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GIRLS GOLF: Offerdahls’ mother-daughter connection forged on and off the course

Most of the time, Tina Offerdahl is just "Mom" to her daughter Tatum. But sometimes she's exclusively "Coach." That duality has added layers to a mother-daughter relationship playing a crucial role in the fortunes of the Bemidji High School girls golf team.

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The mother-daughter team of Tina, left, and Tatum Offerdahl are key components of the Bemidji High School girls golf program this season.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI — Tina Offerdahl has made one thing clear since taking over as the head coach of the Bemidji High School girls golf team.

Her daughter Tatum -- now a senior on the squad -- must call her coach, not Mom, during team practices. Failure to do so will result in appropriate punishment.

“She cannot call me Mom,” said Tina. “Because at practice, I'm not Mom. She messes up every once in a while. I think she's done a couple of sets of push-ups. (I’ll say), ‘Oh, 10 push-ups. You can't do that.’”

It’s understandable that Tatum would slip up from time to time, since – as Tina pointed out – most of the time, Tina is Mom. That duality has added layers to a mother-daughter relationship playing a crucial role in the fortunes of the girls golf team.

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Bemidji senior Tatum Offerdahl practices her swing on the driving range at the Bemidji Town and Country Club on Wednesday, May 4, 2022, in Bemidji.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Tatum is consistently the Lumberjacks’ best player, winning Bemidji’s season-opening invite in Monticello and generally placing near the top of the field at most events. Tina is in her third season as head coach, having previously served as an assistant coach for five years.

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During her tenure as an assistant, Tina coached her older daughter Taylor, though in a more limited capacity – Tina usually spent her coaching time focused on the junior varsity, while Taylor was firmly entrenched on the varsity team.

But now, Tina is fully in charge of Tatum and the varsity – and she’s still working out the balance of coaching her daughter and coaching the entire team.

“You're always worried about the little devil's advocate on the left side saying, ‘Oh, she spends too much time with her own child,’” Tina said. “So I probably don't spend enough (with Tatum) because I want to avoid that. I'm not here to coach my kid. I'm here because I love the game of golf and I want these kids to learn to love the game of golf and get better at it.”

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Tina Offerdahl is just the third coach in the BHS girls golf program's history. She is also the first former player to fill the position.
Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer

Of course, if she needs to coach Tatum off the clock, there are plenty of opportunities to do so.

“If she's got an issue, we can discuss it at the supper table,” Tina said.

Despite her prohibition of using the term at golf practice, Tatum sees Tina more as a motherly figure – except when advice starts to sound like coaching.

“When it doesn't have to do with any sports or school-related things, she's more of a mom,” said Tatum, a three-sport athlete who also competed in tennis and gymnastics. “It's not so much like a lecture from a coach. But if it's anything – sports, school, mentality-type stuff, it's like a 10, 15-minute lecture as if she were my coach.”

“You say lecture like it's a bad thing,” Tina ribbed.

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“It just goes on,” Tatum responded. “I just get a little bored after a while.”

“Maybe I don't feel like you're getting my point,” Tina said.

Quibbles aside, the two of them have precious few moments together before Tatum graduates from BHS. She will attend the University of North Dakota in the fall, so while she won’t be far from home, she’ll certainly be farther.

Thus, appreciating the time they have left in Bemidji is a focus for both.

“I just want to enjoy it,” Tatum said. “Because I know past seasons have not been the lightest. They've been very stressful. So I think just to have fun and enjoy it and hopefully remember it and make some good memories for future years.”

“Same thing,” Tina said. “Just enjoy my time with her knowing that she's going to be gone here in four months or so. So we'll make the best of it and keep it light. Keep it fun. And I think the success will come, and that will make it even more fun.”

Tatum has continued her success this season, most recently placing third overall at the Rogers Invitational on Thursday. When your best player is your daughter, life gets a little more complicated for the coach – but the experience can also be uniquely rewarding.

“It's been fun as a journey watching them,” said Tina of her daughters. “Watching them get better is the best part.”

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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