Valley City North Dakota is a town of about 8,000 in the southeast corner of the state. The Sheyenne River twists through town so much it sometimes referred to by locals as the “City of Bridges.” It is the home of Valley City State College Vikings.

It’s about 687 miles from Chicagoland, a healthy drive. An even healthier ride on the Greyhound Bus; 17 and a half hours with stops in Milwaukee, Madison, Minneapolis, on down Interstate 94 into Alexandria, then over the Red River into Fargo.

The journey concludes about 55 miles farther down the road when the big bus rolls into the City of Bridges. A 6:30 AM start in the Windy City will get you there before midnight the same day if traffic co-operates.

My sophomore year of college, I made the travel football squad for Luther College, a DIII football team in Northeast Iowa. It was a pretty big deal to me at the time. It’s not that I was REALLY a star player or anything, but good enough to be the 2nd string receiver and a part of the 36-man road team.

I must have mentioned it in my weekly Sunday collect phone call to my parents from the pay phone in the Student Union. (Just that sentence will give you an idea of how long ago this was.)

Our first game of the year was an away game at, you guessed it, Valley City State College. While that trip took about 7 hours from campus to campus, it was kind of exciting to ride the team bus, have an overnight stay at a hotel and play football in a state I’d never even stepped foot in beforehand.

The likelihood of me seeing the field was dependent on how good the Vikings of Valley State were and how well we played. I wasn’t a starter and would only see action in the event of an injury or lopsided game. But heck, I was 18 years old and playing DIII college football in North Dakota.

As we jogged out of the locker room and I took my spot on the sidelines, I saw a woman and a young girl walking alongside the field towards the bleachers. They bore a strong resemblance to my mom and little sister, Donna.

I didn’t gawk at first, because, well, there was a game to play and the odds of that being them were so remote it seemed a mirage being as mom hadn’t been driving all that long and we only had one car.

But, sure enough, it WAS my mom.

She had taken a nearly 700-mile road trip of her own on a Greyhound Bus to see my very first college football road trip. She endured the rigors of that 18-hour bus trip with my sister in tow just so she could cheer me on and share the excitement of my first “away” college football game.

As luck would have it, we won by a large margin (31-0) and I actually got to play a few downs on the field so mom got to see me play football in North Dakota.

I got to share a precious few moments after the game with her and my sister, before she left for her bus and I left for mine.

I mostly stammered, saying things like “great to see you”,” hey, we won” and “how the hell did you get here”.

She just smiled that mom smile, gave me a hug and with a wry smirk, she said, “We took the bus.”

ESPN does a series this time of year called “Dear Mom” where star players extend their gratitude’s for their mother’s support.

This story won’t make that publication. Not because my mother didn’t support me. Oh she did. Time and time again and again. So I share it here.

My mom passed away four and a half years ago. There’s not a day goes by where I don’t think of her.

In tribute to my mom, on a Mother’s Day weekend, I share just this ONE tale of many of her never-ending dedication and devotion to her children. There are MANY more.

As Diana Ross sang and my mom exhibited, “Ain’t no valley low enough, ain’t no river wide enough to keep me from you…”

Love you mom for your constant support!