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Rezac chosen for induction into BSU Athletic Hall of Fame this fall

Joseph F. Rezac has been chosen for induction into the Bemidji State University Athletic Hall of Fame.

He will be only the second person from Park Rapids so honored. The first was Jerry Green, who graduated from Park Rapids High School in 1955.

Joe, who graduated from Park Rapids in 1961, credits Karl Dyre, retired teacher and track coach for "setting me up" - in life. "I got my education through running," Joe said.

He participated in track and field at BSU his freshman, sophomore and senior years, and held BSU track records in three events: the 440-yard dash, 880-yard relay and mile relay.

In 1963, he qualified for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) national meet in Sioux Falls, SD. The 1963 team was the first in BSU history to win the NAIA district.

As a freshman in 1961, Joe also played football, but sustained a career-ending shoulder injury.

Joe was a member of the BSU "B" letterman's club for four years and received lifetime membership to sporting events at BSU.

After graduation, Joe was hired as a secondary physical education teacher, head track coach, head cross country coach and head varsity boys basketball coach at Dakota Collegiate Institute in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He was there from 1965-68, also serving two years as athletic director.

In 1968, he went to Brainerd where he taught secondary physical education and health and coached three sports seasons (football, track and swimming) per year until his retirement 33 years later.

Joe also supervised 16 student teachers from BSU during his career.

In the summer months for 30 years, Joe directed a one-week, free Learn to Swim Program in Brainerd for no salary. The program was funded jointly by the Brainerd School District and Brainerd YMCA. He also hired and trained staff for two pools, developed all lessons and supervised the program.

Among his many professional accomplishments and awards, Joe was selected as head starter in track and field for 2004, the 50th anniversary of the United States Transplant Games held at the University of Minnesota. Joe donated a kidney to his father, the late Frank Rezac, Park Rapids police chief, and was the first donor or recipient to be a head official in the history of the games.

In 1999, he received a special award and plaque for outstanding contributions to Brainerd Warrior Track & Field for 30 years."

A registered Minnesota State High School League official, he still officiates track and field, averaging more than 20 meets per year for 30 years as a head starter or meet referee. He continues as head starter for the Minnesota "State True Team Track & Field Meet."

In 1997, Joe was recognized to be the only known person in Minnesota history to have competed in the State Track Meet as a high school athlete, coached athletes in the state meet as a head high school coach, have a son compete in the state meet and be a head official (starter) in the State Track Meet.

Seven additional athletes, one coach and five teams will enter the BSU Athletic Hall of Fame during an induction ceremony Saturday, Oct. 18 at the Beaux Arts Ballroom on the BSU campus.

Joe has already invited Dyre to be his guest and is also pleased that his college track coach, Dr. Vic Weber, has been selected as his escort. (Weber and present BSU track coach Craig Hougen nominated Rezac for the honor.)

The event will be open to the public. Tickets will be available later this summer through the BSU Alumni Office at 877-278-2587 or online at

The BSU Athletic Hall of Fame was started in 1978. Inductions have been biannual inductions through this year, but will be changed to an annual induction program starting next year.

To date, 155 athletes, 12 BSU coaches and eight teams have been honored.

To be considered as an athlete, nominees must have earned an athletic letter at BSU, must have attended BSU for at least two years and not have graduated from another university. They also must have attended BSU at least 20 years ago.

Previous coaches and/or administrators who made significant contributions to the development and success of BSU athletics may also be considered for the Coaches Hall of Fame.

Selections are based on merit in four categories: athletic accomplishments while at BSU; post-collegiate professional accomplishments; service and contributions to community, state and nation; and service to BSU.

Joe Rezac