Without knowing if 60 or 260 people would come, Epicenter Church hosted their first game feed night Friday, Feb. 21.
Dishes lined the grand rectangular folding tables with a taste of venison in almost every one. While some wondered what was in each dish, some simply took a little taste of each or waited for their friends to tell them what tasted good. Questions of "what did you bring," filled the line, and the conversations continued as people joined tables in the sanctuary, lobby and children’s area. In the children’s area, stories of hunting and fishing were told by Mike Grant, Eden Prairie High School football head coach and son of former Vikings head coach Bud Grant, "The Iceman."
“What I enjoy is that I’ve gotten to know some people here in the Wadena area and it’s kind of our second home, and so for me to meet all these people and feel like I’m part of the community in a small way, … and to hear their stories and where they’re at, that’s what I love,” Mike said. He hunts and fishes in the Otter Tail County area.
The night filled with food and stories was also a chance to hear Mike speak about lessons learned from his experiences with Bud as his father and from his own experiences of coaching, hunting and fishing. Mike shared one of his earliest memories as being handed from his mom in the stands to his dad on the field to hang out in the locker room. At 12 years old, Mike was a ball boy for the Vikings, with the responsibility of waking up all the players at training camp.
While he asked the audience if they remembered specific football players and told stories about them, his main theme was impacting students’ lives. At the end of each practice, he asks his players, “Who did something nice for someone else today?” The answers start with clearing someone’s lunch tray at the beginning of the year and then turn into noticing and caring for people in different ways as the year goes on.
“What I really wanted (people) to think about is what things you can do today, tomorrow for others. I mean really … you can get so focused on your life and what you’re doing and your job, but take that time to find the opportunities to do things for others. So our motto for men for others on our football team is something that we really live by,” Mike said.
Another impactful person in Mike's life was his mom, who prayerfully considered how she could make each of her kids lives better the next day. In fishing, Mike has learned that it’s not about catching fish but patience. He finds it is important to slow down from the busyness of life. Both are lessons he has learned from his friend and host of the event Ron Malone.
“I was very pleased with the message that he brought," Malone said. "It’s like I told him personally, I said, ‘You know Mike there was only somewhere between 80 and 100 of us’ and I said, ‘You delivered a message that could have been given to a 1,000 people.’ … He didn’t hold back just because it was a smaller crowd.”
Mike ended his time with a question for the children in the audience, “What is your story going to be in school?” Ruth Richter, a longtime fan of Bud, found the impact Mike is making on children important.
“I thought he was a great speaker, he’s a great motivator for kids. It’s important to have an influence on kids while they’re growing and I thought that was really interesting,” Richter said.
By the end of the night, people were still eager to think about the food, including the walleye chowder, venison and potatoes, venison sloppy joes and venison chili. While guests were thinking seconds, those that brought dishes were entered in a raffle for a gun. Richter won this prize with two others winning the prizes of a Vikings poster signed by Bud and a stealth camera. Free raffle tickets handed out at the door also garnered gift cards, clothing, game processing sets, gloves and fire extinguishers from local businesses as prizes for those in attendance.