In 1977, St. Peter High School senior Bob Bresnahan chose to play baseball for Minnesota State Mankato largely because of a connection he felt with the University’s brand new head coach, Dean Bowyer.
Bowyer had a sharp command of the game and an up-front style to coaching, Bresnahan recalls. But the way Bowyer cared about his players’ families, how he spent time with and got to know Bresnahan’s parents—that’s what clinched the deal for him. Bresnahan played for four years with the man he and his family still call Coach.
That family includes a son, Jay, who was an infielder for the Mavericks baseball team from 2006 to 2009, and a daughter, Jamie, now entering her junior year as a forward on the women’s basketball team.
“My dad playing in Mankato actually wasn’t a factor in my decision,” Jay says. “In the end it really came down to Minnesota State Mankato being the best fit for me.” Part of that fit was some scholarship money, the chance to play right away as a freshman and the proximity to the family’s home in Edina.
“And obviously knowing Coach Bowyer growing up,” Jay adds. “I knew what kind of a coach he was, what kind of a person he was. You want to play for somebody like Coach Bowyer.”
During Jay’s four years in Mankato, the team played each year in the NCAA Division II regional tournament. They took three conference championships and even beat the record set by his father’s team in the late 1970s for most wins in a season. After working for Georgia State, Jay recently returned to Minnesota State Mankato as the Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance and Student Services.
While her brother grew into his own as a Minnesota State Mankato baseball player, Jamie found herself excelling at high school basketball in Edina. She made varsity her freshman year, had the fifth-highest number of rebounds in school history, lettered every year and was named the team’s most valuable player.
As high school graduation drew nearer and it was her turn to consider colleges, she was already familiar and impressed with Minnesota State Mankato and the effect it had on people she knew—namely her brother and father.
“Knowing the experience they had made it kind of hard to turn it down when you know that it’s going to be nothing but positive,” she says. She also knew the campus well enough to not need an extensive tour.
“I’d been there so many times with my brother that it was basically a second home to me, so the tour was pretty short,” she says. “I think it’s pretty clear the facilities we have are state of the art and top of the line.”
Jamie entered her freshman year with the same fire and focus she’d given her high school team. As a result, she played in every game and helped the team return to the NCAA tournament that had eluded it for three years.
“I’m a person who has high expectations for myself,” she says. “I don’t like losing. I’m super competitive.” The following year, the team went 26-6, the second-best record in school history behind the 2008-2009 NCAA Division II champs.
That competitiveness is a family trait that goes well beyond athletics, Jamie says.
“My brother and I always competed in getting good grades,” she says. “In my family, school comes first. We take pride in getting good grades and making sure that’s all taken care of because in four years it’s not going to be basketball that’s going to be getting you anywhere. You’ve got to use all the tools you learned from playing sports and put them into everyday life.”
Jamie is a junior majoring in accounting; she’s considering pursuing an MBA after graduation. In the meantime, there are two more years of games that are serving as family get-togethers.
“We didn’t miss any of Jay’s, and we don’t plan on missing any of hers either,” says Bob, who with his teammates was inducted to the University’s Hall of Fame in 2010. “There’s a window, and you’ve got to capture it.”