Athletics Hall of Fame

Don Niskanen

SPORT(S) Head Men's Golf Coach
PLAYED AT BSU 1993-2010
Don Niskanen retired from his duties as head men’s golf coach in 2010 after 17 successful seasons.  Niskanen, a four-time Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) Coach of the Year recipient (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000), led the Beavers to four conference team titles (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000), while earning runner-up accolades to conclude seven different seasons. During his tenure, five players garnered individual NSIC championships, while 35 members of the BSU golf team earned All-NSIC honors.

Niskanen’s teams have qualified for district, regional and national competitions on several occasions, including the 2010 campaign, and most notably a 2006 Central Region Invitational Championship and a 1999 District V Runner-up performance.

In addition to his role on the course, Niskanen worked tirelessly to develop the program from the ground up.  Most notably, his fund raising efforts have blossomed into several scholarships, including two that have since been endowed.

Niskanen’s commitment to golf spans more than 50 years, dating back to his senior season at BSU as a letter winner in 1959--just two years after being introduced to the game. Niskanen, a veteran of the United States Army after a two-year term in the Korean conflict, would go on to make a name for himself on the golf courses of northern Minnesota, earning the Bemidji Town and Country Club Championship and Senior Championship along the way.

Niskanen coached several collegiate standouts and worked one-on-one with golfers who have gone on to the professional ranks. He played an instrumental role as an administrator and committee member for golf events such as the prestigious The Birchmont amateur golf tournament, and is a former member and president of the Bemidji Town and Country Club Board of Directors.

A 1959 graduate of Bemidji State, Niskanen entered the coaching ranks at Bagley (Minn.) High School where he coached the football and basketball teams. In 1965, he took the reins at Bemidji Junior High as head football coach, and after years of polishing his golf game, Niskanen accepted additional responsibility as head middle school golf coach in 1985. Following his retirement from the Bemidji School District in 1992, BSU called on Niskanen’s golf expertise to lead the Beavers’ golf program beginning in 1993.