The sports world usually has its niches.
There are the athletes and the reporters. There are the fans and cheerleaders and maybe someone just waiting for the Homecoming dance.
Then there‚Äôs Audrey Dahlgren, who‚Äôs been all of those. She‚Äôs also gone from Potterville to St. Louis (the big Missouri one, not the little Michigan one) and back.
The ‚Äúand back‚ÄĚ is unusual. For three years, Dahlgren has been a sports reporter for KSDK, a ratings leader in St. Louis; now she‚Äôs back at WLNS (Channel 6), surprising Fred Heumann, the sports anchor.
‚ÄúHe calls me,‚ÄĚ Dahlgen recalled, ‚Äúand says, ‚ÄėHey, I know it‚Äôs a long shot, but Jay (Sardar) is leaving.‚Äô‚ÄĚ
Even that was an understatement, Heumann said. ‚ÄúIt was more than a long shot.‚ÄĚ
But the timing was right and she decided to return home … where she learned anything was possible. At Potterville High, she was homecoming queen AND prom queen AND an all-state runner. At Michigan State, she was a cheerleader who surprised herself by becoming a TV reporter.
‚ÄúI always wanted to do something in sports,‚ÄĚ Dahlgren said. ‚ÄúBut I wasn‚Äôt thinking about TV.‚ÄĚ
Her dad, Kim Dahlgren, has always been a sports buff. ‚ÄúI was either 8 or 10 and he was going out on a run,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúI wanted to go with him; he said it was a three-mile run and that would be too much.‚ÄĚ
But she kept up with him and has been running ever since. In high school, she was all-state in track and cross-country and for years held the school five-kilometer record at 19 minutes and 7 seconds.
But she had a stress fracture her senior year; by the time she got to Michigan State, she decided to focus on kinesiology and sports medicine. For fun, she‚Äôd be a cheerleader.
That was the time when the queen-of-everything didn‚Äôt get chosen. ‚ÄúThe others had gymnastics backgrounds and I didn‚Äôt …. It took me two years‚ÄĚ to make the cheerleading team.
Once she did, however, there was an impact. ‚ÄúBeing on the sidelines and around the action, I realized that I really missed sports.‚ÄĚ
Meanwhile, a family friend suggested she job-shadow Heumann. ‚ÄúShe was very inquisitive,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúI liked the fact that she was in it for all the right reasons. She was serious about it.‚ÄĚ
She also has TV-ready looks, which is a touchy subject nowadays … and was then. Heumann used to joke about that when she was his cameraperson for an interview. ‚ÄúI‚Äôd say, ‚ÄėLook who‚Äôs on-camera, when the beautiful one is back there.‚Äô But she didn‚Äôt like that.‚ÄĚ
After MSU, Dahlgren was a sports reporter in Fargo, N.D., then spent three years at WLNS. She talks fondly of interviews with Tom Izzo, Denzel Valentine and several local high school coaches. In St. Louis, she especially liked interviewing pro hockey ex-coach Ken Hitchcock (‚Äúso witty and sarcastic‚ÄĚ) and captain Alex Pietrangelo, plus various Cardinals, including Jose Martinez (‚Äúhis story is so incredible; he was in the minors for 10 years‚ÄĚ) and Adam Wainwright.
Then Heumann called. ‚ÄúI said, ‚ÄėFunny you should ask; where my life is at, I‚Äôd actually consider it.‚Äô‚ÄĚ
Shortly after that, she had a pleasant vacation back home. ‚ÄúWithout that, I don‚Äôt think she would have done it,‚ÄĚ Heumann said.
Family and friends are key, Dahlgren said, but there were also some other reasons. Unlike the St. Louis station, WLNS lets her cover high school sports; it also lets her free-lance with the Big Ten Network.
That‚Äôs important, Dahlgren said, with Lisa Byington as a key example. ‚ÄúI conferred with her quite a bit; when I interned (at WLNS), she was there and always helpful.‚ÄĚ
Byington has gone on to a busy national career, including (last year) being the first woman to do play-by-play for a Big Ten Network football game. Now Dahlgren continues her own sports journey.
‚ÄĘ Co-anchoring ‚Äú5th Quarter Sports,‚ÄĚ in the 11 p.m. newscast on WLNS (Channel 6); Oct. 5 is scheduled to be her first on-air appearance.
‚ÄĘ Sports anchor on newscasts Saturdays (about 7 and 11 p.m. during football season) and Sundays (11 p.m., often later during football season).
‚ÄĘ Sports reporting during the week
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