I have heard countless sports journalists say that you simply cannot be a fan of a team that you cover. Vikings Territory‘s own Lindsey Young is well on her way to being an exception to that rule.
Lindsey is also incredibly humble, vocally refusing to use VT to promote her other works, so I decided to hijack this week’s “Fan Spotlight” (which she normally authors) and make it all about her.
Literally since before she can remember, Lindsey has been a fan of Minnesota sports of all varieties, and the evidence is on tape.
“There is a home video my parents have where I’m in the living room playing, and you can hear my dad watching TV in the other room,” she tells me of those early days of watching the Twins with her dad.
“Kirby Puckett is on!” he could be heard yelling from the other room. Little Lindsey hops right up, in this video, and books it for the room with the television in it to watch Puckett at bat. Even at that young age, she was interested in sports and knew which players were a cut above the rest.
It wasn’t until Lindsey got a little older, of course, that she actually started to grasp the concepts and rules of each sport. It was the special time she got to spend with her dad, however, that transformed this general interest into a true passion. The bond is something they still cherish to this day.
“I’ve been watching sports with my dad for as long as I can remember,” Lindsey says. “I just enjoyed spending that one-on-one time with him.”
They have had that chance to form special memories by attending Vikings, Twins, Wild and countless Timberwolves events together. A trip to Vikings training camp sticks out as one of her absolute favorite times spent with her dad, where they came away with Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss autographs.
Now, I can clearly remember my first time reading one of Lindsey’s Vikings articles, years ago, at the now-defunct website TC Huddle. I came away so impressed with what she was producing for them that I am not ashamed to admit that I was completely jealous of her abilities. She clearly had access to some big-time athletes, was professional in her presentation, and seemed like a “real” journalist that didn’t quite fit in with the rest of us bloggers taking up space on the Internet.
Little did I know, at that time, that she was just beginning her writing career as a young college student.
“I enjoyed writing from a young age, but I didn’t start writing about sports until college,” she says. “I wrote for the sports section of the Northwestern College student paper as a junior.”
It was her senior year that landed her a golden opportunity, one that allowed her to mix her favorite pastime with her craft of choice: an internship with the Minnesota Timberwolves as a reporter.
“It was really the internship experience that solidified sports journalism as something I loved doing and wanted to seriously pursue.”
Lindsey has continued writing about the Timberwolves to this day. Her coverage of the Timberwolves can be found on SB Nation’s Canis Hoopus, and it has even appeared on the NBA’s official website with fan posts similar to this one. One of her best articles, and one of her personal favorites, was a feature she did on Twins right fielder Torii Hunter. You see, Hunter is a huge fan of the Timberwolves and has a special bond with Kevin Garnett.
“To me coming back to where we were drafted — just all the respect and the love that we got from the fans and the city of Minneapolis — it’s amazing,” Hunter told Lindsey. As a fellow athlete, Hunter has all the respect in the world for Garnett.
“I’ve had the privilege of interviewing several athletes, but he ranks in the top five for most fun!” Lindsey admits. “He was one of the most genuine, down-to-earth, fun people I’ve ever spoken with, and he gave me some fantastic content for the story.”
Between Vikings Territory and the Timberwolves content, Lindsey has had her work cut out for her, as Minnesota’s professional sports are never shy on drama and intrigue. Recently, however, she had the opportunity to expand her horizons even more and enter the realm of college football.
“It should be an interesting season [for the Gophers],” Lindsey is quick to opine. “The defensive core is pretty solidified, and there is a lot of new talent coming in at offense.”
At FOX Sports North, Lindsey has been a recent addition to their team, covering the Minnesota Gophers and their spring game. Somebody over there at FSN obviously has a good eye for talent, as the Gophers assignment came on the heals of an incredibly powerful story of Lindsey’s they published about concussions in the NFL.
In that article, Lindsey contrasted interviews of former Vikings Sage Rosenfels and Matt Birk, showing that the issue is still divisive among former players.
“When — not if — someone dies on the field in either the NFL or major college football,” Rosenfels told Lindsey, “those who profit from the game will be extremely concerned about its long-term viability.”
Lindsey’s ability to secure athlete interviews is pretty unique in the ranks of freelance writing and blogging. The respect she displays towards them, the way in which she goes about her work, makes me certain it is her personality and professionalism that gets the job done.
“I really enjoy writing feature pieces that give fans a glimpse into who someone is as a person,” she explains, “and not just as an athlete.”
Her first contribution at VT came in the form of a Jake Reed interview, which ranks among her favorites, and she tells me she would have been content to listen to him tell stories about the old Vikings crew for hours and hours. Again, this blend of fandom and journalist training created one heck of a great article.
“The childhood Vikings fan in me was ecstatic to be able to sit down and pick the brain of the one of the original Three Deep,” Lindsey admits. “He had a ton of great stories.”
Rounding out her top three favorite Vikings interviews are former linebacker Ben Leber and former punter Chris Kluwe.
“At the time, Ben was just exploring what it was like to be retired from football, and he was pursuing a career in radio and broadcasting,” she remembers. “He likened his own experience to my pursuit of journalism, which I thought was incredibly humble of him.”
Kluwe also made himself available for an interview not because he had a motive, but because he has always been accessible to the media and fans alike.
“He’s become quite controversial over the past few years, but Chris really is a caring individual who was willing to help me out as I was just getting started,” Lindsey says of her interview with Kluwe. “He was the second athlete ever to let me interview him for a story, and I had almost no resume to speak of at that time.”
“He was definitely the most interesting, as he has his hands in so many things… from being an NFL punter (at the time), to playing in a band, to a gamer, to a husband and father,” she says. “He is one of the most intelligent and well-spoken individuals I’ve ever spoken with, athlete or otherwise.”
[NOTE: Regarding that last sentence, it is an important distinction that Lindsey is almost certainly not including any founders of any Vikings fan sites. In my experience they are the most intelligent and well-spoken individuals around. I’m sure you agree.]
When it comes to non-football related interviews, Lindsey ranks Torii Hunter and Mark Madsen among her favorites thus far.
I recently asked Lindsey which jerseys she owned and she happily listed them off: Cris Carter, Michael Bennett, Brett Favre, Percy Harvin, Jared Allen, Adrian Peterson, Harrison Smith, Chad Greenway, and Anthony Barr.
“I don’t think I’m forgetting any,” she said, unsure of herself.
Before I could finish doing the math in my head, trying to figure out how much her game day wardrobe was worth, she innocently made another comment that caught my attention.
“I assume you just mean Vikings?”
She is quick to tell you that Cris Carter is her favorite Viking of all time, but she refuses to pick a favorite team between the Vikings and the Timberwolves. Her love for each is equally strong.
This is where I would like to tell you that you will be able to read Lindsey’s work for years to come right here at Vikings Territory, but my gut tells me that will not be the case. Someone with her passion and talent is sure to be moving on to greener pastures (green meaning, you know, an actual paycheck) sometime very, very soon.
“Obviously, my end goal is to be able to be in the sports journalism field full time,” she tells me. “But I really do love writing, so at this point I’m continuing to get all of the experience that I can, and generate lots of different content. I think the fact that I’m continuing to write and look for new opportunities affirms to me that this is really something I enjoy doing, whether there’s an immediate financial reward or not.”
Lindsey added that the support of her parents and sister has been huge, and that their encouragement is a major factor in the continued steps she’s able to take.
I kid about not wanting to lose Lindsey to a bigger and better media outlet, but the truth is that I would love it if every one of our writers here at VT had different sports journalism jobs lined up by tomorrow morning. Lindsey just happens to be really close to getting that big break, in my assessment, and it would be incredibly well-deserved.
In the meantime, be sure to check out all of her work here at VT (she will be covering the Draft live from Winter Park for us this year), elsewhere around the Internet, and be sure to follow her on Twitter to keep track of all her various endeavors.
Don’t bother her on football Sunday, though.
She’ll be busy watching the big game with her dad.