BEMIDJI - It won't take Bemidji State's new women's tennis coach any time at all to get integrated into the community. It's because he's always been here.
The BSU athletic department announced Wednesday that it had hired longtime Bemidji High School tennis coach and Bemidji Middle School teach Mark Fodness as the new head of the Beaver tennis program. He replaces Beth Campus, who resigned following this season to peruse other career options.
"It's an exciting new challenge for me," said Fodness, who will retain his position as the Lumberjack girls and boys head coach as well as his BMS teaching duties. "I'd like to get a chance to build a first-class college program.
"It will kind of be an extension of what I already do."
Fodness, a 1982 BSU alumnus, coached both the boys and girls teams at BHS from 1986-1993 and then again for the last two seasons. During his tenure at BHS, he has led the girls to a 122-28 dual match record, while directing the boys to a 72-70 mark for a career high school record of 194-98.
Fodness will start the job immediately, and says he's still got some work to do - especially getting the team finalized for the upcoming season, which begins in February.
"It's been a pretty hectic start," he said. "It's a bit late in the game, but I think we've got a really good core of returning players to work with. I've talked to most of them and they're excited for the season to begin.
"We've still got to fill out the roster with one or two recruits. So nothing's finalized yet. But I think we're going to be OK."
Fodness will have a lot on his plate, coaching three teams. But luckily all three teams play in different seasons, which should alleviate some of the practical issues.
"I don't think it will be too much of an issue," Fodness said. "In the fall, BHS will practice earlier in the afternoon and the BSU practices will be a little later. So it won't be too tough for me to just stay on the court and conduct both practices.
"In January, February and March (when the boys high school season starts) there might be a little bit of overlap. But I like that. I get to focus on tennis year-round."
Last season, Fodness helped lead both the Lumberjack boys and girls to section 8-AA semifinals.
The Beavers finished the season 3-14 overall and 3-7 in NSIC competition.