BEMIDJI -- For the first time ever, a former player will be leading the Bemidji High School girls golf team.

Tina Offerdahl, a 1996 BHS graduate, will take the reins of her alma mater’s team this spring and become the third head coach in program history.

“It essentially was easy because I like the game of golf,” Offerdahl said of the decision. “We’ve got a good group of girls. We have fun with them. That part of it was easy. The other part -- making it work with life in general -- that was what took me a while to figure it out.”

Nevertheless, seeing the confidence Activities Director Troy Hendricks had in her helped win Offerdahl over.

“I had a talk with Troy, and he threw some encouragement my way,” she said. “His backing and support, his confidence in me being able to do a good job in this position (was the biggest thing).”

Offerdahl follows in the footsteps of Jeff Nelson (1988-2015) and Paul Daman (2016-19) as head coaches of Bemidji girls golf. Offerdahl is the first female head coach in the program’s history and also joins Briana Fleischhacker (gymnastics), Alicia Kriens (volleyball) and Kristen McRae (swimming and diving) as the school’s current female head coaches.

Having a woman as a head coach can go a long way for the girls in her program, Offerdahl said.

“I think it’s important for relatability more so than anything,” she said. “Especially this age, girls are tough. … I can relate to them more and have a little more understanding. But then it’s also important for them to realize that there are a lot of successful women out in there in all kinds of things.”

Offerdahl has spent the past four seasons as an assistant coach to Daman. So even though her sophomore daughter, Tatum, is in the program (as was her oldest daughter and 2019 graduate, Taylor), there’s already an understanding on how to handle the dynamic.

“There’s the separation when we’re at the course and at practice. I’m not ‘Mom,’ I’m ‘Coach,’” Offerdahl said. “Call me Tina, just like I’m your coach. Tatum handles it really well. I commend her for that. … It tells me she’s got faith in my ability to coach, too, so that’s a pretty cool thing.

“She was really excited when I told her that I was applying for (the job). And when I got it, I got one of the biggest hugs. That was exciting.”

The hire brings Offerdahl full circle with the program, as she was one of the earliest Lumberjacks to ever swing a club. The girls team was formed in 1988, and, as a freshman in 1993, Offerdahl became just the program’s second individual to reach the state level. Only her older sister, Tami, beat her to it.

Offerdahl returned to state as an individual her senior season, which came after helping the program to its first two section championships in 1994 and 1995.

BHS also went to state as a team in 2003 and 2004, winning its lone state championship the latter season, but Bemidji hasn’t been back since. And so that becomes the goal moving forward.

“I’d like to see them continuing the success that they’ve had. They are, I think, one of the more dominant teams in the section and in the area,” Offerdahl said. “ I’d love to bring this team to state. … The state championship team was the last team to go in 2004. We’re due to return.”