Posted 3/29/16 (Tue)
By Betsy Ryan
Farmer Staff Writer
Conjure up whatever stereotypes the media, or maybe even your own experiences have taught you about teenaged girls, and throw them out when talking about the senior members of the Watford City High School girls basketball team. Somehow, this group has stuck together since the fourth grade.
Not only have they remained friends through the typically difficult teen years, but they have somehow figured out how to support and hold each other up. They have figured out how to keep their competitive spirits from making them competitive with each other. They have honed in on what makes them work as a group, and capitalized on that dynamic.
Back in 2007, Ricki Lindley, Katie Mogen, Alli Mogen, Lea Arndt, Krystal Wold and Kaytlyn Grimes (who would join the group a few years later) were in the fourth grade.
As they remember that year of playing basketball, they can hardly talk through their laughter.
“We were bad,” says Katie Mogen. “Really bad. We won one game the whole season and the score was 2-1.”
“Back then Katie went to the wrong basket at least once a game,” chimes in Alli Mogen as the group laughs.
The most important part of the game to them was putting their hair in matching pigtails, and finding matching light blue shirts to wear under their jerseys.
In the fifth grade, they slowly got better, and as the years went on they started to understand the game and understand how to work best together. They eventually went to the state basketball tournament as seniors and brought home the second place trophy.
“We always had chemistry,” says Arndt. “We just had to learn how to put it all together.”
Like sisters, they know each other so well. They fight over little things and have learned how to make up and move on.
And maybe, most importantly, they are friends first, teamates second.
“It couldn’t be all about basketball all the time,” says Alli Mogen. “We played several other sports together and hung out a lot outside of practices. We all have seperate groups of friends outside of each other, but we come together regularly to hang out.”
When asked what they do together outside of practice they unanimously agreed that they eat!
“We love team bonding,” says Arndt. “We play games and there is always a lot of eating. Katie’s kitchen is the best. They stock the best food, so that is usually where we end up.”
On how the group has avoided drama, Krystal Wold had some insight.
“There wasn’t much room for drama. We had to work together. We knew, being in a small town, that we were stuck together and no matter what, we had to work it out. But also, we genuinely care about each other and want to see each other do our best.”
When Kaytlyn Grimes was 15 years old, she moved with her family to Watford City.
One would think that entering the world of school and sports in not only a new town, but with a group of girls who had been so tight since elementary school would be quite intimidating.
“I really felt accepted by the group pretty quickly,” says Grimes. “We were in many sports together and classes, and they included me. I didn’t feel like an outsider.”
The other girls had more insight as to their philosophy of accepting new-comers.
“It wasn’t much different than what we saw our parents doing,” says Allie Mogen. “That was the time when the town started to really grow. Although our parents had been here forever and been tight friends, they had no choice but to open up and be friendly to everyone new in town.”
Perhaps, in that comment, Alli narrowed in on what has made this group so special. They have grown up with the Watford City community - a community that reaches out, accepts change, and draws on the good from people who have moved to the town from all over the world.
The team first went to the state tournament in 2014, which was their sophomore year.
“Our first time out to State, our team chemistry was not good,” says Lindley. “We had lots to work on, and while we weren’t successful at the tournament, I think we drew on that failure to help us the next time we went. We couldn’t let our highs get too high or our lows get too low.”
So, the next time they made it to the state tournament they were ready.
“Before the game, the announcer said our names and the crowd was roaring,” describes Arndt. “We were waiting for the lights to come up. It didn’t feel like a game - it felt like a party!”
The whole group talked about how overwhelmed they were by the support from the whole Watford City community.
“It was amazing to see how many people were willing to drive all the way out to Grand Forks!” says Katie Mogen.
When asked what makes their group special, they looked at each other perplexed.
They wondered aloud if maybe it was because they don’t push each other too hard. They know each other’s weaknesses and strengths and let each other have the freedom to grow.
Coach John Zenz had more insight into the dynamics of the group.
“Lots of the time with girls at this age, they don’t get along,” says Zenz. “But I sense something unique here. If they don’t agree on something, there is no resentment. They are just a really good group of kids. They are unselfish, and while they are competitive by nature, they are not competitive with each other which saves a lot of grief.”
As they look forward to the big changes that will come next year for each of them, it seems surreal that the group will go separate ways.
“I will miss being on the court,” says Wold. “I will miss having these girls that I know I can count on and lean on right there with me.”
While these six girls spread their wings and move into the next phase of their lives, they will leave a big hole in Watford City.
“They will definitely be missed,” says Coach Zenz. “Lots of leadership is leaving with them and they leave