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Gartner tees off: BSU sophomore balancing the court and the course

Bemidji State sophomore Erica Gartner tees off at the Tracy Lane Memorial during her collegiate golf debut at Bemidji Town and Country Club on Monday. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI -- When the Bemidji State women’s golf team finished the Tracy Lane Memorial on Tuesday at Bemidji Town and Country Club, Erica Gartner couldn’t stick around with the rest of her teammates.

She had to go to basketball practice.

“My golf teammates, they think I’m crazy sometimes,” Gartner said. “People don’t push dual sports in college because they want you to be focused on one sport. I guess that’s where basketball and golf complement each other, because golf’s not physically taxing on your body.”

The sophomore point guard is expected to carry a significant role for the Beaver basketball program come winter, but first she’s hitting the links as one of the newest members of the Bemidji State golf team.

And perhaps the biggest culprit for Gartner’s new commitment? Women’s basketball head coach Chelsea DeVille.

“Once the season and postseason were over (last year), I just kinda went out and golfed a little bit. I talked to coach DeVille, made sure that it was gonna work out,” said Gartner, who last golfed competitively at Labette County High School in Altamont, Kan. “She would just tease me. I would say that I’m going out, playing for golf, and she’d be like, ‘Are you gonna join the team? Are you gonna join the team? You should join the team.’ And I’m like, ‘Maybe, coach. Maybe.’”

As a result of DeVille’s successful peer pressure, Gartner teed off for her collegiate golf debut on Monday, Sept. 11, for the Tracy Lane Memorial. She finished tied for 34th in the 57-player field with a two-day total of 174 (88-86) for 30-over, and she placed second among BSU golfers.

“I thought the weekend went OK,” she said. “Obviously I want to do better for the team and individually. The team, I think we’re definitely improving as the year goes on, especially from last year, so that’s really exciting.”

Finding a balance between basketball and golf has taken a bit of an adjustment, but Gartner has two teams in her corner.

“My basketball teammates, they think it’s the coolest thing ever,” she said. “I came back from the tournament… and they’re like, ‘How’d you do? How’d you do?’ They’re texting me good luck and posting on social media, ‘Hey, good luck!’

“(My golf teammates) ask how basketball is a lot. They expect to see me out there. They know I’m gonna be late some nights, but they welcomed me with open arms.”

Gartner averaged 4.2 points-per-game during her freshman season for Bemidji State basketball, but now she’ll apply lessons from the course onto the court.

“A bad shot in golf, it doesn’t completely destroy your round. And a turnover in basketball doesn’t completely destroy a basketball game,” she said. “They add up after a while, but definitely, just being able to… put it behind you and focus forward (is important).”

With the support and flexibility of both her head coaches, Gartner has the opportunity to help build two programs at once. And she’s staying both feet in.

“Basketball is obviously the most important, it comes first, and then golf. But (I) try and make sure the teams know I’m just as invested in one as the other,” she said. “I’m not gonna go through the motions.”

Micah Friez

Micah Friez is a sports reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer. A native of East Grand Forks, he is currently studying Creative and Professional Writing at Bemidji State. Follow him on Twitter at @micahfriez for Lumberjack and Beaver updates.

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