Photo By Nolan P. Schmidt
In the grand scheme of things, Emily Dietz has had a truly remarkable basketball career at North Dakota State.
Dietz herself was not expecting to even play basketball in college. An all state performer at Fargo’s Shanley High School, Dietz had the talent to play at the next level. However, that dream did not come full circle until she received her first recruiting call. Growing up in a family that did not revolve around sports, playing basketball collegiately was a new experience for Dietz and her family.
While playing for NDSU is the ultimate goal, especially for an athlete from the Fargo-Moorhead area, Dietz views things a little differently. She views her time at NDSU as the ultimate gift and she has been set up to succeed thanks to the athletic department around her.
With that help and her own work ethic and talent, Dietz has seen her game expand every year she’s been on campus. She is one of those student athletes that you can see improve on a game-to-game basis. With the help of head coach Jory Collins, Dietz became a vital piece to the new-look Bison in 2019-20. She is now looking to build on that success in her final campaign as a Bison.
Perhaps more importantly, Emily Dietz looks to represent the community that made her.
There’s a great amount of pride coming from North Dakota kids at NDSU. It’s probably elevated even more because obviously, you’re a hyper-local kid. What kind of pride do you carry into being a student-athlete at NDSU? Knowing that not only you’re from the state, but you’re from the same city that the university is in?
I definitely have a lot of pride in North Dakota and representing my own hometown. There’s just a character around North Dakota, where people work hard and they do what’s right. And I take a lot of pride in representing that here at NDSU. I think it’s been a tremendous gift to have that opportunity to play in my own hometown.
You hear that a lot about North Dakota, whether it’s from a small town or a bigger town is that you have that sense of community pride. How do you feel that community pride rallying around you and around NDSU on a day-to-day basis?
The amount of support that we have, not only from local people from around Fargo, but the whole state is incredible. You see these coaches, and they go on these trips around to these small cities where there are these big donors and all these people that are working hard and donating to our school. I think it just shows that sense of community and that sense of pride in North Dakota for the support that is shown for all athletics and the school as a whole.
Was the transition for you from coming from Fargo Shanley to NDSU a little bit easier, because you are from here. Ask a kid from a small town and they said it was a bit of a shock seeing this many people in Fargo. Was the transition from the prep to the college game and the college experience a little bit easier? Because you grew up in this community specifically?
Yeah, I would say so. I mean, just the fact that I could step out onto the court here at NDSU and look in the stands and see my family and see friends and friends of friends from Shanley and from around Fargo, I think that made the transition a lot easier. Just having that familiarity around and that continued support.
You’ve seen your game grow over the course of the last four years. From your perspective, where have you seen your biggest strides over the course of the last few years?
I think personally would be my own knowledge of the game and also awareness of what to do in certain situations. I think my development as a post player as a whole has grown so much. Even that first summer that Jory [Collins] came in, the growth I had was tremendous in just a short amount of time. I would say just kind of personal growth in my ability to play my position and to play it well.
Was coming and playing basketball at NDSU the ultimate goal for you. Was that always going to be the end game for you?
I didn’t really grow up in a family that was super involved in sports. Neither of my parents played sports and my older sister did golf, tennis and debate. I was kind of the one that out of blue, told my mom that I wanted to try basketball in third grade. As I transitioned into middle school and high school, I played for an excellent team and we had a lot of success at Shanley. I also played AAU for the sake of having fun and getting better. I actually never even realized that playing in college was a possibility for me until I got my first call.
My dad went to NDSU and a lot of my family and extended family has ties to NDSU. It was definitely an exciting thing when I got that call. It was exciting to hear that, but I hadn’t even considered that I was at that standard or that ability level to play at a place like this. It’s been a gift ever since I had that opportunity.
I hear a lot from athletes that as soon as you come to college, it really humbles you quickly. You can be the best player on your high school team, but you’re humbled immediately when you come to college. From your perspective, not necessarily expecting to end up at a place like this and play basketball, how much gratefulness and how much humility does that give you now that you’re in the position that you’re in?
It’s incredible. I was blown away that I even had the opportunity to play in college, let alone to play at a Division I program and in a successful overall athletic program like NDSU. Especially as a local kid, I couldn’t be more grateful to play in my hometown and to be around family. You come into freshman year and I think it’s humbling for everybody, just because the pace and the physicality of the game are so much different.
There’s not a possibility to be a student-athlete here and fail though. We have the greatest support system I’ve ever seen, whether that’s academics or athletics. They just support you the whole time as you grow as a player and grow as a person.
Last year I felt like you guys really found your footing as a program. What’s next for you guys as a program? What are some goals that you’ve set for yourself as a program to take that next step?
I think one of the biggest things we talked about last year was confidence. This is my fourth year of this and I think personally and collectively as the team, my first few years, we just didn’t have the confidence that we would need to be able to go into a game and even have a chance to win it. We’d kind of get defeated towards the end of the game. We started to find our footing and find that ground. I think this year now it’s having that trust that we have that foundation built and we have the talent and the work ethic. We have the right people, the right coaches and the confidence to be able to come into a game believing we will compete. I think that’s been the biggest thing in the next step. We want to walk into that game and have the
confidence stepping into that game that we can beat these teams.