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Former Monte grad named 2020 ND Sportscaster of the Year

Danae Milbrandt
Montevideo American-News

There are very few people who know where they are going once they set out on life’s amazing journey. Former Montevideo High School graduate Jody Norstedt developed a passion for sports at a young age, and that passion was recognized on Monday, Jan. 11 when the National Sports Media Association announced that he had been named 2020 North Dakota Sportscaster of the Year.

Norstedt, who lives and works in West Fargo, graduated from MHS in 2004. He is the son of Janelle Pauling and stepdad Dahlen Pauling of Montevideo, and Jim Norstedt and stepmom Helen Norstedt of Benson.

“I fell in love with sports at a young age,” said Norstedt. “I feel like I gained a very competitive spirit being the youngest of three boys! My brothers Matt, Luke, and I spent a lot of hours chasing each other around and playing games!”

During his high school sports career for the Thunder Hawks, Norstedt participated in football, track and field, and intramural basketball.

“Football has always been my favorite sport, and I was proud to be a captain of the team my senior year,” he said. “I’ll always cherish the memories of playing high school football. We only won two games that year, but it was the two that mattered: homecoming and Senior Night. I can also claim three titles in four years of intramural basketball!”

After high school, Norstedt attended St. Cloud State University from 2004 through 2008 where he majored in Broadcast Journalism and also earned a minor in communication studies. After graduating from SCSU, it didn’t take long for him to find employment.

Norstedt said, “I landed my first job as a weekend sports anchor at WDAZ TV in  Grand Forks and  worked there from June 2008 through March 2011. Then in April 2011, I moved to Fargo to become the weekend sports anchor at WDAY TV.”

While working there, Norstedt anchored the weekend sportscasts for the nightly news. He also  display-by-play announcing for high school sports in North Dakota, and he also did play-by-play for North Dakota State Tournament games.

With his degree in broadcast journalism and his love of sports, becoming a sportscaster was a perfect fit for Norstedt. He said, “The sportscaster bug hit me at an early age. I remember going to watch dirt track racing at the Madison Speedway and being enamored by the guys that were broadcasting the race over the PA system. I wanted to be like those guys!

“My brother Luke and I would actually race our Hot Wheels cars down our mom’s treadmill and ‘broadcast’ our races!”

For Norstedt, sportscasting ultimately became a passion which continued to grow through the years and was fueled by real-life sportscasters. “I always stayed up late to watch Mark Rosen on WCCO; he became a role model of mine,” said Norstedt. “However, I didn’t think the career was realistic by the time I graduated from high school, so I went to St. Cloud State to initially pursue a major in physical education with the hopes of coaching someday.”

According to Norstedt, late in his freshman year at SCSU he had a change of heart and decided to give broadcast journalism a try. “It ended up being a great decision for me! SCSU has an outstanding program for its broadcast journalism majors. I was able to work for our college news television station and gained some tremendous experience there,” he said.

In 2017, Norstedt  became a reporter/producer for Midco Sports Network.

“It’s a regional sports network leading the way for high school and collegiate sports in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota,” he said. “I specialize in covering North Dakota high school athletics, but I serve in other capacities as well.”

The National Sports Media Association (NSMA), formerly known as the National sportscasters and Sportswriters Association, is an organization of sports media members in the United States. It was formed in 1959, and this years’ 2020 awards mark the 61st year of the association’s annual awards weekend. This year’s event will be held on June 26 through 28 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Norstedt explained that each year a sportswriter and a sportscaster from each state are selected through a voting process by NMSA members to receive the honor.

“This is my first time winning this award,” he said. “It’s a really cool honor that I’m proud of. It means a lot that I’ve gained the respect of my peers in the state because there are so many sportswriters and sportscasters that I admire throughout North Dakota!” he said.

Norstedt plans on attending the awards ceremony in North Carolina this summer, and accompanying him will be his wife, Amy. He said, “Amy and I met when I was working my first job at WDAZ TV in Grand Forks. She was interning as a news reporter, and later she became a news anchor for WDAY TV.”

The couple are the proud parents of a two-year old son named Harrison, and family means a lot to Norstedt.

“I really enjoy living in West Fargo and covering North Dakota high school sports, but the most important thing for me is my family. I want to make sure I’m a good husband and father; I’ve already had a blast playing catch with Harrison and teaching him to play T-ball. Maybe someday I’ll get to broadcast one of his games!” he laughed.

Norstedt is quick to give credit for his success to others.

“I work for a great company in Midco Sports Network,” he said. “They give me the platform and resources to do my job covering sports in our region. I’m surrounded by the most talented co-workers you can imagine; they always push me to do better!

“Of course, I also have an incredibly talented and supportive wife who is by far the better broadcaster and storyteller in our family! She’s helped me so much in my career, and she also sacrifices a lot when I’ve had to be gone on numerous nights and weekends.”

Whatever the future holds for Norstedt, it looks promising and he is quite happy in his chosen career.

“I really enjoy the company I work for, and I see myself working in sportscasting for a long time,” he said. “I’ve been truly blessed to have been given the opportunities I’ve had. I’ve interviewed a number of Vikings, Twins, and Wild players. I’ve covered NCAA basketball and hockey tournaments, LPGA events, and numerous big time college football games. I can hardly call it work!”