One other thing they have in common with our friends from Kalamazoo, girls, lots of them. Females make up over 55% of the student population here.
The Chippewa (Ojibwe) tribe settled near here in 1750 and continue to hold an important place the community. A band of about fifty Leech Lake Indians (The Leech Lake Band Of Ojibwe) lived and farmed wild rice along the south shore of a lake since the 1880s. The US Government established a reservation and have been dealing with the Leech Lake Indians on a government-to-government basis longer than Minnesota has been a state.
In the late 1800’s the rural roads were always a major problem for the area. Early settlers were required to pay a poll tax or work specified days just to keep up the muddy township roads. In 1913, the township board gave a resident 50 pounds of FREE dynamite to blow out stumps on "his" road. It appears that they now have paved roads and no longer need citizens and dynamite to keep things moving.
About 10 years ago, the BSU Board of Regents recommended changing the name of the university to Minnesota State University – Bemidji. The move was innocently designed to improve the brand awareness and general recognition of the school. This name change was universally opposed by students, alumni, and local bystanders. Rather than face the angry mob, the Board decided against the name change.
Location: BSU is located on the shores of Lake Bemidji in the heart of northern Minnesota's lakes and forest region. It sits four hours northwest of Minneapolis and two hours northeast of Fargo, North Dakota. Technically, you can make the claim that Lake Bemidji is just a bulge in the Mississippi River because water Mighty Mississippi is both received and drained here before making the 2,552 mile journey to New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico.
The city derives it’s name from the local Native Americans meaning "lake that traverses another body of water". There are about 13,000 people that live here, and the average annual temperature is a chilly 37 degrees. They average about 3.5 feet of snow a year. The lake typically freezes in mid November and stays that way until mid April. BSU has an underground walkway system so the students can wear t-shirts and flip-flops all year long.
The legend of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox is very strong here. The city makes a claim as the “official home of Paul Bunyan” and include them on their seal and flag. In 1937 the community built statues of both. Thanks to the miracle of the Internet, you can watch over these statues all day every day. However they have some competition from several other places, most notably the community of Oscoda, Michigan. The Oscoda Press claims to be the REAL home of Paul and the Michigan State Legislature agrees.
Colors: In February, 1920, an assembly hour was set aside for the selection of school colors. After the balloting on colors had resulted in a deadlock, Cyrillus Freeman, a student from Minneapolis, rose and commanded attention.
“As we sat here discussing this question,” she said, “I happened to glance out the window. The sight that met my eyes was fresh, green pines silhouetted against pure white snow. What could be more appropriate than green and white?”
These colors were accepted unanimously.
Nickname: They call themselves the Beavers. The name was first used in 1932 when the school president reviewed football practice one evening, called the team into a huddle, and raised his hands and declared, “I christen this team the Beavers.” The name is symbolic of the silent, hard-working teams representing the school.
Logo: In 1998, campus-wide discussions were held on the need for new marks to represent BSU athletics. The University marks at the time had been in place since 1974, but there was no official athletic logo. The next year they issued an RFP, seeking an image that would represent pride and confidence while being gender-neutral and not appearing cartoonish. The public relations firm of Russell & Herder in Brainerd won and produced the current logo in 2001.
Mascot: They have a cute child-friendly buck-toothed Beaver they call Bucky. Other than darker fur and cro-magnon forehead, I honestly have a tough time telling the difference between Bucky the Beaver and Goldy the Gopher.
Fight song: Yes, they have one. No, I could not find any historical info about it.
Go Bemidji Beavers,
Go you Green and White.
Go Bemidji Beavers,
Fight with all your might.
We are here to cheer you.
We're out to bring you fame.
So go Bemidji Beavers,
Fight and win this game.
B-E-M-I-D-J-I Bemidji, Bemidji, Go BEAVERS!!
Academics: BSU is the only baccalaureate institution in northern Minnesota. It offers 65 undergraduate majors and 13 graduate programs. It is ranked as a Tier I institution by the US News and World Report. In 2008 they accepted 82% of the students that applied. Interesting enough, the tuition is the same for both in-state and out-of-state students.
One of the main sources I use to get information for KYF is the media guides produced by the athletic department. Bemidji needs to do a better job in updating their marketing materials. Actual media guide text: Each year, students complete internships with the likes of the NASA space program in Houston, Texas, Disneyland, Compaq, Rubbermaid and a host of architectural firms.
Compaq was bought by Hewlett Packard in 2002. It has not existed as a company for 8 years.
Sports: BSU fields six men's varsity teams and nine womens teams. All their varsity sports compete at NCAA Division II level -- except Men's and Women's Ice Hockey.
Dressed in uniforms that look like Braylon's New York Jets, their football team plays in a stadium that holds 3,500 fans and have won a total of five Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference championships since 1926. They have a single post season birth since the inception of the program (in 2006, they lost). The Beavers have had two players drafted by the NFL: In 1946 the Chicago Bears took offensive tackle Dean Widseth in the 21st round and in 1979 the Cleveland Browns selected TE John Redebaugh in the 16th round.
The BSU hockey team has had a significantly more success. They first started playing organized college hockey in 1946. They did not field a team from 1951 through 1959 because the roof on their sports arena collapsed while several children were skating in the arena. Somehow they miraculously escaped and survived the falling roof.
Without an arena, they tried to play games on the frozen lake, but could not make it work and quit for a while. Nine seasons later they returned to play in a couple of outdoor venues before moving inside in 1967.
In all they have won an incredible 13 Hockey National Championships (7 in NAIA, 1 in NCAA Division 3, and 5 in NCAA Division 2). They became a NCAA Division I team in 1998, and have been to 5 NCAA tournaments. The 1983-84 went undefeated with an NCAA record 31 wins 0 ties and 0 losses. Last season, the 2009 Bemidji Beavers shocked the college hockey world when they upset both Notre Dame and Cornell to make their first trip to the NCAA Frozen Four.
Next season (hopefully after Michigan beats them), they will change conferences (from CHA to WCHA) and move into a brand new arena.
Famous Alums: I swear I looked. Their Alumni Association web page does not have a list of notable graduates. The BSU wiki entry only has former NHL player Joel Otto and Marty Turco’s backup Matt Climie. If you graduated from BSU, please send me your name and I will include it here.
Lacking any real names, I want to mention that former Oakland Raider and NFL Hall of Famer Dave Casper and Jane Russell were both born in Bemidji.
And yes, I am willing to bet those are real.
The game: I have not seen them play. But rest assured these guys are pretty good and a very dangerous team for us coming off a miracle CCHA run. While we might have better talent, you can’t take anything for granted. Notre Dame found out last year what happens when you don’t take them seriously. Based on the season we have had, I won’t be surprised at all if we come out flat and struggle.
I am still hoping for the best.