Meet Grand Forks "Super Fan" Mark KaukAt just about every local sporting event, Mark Kauk is in the stands supporting area athletes and teams.
By: Dan Corey, WDAZ
It’s a face and a voice known by just about everyone in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
The name is Mark Kauk, better known as "K-Dawg" or "The Kaukster" and he’s more than just the catcher of the Support Systems softball team.
Carla Tice, LISTEN Center Executive Director: “When you say Mark Kauk, it’s like you might as well just say that’s the guy that everyone in the whole state knows.”
It’s thought that if Mark ran for city mayor, he would win.
Pat Sweeney, WDAZ-TV Sports Director: “Mark Kauk is probably the most recognized sports figure in greater Grand Forks just because he seems to be at every game.”
And the campaign slogan has already caught on. "Yup".
His running mate would be Terry Hajicek, better known as Gretzky.
So how did this Grand Forks native get so popular? Well, whether it’s Purpur Arena in the winter months or Cushman Field in the fall, whatever the sport, Mark is in attendance.
Mike Berg, former Grand Forks Central head football coach, “It wouldn’t be an event if Mark wasn’t somewhere in the building.”
Tice, “I always say to Mark, are you sure you don’t have more than one of you around this city because I swear sometimes I can watch the news and I’ll see Mark at one game and I’ll look and he’s at another game.”
From high school girls basketball to North Dakota men’s hockey, no one is a bigger fan than Mark.
Dave Hakstol, University of North Dakota men's hockey coach, “Anybody that’s involved in sports at any level in out community knows Mark, knows his passion and thinks a lot of him.”
That passion persists like when Mark and Gretzky rode their bikes to the Grand Forks airport almost six miles to greet the 2000 Sioux hockey team after they won the national title.
Tice, “To ride his bike all the way out to the airport just because he wanted his boys to know he was there for them. He just has a way about him.”
Chris Mussman,University of North Dakota head football coach, “When our equipment people put the uniforms out, Mark’s gets laid out there just like the rest of the guys. It’s pretty special."
And number 43 is there on the North Dakota sideline, win or lose, pumping up the crowd.
Mussman, “Raising his hands..getting the crowd going. I’ve always enjoyed Mark being around.”
Sweeney, “Years ago, there was a game, NDSU at UND football at old Memorial Stadium and I remember Mark, I saw him before the game. I said, “Get them fired up now, Mark.” And he said, “Yep.” Well, NDSU won the game and after the game I see Mark outside the locker room looking so sad and he looked at me and said, “I tried to get them fired up, Pat.” As it was his fault that UND lost.”
If Mark had it his way when running the scoreboard, every local team would win.
But taking in games at places such as Kraft Field is only half of the story. Mark was born with ADHD. But instead of being shy about it, he speaks out about it, as only he would.”
Listen Center Exeuctive Director Carla Tice has known Mark for over 20 years, traveling around the state listening to him speak. But this time, Mark isn’t talking sports.
“Teaching people with disabilities to speak up for their rights and it joins other civil rights movements to say, you know, what, it’s not the disability that’s really the problem, it’s how people in society view people with disabilities.”
From “Kauker's Korner” to trying to raise funding, he is there lending a helping hand to those with disabilities.
Jaime Leao, Support Systems supervisor, “If he sees someone being mistreated or sees somebody that needs something that they’re not getting, he will be heard. He will make calls until he gets some answers for them.”
Mark will always be heard not only on the softball field backing his team but at every sporting event. And no matter what the final score is, Mark will always be Grand Forks number one fan.
Berg, “Teams change, coaches change, the rosters change, Mark never changes.”