I have never been to Target USA CUP before; in fact, I had never been to the National Sports Center before my internship began in May despite living in Minneapolis for 14 years growing up. But even though I have no previous connection to it, I find myself growing more excited by the day for the big tournament starting Friday.
I have plenty of reasons to look forward to Target USA CUP, from the non-stop play to the high level of competition to all the awesome events that will be taking place on campus. But the thing I’m most looking forward to is meeting interesting people and telling their stories.
Getting to know other people and writing about them hasn’t always been my forte, though. I got into sports media because I am enthralled by what happens on the field. I love watching incredible individual athletic talent, but I have always been obsessed with the strategy that goes into sports; when I was in fourth grade, you could find me arguing the merits of situational zone defenses in the NBA and predicting that a tight end would be targeted by his quarterback because he was in man coverage out wide against a linebacker. So I was a huge nerd, and, unsurprisingly, that meant I was a little shy and had little interest in telling other people’s stories.
But that has changed over the course of my short journalism career because I have had the opportunity to meet and get to know some incredibly cool people. I got to ask Timberwolves’ point guard Tyus Jones about playing for his hometown team and talk to my college’s triathlon team about the relationships they forge through the adversity of an exhausting sport. Over time, I came to understand that athletes’ experiences outside of sports make their exploits on the field even more fascinating. It doesn’t take many incredible interviews to get hooked.
And now we’re less than a week away from Target USA CUP, a special event when it comes to meeting unique people. More than 16,000 players from 22 states and 19 countries will all be on the same 690-acre campus over an eight-day span. Now add the fact that there will be coaches and referees from across the world in attendance, and it’s clear that this is a fantastic opportunity to get to know many people from diverse backgrounds who have cool backstories.
Profiling people from other countries has long been an aspect of engaging journalism, but learning about other cultures is a crucial experience that everyone should have in order to gain life perspective. The opportunity to do so is one of my favorite things about being a journalist. Sports are a great forum for it as well, because people from all walks of life take part in athletics. USA CUP presents an even more unique opportunity in this regard; I haven’t often gotten the chance to interview youth athletes outside this internship.
So that’s what I’m looking forward to at Target USA CUP. If you are in attendance, I hope you understand how many awesome people there are around you. From what I’ve heard, it’s not an event you’ll forget any time soon.