Photo By Hillary Ehlen
First off, it’s great to be back, Bison Nation. This summer off has given us a tremendous amount of time to think up neat ideas and content strategies for the upcoming school year. While it did go by quickly, I know I’m extremely excited about the 2019-20 school year. I hope you are too.
We’re starting the year with something a little unique. I knew this was going to be an issue dedicated to you, the NDSU faithful. I truly wanted to get you involved as much as I could. So, we created this “superfan” contest on social media with the winner being featured on our cover.
Truthfully, I was not expecting a laundry list of entries because historically, ideas like this have flopped for us. However, I was blown away with the response in less than a 24 hour period. Not only that, you made my job a heck of a lot harder as I had to narrow it down to one superfan. In truth, you are all superfans in your own way.
Yet, there was one name I kept seeing in our Facebook comments and in my email.
That name was Alana Christensen. She is primarily known in Bison circles as “The Sign Lady”.
To put it simply, we selected Lana because she understands what Bison Nation and NDSU is all about: The Team.
“Honestly, I am simply one of many big Bison fans, and I feel it’s important to stay humble and cheer right along with the 80-year-old fans who have been supporting Bison Nation much longer than I,” she said in her entry form for this contest. “I simply make signs to support the team: offense, defense, special teams and coaches! It’s a thrill and an honor to support the team in this manner. It takes a Fargodome filled with wonderful Bison fans to make up what we know as Bison Nation!”
If that’s not true Bison Pride, what is? After meeting Lana and getting to know her a bit, I learned that she is more than just a fan. She is a champion for all of those Bison fans watching at home and a remarkable advocate for North Dakota State. She has not missed a home or away football game in years. “She travels to away games to be “the mother” to players who do not have parents at the game,” said Lana’s daughter, Bethany.
It goes deeper than that as well. Last season, Lana organized a gameday for Veterans who had never been to a Bison football game. For the FCS quarterfinal game against Colgate, she asked season ticket holders who would not be attending to donate their tickets to these Veterans. In true Bison Nation fashion, Lana was able to gather 140 tickets for Veterans, many of whom attended their very first Bison game on that day in early December. NDSU beat Colgate 35-0 in that contest.
There is always one thing I can get behind no matter what and that is those who stand behind our nation’s Veterans. It goes back to my days working with Master Sergeant Eric Marts in the basement of WDAY on his radio show each week. Eric was blinded in Fallujah, Iraq, from suffering a traumatic brain injury after driving over a roadside bomb. He does his weekly radio show “Heroes Of The Heartland” for our nation’s Veterans, advocating on their behalf. Marts will always be one of my heroes and a dear friend to me.
This is why Lana’s courage and tenderness are so impactful to me personally. While it’s true that Lana is perhaps the biggest Bison fan on Earth, her humility and care for those who laid down their life for the United States are far more impressive in my eyes.
Lana is doing her Veteran ticket program again this season. She is asking season ticket holders to donate one or two of their tickets to local Veterans for the November 9 game against Western Illinois. It is the same weekend as the North Dakota deer hunting opener and it is also Veterans Day weekend. Lana would love to exceed her 140 ticket mark from last year to allow local heroes to experience a Bison football game.
If you would be interested in donating, please call the Bison ticket office at 701-231-6378 to get connected with Lana. You can also reach out to Lana directly at 701-899-2578.
That is why Alana Christensen is our NDSU superfan. The 75 signs she has made for football games is extraordinary. However, she is leaving a lasting impression on our community with the tireless work she is doing away from the football field. In turn, she is growing Bison Nation single-handedly, one “Horns Up” at a time.