North Dakota Nice: The Liam G. Medd Memorial Baseball Tournament

The third Annual Liam G. Medd Memorial Baseball Tournament kicks off June 9th, 2023 in Fargo, North Dakota.  Liam Medd was the funny, sweet, smart, thoughtful, beloved son of our friends, Todd and Elizabeth Medd – and his death by suicide at age 15 came completely out of left field.  Since that horrible, horrible day, Todd and Elizabeth have worked tirelessly to reach out to area children, teenagers, and their families to encourage conversations around mental health and suicide prevention (for example, here’s a fact Elizabeth told me not too long ago: 25% of people who attempted suicide spend less than five minutes between the decision and the actual attempt; and for 75% of the rest, the thought and decision are less than an hour apart).

While the topic of suicide is typically heavy and difficult, the Liam G. Medd Memorial Baseball Tournament is the total opposite – fun, happy, and a way for kids to celebrate the sport and good sportsmanship, while also learning a little bit about positive mental health along the way.  Elizabeth kindly answered a few questions about the tournament and the 4 6 3 Foundation (their family foundation) – check it out:

Why did you choose to host a baseball tournament?

Liam loved baseball.  After he died, we were presented with the opportunity to host a tournament, in partnership with Fargo Youth Baseball, in his honor.  We knew it wasn’t enough to just name the tournament after him; it was important to us and to those involved that this tournament make a difference and bring conversations about mental health and suicide prevention to youth and their parents in a setting that was comfortable and neutral. The 4 6 3 Foundation works to meet youth in the places that mean the most to them: in this case, on their playing field.  These conversations can be difficult and scary, but when we can bring the conversations to where they are we can break down some of that stigma and reduce some of the fear that comes with these topics.

What are you most excited about regarding the tournament?

I always love the opening ceremonies.  It’s really cool to see all the players in their positions standing with each other, coming together, emphasizing that you are never alone.

I am also partial to the Sportsmanship Awards.  After each game, a player from each team is selected by the opposing team for exhibiting good sportsmanship.  I love giving those young men their awards and being able to thank them for playing the game of baseball with integrity; it’s incredibly moving. Some of the best moments from the tournament have come from the exchange at home plate with those awards.  Liam played the game with hustle, grit, attitude – but, most importantly, he played with integrity.  Liam cherished not only the sport itself, but the camaraderie of the dugout.

Is the tournament open to the public?  If so, what can a first-time attendee expect?

The tournament is open to the public and is $10 for the entire weekend.  Games will be played all day Friday at Tharaldson Baseball Complex and Anderson Complex, and all day Saturday at those same fields, as well as at Bucky Burgau Baseball Field at Concordia.  Games will conclude Sunday at Tharaldson and Anderson.

We also are having 4 6 3 Foundation Suicide Prevention Night with the FM RedHawks on Saturday, June 10th. Fans can pre-purchase tickets, and if they enter promo code “463” at checkout, $2 out of every ticket purchased will be donated back to the 4 6 3 Foundation (plus, the first 500 kids 12 and under get a free Hawkeye pillowcase!).  You can click here to purchase tickets.

Additionally, if families, individuals, or organizations would like to become a sponsor for the tournament in 2024, they can email me here for more information.

What do you hope the players and teams take away from the tournament?

Aside from having a great baseball experience, we hope players, teams, and families come away with a better understanding of mental health and suicide and that they start having regular conversations about some difficult topics.  We will have resources available all weekend for players and families to take with them and use.  Suicide is an epidemic, not just in our community, but across the country.  The goal of this tournament is to normalize conversations around mental health and suicide.  We want to connect with youth where they are, doing the things they love, with those tools and resources to reduce stigma, build hope, and end suicide.

What’s next for the 4 6 3 Foundation?

After the tournament ends, we will take a couple weeks off and then the committee gets back to planning for the next year.  We just wrapped up filming with Sanford for an event they are hosting at the end of June, the Sanford Blueway Gala.  We are also working on the next PSA in our series in partnership with Fargo Police Department and Fargo Cass Public Health.  We have created two PSAs so far – both can be found on our website – and we have several more in the works.  If there is an opportunity for us to speak with youth – through youth groups, sports teams, any kind of group – I am always excited for those events.

(A quick note from Amanda: If you want to learn more about the 4 6 3 Foundation, click here. For more on the tournament, click here.)

Send me your stories!

I’ll be appearing on North Dakota Today every Monday to talk about good stuff.  To do so, I need your assistance, please.  Tell me what that make you think, “Oh, for nice.”  It could be something big like neighbors helping neighbors, or something small like a really great flowering tree.

I can share your stories anonymously or with credit, and I’m obviously going to make them about me so there’s that to look forward to, too. 😊  Regardless, I’d greatly appreciate you spreading some good news and start the week off right.

Click here to submit a story.

Thank you in advance!

North Dakota Grows: Black Leg Ranch Meats

In 1882, George Doan packed up his life in Canada and set off to the Dakota Territory to establish his future.  Six generations later, his homestead – and family – has evolved into the historic Black Leg Ranch: 17,000 acres of rolling prairie, abandoned farmsteads, post offices, wagon trails, and railroads, and an active multi-product ranch run by the Doans.  Every part of Black Leg Ranch, located in Sterling, North Dakota, connects the community to the rural North Dakota experience, from the Black Leg Ranch Meats to the Copper Jewell Event Barn to the Black Leg Brewery to the Rolling Plains Adventure outfitting operation.

The wonderful Kassy has kindly offered her thoughts on what it means to preserve the family legacy while also building new foundations for the future:

Doan Family & Business

You and your husband, Jayce, met in Montana.  What brought you back to North Dakota?  What keeps you in North Dakota?

We are, in part, running the ranch in North Dakota, along with my husband’s siblings and parents. I am originally from Montana, and my husband and I met in college rodeoing at Montana State. As soon as my husband graduated, he went back home to the ranch. I came to North Dakota to visit and immediately fell in love with it and the life we could have there.

What keeps us here now is the legacy. My husband is very proud of the fact that the ranch has been in his family since 1882 and we want to continue that and, hopefully, inspire our kids and grandkids to want to live and work on the ranch, as well.

Which family traditions have you kept going?  What new traditions have you created?

Each sibling has their own niche on the ranch. My husband’s passion has always been within the actual ranching part – raising animals, growing forages, etc. The traditions he’s kept going are that we are still a working cattle ranch, raising our own Angus cattle whose genetics go back to when Jayce’s great-grandfather brought the first Angus cattle to this area in the 1930s. We still grow our own hay, still hold a big annual calf branding, and still pregnancy-test all of our own cattle ourselves. We almost have too many traditions to list, as Jayce is a very traditional person and is very proud of his heritage and what the generations before us did.

As far as new traditions, we’ve added an internship program to the ranch, where we bring college-aged students here for the summer to gain valuable experience and live among us for a few months. 

Doan Family & BusinessBlack Leg Ranch actually has a number of businesses associated with ranching – the brewery, event hosting, outfitting, and the ranch itself.  What’s been the greatest challenge of managing it all?  What’s been the greatest opportunity?

It works pretty well in that each sibling manages their own part. Ours are the animals and the meats. The greatest challenge is that everyone is super busy and it’s hard to get the other siblings to help with the other ventures. However, the greatest opportunity in that is that we can all feed off of each other. Hunting clients love drinking our beer, people who visit the ranch for events like having a meal or snacks with our own sourced meats, our on-site brewery attracts people to have events, etc. There are endless opportunities.

What are some of your favorite products to sell?

I really enjoy selling any of our beef or bison products. I’m so proud of the fact that every animal we select for processing, and sell under the Black Leg Ranch Meats label, was born and raised on our ranch. We know when it was born, everything that animal was fed for its entire life, everything about it. We love telling the story to consumers and love being able to connect with them and bridge the gap between them and their food. So many consumers are concerned about where their food comes from.

What’s your favorite part of the day-to-day of Black Leg Ranch? 

We love the solitude and peace of being here, going out on the prairie and just watching the animals in their natural environment. It’s all very rewarding. 

Doan Family & BusinessWhat are you most proud of related to Black Leg Ranch?

The legacy. It’s getting more and more uncommon to find six-generation ranches. We’re very fortunate to be a part of one and can hopefully continue that lineage. 

What do you see coming up next for Black Leg Ranch?

The sky is the limit. Everyone has very creative ideas and you never know what might show up next on the ranch. 

You recently won an environmental stewardship award.  What is your advice for other ranchers and farmers looking to improve their own sustainability?

Jayce’s dad, Jerry, has been very instrumental in improving the land on the ranch. He has implemented many innovative and helpful ideas that have regenerated the land. Our advice to anyone looking to improve is to try and learn some things about improving their operation and just start slow and see if you see any difference. If you dive in head-first it may be overwhelming, so just pick a small piece of what you would like to see and take a stab at it. 

What’s your favorite piece of advice – either related to business or life in general?

I’m not sure we have a favorite piece of advice but if we’ve learned anything it would be to spend time doing what you love.

[From Amanda: You can read all about Black Leg Ranch’s ranching practices by clicking here, and purchase a wide variety of beef and bison products by clicking here.]