Mark Fodness Retiring as Bemidji Girls Tennis Head Coach
Mark Fodness is retiring as head coach of the Bemidji girls tennis team, a position he has held since 2010.
“It’s never easy to make a decision like that…I still really love coaching,” says Fodness. “It just gets to be that time sometimes.”
Fodness began coaching the girls tennis team in 1986 when he took over as both the girls and boys head coach for Bemidji tennis. He coached the Lumberjacks tennis teams until 1993, then took over both teams again in 2010. He retires coaching the girls team for 16 seasons.
“A lot of was just the idea of having fall off. Now that I’m not teaching it frees me up to do a lot of things I’ve looked forward to,” he adds. “I really had thought about it for a while and it’s tough to walk away from a great group of kids. This girls team is not only going to be talented but they’re also just a great, fun group to work with.”
“I had kind of thought I’d be back for another season and then over the course of the summer, the more I’d thought about it…even though I could have easily done another few years, at the same time I kind of heard that calling that there were other things out there I wanted to do to,” says Fodness.
Fodness led the Lumberjacks to 238 victories as head coach of the girls team. As head coach, he guided them to their first state tournament appearance in 1989. He was named Region 8AA Girls Tennis Coach of the Year in both 1989 and 2014. He has guided numerous individuals to the state tournament.
Fodness says the thing he’s going to miss the most about coaching the girls tennis team is working with his players.
“The kids work hard,” says Fodness. “One of the things I’ll miss a lot is the kids who improve a lot and maybe surprise themselves. You see kids gain confidence. I think that’s one of the reasons those of us who participate and coach sports, you just see the positive effects it has on some kids, the way they gain confidence, have a better idea of themselves.”
This past spring he reached a milestone, picking up over 400 wins as both the girls and boys tennis coach. Fodness is also the Bemidji State women’s tennis coach.
Fodness plans to continue coaching the Lumberjacks boys team in the spring.
“Right now I’m planning on coaching the boys for sure. I’ll kind of see how this feels in part. That’s a different time of year, different season. Just like the girls, there’s a great group of kids in place there right now so as is I’m going to plan on being back in the spring,” says Fodness.
A search is being conducted to find the team’s next head coach. The high school sports season begins in under two weeks on Monday, August 12.