One of two, four-year seniors on the Bemidji State men’s basketball team, Mason Walters has experienced a lot during his time as a Beaver. The Milton, Wis. native has increased his minutes in each season at BSU and was a key component to a banner year a season ago. Now a senior, Walters has found him self in a leadership role on a squad that not only welcomed a new coach, but also six newcomers to the reigning NSIC Regular Season Champions. We sat down with Walters to discuss his career, his nickname and the ups and downs of the transition into this season.
Why did you choose Bemidji State?
I had my visit here and I liked the area and the people, it just seemed like a good fit for me and it was a little further away from home than the other schools that I was looking at. I also liked the coaches, players and the overall atmosphere.
How was your transition to the college game?
It took a little while to get adjusted to the speed of the game, a lot of players were bigger, stronger and faster. Also playing with guys that are three to four years older than you is always hard. The biggest thing was the physical aspect of the game.
You got the nickname ‘Bear’ your first year here, why?
My freshman year, former guard Jake Lindstrom called me it one day and it just stuck, I weighed about 20 pounds more then, so I guess that’s kind of how it came along. I just took that and decided that if they are going to call me that then I am going to work harder and not be a big bear anymore and that’s what I did. I don’t get that much anymore, I put the hold on it and shot down the whole nickname thing
What did you do in the offseason between your sophomore and junior years to earn a consistent starting role?
The biggest thing I focused on was the offseason conditioning. I think it plays a huge role in playing college basketball and if your not conditioned it’s hard to play minutes. Between those two years I really worked hard, I ran everyday and tried to get in better shape and it worked out for me.
Last season was pretty special, what were your experiences like?
It was a great year and we made a lot of memories. It was the best team I have ever been on, we got the conference championship and were an NCAA qualifier. We had a lot of good experiences and I think we all have good memories from that year.
Do you have a biggest memory from last season?
Winning the conference championship at home against Winona State was awesome. We told ourselves if we win our last four games we control our own destiny and we did and it was pretty awesome.
How hard was the summer with all the changes?
When we didn’t have a coach it was just the waiting game. Everyone just worked out and tried to get better and waited to see how things were going to turn out. With all the changes, all we really could do was work hard and try to improve. Also the loss of James (Ellisor) and Bryce (Tesdahl) was obviously big and we had six newcomers, which add new pieces to the mix. Everything has come together now after a few months of playing together and getting used to the new system, it has turned out.
Were you forced into a leadership role or did you assume those duties?
Just assumed the duties. Every year the seniors step into that role. This year just happened to be five of us and you just have to step into the role, be leaders and help the team under the new direction, which I think we are doing well.
What was the first week of practice like with all the new pieces and what was it like the week before the first games?
It was a big change, the first week we were putting in new stuff and coach (Mike) Boschee was just telling us what he wants to get done and how he wants us to play the game. We put in our new system, which took awhile, but by the time our first games started it was a complete 180. We were a lot better and we are still working on it and getting better at certain things. We are headed in a good direction.
You started with two long road trips this season, does that help the team chemistry when there are new players and coaches?
Road trips are a good bonding time. We had two good games and two rough games, so we got to experience it both ways and I think we came together as a team after the road games.
What are your expectations this season?
Our ceiling is pretty high, it all comes down to how we talk to each other and if we can defend and stop teams. Those two wins we had we played great defense and communicated and the two losses we didn’t play good defense. I think we can go as far as we want, as long as we play as a team.
As a senior, what are your personal goals for this season?
I think the biggest thing is I just want to win games. Whatever I can do to help the team win is what I’m here for. As long as we’re winning games, it doesn’t really matter to me.
For more information on the Bemidji State men’s basketball program, follow the Beavers on Twitter (@BSUHoops or @BSUBeavers), like them on Facebook (facebook.com/Bemidji-State-Basketball 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).