Photo by Paul Flessland
Eric Dodds was a member of the Bison wrestling program when it was at its pinnacle under legendary head coach Bucky Maughan. The Bison won two Division II National Championships during Dodds’ tenure in the late-1990s. It would appear Dodds picked the right time to join another team at NDSU nearly 20 years later. NDSU Team Makers is a volunteer organization that raises money to fund scholarships for NDSU athletes. Dodds was named to the executive committee after being a member of the organization for more than 10 years. The AE2S civil engineer took some time away from working on Fargo’s flood diversion project to speak to us about his new responsibilities within the Team Maker organization and how his time as an athlete will help him face the challenges moving forward.
Why did you become a Team Maker?
“It was probably mid-2000s. We moved back to Fargo in 2003, after moving away for a few years. I remember going to football games and walking up to the ticket window and getting tickets. I never had an issue.
“We moved back in 2003, and the Division I era was starting to kickoff. We’d been to a few (football) games. They had pretty good seasons those first few years of being DI, there were some bad ones of course, but a few good years. The buzz around town was, hey, we’re going Division I and I had some clients who were Team Makers and they invited me to some of the luncheons that were going on, and I started to realize, as a former athlete, I could come in with a nice amount of priority points. I realized, well, why wouldn’t I do this? It looks like something I want to get in early on for myself and for my kids down the road.
“We simply signed up and I think our first donation was the minimum—a hundred bucks. I started attending more and more of the Team Maker luncheon events and getting involved.”
How would you like to see Team Makers’ impact grow?
“Team Makers has taken the approach that, we’re not going to just raise money to raise money. We’re going to raise money for a purpose, and we need to make sure we have a plan out there—a four or a five-year plan so we know what the capital improvements are.
“I would like to try to bring a little bit more of the fan base’s attention to some of the less popular sports. NDSU is a place where you can come and win a championship in any sport. You can’t do that anywhere else.
“I’m a baseball guy. My son is on a traveling baseball team, and my daughter plays volleyball. So to me, it would be great to continue to have the popularity and excitement about all of NDSU’s sports.”
What’s something you could do to drum up that support?
“Everyone knows football is going to be king and that’s great. Why not have tailgating for the Bison baseball games, especially during the conference tournaments or something. Can you imagine the opponents coming up and seeing NDSU fans tailgating before a baseball game? They’d want to come here.
“Last fall, we tailgated before we wrestled Iowa State. It was early in the day. It was beautiful, and I know there are logistical obstacles for that, but I think it would be fun. Not just tailgating—promotional type of things. Does Team Makers have a role in that? I think Team Makers has the ability to help out in that regard.”
How did your time as a college athlete at NDSU help prepare you for what you’re doing now?
“I’m an engineer now. I work for a consulting firm and we have our value statements and one is to be aggressive. We’re aggressive for the benefit of our clients, the benefit of our projects, and I firmly believe being a former athlete teaches you many things. It teaches you how to be on a team and how to interact, and how to work hard. Being aggressive is to be a part of that, so I think that certainly helped me.
“I know there are a lot of walks of life out there. You don’t have to be an athlete to be successful by any means, but it seems to me that a lot of college athletes, in particular, go on to be successful in whatever career they choose. At my company, at AE2S, we have quite a few people who were athletes at one point. I think that’s a trait that transcends beyond college and continues into your professional life.”