Tradition brings Jacks football team together

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In the month leading up to Hobo Day, the South Dakota State football team has joined other members of the university and let their facial hair grow for the One Month Club.

Coaches and players on the team have set their razors aside in the middle of the season in anticipation of the biggest one-day event in the Dakotas.

Head coach John Stiegelmeier, who is in his 20th year leading the Jackrabbits, said this isn’t the first year the team has gotten involved.

“I’ve been around here a long time and I believe in tradition and how it can pull a team together,” Stiegelmeier said. “Five or six years ago we said that nobody can shave. We may be the grubbiest group in America, but it shows that we’re dedicated to South Dakota State,” Stiegelmeier said.

Nearly every player on the Jackrabbit roster is participating in the month-long contest. One of those players is junior quarterback Taryn Christion. While other players have gone a month without shaving, an agreement with his offensive line has led Christion to grow his facial hair out all season.

“I love those guys,” Christion said. “It’s a big deal to them and they take pride in me not shaving.”

Christion added that he’s done the One Month Club every year and will do it again next year.

“It’s a fun thing to do together as a team since it’s a simple thing like shaving your face. I’ve participated in it every single year I’ve been here so far. “

While Stiegelmeier said the team’s main focus during Hobo Week is on Saturday’s matchup against Northern Iowa, the team’s lone tradition during the week-long celebration is special to the program.

“For 30 days, it connects us with South Dakota State at a deeper level,” Stiegelmeier said. “By doing this, we are saying that we are a part of this great university and that we are following the tradition.”

Stiegelmeier added that he and the players are hoping to continue participating in the One Month Club tradition for many years to come.

“Some day when I leave here, I think the players will have that heartbeat and the baton will be passed to whoever the next football coach is and I think it will only get stronger,” Stiegelmeier said.

The team is also looking into rewarding participants by giving out special awards at the conclusion of the contest in the future.

In his third season as part of the Jackrabbit program, Christion reflected on the traditions like these that go on outside of playing on the gridiron.

“Little things like this are what you remember coming out of a program like this,” Christion said. “You are going to forget about the football games eventually in life, but are going to remember all of the fun things that you did as a player with the team.”

The bearded Jackrabbits will kick off against Northern Iowa at 2 p.m. in the Hobo Day game at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium in Brookings.

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