Somehow, they manage | January 11, 2023

A month or so ago, Kyle texted me at work and said, “Do you want to be the team manager?”

To which I replied, “I’m sorry, I regretfully have to pass; thank you for asking.”  (I actually think I said, “No frickin’ way,” but this is my story and I’ll tell it how I want.)

Our eleven-year-old is in his second year as a Squirt hockey player.  Grand Forks Youth Hockey recently kicked off the travel portion of the Squirt winter season, meaning the kids now play teams in other cities and not just one another.  The “team manager” Kyle referred to is a Mom who somehow miraculously finds an extra ten hours in a day to arrange all of the non-game activities that come along with toting around fifteen kids and their families from place to place.  Specifically:

  1. Selecting hotels and negotiating room blocks.  A good hockey hotel is located close to the rink; offers rooms with enough space for a hockey bag to be opened and everything inside to spread out to dry without stinking up an entire family’s worth of clothing, snacks, drinks, pool toys, blankets, pillows, takeout pizza boxes, and extra children; serves a free breakfast; has a pool and/or a place for everyone to hang out between games (preferably away from other guests on the RARE occasion someone isn’t giddy with excitement about relaxing in the middle of the equivalent of a Mardi Gras parade); and costs $100 a night.  Did I mention that sometimes the rinks are located in a town with only one option…and it’s an 8-room motel with a shared bathroom and you have to take one of those Tom Sawyer rafts to the rink?
  2. Ordering stuff.  In addition to the briefcases full of cash regularly doled out for skates, pads, helmets, gloves, sticks, practice jerseys, Gatorade, registration fees, gas, hotel rooms, and takeout pizza boxes, it is widely agreed that our little popsicles need promo items to effectively play hockey.  From hats to eight-person ice houses – if you can embroider a last name and a jersey number on it, the team manager has to source, organize, order, distribute, and troubleshoot it.  Also, it sure would be nice if the kids had gift bags filled with tape, snacks (the aforementioned hotel room snacks don’t count), energy chews, knee hockey pucks, and stickers, wouldn’t it?  Yeah, it would.
  3. Coordinating team meals, social activities, and related.  Turns out, restaurants aren’t immediately ready for 50 people who need to eat, drink, and get out of there in an hour.  Who knew?  Fortunately, that’s only one person’s problem – the team manager.
  4. Doing actual management things.  Grand Forks Youth Hockey gives every team manager a backpack filled with all sorts of important gameday items – like, you know, the record book and the First Aid kit.  And, like, you know, Grand Forks Youth Hockey expects someone to do whatever it is they do with all of those objects…which, I wouldn’t know, since I’m not the team manager.

“No problem,” Kyle said.  “I’m sure Youth Hockey will find someone.”

Later that night, after the kids had been scrubbed down and put to bed, Kyle said to me,

“Good news!  We have a team manager.”

And then I said,

“Great!  Who is it?”

And then Kyle said,

“This Other Dad and I are going to split it.”

So then I said,


We blinked at each other for a while.

“Why not?”  Kyle asked.

“Because,” I said.  “It has to be a second-year mom.”  (PS, kids play Squirts for two years, so a second-year mom is someone who has a kid that has already been a Squirt for a year.)

“Why?”  He said.

“Because,” I said.  “That’s just the way it’s done.”

“But why?”  He said.

“Because the second-year moms learn from the previous year’s second-year moms,”  I said, exasperated.  “You were never a first-year mom, so you’re not going to know what to do…which means [deep breath, pause for dramatic effect] NOW I’M GOING TO HAVE TO DO IT.”

“Oh, that’s no big deal,” he said, brushing me off.  “You can tell me what to do.  Besides, the other team manager is our friend, and she can help us.  Like a partnership!”

“Harumph, Kyle,” I said.  “HARUMPH.”

The next day, Kyle met me for lunch.

“We got the hotel for the Duluth tournament,” he said.  “I also went to the embroiderer and picked out a beanie for the boys.”

“Harumph,” I said.

“The Other Dad is going to coordinate the book and the box workers for this weekend,” he said.  “And check it out – he made a song playlist for between whistles.”

“Harumph,” I said, and then, “What about the door signs?”

“What door signs?”  Kyle asked.

Every year, the moms and grandmas get together during a practice to paint large paper signs for the front doors of our houses.  These signs have the kids’ names and numbers and say something like, “Go team!” to make it easier for burglars to figure out who is out of town for the weekend.

Kyle pulled out his phone and typed something.

“Okay, one of the moms said she’d be in charge of the door signs,” Kyle said.  “By the way, I was thinking we should organize a group dinner after the Park River game.”

“Harumph, Kyle,” I said, pulling out my own phone.  “Fine.  Here’s a restaurant in Park River with a kid’s menu.  I’ll call them after we eat.”

“I called them already,” Kyle said.  “They are going to get a bunch of tables ready for us.”


We’ve now had two weekends’ worth of games – and in the most annoying situation ever, Kyle and the Other Dad continue to do a good job as co-team managers.  I keep telling myself it’s because all of us moms have such low expectations for their output that whatever they do seems acceptable – but they approach everything with such gusto that it’s hard to find fault.  They send messages!  They buy pin bags!  They hang out with other dads in the scorer’s box!  They bring the backpack to the rink!  They take the backpack back home!  Sure, the moms have had to redo a few things, but overall they are a major success; so much so, that I’m thinking Grand Forks Youth Hockey should always have dads be team managers – second-year dads, of course.

The photo above is of one of our two team managers.

The Three River Crisis Center in Wahpeton had 1,762 (after finding one hidden away!) pairs of undergarments under the tree this year. (Wahpeton Daily News)

In North Dakota-adjacent news, Red Lake Falls’ Alex Gullingsrud is back on the ice. (Grand Forks Herald)

This is a story about a clock. (KFYR TV)

Teen author and Lansford-ian Lindsey Undlin has written a second book. (Minot Daily News)

Fargo’s Russ and Robin Nelson ate at a different locally-owned restaurant every week and wrote about it on Facebook. (Fargo Forum)

Trust no one at the Dickinson Public Schools Foundation’s annual murder mystery dinner. (Dickinson Press)

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Friends | August 5, 2021

I recently read an unattributed Internet fact that the percentage of men with at least six close friends has fallen by half since 1990; and that men today are five times more likely to state that they don’t have a single close friend compared to similarly-aged men thirty years ago.  As the mother of two boys, I’ve been noodling on this (quite possibly completely made up*) information and I have a theory about it.

Our six-year-old is very friendly.  He’s so friendly that when we go someplace we tell him, “Go make a friend,” and he will scurry off and return a few minutes later with a couple little ducklings in tow.  He did the same at his big brother’s baseball tournament last weekend, hopping over to the playground and coming back with a rosy-cheeked pal.

“This is Lila,” he said.  “She’s only five, but we’re still best friends.”

As we all know, in childhood, age is the number-one determining factor of friendship.  One kid could be a mermaid and the other made of gelatin, but if they were both born in 2015?  Friends Forever.

Also, as we all know, age as a friendship guardrail becomes completely inconsequential at some point in young adulthood.  When my parents first moved to the Cities, my mother called me up and excitedly said, “You and Kyle need to come down this weekend and meet our new neighbors.  You’re going to love them.”

“Oh, neat,”  I said.  “What are we going to love?”

“WELL,” my mother said, knowingly.  “The husband is twenty-seven, and YOU are twenty-seven.”

We actually never met their neighbors (the twenty-seven-year-old husband played for the Vikings and got traded a short time later) but I’m guessing we would have been friends – not because we were the same age, which was silly, but because unless someone is a total jerkface, there’s really no good reason NOT to be friends with someone.

Grown-ups are flush in friendship opportunities.  We have work friends, in which Human Resources sorts through all of the people in the world and finds those with the most compatible personalities – like eHarmony for pals.  We meet friends on airplanes.  We meet them online.  We meet them through our similarly-aged children, and at social gatherings, and by going up to them and saying, “Hello, I’m Amanda” (or by using your own name, if you want).  We have family friends, and childhood friends, and neighborly friends – because, like Mr. Rogers said, “The connections we make in the course of a life – maybe that’s what heaven is.”

So, to go back to the fact that men no longer have close friends…my theory is that everyone now has SO MANY friends that no one stops to say, “These people [gestures wildly] are my friends, and that person [points] is my close friend.”

I have a very best friend in the world.  Her name is Raemi.  I met Raemi when we were paired up as roommates for our freshman year of college.  If I had met Raemi when we were in junior or high or high school, we would have identified the closeness of our friendship with the purchasing of jewelry – specifically, two necklace charms in the shape of half of a heart that when put together formed a whole.  Since we met as semi-adults, though, we bypassed the jewelry and just gradually evolved from roommates to friends to very best friends in the world without ever stating it as fact.  Even now, after twenty-three years, I bet I have only called Raemi my best friend a few dozen times (not including the 50 million mentions in this paragraph).

As far as I know, like Raemi and me, most non-teenagers do not swap friendship jewelry (although I feel like there would be a market for two pinky rings that form a human skull or a screaming eagle).  So, unless we are going to collectively decide to adopt best friend jewelry across all of humanity, if two people want to be close friends, they just need to be that.  It’s like the episode of The Office in which Michael Scott decides to declare bankruptcy and so he shouts, “I DECLARE BANKRUPTCY.”  Just stand up and say out loud (or think quietly), “That person is my close friend,” and cultivate that friendship as such.

Anyways, let me know your thoughts on this, and if you have a theory of your own.  And if you decide to stand up and declare someone your close friend, shoot me an email in a few months and tell me how it’s going.

If you are reading this on Thursday, August 5, then today is Kyle’s and my 15th anniversary.  The picture above is from our wedding day.  It has absolutely nothing to do with this story, but I look really good in it.

This week’s news has a young author, and active grandma, and a new/old coach.  Read on.

Fourteen-year-old Lindsey Undlin of Lansford is working on the second book in her series after publishing the first, Ruby Authur. (Minot Daily News)

Students at Watford City High School will donate 1,200 hours of time to community service. (McKenzie County Farmer)

Beulah’s Sue Lawson is North Dakota’s first CrossFit woman-athlete (and also grandma) to compete in the No-Bull CrossFit Games. (KX Net)

North Dakota’s “Operation Thank You” gathered up 2,000 hygiene products to give to local veterans. (Minot Daily News)

Former UND Women’s Coach Brian Idalski is the new head coach of the 2022 Chinese Olympic Team. (Grand Forks Herald)

*I Googled it and the found the source, which may or may not be a real organization**:

**I had to take a survey course in college, and the most impactful thing I learned is to never trust a survey.