Faithful readers of this blog and the Forum newspaper have been reading articles and columns by Jeff Kolpack for over two decades. He’s an institution in this town, the only person that people want to know who he picks to win on Saturdays.
That’s why it’s appropriate that Jeff will be honored on a Saturday. He’s receiving the North Dakota SportsCasters and Sportswriters Association sportswriter of the year award Saturday night in North Carolina.
I didn’t work a lot with Jeff my first three years in Fargo, I was on weekend anchor duty, so I couldn’t be at the Bison football games. I do remember one of the first times Kolpack mentioned me, it was on the radio with Steve Hallstrom. I had confirmed that Eric Carlson had verbally committed to come play basketball at NDSU (I’m dating myself) and Kolpack said, “Hey the rookie did good!” I was pretty pleased with myself, getting recognized by someone who had tremendous respect and connections in the area and I had been here for five minutes.
When Steve left and I was promoted to Sports Director, NDSU was coming off its 3-8 season. Jeff didn’t hesitate to ask me to join him on the blog, saying “if I had time to add stuff.” I had some ideas of what could possibly be a new way of presenting things on the blog and Jeff and I met that spring to discuss it. We also were going to be starting a radio show on Saturdays during the fall and I was extremely excited for the chance to work with him. The rest is history for those that read this blog as NDSU went on a wild ride that season, ending in dramatic fashion in Cheney, Washington. Jeff and I began doing short video segments before and after games and posting them on the blog and WDAY’s and The Forum’s websites and starting to gain some steam from them.
I don’t need to document the last five years, Kolpack will do a great job in his book, which he doesn’t need my endorsement, but will be a great read for Bison fans. I have always appreciated his enthusiasm and work ethic when I came to him with a new idea for the blog and his willingness to sometimes get booed while Big E gets cheered. Kolpack was the creative force behind creating our Pick ‘Em Nickel, to designing our video blog studios. He’s done it all. Jeff has worked hard on the TV side of things and can handle anything I throw at him for a live interview, from covering the marathon to right before a national semifinal. That’s not easy for someone without any training in broadcasting. He’s helped me with my writing, which wasn’t great in the early going, I write how I speak, which surprisingly isn’t in capital letters!
The one thing I love the most about working with him is we always laugh. From getting locked inside the stadium at Indiana State, to running around the streets of Chicago at the NFL Draft, it’s been a tremendous ride. He’s been a steadying force when things have gotten hairy and one to count on when things needed to get done. Most of all, he’s been a great friend.
Cheers to you my friend. Enjoy your weekend. No one deserves it more.