When Minnesota Crookston announced the addition of trap shooting as a club sport in the spring of 2019, it seemed like a perfect fit. The sport of trap shooting was taking off at the high school level in Minnesota and the Golden Eagles already had many people interested in the sport right on campus.

Photo of Nick Grams

For Nick Grams, who was a senior at Belle Plaine High School, it was the ideal match. Grams was already prepared to enroll at UMN Crookston to pursue a natural resources degree. When he learned the school would also be offering trap shooting, it made him every more excited for his college experience. “I knew I was already going to come here at the end of my senior year,” Grams stated. “For my senior year trap shooting we went to Alexandria and we saw UMN Crookston there saying that we were going to have trap shooting and I was excited.”

Minnesota Crookston has provided Grams a chance to pursue a sport he loves while also pursuing his natural resources degree. Grams first started in trap shooting early in high school. He decided he wanted to pursue natural resources at the start of his senior year after deciding his initial collegiate path wasn’t really for him.

“Early in my senior year I wanted to go to Minnesota Duluth to get a civil engineering or mechanical engineering degree,” Grams said. “I decided it was going to be a lot of math, so I decided I didn’t want to go that route. I was looking at other options and I looked into it and saw UMN Crookston had natural sources and it seemed like a good fit for me.”

Natural resources was a great fit for Grams. He had grown up in a fishing and hunting family and he always had been interested in everything that went into wildlife management. “I am a big fisherman and hunter,” Grams stated. “My dad’s side has always been into fishing and hunting. Being out in the wild and seeing everything really piqued my interest into how everything worked.”

Grams has loved his experience at Minnesota Crookston so far. He has thoroughly enjoyed his experience on the trap team and the many people he has met from being a part of the program in its first two seasons. “Trap has been a really big thing for me. Every week I have been able to go out and participate in trap shooting. UMN Crookston is a tight-knit campus and you get to know almost everybody on campus.”

Grams had an outstanding first year in the trap program as he put up some of the best scores on the team in 2019, including two rounds with an average of 24.0. He helped the Golden Eagles to second-place finish in 2019. Grams followed it up with another strong season in 2020. He averaged a 20.9 on the season and tied for fifth among UMN Crookston shooters and again helped UMN Crookston to a second-place finish in the USA College Clay Target League conference standings.

“This year was pretty good,” Grams remarked. “Last year it was nice being part of a team when we took second in our conference. It was really nice for our first year. This year I did pretty good too. It was not as good as I wanted to or as good as I did last year.”

Grams has enjoyed shooting trap under Head Coach Andy Gjerswold, who has been the program’s only coach in two seasons of existence. Gjerswold, a 2018 UMN Crookston graduate who was very familiar with the campus. In addition, he had experience starting up a trap shooting program as he was on the inaugural Crookston High School squad and had seen first-hand what his father Darren did to get the high school program off the ground. “Andy has been a great coach,” Grams said. “Knowing he was a recent graduate from UMN Crookston makes it nice. He is just a little older than us so he can bring his experience and also understands what we are going through.”

Grams has also loved his time in the natural resources program and is excited for what is to come in the program. Grams is hoping to get into either fisheries management or wildlife management once he gets his degree from the University of Minnesota.

“So far the professors have been really nice in my first two years here,” Grams said. “Phil Baird has been great. He is really the only natural resources professor I have. I will get into Matthew Simmons and John Loegering soon, hopefully. It has been pretty enjoyable. I like all the aspects of the classes and the people I have met through the natural resources department.”

Grams is excited for what his future holds at UMN Crookston. He is grateful the school has provided two things he is very passionate about and it has made for a great experience for him. 

“Having both of these things on campus makes my overall experience a lot better,” Grams stated. “The college experience on campus has been really nice having everything right here ready for you.”

UMN Crookston is excited to see the trap shooting program continue to find success and for students like Grams to find a niche in northwest Minnesota where they can obtain a great degree and pursue their passion of trap shooting. So far it has been a perfect match.

About UMN Crookston

One of five campuses in the University of Minnesota System, the University of Minnesota Crookston cultivates curiosity by engaging students in hands-on learning connecting theory to practice. As the experienced leader in delivering education online, the Crookston campus offers a distinctive learning environment providing personal attention and mentorship to develop leaders, lifelong learners, and engaged citizens. Visit Crookston at umcrookston.edu 

About UMN

The University of Minnesota System, with campuses in Crookston, Duluth, Morris, Rochester, and the Twin Cities, is driven by a singular vision of excellence. We are proud of our land-grant mission of world-class education, groundbreaking research, and community-engaged outreach, and we are unified in our drive to serve Minnesota. Learn more at system.umn.edu

Story Contact: Shawn Smith