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Bemidji Excitement

Plenty of talking heads have bemoaned this year's NCAA tournament. No Cinderellas, they cry. No George Masons. Borrrrring.

I don't get that at all, but if you're one of those complainers, you need only focus your attention on the Frozen Four, coming soon to a Verizon Center near you and starring Bemidji State as Cinderella. From the Grand Rapids Press:

Bemidji State coach Tom Serratore compared beating Cornell and making the Frozen Four to Rocky Balboa or the George Mason University basketball team that played in the 2006 Final Four.

"This is what the sport needs and it's good for it," he said. It gives everyone out there a good feeling that it can be them some day."

And George Mason went to the Final Four from which arena? Oh yeah, that's right. Also, if the Beavers win the national championship, the WSJ says they might become the biggest Cinderella in the history of collegiate sports. Bigger than Howard over Oregon State, even.

And if you thought there wasn't a D.C. sports connection, think again: Rachel Becker, the Caps' game entertainment coordinator, is a proud Bemidji grad (class of '06). Like, extremely proud. Like, yesterday, she wore a BSU ring, Beavers necklace, Bemidji pin, and Bemidji-green business suit, while proudly displaying her Bucky the Beaver bobblehead and her signed Bemidji sweater. Why such joy?

"You have to understand, when I went to Bemidji, I did not know much about hockey," she told me. "I started going to games, fell in love with the sport and it became my passion. Hence, why I'm working here. The coaches there kind of saw that I had a passion for the sport before even I knew it, and they kind of took me under their wing and encouraged me to pursue a job in sports."

"Passion" seems an apt word. She took an ice hockey coaching class. She traveled to Robert Morris and Niagara this year to see Bemidji road games. She went to Philly over the weekend to watch Rob Sirianni, a former Bemidji star. She filled out two brackets that are posted on her cubicle; one, the "Dream Bracket," had a Frozen Four of Bemidji, Minnesota-Duluth (a rival), North Dakota (another rival) and Air Force, whose coach, Frank Serratore, is the brother of Bemidji's Tom.

"So by default, I was cheering for him too," Rachel told me.

The president of the university e-mailed her after the Beavers' win, and she offered up the lyrics for the school's fight song, including three "Rah Rah Rahs." (Lyrics: Go Bemidji Beavers,
Go you Green and White. Go Bemidji Beavers, Fight with all your might."

There is, as of yet, no D.C. alumni club for the Beavers, but Rachel expects a healthy infusion of Bemidji fans as the semifinals approach. I asked her if she'd be going to a lot of Bemidji parties.

"What do you mean?" she replied. "I'm planning them."

Go Beavers.

By Dan Steinberg  |  March 31, 2009; 11:05 AM ET
Categories:  Caps  
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The previous administration would raise the terror threat level to a severe red if they knew Bemidji was coming to Washington DC.

Posted by: inchesfromyourface | March 31, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Dan, we told you that you'd love the Frozen Four and college hockey! What's more exciting than:

3 number 1 seeds not making it out of the first round? And that 4th #1 seed fighting for its life to make it out of the regional finals.

God knows how many games going down to the last 30 seconds--or last second, or under a second, literally!--to determine the winner. No, seriously, I lost count how many time it happened.

Cinderellas everywhere! In addition to Bemidji (what a great story), Miami-Ohio is also a number 4 seed!

Posted by: RedBirdie | March 31, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

I watched some of the Bemidji State games on ESPN and still have no clue where they are.

and this...

BSU ring, Beavers necklace, Bemidji pin, and Bemidji-green business suit, while proudly displaying her Bucky the Beaver bobblehead and her signed Bemidji sweater


Posted by: sitruc | March 31, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Nice beaver!

Posted by: jhorstma | March 31, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse


Bemidji is in north-central Minnesota. best way for me to explain it is:

draw a line from Duluth (at the western tip of Lake Superior) to the North Dakota border. What is north of the line is a large chunk of very wooded, very rural, VERY COLD Minnesota with a lot of lakes. Right about smack in the middle of this part of Minnesota is Bemidji. "Remote" is a polite way to describe it. About 12,000 people live there. Bemidji State, last I knew is somewhere in the 4,500-5,000 range. They play division 2 sports for eveyrthing but hockey.

Here's Bemidji's wiki page:

Posted by: RedBirdie | March 31, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

NICE Bobble Head, where is it now?

Seriously, Bemidji, how is that even pronounced? Do you have to hold your tongue say it, or put peanut butter on the roof of your mouth?

I'm rooting for Miami University...

Posted by: bigpunn04 | March 31, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Ba-mid-gee. Sometimes its said Be-mid-gee.

Posted by: RedBirdie | March 31, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

What's a Minnesota?


Posted by: sitruc | March 31, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Bemidji is also the curling capital of the United States. While I suspect BU will win the NCAA title, I will be rooting for the Beavers.

Posted by: rbluesw | March 31, 2009 7:23 PM | Report abuse

GO MIAMI REDHAWKS! Beat the Beavers!

Posted by: barusso | April 1, 2009 2:49 AM | Report abuse


Washington should be supporting the Miami RedHawks in the Frozen Four. As you touched upon in your other column, Miami Football has Washington area players & 09 commits from Gwynn Park, Woodbridge (3), Friendly Senior, Frederick Douglas, Westlake, Miami has other significant Washington area sports presence:

Wizards Assistant Coach Randy Ayers ('78) and Redskins Offensive Coordinator Sherman Smith '76.

We're Washignton's team!

Go Miami.

Posted by: barusso | April 1, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse

forgot to mention for area Miami sports connection:

Baltimore Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh ('84?). Also other sports analysts/writers:, former NYT Ira Berkow, ESPN's Dave Fleming, Fox' Chris Rose (Best Damn Sports Show Period) and AJC's Terrence Moore. and who can leave off P.J. O'Rourke?

Go Miami.

Posted by: barusso | April 1, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

ncaa hockey

Posted by: reppoc | April 1, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

bemidji state vs miami??

i didn't even know that they
had college hockey in florida!!

Posted by: reppoc | April 1, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

So Rachel, where are these Bemidji State parties going to be held? Count myself and some fellow BSU alumni heading to D.C. in!

Posted by: bemidjistatealltheway | April 1, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

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