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Tracy Dill honored at retirement celebration with stories from tenure, tributes

It’s hard to encapsulate a nine-year tenure in a few minutes. But that’s what several members of the Bemidji State athletics community endeavored to do on Tuesday at the John S. Glas Fieldhouse.

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BSU women’s hockey coach Jim Scanlan, left, hugs retiring director of athletics Tracy Dill during Dill’s retirement party on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, at the John S. Glas Fieldhouse.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI — It’s hard to encapsulate a nine-year tenure in a few minutes.

But that’s what several members of the Bemidji State athletics community endeavored to do on Tuesday at the John S. Glas Fieldhouse. The subject of their tributes? Outgoing director of athletics Tracy Dill, who will officially retire from his position on July 1.

When it came time for Dill to take the lectern after hearing all the kind words, he became a bit emotional.

“I think when you invest a lot of time into something, and it means a lot to you, you probably are a little bit more emotional,” Dill said.

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Retiring Bemidji State director of athletics Tracy Dill speaks during his retirement party on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, at the John S. Glas Fieldhouse.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Dill was honored at a party commemorating his nine years at the helm of Beaver athletics, with several BSU coaches in attendance. Among them was men’s hockey head coach Tom Serratore, who sat on the hiring committee when Dill was hired.

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Dill’s tenure has extended long enough that some former Bemidji State student-athletes are now coaches with the Beavers. But they still remember their interactions with him as players at BSU.

“I've gotten to know Tracy ever since he first got here on campus,” said Jordan Hein, a former BSU quarterback and current special teams coordinator. “And even from the first time he got here, he made an immediate impact. Not only at the time I was a student-athlete, but even now being a coach for the last four years. He cares about his students, he cares about the coaches, cares about the community. So he came in and made a splash right away.”

Hein soon found out just how involved Dill could be when he came off the football field after a subpar set of downs at quarterback.

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Tom Serratore, BSU men’s hockey coach, presents an alumni coin to retiring director of athletics Tracy Dill during Dill’s retirement party on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, at the John S. Glas Fieldhouse.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

“I'll always remember, because he's a super competitive guy, if I had a bad series when I played quarterback or had a turnover, I'd hear him on the sidelines yelling at me, coaching me up," Hein said. "So I'll never forget that.”

Dill was a football coach at St. Cloud State earlier in his career, which is where he met Serratore, a former men’s hockey assistant with the Huskies. Thus, he’s emotionally invested in the outcomes of Beaver football games at a high level and has reveled in the success of the team, especially this past year.

“That's the one sport I probably got a little more involved in than I should have,” Dill said. “But I truly love it.”

Involvement was a word that kept coming up when discussing Dill’s time at Bemidji State. He frequently stopped by teams to check in with players and coaches, even when nothing major was going on. He sometimes even employed a personal touch to keep parents informed about their children’s accomplishments.

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Bemidji State President Faith Hensrud speaks during a retirement party for BSU director of athletics Tracy Dill on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, at the John S. Glas Fieldhouse.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

“He would send newspaper clippings to my family,” said assistant women’s hockey coach Emma Sobieck, also a former BSU player. “It was phenomenal. He always made sure to say hi, you knew who he was. Always saw him around the rink. So he was above and beyond in that aspect. Something I’ll always remember.”

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Those relationships are what got Dill into this business — it's what he'll remember as he prepares to sail off into the sunset.

“I truly love it,” Dill said of getting to know his coaches and student-athletes. “And it wasn't a job to me to do it; it was more of a hobby. And I'm excited that I had that opportunity to do it.”

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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