BEMIDJI, Minn. – The Bemidji State offense has a different look this year. After graduating one of the most successful senior classes to ever play at BSU, the Beavers were left with a young and inexperienced group of players. A crew looking to find a way to cement their names in the winning tradition established under head coach Jeff Tesch.
Among an offense searching to find an identity are three seniors who have recorded a lot of downs during the past three seasons. Captains Jordan Oien and Brent Kondziolka, along with Tyler Abrahamson, are left with the task of leading and teaching the young Bemidji State offensive squad.
“One big thing I harp on everyday is hard work,” Oien said. “Hard work can fix a lot of problems.”
“We just need to keep taking it one play at a time,” Kondziolka said. “We have the offensive tools and the coaches, we just need to have that one big game, get in a rhythm and after that I think we will be a pretty good offense.”
Oien and Kondziolka were selected by their teammates to lead the group as captains this season, which wasn’t much of a surprise to Abrahamson or the coaching staff.
“One of the reasons they are captains is they both have really strong work ethic,” Abrahamson said. “If people are slacking and not giving everything they have, they will get on that person and expect everyone to try as hard as they can.”
“Brent brings his lunch pail to work everyday,” said offensive coordinator Eric Medberry. “He doesn’t ever get outworked, in the weight room, in the offseason or on the practice field. He is an unsung hero and I think his teammates respect him for the things he does that don’t get noticed.”
“Jordan has played multiple positions on the offensive line and has been willing to bounce around a little bit when we needed him to,” Medberry said. “He has been a vocal leader for us, isn’t afraid to step up and challenge guys and leads by example. He cares a lot about his teammates and that is something we all respect.”
How they got to BSU
Just like most players, these three veterans had options when choosing where to continue their football careers. Oien had Division I institutions like North Dakota State University and University of North Dakota interested in his defensive abilities and he even accepted an offer to play at UND, but after some extra time to think about it, Oien ultimately felt more comfortable at Bemidji State.
“Really what my decision came down to was where I wanted to be,” Oien said. “After I committed (to UND) I felt it wasn’t where I wanted to be. Another reason I came here is I wanted to play more and I felt I would have more opportunities to play here at BSU.”
Originally from Orland Park, Ill., about 30 miles southwest of Chicago, Kondziolka was drawn to Bemidji State by the Northwoods activities. His family owns property in Orr, Minn. and he enjoys to hunt and fish. In fact, defensive coordinator Brent Bolte invited Kondziolka to his ice fishing house during his visit.
“Not many coaches would invite someone they were recruiting into their ice fishing house,” Kondziolka said. “I really liked the friendships between the recruits, coaches and current players. Everyone was so nice and welcoming, I thought it was an easy decision to choose BSU.”
Abrahamson had his decision down to two schools, Bemidji State or Division I South Dakota State University. A recurring theme with recruits, the family atmosphere of the team and what Lake Bemidji had to offer is what drew him in.
“When I came on my visit to BSU, one of the things I really noticed was the team camaraderie,” Abrahamson said. “When I met the team everyone was best friends and I thought that would be a cool thing to be a part of. Brent and I go fishing a few times a week, so being right on a lake helps.”
Leaving their mark
“I want to be known as a hard worker,” Kondziolka said. “I want to be known as someone who gave everything for the team. I want the team to succeed beyond this year and I look forward to watching BSU football in the future.”
“Don’t take for granted that everyday you get to play the game you love with 100 of your best friends,” said Abrahamson as a message to the younger players. “When I leave I would like people to think of me as a guy that was friendly and tried his hardest.”
“They say in football, ‘the young guys don’t quite get it,’” Oien said. “What I want to leave on this team as a captain is, when you are on the field, work hard.
“I want to remember my senior year as a fun experience and a part of having fun here is winning. I want to leave with the sense that the Bemidji State Beavers are a bunch of physical and hard working guys.”
For more information on the Bemidji State football program, follow the Beavers on Twitter (@BemidjiStateFB or @BSUBeavers), like them on Facebook (facebook.com/bsubeaverfootball or facebook.com/BSUBeavers) or sign up for the TXTUpdates from BSUBeavers.com text-messaging system through the "Mulitmedia" pull down menu on the main page of BSUBeavers.com.
Nestled in Northern Minnesota’s wooded region and located on the shore of Lake Bemidji, Bemidji State University sponsors 15 varsity athletic programs with NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey membership in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, while its 13 NCAA Division II programs hold membership in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).