BASKETBALL: Bemidji’s Darin and Jamie Schultz juggling coaching careers, home life together
Basketball has led Darin and Jamie Schultz to center court of the Bemidji hoops scene. But with two programs, two schedules and now two kids in the mix, the sport revolves around them -- not the other way around.
BEMIDJI -- Darin and Jamie Schultz gravitated toward each other like they gravitated toward basketball.
“We had so much in common with our love for the sport,” Jamie said. “That’s really what brought us together and connected us right away.”
Not only has it authored the couple’s love story, basketball has also led them to center court of the Bemidji hoops scene.
Jamie and Darin met while serving as assistant coaches for the women’s and men’s basketball programs, respectively, at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa. Fast forward to the present, and Jamie is now in her seventh season as an assistant coach for the BSU women’s basketball team, while Darin is a first-year head coach for the BHS girls basketball team.
But with two programs, two schedules and now two kids in the mix, the sport revolves around them -- not the other way around.
“There’s a lot of basketball talk that goes on in the house. But when we come home, it’s family first,” Darin said. “Basketball is a huge part of our lives, and it’s a huge part of our kids’ lives as they’re thrown into it, but they come first. We focus on that.”
‘Accepting and understanding of family’
At a BSU men’s basketball game last winter, when both teams were in the locker rooms, fans erupted in cheers. The impromptu halftime entertainment was a 3-year-old Harper Schultz, who had wandered onto the court and was running circles around the Beaver logo as the crowd emboldened her with enthusiastic applause.
She jumped up, she plopped down, she waved to the fans and soaked it all in before finally running back toward a smiling -- and slightly embarrassed -- mom on the baseline.
“The staff that we have and people here are really accepting and understanding of family,” Jamie said. “The support we have in the athletic department… is amazing and helpful for our family. People understand that we do have a family, and that comes first. It’s not like that everywhere.”
Darin and Jamie married in 2017 and had Harper, their firstborn, in July 2018. Hayden, a son, arrived in December 2021. For the past two winters, Darin temporarily surrendered his love for coaching and took a job teaching at Bemidji Middle School while concentrating on “being the best dad and husband I could and letting Jamie focus on her career at BSU.”
“We spent a few years up here, both continuing to do what we love, which is coaching,” said Darin, who spent four seasons with the Walker-Hackensack-Akeley boys basketball program from 2016-20. “And then I decided that I wanted to spend more time being a dad and focusing on that important piece.”
Lots and lots of teammates
When the BHS girls basketball job opened up last summer, it afforded Darin a chance to get back in the game. And because of the Schultzes’ wide-ranging support system, he was able to jump in.
“When he decided to go back to coaching in June when he took that job, I made a huge Excel sheet of all our games. We had family members sign up for when they’re coming up here to visit,” Jamie said. “His family drove 14 hours in a snowstorm to come, just to help us out. … My mom and stepdad have flown up from Florida. Our people, even though they’re far away, have been really helpful for us.”
And that help comes from more than just blood relatives. Coaches at BSU say hello or share a piece of candy when the kids are around. Athletes have signed on for babysitting duty. And their athletic departments are willing to cover for the Schultzes at work if parental duties arise.
“The term ‘family’ gets thrown around a lot in sports today,” Darin said. “I think it’s a really big focal point that coaches use for programs. But one of the big reasons why we love the Bemidji community and the Bemidji State community is that, everywhere we go, it feels like family to us. … Everyone values and believes in those same things. It’s been a really good year getting back into coaching and having all the support from our staffs and the communities we’re in. It’s special.”
Their biggest cheerleaders, however, still reside in the same household.
“We’re our biggest fans and our biggest critics. But it’s fun,” Jamie said. “It’s why we love what we do, because we can coach and love and support each other. It’s part of our story and part of who we are.”