Friday, August 16, 2013

BSU Soccer in Costa Rica -- Final Post

Maria McLeod, a junior captain on the Bemidji State soccer team, has invited all of Beaver Nation along with the team as it travels around the world for a soccer, sightseeing and service trip Aug. 6-14. In her final trip post, she describes highlights from the last two days in Costa Rica and recaps the trip, the impact it has had on her and what it has meant to the 2013 team. would like to thank Maria for giving us an inside look at the travels of the team.

There is so much to be said about this trip yet somehow it is difficult to find the words to express my feelings after finally returning home. All I can say is that this trip was a once in a life time experience. The chance we got to go to a foreign country together as a team to play competitively and experience a new culture was outstanding. The set up of the trip was beyond organized and this trip is one that I would do again in a heart beat.

On the second night that we were there a few of us girls met two soccer college coaches from a school in California who had done this tour before. When we were discussing the trip and what to expect they said that the hot springs and white water rafting would be activities that we would remember. They were right. The second to last day was a day for the books and, by far, my favorite day. I was a bit nervous for the white water rafting because it was something that I, as well as most of the other girls, had never done before. When going through the tutorial of what to do in the rapids I was starting to get a little nervous because of what they said could happen while going down the river. However, that completely changed once getting in the raft. I felt comfortable and my boats guide, Chicho, was an excellent leader. We quickly became comfortable with what to do and how to move about in the raft. The white water rafting took about two hours and we were even able to stop half way and jump off some of the shorter cliffs. The group that lead our guide brought pineapples and cookies for us and the taste was so amazing that some of the girls even bought the cookies to bring home to the states.

Following the white water rafting we had the chance to experience one of my favorite places on the trip, the Hot Springs. There really is no way to describe this place except for unbelievable. We had the chance to go to a five star hotel and swim in different pools of different temperatures of fresh water from the mountain. All of the pools were warm water and each pool was unique in its' own way. Even pictures don't do justice to how amazing and pretty this place is. Assistant coach Andy Jannsen did make a comment that if this trip was done again, he would want to stay at the Hot Springs resort for a couple of days. The whole day as a whole was so much fun and personally, I thought, that it was one of the best days of food too. We had a traditional lunch after rafting and had a high quality buffet for dinner at the resort. Monday was a day of smiles.

Ending the trip was bittersweet for most. We ended going back to the children's center to play with the kids for a final time. Even though we were there for only an hour, it was an hour that left tattoos on our hearts. So many of the girls connected with a child that made them appreciate things that they will never have. These children make us see that there is so much in this world that we may never experience and that thought is scary and motivating at the same time. I want to help these children so bad and it makes me think what I can do to accomplish that goal. I hope that I made a difference in these kids life, even if it is just for a quick thought or a hidden smile that made them glad they got the chance to meet me.

By definition states that opportunity is, "a situation or condition favorable for attainment of a goal." According to, I would have to agree. We had a goal of playing three competitive teams, bonding as a team and getting a cultural experience that we will always remember. For an action that I will keep secret, because it doesn't need praise, I was so proud of our team and so grateful and proud to be a Beaver. We have one talented and special group of girls that I am honored to be a family of. For any of you 2013 soccer ladies reading this blog, I cannot thank you enough for making this experience a once in a life time chance. We were able to teach each other about ourselves and about the world far better than any classroom could do. To conclude our trip there is only two words left to say, "PURA VIDA!" 

Final days of the trip from the team's voices on Twitter, Vine and other social media outlets:


Monday, August 12, 2013

BSU Soccer in Costa Rica -- Post 4

After leaving Punta Leona, we headed for the rainforest about four hours away. We were able to stop at a garden about half way that had a beautiful display of flowers designed in the words of Costa Rica with a star. The view was gorgeous! For miles all the eye could see was mountains. It was such a peaceful landscape. I felt so much serenity and, at that point in time, I was truly thankful for this life God has given me.

We finally reached the rainforest hotel with about an hour until our departure for our game. However, we had a bit of a hold up. The bus needed a hose fixed in the engine so as you could imagine this seemed like it was going to be a challenge but lucky for us we have Johnny! Johnny has been our awesome bus driver for this trip and he literally got under the bus for about 25 minutes and fixed it himself. We're lucky to have him because he has gotten us safely around Costa Rica and is there to protect us.

We were pretty late to our second game but there was a drive in our team that pushed us out of that obstacle. We barely warmed up but at kick off we were ready to go. It was a great game and opportunity to play the San Carlos professional team and we were able to come out with a W! It was fun and the other team was excited that they got to play our team. The coach had mentioned that out of the three American teams their team has played, we made them feel the most uncomfortable. So if you're wondering, that's a good thing haha! It was an amazing stadium and thrilling because the premier men's league plays their home games at that stadium.

We're all fairly exhausted from the day and tomorrow is even busier with white water rafting and traveling to the hot springs! Sleep well beavers, sending love and hellos from BEAUTIFUL Costa Rica!

Day 3 via Twitter:
Day 4-8 on Twitter:

Sunday, August 11, 2013

BSU Soccer in Costa Rica -- Post 3

It's day five of our trip, and to say the least, it has been nothing short of amazing! The culture and people we have met have been so warm and welcoming and that has made our experience magical! On the second day of our trip we got the chance to play the u17 national team. This team's chemistry was unbelievable and they had so much talent and skill. Everything flowed together and they knew exactly how to find each other on the field. The first half of our game was a huge adjustment for us seeing has how we were not use to the heat and the field. But as always, it only takes a short amount of time to figure out how to adapt to the conditions we play in. It was fun playing this team because we had great opportunities and we showed the Costa Rica team what Beaver soccer is all about. Their goalie was outstanding and was able to keep the goals to zero against us but we have her a run for her money. After the game it was awesome to talk with the girls and each team was so grateful for the opportunity to get better as a team.

Following the game, we had the chance to go to The Center where children who are not safe go when their parents are at work. This, for me, was the highlight of the day. I met two girls who were smiley from the time I met them. These children were just so excited that we were there to give them love and the chance to play games. I connected with two girls at The Center and even though we could not communicate because of the different languages, we were able to connect just through our smiles (corny I know, but it's the truth). These girls found happiness by just throwing a safely pin through my arms. It was something so simple but it was blast! I was able to teach them girly hand games and they did the same as well. This experience made me see that we are more blessed than we will ever know. I am so glad I get the chance to see them one more time before we leave.

As for the last couple of days it has been nothing but relaxing! We have been taking pool time, sun time, beach time, volleyball time and any other relaxing thing one can imagine. The new resort we are at, Punta Leona, has gave us the opportunity to see monkeys, lizards, geckos, iguanas, ant eaters and even a snake. We have just been hanging out at the beach and catching and riding the waves. Our whole team has been together and we are having a blast. Leaving this place will be bitter sweet and this trip has made us bond in numerous ways. I apologize if this blog has bad grammar or doesn't make any sense, the Wi-Fi isn't the greatest and typing from a phone isn't my strong suit but to sum it up Costa Rica is one heck of an opportunity!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

BSU Soccer in Costa Rica - Post 2

Day One

We finally landed in Costa Rica at 2:30 pm Minnesota time! Waking up at 4am made for an interesting morning seeing as how we already had a nine-hour day by the time we landed. However, that did not seem to matter. Adrenaline, perseverance and excitement pushed the BSU women's soccer team through our first day in Costa Rica.

After landing we made it through customs and immigration especially quickly and surprisingly smoothly. Once we reached the Wyndham hotel lunch was served and let me tell you, that was the only thing on our minds. We ate a filling and delicious lunch while also getting a presentation on what we should expect from our trip to Costa Rica.

The group we are playing soccer through has been a tremendous help and is always there to assist us when we need it. We learned today that Costa Rica is the "Happiest Country in the World' according to the United Nations so we are expected to bring our happiness back to the BSU community.

Following check in, we had our first training and it was a beautiful sight. The city in the background was an amazing sight, and as most of us would agree, it was great to play on some shorter grass.

Most of us are all extremely exhausted from the day and cannot wait to be asleep by 10 pm Costa Rica time. Tomorrow is a busy day with our first friendly game which may not be so friendly as we learned this national team competes at a very high level and is training for the World Cup to be held in Costa Rica.

Day one = complete. We made it and as twitter says, "There is no turning back now!"

Check out what the team was saying about day 1 on Twitter

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

BSU soccer in Costa Rica - Post 1 and Bemidji State Athletics invite you to join the BSU soccer program through the eyes of Maria McLeod as the travels internationally to Costa Rica Aug. 6-14 .  The junior captain will make regular posts here to keep all fans and followers up to date on the advantures of the team.

Costa Rica 2013 - Pretrip training camp

Seventeen girls, 10 practices, six days, two coaches, one trainer and a million emotions have finished the preseason training prep camp for our trip to Costa Rica. We have had exciting practices that show our team's potential for success in Costa Rica as well as for the 2013 season. However, this trip is not just about soccer. This trip is about gaining an experience and memories that will never be forgotten.

The opportunity our team has been given to travel to a foreign country is unimaginable yet imaginable at the same time because it is actually happening. Six months ago the thought of taking 28 passengers to play at a competitive level versus a professional national team seemed challenging but we did it! And we are so glad! Our trip is ready to begin and, as most girls can attest to, we are ready.

Thank you to all of our donors and participants that supported our fundraisers and donated to our trip. We are hoping to touch the lives of those who live in Costa Rica as you have so graciously touched ours. This trip would not be possible without your support and we want you to know that you made the difference in getting our team there. Thank you for this opportunity!

If we could say one word to describe our feelings right now for this trip it would be, "ready, anxious, excited, woohoo, antsy, nervous, thrilled, curious, scared, eager, adventurous, courageous, shocked, prepared, content, sweet, Pepto Bismol." Needless to say we're geared up to go!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Where did the summer go?

We could have all predicted it four months ago. The weather-compressed summer of 2013 seemed to go by in the blink of an eye.

As residents of Minnesota, we grow up learning to savor the summer months and the carnivals, vacations at the lake and outdoor athletic events that accompany them.  Winter storms last April and soggy weather in May hijacked our spring sport seasons and delayed the start of summer. It seemed as though temperatures went from zero to 80 in a matter days, but that didn't stop our student-athletes from taking full advantage of their time away. 

Andrew Benson opened the summer representing BSU in the Minnesota Golf Association Players' Championship at Interlachen Country Club June 24-25. He won his opening round match, but bowed out of the tournament in the round of 32... Benson and fellow BSU golfer John Hafdal were among the 156 competitors to qualify for the 110th Annual Minnesota Golf Association Amateur Championship at the Medina Golf & Country Club July 17... Jack Hegarty, of the BSU baseball team, joined the Willmar Stingers of the Northwoods League July 17 as a relief pitcher. He has played in four games, including a start and is 0-1. The Stingers are 33-25 overall and are third in the league's North Division...Meanwhile in Kansas, sophomore Tyler Nelson and freshman Mason Bellew found success for the North Central Kansas Knights of the Walter Johnson League. Bellew played in 20 games and collected 14 hits, while hitting .264 as the Knights' first baseman. Nelson played 33 games in the outfield and on the mound. He hit .265 and posted 15 RBIs with five doubles and a home run. He was 1-0 in two pitching appearances with a 4.50 ERA... Members of BSU's soccer, volleyball and men's and women's basketball teams made occasional appearances on campus to help instruct aspiring athletes as a part of a variety of summer youth camps...Former Beavers also made a splash this summer. Brad Hunt (2008-2011) signed a contract with the NHL's Edmonton Oilers organization July 8 after an all-star season with the Chicago Wolves of the AHL... Word also has it that Matt Carlson has agreed to terms to play defense for the Quad City Mallards of the CHL and Jordan George will take his talents to Norway next season, playing for Rosenborg Elite...2013 grad Brian Leonhardt, who signed a free agent contract with the Oakland Raiders in April, began his first NFL training camp with the organization July 25 and will attempt to make the team as a tight end.

Now, summer's warmth will be fading as quickly as it arrived. A look at today's date of August 1 brings anticipation for the 2013-14 athletic season. 

As hard as it will be to soon pack away our Bermuda shorts and sandals, cooler weather also means the Beavers' season-opening kickoff and the start of the 2013-14 school year is just around the corner. BSU student-athletes return for fall training camps beginning Aug. 14.

Get ready Beaver Nation, 2013-14 is coming and its going to be exciting!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Dill takes reins of Bemidji State Athletics

The Bemidji State University Department of Athletics is under new leadership. April 25, President Dr. Richard A. Hanson announced Tracy Dill as the University’s director of intercollegiate athletics and a new face has been roaming the campus and community this week.

After 27 years at St. Cloud State University, where he served as associate athletic director since 1999, Dill stepped into his new role and new surroundings June 3. Dill said that since the announcement he has felt the embrace of Beaver Nation, making his transition easier.

“I’ve received numerous phone calls, email messages and texts congratulating me, which has been very much appreciated,” said Dill. “One of my last duties at St. Cloud State was to direct the NSIC baseball tournament. It was great to see the Beavers make such a solid run. It also provided me the opportunity to interact with Bemidji State players, coaches, staff, family members and BSU supporters that came out.” He added, “I can tell already, people are very excited to be a part of Beaver athletics.”

During his first two days in the office, Dill has been busy to say the least. Whether it is getting his staff ID photo taken, meeting faculty/staff or figuring out which key operates which door on campus, Dill is clearing one hurdle at a time.

“It’s exactly what I thought I’d feel like after the first couple days,” smiled Dill. “I’m a little bit overwhelmed. I know there is a lot to do, but I take it one day at a time.” Dill added, “It’s an old adage, but in sports, I think it is true. I know that everyday will be a learning experience.”

When asked how he is approaching his first few days as the Bemidji State AD, it was obvious where his top priority lies—building relationships.

“As I said when I was in the process of being hired, developing relationships is critical of the success of any organization and I still believe that.” Dill added, “I am actually tying to get out and meet as many people as I can. I really enjoy that part of [the job]. The first few days that is what I have been focusing on. I went to the Rotary meeting yesterday and met quite a few people there. I want to continue to do that, I just need to get my calendar organized to allow me to get out and do the things I need to do to move the program forward.”

A graduate of William Penn College in Oskaloosa, Iowa, Dill has more than three decades of experience in collegiate athletics. He began his professional career in 1981 as an admissions counselor and assistant football coach at his alma mater. During that time he assisted in the coordination of student and student-athlete recruiting in Iowa, Illinois and Missouri. In 1985, Dill’s duties shifted as he was he was hired to take over the Statesmen track and field teams and was named intramural director in addition to coaching linebackers as assistant football coach.

In 1988, Dill left William Penn to take a position as assistant coach with the St. Cloud State football program. He remained involved in the recruiting process and added game-plan preparation and play selection to his duties coaching defensive backs, quarterbacks and running backs.

Dill’s roots in track and field led him to the role of head coach of the Husky men’s track and field team beginning in 1988. He assumed control of all aspects of the track and field program while retaining his role as assistant football coach during the fall. 

In 1995, Dill was promoted to assistant athletic director and remained head coach of the men’s and women’s track and field teams. His move into administration thrust him into budget management, scheduling, game management, fund raising and promotions. He served as the advisor to St. Cloud State’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and provided oversight to the Husky Booster Clubs. In addition, he was also involved in the development of strategies for compliance with Title IX and the implementation of department drug and alcohol policies.

In 1999, Dill left coaching and moved full time into administration. In his role as associate athletic director at St. Cloud State, he was responsible for sponsorships and marketing efforts for the Huskies’ 23-program athletics department, as well as television radio and web-streaming rights and ticket sales. He continued to oversee all aspects of game management and was appointed to work with an external team to enhance student participation and attendance at home athletics events. He also took an active role in the development of the department’s strategic plan. Dill’s position supervised assistant athletic directors and the Huskies’ strength and conditioning program.

During his coaching tenure at St. Cloud State, Dill mentored 37 NCAA Division II track and field All-Americans, which included two individual national champions. In football, he helped develop 36 All-North Central Conference selections, and his running backs helped the Huskies lead the conference in rushing four times.

In addition to an English degree from William Penn, Dill holds a master’s degree in athletic administration from St. Cloud State.

Dill and his wife, Kristy, have two grown sons. Trey lives in Hermantown, Minn., with his wife Holly and is the defensive line coach at the University of Minnesota Duluth, and Tye is a resident of Minneapolis.

“My wife and I are extremely excited about Bemidji State and the opportunity for me to be its next athletic director,” Dill said. “We are excited to get to know the community, the campus and the Bemidji area.”

“I think there are good things happening at BSU, and a there is great opportunity to build upon what is already in place to continue to move the programs forward.”

Dill takes over for Dr. Rick Goeb, who was named the University’s first full-time director of athletics in 2001.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Historic Week for the BSU Baseball Team

It was quite the week for the Bemidji State baseball program. The Bemidji State baseball team made history almost every day in week that saw the Beavers earn the No. 8 seed in the NSIC Tournament, rack-up six league awards, defeat No. 1 seed and host St. Cloud State – twice – and play for a NSIC Tournament Championship.

It all started Sunday. The Beavers never make anything easy on themselves, so of course, their bid for the NSIC Tournament came down to the last day, actually the last out of the regular season. It was simple. Win and you’re in. Easier said than done with St. Cloud State - the NSIC's top team - in town.

BSU ended up losing both games and two losses on the last day of the season isn’t how you want to go out, but the Beavers knew a Sioux Falls loss to Winona State would also get them into the postseason.

Finishing slightly ahead of the game played in Winona, the majority of the team huddled around a smart phone that showed live stats for the Sioux Falls/Winona State game two – USF had won game one – and celebrated when Winona State recorded the final out in a 9-8 contest that sent the Beavers to the NSIC Tournament for the first time since 2008.

Little did they know it was just the beginning of something special.

Later that day, the official announcement was released that the Beavers were headed to the NSIC Tournament and would play the regular season champs and No. 1 seed St. Cloud State.

Practice was light Monday, but oddly enough it was the first time the Beavers were able to practice on the BSU Baseball Field all season, due to the extension of winter through the month of April. Despite playing SCSU four times and losing three, the Beavers were optimistic about their chances against the Huskies.

“The pressure is probably a little more on them, than it is on us. We are going to go in loose and get after it,” said head coach Tim Bellew in a video preview of the tournament that included comments from three of the 10 seniors.

Tuesday, while the team was taking some batting practice before heading on the bus to St. Cloud, the 2013 NSIC postseason awards were announced. The awards, nominated and voted upon by the league's coaches, saw six Beavers honored - the most since 1997 – and included Tim Bellew as the NSIC Coach of the Year.

When I asked Tim later about the award he said, “I figured the other 14 coaches had resigned and I didn’t get the memo.” A modest comment from a skipper that is well-deserving of the honor.

In his eighth year at Bemidji State, Tim guided the Beavers to their second 20-win season and a trip to the postseason for the first time in five years. The league coaches proved that respect doesn’t always come in the form of conference championships or national rankings. What Tim has done with the program hasn’t gone unnoticed and that was proven when his league counterparts chose him for the honor. 

More proof of Tim’s abilities were his All-NSIC honorees, which included four-year player Lewis Baumann who earned first team laurels. He hit .102 as a freshman .266 as a sophomore, .321 as a junior and posted a .397 average as a senior, and if it weren’t for a hamstring injury during the last week and a half of the season, he probably would have been the first Beaver since 2002 to finish with a batting average over .400.

The awards were a nice compliment, but the real task was Wednesday when the Beavers battled the Huskies in the first round of the NSIC Tournament. Behind the arm of lefty Phil Bray and two big offensive innings that gave the Beavers an 8-1 lead, Bemidji State upended St. Cloud State 9-3 to advance to the winner’s bracket and upset the top seed of the tournament.

“I just went out there and threw fastballs, curve balls, tried to keep them off balance. Zach called a great game, the boys came out hitting right away and gave me a lead the entire game, I couldn’t ask for more,” Bray said in the postgame interviews.

A beautiful Wednesday morning and afternoon gave way to clouds and rain that continued through most of Thursday, pushing the start time back to 7 p.m. for the Beavers’ second round game against No. 4 seed Winona State. It might have been the delay, or maybe just nerves that led to the slow start in the game against the Warriors, as BSU trailed 4-0 through four, but the bats came alive late to set-up the heroics of senior Jaryd Marks, as he delivered the walk-off single through the right side to plate the winning run in the bottom of the ninth with two outs to advance the Beavers with the 5-4 victory.

“We are a team right now. We are battling every game,” Marks said in the postgame interviews.

The win pitted the Beavers against No. 2 seed Minnesota State Friday to advance to the NSIC Tournament Championship, but unfortunately, the Beavers couldn’t get the bats going and lost 2-1.

“We have been playing well in all three facets of the game this year, just had trouble putting them together today. Tomorrow we have to get all three facets back and take it to ‘em,” Lewis Baumann said in the postgame interviews.

Bring all three facets back they did.

St. Cloud State worked its way through the loser’s bracket after falling to the Beavers, which set-up the rematch Saturday morning to advance to play MSU in the championship. Entering the tournament, SCSU had the best team ERA in the nation at 2.04. That stat was not in the heads of the Beavers, as the team posted 12 runs on 14 hits to down the Huskies and escort them from the tournament 12-2. BSU got an inspired starting performance from senior Ryan Anderson, which he talks about HERE.

Just six days prior, the Beavers were huddled around a phone to see their postseason fate, now they would be playing in the NSIC Tournament Championship as the No. 8 seed. Because the tournament is double elimination, the Beavers knew they would have to beat Minnesota State twice, but first thing first, a Saturday afternoon clash with the Mavericks.

The game was intense, as Bray asked for the ball and toed the mound for the second time in just a 72-hour span. After getting hit around a little bit in the first and allowing a run. He settled in and retired 17 straight batters from the second through the seventh. He did that mostly with the game tied 1-1, as the Beavers produced one in the fourth. Tied all the way to the eighth, the Mavericks showed their poise and got the big hit to plate two and take the 3-1 lead. The 3-1 advantage would hold, as there was no more magic in the Beaver bats and the season came to an end.

After the team huddle in left field, the 10 seniors had thier own meeting with the coaching staff to take in as much of their last moments as Beaver baseball players.

“[The seniors] have been incredible. They have been the backbone. We are going to miss those guys, but they are going to help our program in the future by helping us get better recruits,” Tim said in the postgame interviews.

It probably didn’t sink in on the field, and maybe it still hasn’t, but this senior class did something special at Bemidji State.

In 2013, the Beavers totaled a 25-22 record to tie the program record for second most wins in a season. The record was the first overall mark above .500 by a Beaver team since 2002 and just the 11th time overall. The back-to-back 20 win seasons has happened just one other time in program history and the run to the NSIC Tournament Championship is the furthest a Beaver team has ever reached since the 1997 team also lost in the finale.

It was a week to remember for the Beaver baseball program and an amazing way to close the 2012-13 academic year for Bemidji State athletics.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Welcome home Beavers. Play ball!

Sunshine. Hot dogs. Dirt. Leather. “Ping.” Freshly-cut grass. Peanuts.

Alone, each is mundane and meaningless. But when taken in together they signify spring or, more importantly in my mind, baseball season.

Today, those items all came together at the BSU Baseball Field for the 2013 home opener and let me tell you, it feels pretty good. It’s been a long, harsh winter and the barrage of snow that fell on this area in March and April made the back edge of the coldest season of the year seem endless.

The spring of 2013 will undoubtedly be one to forget for sports teams in Bemidji and across Minnesota. In fact, an overcast, 35-degree day like today could easily be mistaken for March 1 without the consultation of a calendar.

This “spring,” instead catching BSU baseball, softball, golf or track and field teams practicing or competing, we watched heavy machinery remove tons of snow from the playing surfaces of our facilities. Our golf teams did their best to translate what they learned in a golf simulator at the local bowling alley onto courses in warmer climates, and as far as I know no open date has been set for the BTCC. Teams have been forced to travel beyond the boarder of Minnesota to places like Kansas City, Mo., Omaha, Neb. or even Williston, N.D. to find playable courses and fields. Don’t bring up the words “travel” or “bus” around our baseball or softball teams. This spring, they have combined to travel over 16,000 miles and lost 20 “home” games, which included the entire 2013 softball season. Until yesterday (April 30) neither team set foot on our fields to take a single ground ball, hit a round of batting practice or to do something as simple as run the bases. The fields were covered with snow, then ice, then mud and were unplayable.

We live in Northern Minnesota, I understand that. Weather is unpredictable, I get that too. There have to be some trade offs for living in one of the most beautiful places on earth. But next time you hear someone making a case for global warming, send him or her my way. I’ve got a few examples to that may disprove their theories. At the time of the first pitch of our 2013 home baseball game today, according to a trusted friend, there was in excess of 30 inches of ice on Lake Bemidji (He knows because he was ice fishing last Saturday and was nearly unable to punch through the thick sheet with his auger) and we are on pace for the latest ice-off on record (May 23)—Did I mention Minnesota’s fishing opener is just 10 days away?

The last few seasons, we’ve been spoiled into thinking sunny, 70-degree days are the norm for the second week of March. But after combing over the records I have available, I’ve been reminded how short our memories are. We are a bit late with the start of our season, but are not as far from “normal” as you may think. The BSU’s softball team’s average home-opening date is April 11, while the baseball team's average home opener has taken place April 18, so really we are just two or three weeks late. The problem is, with already short spring season, it seems that 75-80 percent of all events are scheduled during that 14 to 21-day span.

Here are some other notable numbers and nuggets I found today regarding BSU baseball/softball:

* The BSU baseball team’s earliest home opener took place just three seasons ago, March 21, 2010.

* Since 1952, the BSU baseball team has opened its home season in May 13 times prior to 2013.

* The Beaver baseball program’s latest home opener took place May 18, 1954.

* BSU baseball has averaged 11 home games per year in 62 years of baseball. This season the Beavers are on pace for six home games.

* Until this season, from what I have been able to find, BSU has had an entire home softball season stolen by inclement weather just one other time--2008. We also came close in 2002, playing just two home games.

* BSU softball has averaged nearly 10 home games per season since the program got its start in 1982 (base on available records).

* BSU softball’s earliest home opener was March 24, 2012.

* BSU softball has played only 10 home games in March and all but two came in a four-day span a year ago (March 24-28).

* BSU softball’s latest home opener took place April 26, 1996.

So today, instead of smothering your exposed skin with coconut-scented sunscreen, cover your skin with a beanie and choppers, huddle up next to someone and take in a Beaver Baseball game. Don’t let the cool temperatures keep you away. Bemidji State’s boys of summer are back at home on the BSU Baseball Field and once again all is right in the world.

Go Green!

Monday, April 29, 2013

A great day to be Beaver

In my mind, every day is a great day to be a Beaver, but in the last 24 hours, we've had the opportunity to work on two announcements that have made me, a BSU grad and fan of all things BSU Athletics, especially proud to be associated with Bemidji State athletics--Matt Read was named to Hockey Canada's World Championship roster and Brian Leonhardt signed a free agent contract with the NFL's Okland Raiders.

In athletic media relations, our staff has the opportunity to work with student-athletes on a daily basis. We get to know them, watch them compete, crunch numbers, tout achievements, nominate for weekly and end-of-the-year awards and publicize them every step of the way, but at a NCAA Division II school, with Division I hockey programs, publicizing former Beavers that have extended their playing careers beyond the collegiate ranks is not the norm. That is what makes today so special.

Matt Read was a great player at BSU and left holding several Division I-era records. He seemed destined to do great things from the moment he stepped on campus. Since he signed with the Philadelphia Flyer organization in the spring of 2011 he's been living what must feel like a bit of dream and Sunday's announcement was just the latest. He scored 13 points (7g-6a) for the Flyers' AHL affiliate Adirondack in just 11 games to complete his 2010-11 season--not a bad first impression. He made the NHL squad out of training camp, netted 47 points (24g-23a) as a rookie helping Philadelphia to the Stanley Cup's Eastern Conference finals, all while being named among those considered for the Calder Memorial Trophy, given out each year to the NHL's Rookie of the Year. Did I mention he played in the Winter Classic, was selected to participate in the All-Star Game Skills Challenge and was a part of HBO's 24/7?  Now Read has a chance to represent his home country of Canada in the World Championships and he was selected to the team by Canadian icon and Hall of Famer Steve Yzerman. 

There aren't too many sure things in sport, but I am tempted to think, being associated with Hockey Canada as it enters an international competition of any kind is about as sure as it gets. Could the next chapter of this dream be Matt Read wearing a World Championship medal around his neck?

The World Championships take place May 3-19 in Helsinki, Finland and Stockholm, Sweden. Team Canada opens play May 4 versus Denmark in Stockholm, just an hour from where Read made his home playing for Södertälje Sportklubb of Allsvenskan in the Swedish second league, during the NHL lockout. There is no doubt he won Swedish fans over during his time there, just as he did while he was in Bemidji, so he should have a good fan base already in place.

Leonhardt's path to the professional ranks was a bit different. Red shirted on the gridiron for his true freshman season, the Blaine, Minn. native tried his hand at track and field and worked his way into a a role as a two-sport athlete at BSU. By the time he was finished, he was an All-Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference pick thrower on the track and tight end on the field. He owns the hammer throw record at BSU (177-06), qualified for the NCAA Track and Field Championships and earned All-America accolades as a football player.

After performing well, earning the Offensive MVP award, at the Texas vs. The Nation all-star game following his collegiate career, there began to be some serious buzz around Leonhardt and the possibility of catching on with a NFL club becoming a reality. 

I watched the NFL Draft this weekend with anticipation. I was on the edge of my seat waiting to hear "Brian Leonhardt, tight end from Bemidji State University" recited on ESPN's coverage of the later rounds, but it never happened and disappointment set in. But as the weekend rolled on, I started seeing some social media activity associating Leonhard with Oakland. A few phone calls confirmed that today. Now he has a chance to live out his childhood dream of playig in the NFL. Who knows, maybe next time the "Da Raidahs" come to Minnesota to face the Vikings, No. 88 will be flanking the offensive line wearing the Black and Silver.

Leonhardt will fly to the Bay Area May 11-13 to participate in the Raiders' rookie minicamp.

Today's announcements are as big as they come and for both of them to happen on the same day made for some hectic times in the office.  Either way, it's a great day to be a Beaver and one that we won't soon forget. 

Jump on Beaver Nation and enjoy the ride.