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Perfect harmony: Bemidji’s Beth Bolte balancing cello, 3 sports in senior swan song

On the court or in the orchestra room, the Bemidji High School senior can be found stringing together a number of extracurricular activities.

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Beth Bolte has her hands full with a number of activities at Bemidji High School.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI – Beth Bolte does a lot of playing.

On the court or in the orchestra room, the Bemidji High School senior can be found stringing together a number of extracurricular activities. Sometimes, a basketball is present. Other times, a bow.

But whether she’s making her cello sing or finishing a fast break, one thing's for sure – Bolte never has to worry about a shortage of playing time.

“It's nice that (orchestra is) during school,” said Bolte, who balances playing the cello with three sports at BHS, currently including girls basketball. “I have the whole hour and a half of the class to get to practice and play every single day, which is nice. Because after school, having (sports) practice, (there’s) not much time.”

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Beth Bolte has balanced playing cello and playing basketball this winter.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer

Bolte is a stalwart of the Lumberjacks girls hoops squad, a versatile forward who can play on the perimeter or in the post. But that versatility isn’t limited to the hardwood.

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She’s played cello since fifth grade, balancing her musical ambitions with a prolific athletic career that includes regular contests and practices with the Jacks’ volleyball, basketball and softball teams. And with such a packed slate, there’s bound to be the occasional overlap.

“We had a situation where we had a (concert) and a game kind of scheduled at the same time,” said first-year BHS girls basketball head coach Darin Schultz.

So what did Bemidji do?

“We moved our game to make it happen,” Schultz said.

Wait… what?

“In the school handbook, it says you have to go to your orchestra concert or school event rather than an activity, unless it's a section game,” Bolte said. “For me, I was talking to (Schultz) and my orchestra teacher, and it's kind of hard. I don't want to be put in that position to choose, because really, it's two teams. My orchestra, it’s a whole class, but I'm still a part of that. And so the game ended up getting switched, which was good.”

The Lumberjacks moved up their Nov. 29 contest with Sartell-St. Stephen to Nov. 28, allowing Bolte to fulfill her obligations to both groups. Such creative methods are necessary for a player as integral as she is.

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Bemidji senior Beth Bolte (23) pulls up for a jump shot during the first half against Grand Rapids on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022, at the BHS Gymnasium.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer

“Beth is phenomenal,” Schultz said. “From a perspective of an athlete, from the perspective of a leader, from the perspective of a person. She's an all-around great person to be around. And she, along with all the seniors, have been very welcoming to me coming brand new to the program.

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“What she and all the seniors bring is leadership by example. They come in, they work hard every single day, and they're setting the tone of what the culture of Bemidji girls basketball is going to be. They've done a really good job of working on setting that tone.”

With so much on her plate, Bolte doesn’t have a ton of free time to idly ponder her future. She hopes to continue playing sports in college, but maintaining a full commitment to music seems less certain.

“I haven't really ever thought about continuing (cello) through the college, I guess,” Bolte said. “But I have thought about continuing to play on my own, because it's honestly an escape from other things, just a time to get your brain off of everything. If I continued on my own playing in college, that would still be beneficial to me.”

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Bemidji senior Beth Bolte (23) brings the ball up during the first half against Tartan on Friday, Dec. 30, 2022, at the BHS Gymnasium.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer

Athletically, Bolte does envision a potential future in the collegiate ranks. It’s still to be determined where that will take her, but as a three-sport, essentially year-round competitor, that fire seems unlikely to burn out.

“Sports would be the way I would go,” she said, “but I'm not really sure yet.”

For now, she’s focused on building a foundation for future BHS girls basketball players, rarely leaving the floor for a team focused on crafting a stout defensive identity.

“When I was younger and I looked up to people, l would see some styles (of leadership), I'd be like, ‘Oh, that's kind of – I don't know,’ Bolte said. “Then other people, I would be like, ‘Wow, I really look up to that.’ So for me to be one of those people that they look up to and keep pushing them to be their best is the kind I like.”

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Bemidji senior Beth Bolte brings the ball up during the second half against Detroit Lakes on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, at the BHS Gymnasium.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer

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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