It was almost four years ago when I told my dad that my husband and I were thinking about moving to Bemidji.
My dad lives in the Nevis area, so our moving up here from the Twin Cities would have brought us closer to him. But he wasnâ€™t holding his breath or anything. This is the same guy who, sadly, suffered through years of my indecisiveness. For instance, after my first year of college, I announced to him that I was leaving my traditional four-year university to instead become a sign language interpreter. But, sure enough, about 10 weeks later, I was back in Marshall, Minn., balancing tennis and classes just like the year before.
But my husband and I kept talking about Bemidji. And soon I was telling my dad about some big project being debated in town. Something about an events center that would provide a new home for Bemidji Stateâ€™s hockey team. And then I heard something about WCHA possibilities.
And it was then that my dad got interested.
â€œBemidji is joining the WCHA?â€ I remember him asking me. â€œThe Gophers would come up here?â€™
Still living in Fridley, Minn., at the time, I just kind of babbled my way through that conversation, not knowing enough about anything.
But I remembered his excitement.
My parents divorced when I was young. I was raised in the Cities while my dad lived most of that time in the Chicago area. I was lucky in that my dad made frequent visits to see me (and my brother). A lot of our get-togethers were spent at various sporting events, including countless Minnesota Twins game and, yes, my first hockey game (he took me a Minnesota Moose game when I was young teen). He also took me to the semifinals of the Davis Cup at the Target Center in 1992.
Sports have, always, been fairly fundamental in our relationship. He taught me most of what I know about tennis, tried for years to teach me golf and still is willing to bait my hook on fishing trips.
So this past Christmas, I bypassed the usual gift options and I promised to bring him to one of the Beavers/Gophers game this past weekend.
It was the first time I have actually been inside the Sanford Center for non-work purposes. Iâ€™ve been there more than a few times, for construction tours, for interviews, to just snoop around. But never just for fun.
It was a first.
And it was fun to see it all through fresh eyes through my dad. He noted that there did not seem to be a bad seat in the house. He was impressed by the number of BSU Olympians, the number of championships. I got to answer a few questions, sounding occasionally smart, about the seating capacity, the cost of the arena, etc. We ate some popcorn and I said, next year, Iâ€™d buy him a beer.
I wasnâ€™t sure who he would be cheering for between the two teams. I suppose, in retrospect, we cheered more so for BSU.
I was young when he took me to the Davis Cup, never understanding why people were cheering as loudly when Sweden won a point as they did when the American, Andre Agassi, won a point.
â€œThey just want to see good tennis,â€ he patiently explained.
I think that was how he felt about the hockey Saturday night as well.