Headed to next level: Rumer Flatness is quintessential example of success and humility
Rumer Flatness has been a standout in academics and athletics her entire life. Now, at 22, she is poised to take herself to the next level as she begins graduate work at the U-of-M Dental School.
BEMIDJI – Rumer Flatness has been a standout in academics and athletics her entire life. Now, at 22, she is poised to take herself to the next level as she begins graduate work at the University of Minnesota Dental School.
Flatness wrapped a women’s basketball career at Bemidji State. The 2019 Bemidji High School graduate finished an accomplished Division II run this winter, collecting several NSIC honors in four years with the Beavers.
Flatness also devoted her time to growing youth basketball in the Bemidji area. She has run the Summer Youth Basketball Camp in Blackduck with Wyatt Olson, who plays men’s basketball at Gustavus Adolphus.
“Running the youth camp has been so much fun,” Flatness said. “I love being around basketball, especially when I can be actively involved in sharing my love of the game with other people. The idea started when my sister, Minnie, was in first grade, and she wanted me to ‘coach’ her. I talked with Danny Hangaard, and we organized the camp, which had a way bigger turnout than we expected. Now, we do it every summer.”
Most recently, Flatness traveled to Seattle to the Discover Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Conference, where she joined other students in presenting their research to attendees and professionals. The conference attracts researchers in academia and industry, educators, trainees and students from across the globe.
She presented her research against 300 other students from universities across the country. Flatness specializes in the effects of a cancer protein called NHE1, which is known to hyperactivate cancer cells on ovarian cancer chemotherapy to identify a drug that can slow or halt the production of NHE1 so that patients have a better quality of life during chemotherapy.
Flatness and her colleague, Erin Becker, a BSU soccer player, presented their research and answered questions. Flatness won the “Cell, Cancer, and Neurobiology Award” for best presentation and research.
Flatness's success at the Discovery BMB Conference is only one instance of her work ethic that carried her through BHS, where she was the valedictorian of the class of 2019 and the second all-time leading scorer in program history for the girls basketball team. She also played volleyball and was a runner and a thrower in track.
Flatness graduated from BSU with a 4.0 GPA and a degree in Biochemistry. She is a leader among BSU athletes across all sports as the president of the Student Athlete Activity Association.
“I have absolutely loved being a part of SAAC,” she said. “Being a part of something that is bigger than sports and being able to give back to the community, SAAC has allowed me to get involved in the community and use my platform as a student-athlete to help bring awareness to important topics and raise money for great causes. Being the president of SAAC is a pretty big-time commitment but totally worth it.”
One of Flatness’s significant events with the SAAC was the organization of the “Make-A-Wish” hockey game.
“Members of SAAC leadership and I met with the new BSU Athletic Director, Britt Lauritsen, last summer,” she said. “We got the idea for the game during a meeting with members from other SAAC committees, and they talked about doing a Make-A-Wish game during a hockey game at their schools, and we thought it was a great idea. Britt was fantastic and loved the idea, so we started working on it.”
Flatness knew Isla Moran, a young girl with Shone’s Syndrome.
“Isla is a friend and classmate of my little sister Minnie,” Flatness added. “She is such a positive little gal and so cute. Once Britt and I got some of the bigger details hammered out, we asked Isla if she would want to be a part of it, and she was so happy to be involved because she loves hockey.”
Flatness, Bucky the Beaver and a couple of BSU hockey players, surprised the third graders at St. Philip’s with hockey tickets for the kids and their families.
Making an impact
Along with Lauritsen and Wallert, Flatness has had tremendous support from BSU women’s basketball coaches Chelsea Stoltenberg and Jamie Schultz. And they feel that they’ve received the absolute best from Flatness as well.
“Flatness has had more of an impact on our women’s basketball program and university than any other student-athlete I have had the pleasure of coaching,” said Schultz. “She has shined as a leader from the moment she stepped foot on campus her freshman year, excelling both academically and as a leader for our program.”
Injuries hindered Flatness’ athletic career.
“I tore my ACL my junior year of high school, then tore my meniscus in my freshman year of college,” she said. “I re-tore the meniscus again in my junior year of college, so I’ve had three knee surgeries and also had a procedure to remove a melanoma this year.”
Flatness downplays her injuries, as she was driven to fight her way through them and get back onto the basketball court each time.
“Flatness is the definition of selfless,” Schultz continued. “Her work ethic far exceeds that of an average college athlete. She has poured many, many extra hours she puts into basketball. She is the type of person to always go above and beyond, whether it’s for our team off-court or something asked of her on the court. She will forever be known as leaving a positive impact on our program.”
Flatness keeps a steady mindset in her athletics and academics.
“My mom always instilled two things in me,” she said. “The first is to control the things that I can control, and the second is that school is the most important thing to focus on. Coming into BSU as a freshman, it was a lot to handle right away, but my coaches and professors provided me so much support and help that the transition was quick.”
She also learned how to prioritize and communicate with professors often.
“Honestly, the opportunity to be involved in so many different things that I loved doing is what motivated me to balance everything,” Flatness said. “At BSU, there was nothing but support, and they really try to give you the best experience possible. You just need to take the opportunities.”
What does the future hold for Flatness? When she began college four years ago, she planned to become a doctor but changed her focus from medical health to dental health, where she is leaning toward a goal of becoming an oral surgeon or orthodontist.
Even in the highly-competitive world of graduate school in medicine, Flatness was accepted to the U-of-M Dental School with her first application — and glowing recommendations from her college teachers and coaches.
“My plan is to see what specialties I really enjoy, but just keep prioritizing my schoolwork and working hard to become a dentist,” she said. “I am very excited to start dental school, and I am excited to see what happens in the next couple of years.”
As for basketball, Flatness said that she would like to continue to coach youth levels, especially for athletes from third to sixth grades.
“In high school, I coached a seventh-grade team, and I loved it. When I move to the Twin Cities, I might look for an opportunity to coach down there at some point. I have no plans to play, though. My knees hurt,” Flatness said with a laugh.