More than 300 participate in Lumberjack Scramble
Roger Bovee is a 1985 graduate of Bemidji High School and currently teaches industrial tech at St. Michael-Albertville.
Even though he may have found a career a few hours south of his home town, Bovee is never bashful when it comes to telling people where he was raised.
"I'm proud to brag about being a Lumberjack," Bovee said as he prepared to start his Lumberjack Scramble round Friday at the Bemidji Town & Country Club.
"In my computer lab at school I have Bemidji High School mouse pads. I make sure that the kids I teach know where my roots are."
Bovee was one of more than 300 Lumberjack benefactors who participated in the 2010 scramble fundraiser. The event featured a morning and an afternoon session and golfers were treated with 18 holes of scramble golf, lunch, dinner, games on the course and drawings.
Friday's tournament was expected to generate about $35,000 for BHS athletics and every sport will benefit from the added funding.
"This is an important event for us and for all of the programs," said BHS gymnastics coach Don Papreck who was volunteering at the first tee box.
"For the gymnastics program the funding helps keep us in business. The travel to all of our meets is long and the money we receive helps us upgrade our transportation. It also helps us purchase new uniforms once in a while and that is nice."
Boys soccer coach Rick Toward has volunteered as the "caddie master" the past 12 years and he is happy to spend a summer day helping out.
"As caddie master my job is to line the caddies with the golfers," Toward said. "The first couple of years I played in the tournament but many people want to play and there is always room for a volunteer.
"Because of the good will the community shows to us by participating in the Lumberjack Scramble it's not difficult for me to take a couple of hours out of my schedule to help out."
Friday's golfers included many former athletes who were eager to exchange stories with teammates and coaches.
"The biggest memory of my time as a Lumberjack athlete was the camaraderie," said Eric Metso, a 1996 grad who played soccer and basketball.
"I live in Monticello and play softball on a team in Minnetonka. We have 14 guys on the team and 10 are Bemidji high School graduates from the 1996 and 1997 classes.
"I'm very proud of where I went to school and I wanted to give something back," he said, explaining why he was playing in Friday's tournament.
Brett Fausher, another 1996 graduate who played hockey, golf and soccer, also wanted to do what he could to help his alma mater.
"Being an athlete at Bemidji High School was very good for me and I want to do some good in return," Fausher, who lives in northeast Minneapolis, said. "This is the first vacation I've had in three years and I wanted to spend it in Bemidji at the all-school reunion and at the golf tournament."
Bovee and his friends from the class of 1985 try to get together each year. Friday his fivesome included classmates Bob Smith, Paul Daman, Scott Tuomala and Scott Johnson.
"We are here for the reunion and the Lumberjack Scramble is part of the festivities," Bovee said.
Bovee also wanted to connect with some of his former coaches. In his mind, he owes them a great deal.
"I especially remember my football coaches, Mark Varriano, Ray Kavanagh, Butch Froiland and Gary Breitag, because they treated people with respect," Bovee said. "They treated you as an adult and made you feel good about yourself.
"The lessons I learned from my teachers and my coaches, lessons such as always being proud of your roots, I try to instill in my students. The teachers and the coaches have touched their students' lives in many ways.
"For me, those teachers and coaches are now my friends and I can't wait to reconnect with them," Bovee added.