Posted 4/07/15 (Tue)
By Neal A. Shipman
When the University of North Dakota men’s hockey team players lace up their skates this week in the Frozen Four, the NCAA Championship Hockey Tournament, they will be playing for the last time as the “nameless” team. While the announcers and reporters will be able to say the “Terriers” of Boston University, the “Friars” from Providence, or the “Mavericks” from Omaha as they report on the hockey action, they will be limited to just simply saying “North Dakota” over and over again.
As everyone knows back in 2012, after the NCAA ruled that the University of North Dakota’s nickname, “Fighting Sioux,” as being hostile and abusive toward Native Americans, the University of North Dakota began a very long and laborious task of finding a new nickname.
Gone from the University of North Dakota bookstore and major retailers was anything bearing the proud Native American head logo that was prominently displayed everywhere on the campus. And likewise, forever gone on the campus and retail outlets was anything bearing the words, “Sioux.” Or at least that was the case everywhere except at the Ralph Englestad Arena, home of the University of North Dakota hockey team, where the former nickname and logos are permanently a part of the building.
After a two-year so called “cooling off” period, where the University of North Dakota was simply referred to as “North Dakota,” progress is finally moving forward on a new name.
Last week, the committee on the new nickname announced it will accept suggestions from the public through April. Suggestions must be 25 characters or less. The committee will choose three finalists for a public vote as soon as May.
The guidelines for the new nickname are clear. It must be unique, recognizable, inspiring, and distinctly UND’s; it must promote a sense of pride, strength, fierceness, and passion; it must be representative of the state and region in a way that honors the traditions and heritage of the past but also looks to the future; and it must be a unifying and rallying symbol.
For a former UND graduate and a proud former Sioux supporter, I think they had the nickname that encompassed all of the above criteria.
Yes, giving up the “Sioux” nickname has been hard on loyal University of North Dakota fans. And it will be a long time before fans, especially hockey fans, will quit wearing their now keepsake jerseys.
Right now, it is hard to imagine any nickname that will suddenly rise to the tip of the tongue of many University of North Dakota fans. But by the end of the summer, a new nickname will be announced.
As for the hockey players from the University of North Dakota, who for the second straight year will be playing in the Frozen Four, they will just have to be proud to be “North Dakota.”
And should the University of North Dakota hockey team win the national championship, they will hold the unique honor of being the only Division I championship team in any sport without a nickname in recent history.
For UND fans and athletes, as painful as it may be to no longer be a “Sioux,” it is even more painful to be nameless.