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Gordy Skaar Tournament raises money, connects Bemidji State athletics community

“It gives you that opportunity to reconnect,” said men’s hockey head coach Tom Serratore. “And it's just a fun time. Golf is always fun.”

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A golfer tees off on hole No. 1 during the Gordy Skaar Memorial Golf Tournament on Friday, June 17, 2022, at the Bemidji Town and Country Club.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI – Athletics coaches at Bemidji State are often quite busy during the year.

When they’re not in season, there’s recruiting to be done in the offseason, plus assessing the roster and strategy for the next season. So it’s nice when they can come together with their peers for a relaxing day at the golf course.

That – plus plenty of money raised to support BSU athletics – is the benefit of the annual Gordy Skaar Memorial Golf Tournament, held for the 45th time at Bemidji Town and Country Club on Friday.

“It gives you that opportunity to reconnect,” said men’s hockey head coach Tom Serratore. “And it's just a fun time. Golf is always fun.”

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A golfer tees off on hole No. 2 during the Gordy Skaar Memorial Golf Tournament on Friday, June 17, 2022, at the Bemidji Town and Country Club.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

The tournament has raised nearly $900,000 for BSU athletics since 1978, with proceeds supporting scholarships through the Beaver Pride fund and the Gordy Skaar Memorial endowment.

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The event also gives Beaver coaches and players a chance to enjoy the beautiful June weather – a sweet reward after an especially harsh winter.

“The course is beautiful, and it's kind of refreshing to see the community again,” said football wide receiver Brendan Beaulieu. “It's been a long spring. Sometimes you don't get to see these guys. Especially in a fall sport, it's a long time until we get to fall again,”

But the fundraising is perhaps the most important part of the event, helping to ensure Bemidji State will be able to continue its athletic success and create more opportunities moving forward.

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A board displays a list of hole sponsors during the Gordy Skaar Memorial Golf Tournament on Friday, June 17, 2022, at the Bemidji Town and Country Club.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

“In college athletics, the ability to generate additional revenue is going to become more important than ever,” said director of athletics Tracy Dill. “So whether it’s through donation pieces, sponsorships, community involvement from that standpoint, ticket sales, concessions. All of that is going to make a huge difference. And you're going to need more and more because it isn't going to get cheaper to do it.

“(With something like this), you can raise money, but you can also keep those relationships (with donors) and fundraise as well.”

The tournament also offered those who give to BSU athletics a chance to meet some of the athletes who put their contributions to good use.

“On a day like today, you can't beat it,” said Kari Kantack-Miller, the event’s organizer. “It's really nice. We have coaches and a lot of businesses out here, and so people that give – donors – get to see the coaches and have a football player drive them up to get their car and stuff like that. It's summer in Bemidji. It's laid back. Not so stressful like the school year, where everyone's in competition. It's a little bit more relaxed.”

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Emily Aitken putts on hole No. 1 during the Gordy Skaar Memorial Golf Tournament on Friday, June 17, 2022, at the Bemidji Town and Country Club.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

The respite is especially welcomed for coaches like Serratore, who are feverishly recruiting throughout the summer.

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“Everybody's busy. Everybody's got their own world,” Serratore said. “They're dealing with their own world. And to see everybody right here in a situation where we're decompressing, we're having a lot of fun, we're hitting the golf ball – we're with friends. It's really fun to see everybody in these types of settings. You actually talk to a lot of the coaches while you're here that I don't really get to see a lot during the academic year.”

The athletes are also appreciative, as the support of the Bemidji community enables them to continue to do what they love.

“I didn't realize how big it was until I showed up,” Beaulieu said of the event. “There's so many people. The support for BSU athletics, not just for football, but all of the athletics is just crazy. The money that we raise here is very important to us, and it helps us out a lot.”

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A group of golfers makes their way to a hole during the Gordy Skaar Memorial Golf Tournament on Friday, June 17, 2022, at the Bemidji Town and Country Club.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Related Topics: BEMIDJI STATE BEAVERS
Christian Babcock is a sports reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer. He trekked to Bemidji from his hometown of Campbell, Calif., after graduating from the Cronkite School at Arizona State University in 2021. Follow him on Twitter at @CB_Journalist for updates on the Lumberjacks and Beavers or to suggest your favorite local restaurant.
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