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Kyle Fodness wins new Mark Fodness Award at 2022 BHS Hall of Fame banquet

Mark Fodness' memory will go on as the namesake of the brand-new Mark Fodness Memorial Award, presented for the first time at the BHS Hall of Fame induction banquet on Monday.

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Kyle Fodness accepts the inaugural Mark Fodness Memorial Award during the Bemidji High School Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Monday, May 9, 2022, at BHS.
Christian Babcock / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI — Mark Fodness would likely have been bashful about the new award that bears his name.

The renowned former Bemidji Middle School teacher and Bemidji High School tennis coach left behind a legacy of selfless service to the Bemidji community when he unexpectedly died on Nov. 25, 2020.

Now, his memory will go on as the namesake of the brand-new Mark Fodness Memorial Award, presented for the first time at the BHS Hall of Fame induction banquet on Monday.

“It's not something he would have asked for or wanted,” said his son Kyle, the first recipient of the award and a teacher and tennis coach like his father. “That's one of the reasons why he's a very apt person to name that award after.”

Kyle coaches the boys and girls tennis teams at BHS, just as his father once did. Now, his name will be linked with Mark’s in another way.

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“All those things are really true about my dad,” Kyle said. “And I hope to at my best do some of those things. The most exciting thing is in the future, seeing the recognition of all the different coaches we're going to see for the unique ways they coach.”

Aside from carrying on Mark’s spirit, BHS also honored five new Hall of Fame inductees in its Class of 2022: Darrel Bahr, Kayla Hirt, Toby Kvalevog, Ralph “Rocco” Lovering and Don “Pappy” Papreck.

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The Bemidji High School 2022 Hall of Fame inductees pose with their plaques on Monday, May 9, 2022, at BHS. The inductees are, from left: Toby Kvalevog, Don “Pappy” Papreck, Ralph “Rocco” Lovering (accepted by his daughter), Kayla Hirt and Darrel Bahr.
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Papreck, a legendary former gymnastics coach in Bemidji, seized the opportunity in a unique way, invigorating the banquet crowd by compelling attendees to mimic a chant he used in his coaching days.

“I used to scream at my kids,” he said. “I’d say, ‘Hi, kids!’ and they would respond, ‘Hi, Pappy!’ So we’re going to do that now.”

After a lackluster effort the first go-around, Pappy encouraged the audience to up its enthusiasm and match the children and young adults he coached in the past.

A satisfactory second effort led to smiles on the faces of most of the crowd – accomplishing Papreck’s stated goal.

Berg, Matetich named Lumberjack Athletes of the Year

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Lauren Berg, left, and Brooks Matetich pose with their plaques after winning the 2022 Bemidji High School Female and Male Athlete of the Year awards on Monday, May 9, 2022, at BHS.
Christian Babcock / Bemidji Pioneer

The Male and Female Athletes of the Year were also introduced, an honor given to two athletes in the senior class. Lauren Berg won Female Athlete of the Year, with Brooks Matetich taking home Male Athlete of the Year.

Both are three-sport athletes. Berg has lettered in soccer, gymnastics and track and field, while Matetich has lettered in cross country, swimming and diving, and track and field.

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“It's so exciting for me and truly just an honor,” Berg said. “Not for me, but my support system and those around me, as well as the other athletes who were in (consideration), too. Because I would not be where I am without them.”

Matetich touched on his gratitude for his chosen sports – which aren’t always the most prominently featured – earning some time in the spotlight.

“It's super cool,” Matetich said. “I never saw it coming, just because the bigger sports get that much more attention than swimming or cross country. I really appreciate it.”

All senior letterwinners were honored and scholarships were given to a number of senior athletes. BHS also looked back on the year that was in athletics and presented several awards, including the Lumberjack Award, won by Julie Vollen.

But the night will be remembered as the commencement of a new award that honored a man who gave so much to Bemidji High School – and his son, who inaugurated the award as a living example of his father’s contributions to the community.

“I'm amazingly grateful for the creation of that award,” Kyle said. “I hope that it does what I think any award should do, which is just make us reassert our values. Recognize some of those great values of good coaching that my dad definitely exhibited at every moment.”

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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