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Playing at LSSU has been a transformation process for Birkeland

Barnabas Birkeland

Nov. 14, 2005

By LINDSEY MECHALIK, LSSU sports information intern

For Lake Superior State junior defenseman Barnabas Birkeland, striving to become better is something he works at on and off the ice. Birkeland tries to learn from his past in order to work to become a better person. He missed half of last season's games due off-ice and injury issues.

Birkeland believes that he has significantly changed in the last few years.

"A lot has changed from my freshman year," Birkeland said. "As a freshman coming in, you are young and immature and don't always think about what you're doing. By last year I had to step back and look at who I was, and who I wanted to be in the future. I had to re-evaluate how I was acting. I got a second chance at Lake State and I want to make the most of it."

Faith helps Birkeland stay on track.

"Religion was a part of my life growing up," Birkeland said. "But, I didn't really appreciate or understand how much I needed it. Last year I came to realize I can't be who I want to be without it. I couldn't be happy without a relationship with God.

"Last year is one of the best things that ever happened to me," Birkeland said of issues that helped him grow as a person. "It helped me change the way I live. I would tell other people to be true to themselves. You have to know what you believe in. You need to be strong enough to go for it."

Birkeland continues to work on his relationships with other people.

"Everyone always wants to work to be better," he said. "One of the things I want to work on is how I am with people. I can sometimes be a little introverted. I can use my own insecurities to be too guarded and not be as friendly as I would like. I want to work on being more sociable."

Birkeland enjoys some of the unique aspects of being part of the Lake Superior State hockey team.

"I love being part of the tradition," Birkeland said. "I like that it is such a small school that overcomes adversity. I love being part of ringing the bell.

"My teammates are unbelievable. They stood by me all through last year. I have been able to see how strong my friendships are. We have so many great guys that I hope to be friends with for a long time."

Birkeland and his teammates are enjoying a brand new year that is full of optimism. He currently leads the team in plus/minus rating.

"I am excited about taking the next step," Birkeland said. "Everyone on our team believes that we are a top team that is going to come out this year. It's exciting to be a part of that."

Birkeland and his musically-inclined family hail from Buffalo, Minn. Last summer, his father, brother and he played guitar at his sister's wedding.

"I have been playing the guitar since junior hockey," Birkeland said. "I have been playing for about four years. I started taking guitar lessons from Dennis MacGreggor in Canada. He is a great teacher. When I was in juniors I would play for three hours a day."

Birkeland has a very artistically inclined family.

"My younger brother, Juda, is 20," Birkeland said. "He is an artist and musician. He has his own ceramic studio for making pots. My sister Rebecca graduated from a music school in Creston, Iowa, with a degree in vocal jazz music. She performed twice at Carnegie Hall with her music group. She teaches piano and gives voice lessons. My little sister, Hannah, is 14 is in ninth grade and just finished her volleyball season. My mom, Joan, used to work with my dad. My dad, Steve, builds canopies for gas stations.

"My family is amazing. They give me nothing but support. They have always been there for me. I can't really say enough. You can never say enough about how much your family helps you."

A few years ago Birkeland and his brother took the trip of a lifetime.

"My brother is a year behind me in school," Birkeland said. "When he graduated, our high school graduation present from our grandparents was a trip to Europe. We went to England for eight days and Italy for eight days. We went to see Wimbledon when we were in England. My grandparents lived there so they took us all over. We had a great time meeting their friends and seeing the city. After being in England, my brother and I went to stay with my uncle in Italy for a few days and then toured the country. My uncle lived in Italy for about four years and just moved back. My brother and I went to Rome and Florence and had the time of our lives."

Lake Superior State Men's Ice Hockey
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