Photo By Nolan P. Schmidt
Add up the populations of Tampa, Fla. and Sacramento, Calif. and you’ll have a number near one million. That is almost 900,000 more people than the overall population of Fargo.
For Bison juniors Christian Watson and Dawson Weber, who grew up in Tampa and Elk Grove, Calif. (just outside Sacramento) respectively, that big city upbringing guided them to one another. Couple that with the coastal climate of Florida and California and you’ll find that Watson and Weber have more in common than you think. Despite growing up some nearly 3,000 miles from one another, the pair have found a lifelong friend while suiting up for North Dakota State.
Watson is an All-Missouri Valley caliber wide receiver for the Bison. While Weber was a standout wide receiver in high school, he was moved to safety upon arriving in Fargo. Both Watson and Weber were in constant contact with one another before arriving in Fargo in 2017. Using a group Snapchat as the platform, the two bonded over music, family and hobbies.
Now, they sit together inside the Fargodome and discuss their friendship, NDSU’s role in that relationship and more.
Genesis Of A Friendship
Christian Watson: I’d say the first thing that kind of just sparked our interest in each other was a Snapchat group we had with our recruiting class. It just seemed like we were both into the same type of things. Everyone else would just send random pictures to one another. Dawson and I were just talking back and forth to each other to see what each other was doing. When I came on my official, I didn’t come on my official with Dawson, but not having met him, I could see we had the same interests. We were able to start a little friendship before we both even got here.
Dawson Weber: He was actually the first person in our class to commit here. I was coming in a little bit later to that class. It was cool to have somebody who knew about the culture more than I did. That’s kind of what drew me to him at first and like he said, we had similar interests and hobbies. Similar tastes in music and stuff too. That was a big thing that brought us together.
Coming From The Coasts
DW: It was big to have someone to connect with on that front. When we got up here, we had to adjust to the weather and stuff like that. We both were cold. We both came from bigger cities and bigger populated areas so coming here was a little smaller for us. There are some kids on the team who think of Fargo as a big city. To both of us, Fargo is more of a small city.
CW: I think just culturally, Tampa and Sacramento have a lot more things in common than Fargo. The way we grew up, even though we grew up so far away, we had more similarities with one another. Having the same interests like music, hobbies or things you do outside of school, I just felt like we connected more. I just had more similarities with Dawson than some of the other guys on the team.
CW: I think it just points back to some of the things we do. When we would be sending Snapchats back and forth, it just seemed like we were doing the same things at the same time. Whether that’s outside of school, our sports and stuff like that, it just seemed like we were always doing the same thing.
DW: Piggybacking off of that I feel with our parents, I think our moms both did a great job raising us. They were instilling morals and values in our everyday lives. I feel like our moms see eye to eye on a bunch of things that trickle down to us.
Football’s Role In Friendship
DW: The culture is bigger here with the football team and within our team as a whole. I feel like we stress a lot about brotherhood here and a lot about a family. That’s a big part of it. I feel like understanding brotherhood and family just drew us closer and allowed us to dig deeper into each other’s lives. We really got to know each other more as we got here.
CW: Getting into the flow of a freshman year can be really intimidating. You got like 200 things to do in a day that you didn’t really have to do in high school. Having someone to hold you accountable for those things helps your friendship grow.
The Pandemic And Friendship
CW: You need those strong friendships during bad times more than any. It is a lot about football, but it’s not always about football. There’s a big mental side to these types of things. Even football there’s a big mental side to it. I think a lot of athletes out there have a tough time mentally even more so now with COVID. Being able to have that friendship outside of football, those relationships and those friendships, it definitely helps you. When you’re in those tough places, it’s important to have moments where you just sit back at home, have conversations or play video games. Doing those things helps you not have to worry about football for a second. That has definitely helped me during these tougher times.
DW: I know we both had Oregon circled on our schedule. I feel like with the pandemic and everything going on it, it’s easy to lose track of what’s important. We came here for football, but life isn’t about football, there’s more to life. It allowed us to step away from football for a little bit and really find hobbies elsewhere and find interests elsewhere. It also really helped us dig deeper into our faith too.
DW: I would say social justice has a huge impact on our team. We all feel passionate about it. Everybody has opinions and different ways to go about social injustices. I feel like taking a knee in the fall as some people did, including myself, was all directed towards all the social injustices. I feel like some people who saw it the wrong way, were looking at it from a different lens. Me being a white male, I have to be able to listen, understand and feel for my black brothers on my team. Our voices are being heard. I want to continue to try and find ways to keep our voices at the forefront.
CW: I definitely think it’s a tough conversation to have. Especially with people from all over the place and people being raised in different ways. Not necessarily saying people have been raised poorly or anything but, people just see things in a different way. It’s kind of tough to passionately explain something to someone else when they don’t really fully understand it. The toughest thing about these conversations is making sure people are understanding the action. The questions for us have been how can we do this and bring awareness and not have people giving us a cold shoulder.
We’re just trying to figure out ways to not have people misconstrue what we’re trying to get out there. We’re trying to advocate.
DW: I felt like a bunch of people look at us as football players and only football players. As a team, our purpose and the most important thing behind this is making it more than a game day action. What are we going to do after the game? What will we do throughout the week? What are we going to do for social justice outside of game day? We talked and discussed making these actions a weekly, monthly and yearly thing. That is something where we can instill change in these next generations.
NDSU’s Role In Friendship
DW: This place is truly special to me. I feel like it changed my life and it actually helped me grow into the person that I am today. I came in as a freshman and I didn’t know what to expect. I was taking it day by day not knowing the importance of team camaraderie, Bison Pride and all this stuff that the older guys have talked to us about. Having been here for four years now, I’ve stepped into the role of understanding the importance of brotherhood, Bison Pride and that family aspect. Us being here for so long and stepping back and understanding the importance of this place is truly special.
CW: Taking a step back and looking back and wondering if I had done something different, it’s interesting. I take a step back and look back at all the things that I can be thankful for and all of the opportunities that I would have missed out on if I would have gone elsewhere. It just kind of reminds me of how blessed I am. NDSU was my one and only offer to play college football. If I would have decided to do something else, it’s hard to think about because I didn’t really have many options. Being able to look back and look at all the things that I’ve learned and how much I’ve grown as a man and as a football player is important. I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve been given here at NDSU. Looking back at it, I wouldn’t have changed a single step.