always a deacon...
a shanley football story.
Our Forever Teammate.
It was 2009 and for the first time in its history the Shanley Deacons had a home that they called their own.
Sid Cichy stadium, a vision harbored for nearly seven decades, had finally emerged from the veils of dreams into tangible reality. That September bore witness to the Deacons starting their season with a record of 2-1, and coupled with a shift to a division that matched their school size, murmurs began to resonate, suggesting that perhaps, they held the potential to recapture the honor of state champions - a feat that eluded them for over a quarter-century.
The roster showcased great talents, not the least of whom were all-conference players like Conner McGovern, destined for the NFL, and Stefan Webber, who went on to be part of numerous state titles, both as a player and as coach.. At the helm was the indefatigable Steve Laqua, a man whose future would see him clinching two state titles for Shanley and thereafter steering the ship at Moorhead State. Coach Laqua was assisted by pillars of Shanley Football like Anthony “AC” Carlquist and Wayne “Sarge” Sargent.
As autumn leaves fluttered, the air was thick with excitement and anticipation.
While the Shanley nation dreamed of what the season may bring, it took a young Nick Bailey, donning the number 59 to teach us all about what it means to be a Shanley Deacon. Standing tall at 6’1 and a svelte 185 pounds, Nick exuded an infectious zest for life. A Pittsburgh Steeler fan, he loved to hit, he loved to tackle. His joyous demeanor, even during the most routine drills, became engaging for his peers.
Nick Baileys legacy was borne after a spirited Junior Varsity game against Grand Forks Central, excited about his opportunity to play, and thrilled with his performance, Nick shared tales of his exploits on the field with his parents. Later, they headed to his little brothers youth football game, where he laughed and told stories with family and friends. The night concluded with the intimate family moments that punctuate all of our lives, the laughter, the jests, and a son's tender good night to his parents: "I love you Mom, I love you Dad.” Late into the night, Nick finally rested his head on his pillow, content in his day, mind abuzz of his football exploits, and dreams of what this season had in store.
"For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest of these, 'It might have been.'"
-John Greenleaf Whittier
The dawn broke the next day with the melancholic realization that young Nick Bailey would never again grace the world with his laughter or spirit. This vibrant soul, a paragon of Shanley pride, had been unknowingly living with an enlarged heart, something that tragically claimed him. Time seemingly stood still for the Shanley community. The team and his family tried to make sense from something senseless. In a solemn assembly of grief, Nick found his eternal rest, with a sea of red clad teammates – each jersey proudly bearing the name “Shanley” - standing sentinel next to Nick as he was laid to rest.
When through the sorrow, tales of this sandy blonde haired sophomore lead to smiles and hugs of his memory. It became clear that Nick epitomized the very essence of Shanley Football.
It wasn’t just about championships or victories; it was about the journey, the camaraderie, and the joyous moments woven in between. Nick reminded us all that the truest reward lay in the journey itself.
To this day, all these years later, as the sun sets after each game, the Shanley Deacons converge, and with fervent emotion, they chant a singular cry, “59” - a homage to their forever teammate, Nick Bailey. The young man who became a timeless reminder of living in the present, cherishing each bond, and savoring life’s journey.
In honor of Nick, the Deacons decided that never again would anyone wear number 59. Because that number belongs to Nick, and Nick belongs to us. He is our cherished and forever teammate.
So, when the Shanley Deacons next take the field and the game ends, listen closely and join in their reflection. When you hear the deacons shout "59" It's your opportunity to remind yourself what Nick Bailey taught us. Life is a journey, embrace each moment and day.
As a new season begins, cherish the moments. The joys, the sorrows, the laughs, the hugs, the smiles, celebrate the wins, learn from the losses and remember Nick Bailey number 59. Our forever teammate, and his legacy…
The journey is the reward.
always a deacon...
a shanley football story.
Shanley Football and their 1962 Student Manager | Statistician
Within the book of Shanley football, comes a chapter that tells the story of a young man named Michael Reimringer '63
Michael was not a player, yet his legend and contribution to Shanley football ranks him among the most beloved and storied members of the Shanley football family. Michaels calling lay in the quiet observation, in the emotional swells of victories and defeats.
The team and their coach were more than just a group of athletes to him, they were the manifestation of integrity, hard work, and excellence. Michael found a sense of purpose and belonging in their ranks. He poured this love into a collection, not just of dry numbers, but of living memories captured in newspaper clippings and personal notes. As the seasons came and went, the faces in the team photos changed, yet Michaels devotion remained unyielding. The echo of the referee's whistle, the roar of the crowd, the sweat and determination of the players - all these he carefully preserved long after his own graduation.
Decades later, his devotion unwavering, he and his wife Karen bestowed upon Shanley High School a priceless gift of nostalgia and history-his collection. Years of labor and love, to be shared with past and future generations of Shanley football. His compilation, a loving tribute to the team he revered, was more than a record. It was a story, a song of love and devotion, a testament to the spirit of the game, and the young men who gave it their all.
His contribution would become the definitive archive of the legendary football team, a legacy deeply appreciated and etched in the annals of the school's history.
"From working with Coach Cichy and in following Shanley's Deacons, I learned the value of integrity. Which has been so apparent in my given field of quality, adhering to rules so that the resulting products are safe for consumers."
- Mike Reimringer '63
"Mike would often hurry home during football season, read the news in the Fargo Forum, clip and mount the articles on paper and then put them in a box afterward." - Karen Reimringer
Mike and his dad Carl, loved going to the Shanley games. Together, they enjoyed the games, talked about football and of course, loved Sid Cichy's leadership. Mike often told about how Sid would make sure every kid on the bench played in each game, regardless of their skill level. - Karen Reimringer
See Michaels collection of newspaper clippings and hand written notes here:
always a deacon...
a shanley football story.
The 2018 State Championship has a deeper meaning.
There were a lot of loud voices and team spirit in the Fargodome yesterday. While not the loudest voice, there was no one who cheered on the Shanley Deacons and his favorite player, Shanley Quarterback Cade Busek with more spirit than a little boy named Rhett.
Rhett was diagnosed with type I diabetes at age 3. He had struggled with the diagnosis and the desire to be like every other little boy. He wanted be able to run around, play sports and just be what many would call normal. He didn't feel normal. He had to receive five or more insulin shots every day, while the other boys didn't. And because of that, he didn't feel normal. The fact is, he is normal. More than 60% of us fall into the category of using some sort of daily assistance. Some wear glasses, have prescriptions, hearing aids, prosthetics many other kinds of ability assistance. They're all normal too. We all simply vary in the degree of assistance we utilize each day.
Last year, Rhett was introduced to another who as little boy who was diagnosed with type I diabetes. That little boy, who on the night he learned that he was type I diabetic, was in a foreign country and wasn't expected to live through the night.
Miraculously, he did live through the night, and after a period of denial and finally acceptance decided that he was going to live his life like any other. Doing so meant that he need to work twice as hard as the others, being diligent with diet and exercise and nearly hourly monitoring of his blood sugar. That other little boy was Cade Busek.
Cade learned of the little boy and his lack of self confidence. Recalling his own struggles, he immediately sought out Rhett and introduced himself and convinced him that he too was as normal as any other person, and is fully capable of being any kind of athlete or person he wanted to be. Rhett quickly became what we all might agree is Cade's #1 fan. Sporting a #12 jersey and sitting next to Cades parents at most Shanley games.
Yesterday, I happened to be standing in the hallway of the Fargodome when I saw Rhett for the first time. Cade exited the locker room with the fatigue of someone who just led his team to a state championship with 43 carries and 212 yards rushing. He walked into a frenzied mass of standing room only people all clamoring for a chance to to give him a slap on the back and tell him congratulations while little Rhett stood lost in the crowd, a few yards away at his fathers side, hoping for a chance to talk to Cade.
Cade was shaking hands along the way when he spotted Rhett in the crowd, and instantly there were only two people in that room. Cade brushed past and ignored everyone else and knelt right next to Rhett, allowing the little boy to wrap his tiny arms around his neck and to tell his idol... "I watched you today. You did a good job" Cade returned the hug and told him "Thank you Rhett, thank you for being here today. It meant everything that you were here." After Rhett's father took a picture of them together I saw a little boy whose wide eyes and beaming smile foretold a future full of hope, because of a selfless hard working athlete named Cade Busek who decided against great odds that he too, was simply going to be normal.
Unfortunately Cade, most of the state would call what what you do not normal. You in fact, are far from normal. You are extraordinary.
As the years go by, and the stories of the 2018 Fargo Shanley football team are told and re- told, and the numerous moments of excellence on the field are reflected upon, I'll choose to remember Rhett and that moment, off the field. That moment of unparalleled joy, told in the eyes of a little boy who learned in spite of his diagnosis he can still live the life he wanted. It is possible in fact, to become a state champion quarterback. You need to be willing to work for what you want and refuse to be denied.
You can be anything you want to be, Rhett.
Just ask Cade.