rules and structure, with spirit and positivity, all while keeping girls on time and in attendance.
“And they’re holding each other accountable,” she said.
That has only helped the program grow. Fielding both a junior varsity and varsity, Diver said now they actually have a bench - something their 10-10 squad of last year had very little of.
Other contributors on the team include Kayla Reynolds, Katelynn Stapleton, Makayla Borske, Winter Mayorga and Quintana White. Sisters Tanisha and Tamara Martineau also aid, while Jasmin Budreau and Tea Drift are veterans for the Ogichidaag.
For good friends Stapleton and Borske, both sophomores at CHS, coming over to FDL for their first time was worth it. Borske played in Cloquet as a freshman, while Stapleton is back to hoops after a year off.
Each enjoy many of the girls on the team and despite being outscored by 105 points so far, are having lots of fun.
“I’m having a blast,” said Borske. “I wanted to try something new with my friends. Eventually throughout the season we’ll get better, but it’s all about making memories.”
“I’m friends with quite a few [girls],” added Stapleton. “There are some things we all need to work on still, but it’s a work in progress. It’s about having fun and getting better.”
“They’re still young and still growing together,” chimed an upbeat Diver. “It’s hard not be positive about this team.”