Bemidji State looks to honor lake-jumping tradition with homecoming win

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on October 14, 2014 at 12:10 am Contact Paul: | @pschweds Bemidji State needed motivation. The Beavers were 0-4 heading into their homecoming game against Southwest State in 1993 and had only won five games in the previous three seasons.In a staff meeting, graduate assistant Frank Haege proposed that if the team won the homecoming game, players and coaches would jump into Lake Bemidji, located just 10 yards beyond the fence that surrounds the southeast end zone of Chet Anderson Stadium in Bemidji, Minnesota. To spread the plan, coaches wrote a fake article before the game that said the Beavers won and then jumped in the lake. The article was posted in the locker room and around campus to energize the community.It took two years before the team got to practice the ritual in 1995, and Bemidji State has jumped in the lake 14 times in 19 years since. The Beavers (2-4, 1-3 Northern Sun Intercollegiate) will go for jump No. 15 against Minot State on Saturday. This is the latest in the calendar year that BSU has hosted its homecoming game since 1993, meaning the water could be the coldest it’s ever been for the lake jump.“At the time I thought it would be kind of a one-time thing, a one-game thing,” said Haege, who is now the head coach at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, Minnesota. “There was no plan or idea it would be a long-term deal.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Beavers lost to Southwest State and finished 0-10 in 1993. The following year, the Beavers lost its homecoming game again.But on Oct. 14, 1995, Bemidji State took part in the tradition for the first time. Today, the tradition is well-known in the Bemidji State community. If the Beavers have a safe lead toward the end of the game, fans begin mobbing the shore. They create a path for players and coaches to run from the field to the lake and shower them with cheers.Once in the water, the team sings the school’s fight song while splashing and smiling. The team only spends about five minutes in the water due to the temperatures, but the cold doesn’t bother the players.“It’s kind of like a football game,” Haege said of jumping in. “You get hit and it probably hurts but you don’t really feel it at first because it’s all adrenaline and emotion.” The tradition began as a motivational tactic and it still serves that purpose. Throughout the week, coaches joke with players by telling them to get their bathing suits ready. Players talk about getting in the lake, senior captain Dylan Valentine said, instead of saying, “Let’s win this week.”The Beavers have won four consecutive homecoming games, and no one on the current roster has experienced a homecoming game that didn’t end with the lake jump.“You don’t want to be the team that doesn’t end up going in the lake,” Valentine said.With the stadium just steps from the water, the ritual is unique to the program. And even though it is just jumping in a lake, it’s important to the Bemidji State community.“I was like, ‘Really? Jumping in a lake?’” Valentine said. “I didn’t think it was actually going to mean that much until I actually did it.”Over the years, strategies have been developed for the best lake jumping experience. Sometimes freshmen are so excited that they forget to take off their cleats and shoulder pads. Experienced players and coaches remember to bring an extra pair of clothes to the game. Valentine said some people run in without paying attention to rocks at the bottom of the lake and hurt their feet.Last week, frost appeared on the ground and people in Bemidji, Minnesota had to scrape ice off their windshields.But head coach Jeff Tesch isn’t worried.Said Tesch: “It’s going to be a little bit chilly but believe me, if we win, I don’t think the guys will complain too much.” Commentslast_img

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