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Parise, Zajac disappointed in Sioux change

by Eric Marin / New Jersey Devils
Parise and Zajac are both UND alumni.
Zach Parise's reaction to the news that the University of North Dakota would retire its “Fighting Sioux” nickname boiled down to one word.

“Disappointed,” Parise said Saturday. “I don’t know whose decision it was, but I think it’s a terrible decision.”

That echoed Travis Zajac's comments from Friday. The nickname had been in use since 1930.

"It kind of [stinks] because it’s a great name, it’s been the school’s name for a while," said Zajac. "I felt proud wearing the Fighting Sioux jersey and carrying that tradition. There’s a lot of tradition behind the hockey team and the school. I guess for that to be done, it kind of [stinks]."

Parise and Zajac each spent two seasons at UND, though they were never teammates. Parise was a member of the Sioux in 2002-03 and '03-04, and Zajac arrived in Grand Forks the next season.

“From going there and being a part of it, it’s something that you’re really proud of,” Parise said. “The only word I could think of was, ‘Stupid.’ I think it’s unfortunate. They’ve got a great history, a great tradition and everyone’s always respectful of the tribes and the name. You wore it with pride and I don't see a problem with it.”

Controversy has lingered for years over the nickname, which the NCAA considers “hostile and offensive,” according to the Associated Press. The Sioux logo is featured prominently throughout Ralph Engelstad Arena, the team's home rink which was completed in 2001.

“When they built the arena, you’d walk to class and sometimes you’d see some teachers with the Sioux logo with an ‘X’ through it,” Parise recalled. “I don’t know why; it just didn’t make a lot of sense to me. That topic was definitely floating around when I was there too, unfortunately.”

Parise believes the nickname will be fondly remembered.

“The people in Grand Forks are so proud of the university and proud of the athletics and proud of the name, that I’m sure they’re all [ticked] off, too,” he said. “I’ve never been to a place that’s more proud of its athletes and its athletics than there. It’s awesome. I think they’re going to be upset about the whole thing, too. They almost felt that they were a part of it, too. It was great.”

The Grand Forks Herald reported Thursday that the university’s athletic teams will be called the Sioux through the 2010-11 season while the school considers alternatives.

Parise didn’t sound eager to embrace the change.

“It’s stupid,” he said. “Nothing [else] is going to sound right.”
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