John Kittleson holds up his Bucky Heads and Tails paddle during the Green & White Dinner and Auction on Saturday, April 15, 2023, at the Sanford Center. (Brian Kortz / Bemidji State)
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By Micah Friez

Published 3:33 p.m. on April 19, 2023

Support rolled in from near and far on Saturday, April 15, at the Green & White Dinner and Auction – to the record-setting tune of more than $200,000 raised for Bemidji State University Athletics.

“To raise over $200,000 for the BSU Athletic Department and our student-athletes is truly amazing,” said Jesse Katz, the Alumni & Foundation’s director of annual giving for athletics and the Green & White’s coordinator. “An evening like this speaks large volumes to the pride our community has for Beaver Athletics and their desire to see our student-athletes thrive, both on the field and in the classroom.”

A total of 380 guests spent the evening at the Sanford Center – the first in-person version of the event since 2018 – where they jockeyed for positioning on over 100 silent auction items and eight live auction items.

Those back-and-forth battles included an intense bidding war for Jacksonville Jaguars tickets in the general manager suite. After two contenders went back and forth, a third player swooped in and surprised the crowd with an aggressive, winning bid in the final moments.

An attendee mingles with another table during the Green & White Dinner and Auction on Saturday, April 15, 2023, at the Sanford Center. (Brian Kortz / Bemidji State)
Joy Johnson holds up her Bucky Heads and Tails paddle during the Green & White Dinner and Auction on Saturday, April 15, 2023, at the Sanford Center. (Brian Kortz / Bemidji State)

The last BSU Bubble Hockey game in existence also sold for $4,500 and stood as one of the most unique and sought-after items of the night. Custom embroidered Bemidji State golf bags, Minnesota Timberwolves tickets and a stay on Rainy Lake in a houseboat were hot commodities, as well.

Others won trips to Mexico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and even to “Disneyland for Duck Hunting” at Big Creek Hunt Club in Ontario, Canada – the most valuable item of the night, which sold at $10,000.

Support also racked up in the form of goodwill. During the “Build-A-Scholarship” portion of the evening, $1,000 gifts were flying in left and right. Even more pledges came in at $500, $250 and a $100 level matched dollar-for-dollar by BSU Alumni & Foundation board member and former men’s hockey national champion Tom Heaviland. In all, 120 donors contributed $52,000 for athletic scholarships at BSU.

“We had a record number of donors participate in our Build-A-Scholarship this year, which was really cool to see,” Katz said. “In previous years, we’ve never had 70 donors total, and this year, we had 70 donors just at the $100 level. In addition to that, we had 19 donors at the $1,000 level, which is also a record for us.”

These two appeal videos played at the Green & White, showcasing the direct impact that scholarships make on student-athletes. The first video is of sisters Allyson and Gabbie Smith -- respectively members of BSU's women's soccer and women's hockey teams -- and the second is of BSU quarterback Brandon Alt.


The night’s only hiccup came during the coin flip game – when nobody on stage had a coin to flip. Yet a half dollar quickly made its way to the stage and decided the fate of an $800 gift card basket by landing on heads or tails and eliminating participants who guessed wrong until a sole victor remained.

Mark Ricci emceed the event, while Isaac Schultz served as the fast-talking, charming auctioneer. Bemidji State and Northwest Technical College President Dr. John Hoffman and BSU athletic director Britt Lauritsen also delivered speeches to a crowd that featured past Bemidji State president Jim Bensen, Bemidji mayor Jorge Prince and Mary Lou Peters, the wife of the late great R. H. Bob Peters.

“The excitement and energy throughout the Sanford Center was electric all evening long,” said Adrian Dunn, the BSU Alumni & Foundation’s director of development. “Special kudos to Jesse Katz. The work and dedication Jesse put into this event over the last seven months did not go unnoticed. Jesse joined the foundation last August and has done a fantastic job hitting the ground running by connecting with donors and supporters of BSU Athletics.”

Dozens of Beaver student-athletes were also in attendance, volunteering their time to assist in the festivities and to ensure the night’s triumphant results.

“I am really proud of the work we did for the Green & White,” Katz said. “It was a large team effort from our staff at the BSU Alumni & Foundation, numerous community members, our coaches and our student-athletes. But most importantly, the Green & White couldn’t have had this type of impact without our donors and supporters. It is because of them that this event was a success.”

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