Ben Ellefson has had a breakout year for the NDSU football team this season. He transformed from a potent blocker into a legitimate offensive weapon, hauling in a team-leading eight touchdowns.
He’s also a standout in the classroom. Ellefson, from Hawley, Minnesota, has a 3.94 GPA in physical education and sport management. His success garnered him Missouri Valley Football Conference all-academic first-team honors. He will graduate in the spring with a sport management degree and plans to start work on a master’s degree in physical education and leadership.
Ellefson and the Bison are scheduled to play Eastern Washington at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 5 in the Football Championship Subdivision Championship game in Frisco, Texas. A win would give NDSU seven national titles in eight years.
The following is a recent chat with Ellefson about his success in the classroom and overall experience as an NDSU student:
HOW DO YOU BALANCE ACADEMICS AND FOOTBALL?
It’s about managing time well. We talk about that a lot from the moment we arrive as freshman at NDSU. This is totally different from high school. Having football helped with my time management. It made me have to be on top of things because, if I didn’t, it would come back to bite me. You have to always be aware of what you need to get done as a student.
HOW HAVE YOUR PROFESSORS HELPED YOU GROW AS A STUDENT?
My professors are very personable people. You can go to them if you have any issues, whether its personal or academic. Being able to connect is very important when you are dealing with young people. They are able to make those connections.
HOW DID YOU PICK YOUR MAJOR?
I didn’t originally know what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted something to do with sports or something to do with anatomy or the body, whether it was coaching, athletic training or something like that. I went with sport management and added physical education almost right away.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM JOB?
My dream job would probably be a high school athletic director at a good-sized school. I would love to coach football and, possibly, basketball if I’m not an athletic director. My experiences with my athletic directors and coaches in high school and at NDSU inspired me to want to do the same thing.
ARE THERE THINGS YOU LEARNED IN THE CLASSROOM THAT HELPED YOU REMAIN SUCCESSFUL ON THE FIELD?
Accountability is the key to both. We are accountable to ourselves and the others around us. With football, nobody is bigger than the team. You have to make sure you do your part. It’s the same in the classroom when you do a group project. You have to pull your own weight. And to get good grades you have to put in the time and work.
WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE PART OF YOUR NDSU EXPERIENCE?
Some of the academic accolades I’ve received over the three years I’ve been here. I’m proud that I’ve been able to do good work on and off the field. What makes me even prouder is that it follows guys like Easton Stick and Carson Wentz, and even my coach, Tyler Roehl. They were all academic All-Americans. Having similar accolades for my work in the classroom is definitely one of the most memorable things about my time at NDSU.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CLASS?
I really liked one of my sport management classes where we had to come up with a marketing plan for an event. It was a very enjoyable group project. That didn’t seem like work. It was fun and it gave us all some great hands-on experience.
WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE TEACHER?
Tyler Tracy in sport management. He’s one of those guys who is very personable and loves sports. Any time you can talk to him, he’s going to try to help you succeed in your career.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING TO DO IN FARGO?
I spend most of my time at Sanford Health Athletic Complex. I can do academic things there, I can eat there, I can lift weights there, we have a pool table. If not there, I’m at the Fargodome.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CAMPUS RELATED EVEN TO ATTEND?
During Ag Week, when they have a picnic-style event outside on campus with hot dogs and other food.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING TO DO IN FARGO?
I love to golf. My friends and I usually go to Edgewood in the summer to hang out and hit the ball. I’m not very good. I fall apart around hole seven, eight or nine.
BEN ELLEFSON’s ACADEMIC AWARDS
3.94 GPA in physical education/sport management
2018 Missouri Valley Football Conference All-Academic First Team
2017 MVFC Commisioner’s Academic Excellence Award
2017, 2016, 2015 MVFC Honor Roll