By Dylan Rouse
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There were high hopes for Minnesota’s “North” stars in this year’s Olympic competitions in Sochi, Russia. Minnesota sent 19 athletes to Russia, only one olympian short of California’s contribution to Team USA.
Minnesota is known for its bitterly cold winters that seemingly overshadow and outlast all of the other seasons. This being said, Minnesota’s Olympic representation in the winter games should not come as a surprise. The Olympic athletes that choose to embrace these winters are truly dedicated. Not only to themselves, their sport, or their home state of Minnesota, but to representing the United States of America. This dedication in and of itself is something they can be proud of.
Often times the media only focuses on the athletes who end up on the podium. While this may be the dream and overall goal for every olympian, it’s not all about winning. Win or lose, medal or not, Minnesotans will always welcome their athletes home with open arms. At Bemidji State University, the community shines with more pride in their olympians than any medal ever could.
Bemidji might be considered a small town, but the dreams and aspirations of its athletes stretch far beyond the city limits. In 2006, the Bemidji Curling Club was home to the athletes who brought back the first ever Olympic medal for curling in United States history. It’s no wonder that Bemidji is the self-proclaimed “Curling Capital of the US”.
This is the fifth Winter Olympics in which Bemidji State has had connections with the olympians. This year two out of the five men curlers for Team USA have attended BSU. One is Jared Zezel, a current student who participated in his first Olympics last month. The other is Jeff Isaacson, a two-time Olympian and BSU graduate.
These two men, as well as the rest of Team USA, are an inspiration for every small town kid with a dream. They have proven that people do not have to be from a big city to make a big impact. Curling is not exactly a profitable sport. Both Isaacson and Zezel made sacrifices to train for and compete in this year’s games.
“That’s why you curl, to get to the Olympics.” Zezel explained in an interview with usacurl.org.
Although the ninth place finish is not the outcome Minnesotans hoped for, they will keep their heads held high. Representing the USA on an international stage is something only an elite group of individuals can put on their resume. This is not the first time that BSU has been represented in the Olympics, and it’s almost guaranteed that it will not be the last. It’s important that we focus less on the outcome and more on the journey– One that Bemidji State is honored to have been apart of for these athletes on the road to Sochi.