BGC News

1995 Bethel Football Alum

Bethel Football has impacted so many throughout the years and we want to take a look into the lives of some of these people. We want to see where they came from, where they are now and how their experience at Bethel has shaped them.

Joel Tanem ’95, is a husband and father of four. He is also an Account Executive with Firestone Metal Products in Anoka, MN. Joel and most of his family have spent a great deal of time roaming the halls of Bethel University. He is grateful for his experience at Bethel and believes his involvement with the football program has made a huge difference in his life. We sat down with Joel to ask him a few questions:
What was your upbringing like?

I grew up in Ham Lake, MN son of a very hard working man. Our mom died when I was 11 years old, from a long battle with breast cancer. Dad is a believer – he and mom instilled that in us from an early age. I watched him lean on God during those very hard years. I didn’t always make it easy on Pops in those days. We had some good times too, though it looked a little different than our peers. 3 kids and dad, muddling through the pre-teen / teen years best we could.

How did you hear about Bethel and why did you choose to attend?

We went to a Baptist church, and so it was pretty common for kids to roll on down south 20 miles to Bethel. I was dead-set against going at first. Was sure I was meant to go pretty much anywhere but BC. I did not want to do what everyone else was doing at the time. I was playing football (obviously) and was entertaining thoughts of going to college – football was going well and I was getting interest from a lot of places, including from Steve Johnson and Mike Plinske. My senior season was cut short after 3 games due to a broken foot, and things got really quiet really fast – except for Steve Johnson and Bethel College. We all know that there is a gravitational pull to this man and this program – and we are wise to follow it. I had come full-circle and was excited for the opportunity to play football here, and for Steve and his staff. Little did I know the full reward that was in store, for making that decision. Pretty sure God knew where I needed to be.

Did your time at Bethel make a difference in your life, if so how?

My time at Bethel made an incalculable difference in my life. It is here where I received a good education (in spite of myself), I was surrounded by an institution that truly wanted me to find the best ‘me’ I could, it is here that I got to play high-caliber college football, I met people that became lifelong friends – most importantly my wife Heather. I got to watch siblings follow after me, my step-mom Pam worked here for a long time. The difference this place has made in my life are too many to count.

Tell us about the road you have been on since graduating and what are you doing now?

I married Heather (Bursch 96′) in 1997, we have 4 kids aged 13, 11, 8 and 6 – who are all amazing gifts each in their own way. We settled all the way up in Coon Rapids, MN. Along the way I have worked a few different jobs including owning a business with my friend and defensive line-mate Kregg Turnquist. Currently I sell steel for Bridgestone Americas / Firestone, and have been there for over ten years.

I get a total kick out of coaching my kids’ sports teams – football being the highlight. I’m the head coach of my 8th graders’ traveling football team (3-0 as of this writing 🙂 it is amazing to watch kids acquire a love for the game in their own way. We are members of Northwood Church in Maple Grove, all the kids are in school for the first time ever – a big change for Heather having an empty house during the day.

How did your Bethel experience help you as a husband, father, co-worker, citizen?

My Bethel experience was most important because it gave me a place and time to grow and learn and explore the world that had been pretty limited up until then. It set me on a course far better than I would have otherwise thought of taking. Being a part of this football team and this place taught me so many things about life: competition, excellence, friendship, faith, finishing, adversity, love, acceptance, joy, endurance… these lessons are a backbone for me when life gets messy. I was fortunate to be a part of something so much bigger than myself – to look at where this program is, and to remember the early years – “fatherly proud” is the best way to describe the feeling.

I learned in Bethel Football to give everything I had for something – I learned what it felt like to spend and sacrifice and strive for a common goal together with my brothers – we were all we had – so that the team would be lifted up. This lesson serves me well as a Husband, father, son, friend, employee.

“I have never met a man who regretted giving everything he had for a worthy, noble cause. I have met far too many that live with the regret of not giving enough.”