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New AD Britt Lauritsen assumes command of Bemidji State athletics

Britt Lauritsen was introduced as the university’s director of athletics on Tuesday in a reception met with a hearty crowd and an air of excitement. Plenty of the enthusiasm originated from the podium, where Lauritsen stood to emphasize a people-driven approach in pursuit of athletic success.

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Bemidji State athletic director Britt Lauritsen speaks during an introductory press conference on Tuesday, July 5, 2022, at BSU’s Beaver Pride Room.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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Britt Lauritsen set quite a high bar: Perfect.

“Perfect is a pretty high standard,” she admitted.

Yet when Bemidji State offered her the position of athletic director, that’s exactly how it felt.

“Professionally, I wanted to take the next step,” Lauritsen said. “But I wanted to be at a place that felt like it’d be a move that would be supported by the coaches and the community, by the administration. … That feeling of being at home, you can’t duplicate that. You can’t create that out of thin air. All of the boxes just got checked.”

Because BSU fit the bill, Lauritsen was introduced as the university’s director of athletics on Tuesday in a reception met with a hearty crowd and an air of excitement.

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Bemidji State president John Hoffman, left, and athletic director Britt Lauritsen, right, chat with Lauritsen’s wife Emily following an introductory press conference on Tuesday, July 5, 2022, at BSU’s Beaver Pride Room.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Plenty of the enthusiasm originated from the podium, where Lauritsen stood to emphasize a people-driven approach in pursuit of athletic success.

“We need to be willing to take risks, to be vulnerable, to be flexible, give grace when we need to, and win some dang games,” she said. “All of those things build on one another. When we genuinely care about people, care about the process of winning, all of those things should fall in line.

“We should be building great people, great humans from day one. And then they will go out and win.”

Lauritsen was hired in mid-May to replace outgoing AD Tracy Dill, who retired after nine years on the job. Lauritsen had high praise for her predecessor, even confessing to picking his brain for veteran expertise.

“Tracy Dill, you guys had an excellent leader in him,” Lauritsen said. “He’s been phenomenal in my transition. He’s been so helpful. He’s going to get so sick of answering cell phone calls and text messages from me. … He’s so willing to put himself out there because he cares about this community and he cares about this institution.”

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Attendees listen to Bemidji State athletic director Britt Lauritsen speak during her introductory press conference on Tuesday, July 5, 2022, at BSU’s Beaver Pride Room.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Lauritsen previously spent eight years at Washburn University in Kansas, serving as the assistant athletic director and senior women’s administrator. Washburn is exclusively a Division II school, so transitioning to BSU and its Division I hockey will present a new challenge.

“I’ve never worked at a multidivisional institution, so the learning curve is going to be different,” she said. “But ultimately, sport is sport. We’re here to win, we’re here to teach student-athletes how to be better leaders and better community members. That doesn’t matter what division they’re in.”

Even so, Lauritsen wants to take a proactive approach when it comes to hockey, which is the athletic department’s strongest selling point.

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“Around here, Division I hockey is a huge driver in the community. That’s what folks buy into,” Lauritsen said. “We have to make sure we’re putting that forth in the community and keeping that strong community bond… because (those programs) mean so much.”

What to expect next

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Bemidji State president John Hoffman speaks during an introductory press conference for athletic director Britt Lauritsen on Tuesday, July 5, 2022, at BSU’s Beaver Pride Room.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

When Bemidji State announced Lauritsen as its choice to be the new athletic director, her phone was instantly flooded with congratulatory messages from BSU coaches. She said that’s what proved to her that they “walk the walk here” and invest with genuine care.

That’s why she’s comfortable deferring to them in the early stages of her tenure.

“I’ve got to shut my mouth and listen. Open my ears a lot,” she said. “I am not from this area, and I’m even new to this conference. So I have to do a lot of listening in those first 100 days to really understand where we are with our goals and to really understand what comes next.”

She said she wants to continue learning about the athletic community’s culture and go from there, all the while reiterating a focus on the student-athlete experience.

Programs like football, women’s soccer and women’s track and field have enjoyed unprecedented success in recent years, and others feel like they’re also on the rise. That’s the sort of momentum Lauritsen intends to pounce on.

“Culturally, we are at a really, really great point where we can continue to build and move in the right direction,” she said. “… Have some room for growth, have some room for improvement, and to really do something incredible.”

Related Topics: BEMIDJI STATE BEAVERS
Micah Friez is the sports editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. A native of East Grand Forks, Minn., he joined the Pioneer in 2015 and is a 2018 graduate of Bemidji State University with a degree in Creative and Professional Writing. Follow him on Twitter at @micahfriez for Lumberjack and Beaver updates.
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