BEMIDJI -- Mark Fodness has announced his retirement as head coach of the Bemidji High Schools girls tennis team.
He coached the Lumberjack girls and boys programs from 1986-93, and then returned to coaching both teams again beginning in 2010. Fodness said he plans to continue coaching the boys team this spring.
“It seemed like a good time. All good things come to an end,” Fodness said. “I was still enjoying it a lot. I looked forward to this season but I also really look forward to having some time off in the fall, my favorite time of year. It’s really been a long time since I’ve been able to do the things outdoors I’ve wanted to do. So this is a good opportunity to move in another direction.”
BHS activities director Troy Hendricks said he learned this week of Fodness’s retirement. The school has already started looking for a new head coach.
“He always had the kids’ best interests at heart,” Hendricks said. “To replace somebody of his knowledge and his experience level is going to be difficult, but we’ll do what we can to get a quality replacement in as soon as possible.”
Girls tennis teams across the state will soon take to the court. Aug. 12 marks the first day of fall sports practices. Bemidji is scheduled to open its season Aug. 19 at a tournament in Pine City.
Fodness said he will be involved with helping the new coach transition into the role.
“We went back and forth with it a little bit,” Fodness said of his decision to retire at this time. “Sometimes the process just takes a little bit of time. It was a difficult decision, but Troy is a veteran. He knows how to do this. It really doesn’t change the number of applicants that they’re going to have. They’re going to have some very good applicants, and he’ll have a good coach in place when the season starts.”
Fodness guided the Lumberjacks to 238 wins in his 17 seasons with the girls program. This past spring, Fodness earned his 400th career win at BHS.
The New Ulm native was honored as Section 8AA Girls Tennis Coach of the Year in 1989 and 2014. He helped lead the Jacks to their first state tournament appearance in 1989, while also coaching many individuals to state-tournament berths over the years.
Fodness is also head coach of the Bemidji State women’s tennis team.
“It’s really a great group of kids,” Fodness said. “Whoever is going to be coaching this fall is going to be really fortunate. They’ll have a great experience (and) really supportive parents. Not only is it a talented group of players, but it’s a close-knit team. Really a lot of fun to work with. And I’ll miss the personalities and all the laughs and all the fun we had on the road trips.”