Photos courtesy of NHL Network
For Jamie Hersch, there’s no place like home.
The Champlin, Minn., native traded Midwest winters for bustling New York City in 2015, where she currently hosts NHL Network’s “On The Fly.” But this weekend, Hersch will return to familiar airwaves on Saturday, January 19 when she hosts Hockey Day Minnesota in Bemidji for FOX Sports North.
Hersch was in St. Cloud for last year’s event with NHL Network, but this year marks her first on site with FOX Sports North, where she served as a host and reporter from 2013-15.
“The state of Minnesota has fully embraced hockey and it’s a really special part of our state’s heritage,” Hersch said. “So to celebrate that and be a part of that, and also bring some attention to it at a national level, is really going to be special.”
Hersch also has plenty more to celebrate in the coming months as she and her husband are expecting their first child in April.
We caught up with Hersch to learn about some of her Hockey Day Minnesota memories, what it’s like to be heading back to her home state and the new addition coming soon to her family.
Minnesota Hockey Journal: How special is it to be coming home again and host Hockey Day Minnesota with FOX Sports North for a day?
Jamie Hersch: It’s going to be really special because it’s my hometown. Anytime I get to go home, I get to see family in the meantime, and then just to be able to reconnect with old coworkers will be fun. That was the hardest part about leaving FOX Sports North—just saying goodbye to some really great friends I made during my time there. So now to be rejoining that team and working with the some of the best people in the business on this really, really special day for FOX Sports North and the Minnesota Wild is something I didn’t imagine before this.
When they approached me about it last summer, I was thrilled and said, ‘absolutely. As long as NHL Network is all right with me missing a couple days for this, I would certainly love to.’ NHL Network was great about it. They said, ‘we think this is great promotion, not only for you and hockey growing in the U.S, but also for NHL Network too.’ It’s possible I may do a few appearances on NHL Network if there’s time, but I’m going to be specifically there for FOX to host their daylong coverage.
MHJ: You studied broadcast journalism at the University of Southern California, covered local sports in Madison, Wisconsin and now live on the East Coast. Did you tune in for Hockey Day Minnesota through the years?
Hersch: I remember watching it from Madison, Wisconsin and thinking how cool it was that they spent so much time and effort promoting the high school game. It really just shows how important hockey is to the state of Minnesota, and I think it’s great to see and to shine the spotlight on the local youth hockey programs, because that’s where it all really begins. It’s the moms and the dads that drive their kids to early morning hockey practice and it’s the coaches that develop them from a really young age. To be able to have these kids be on TV and be able to showcase their skills—that’s got to be a cool experience for them, so I’m really excited to be a part of that experience.
I also want to mention the women’s game. I know last year was the first time they had a college women’s team in Hockey Day Minnesota, and it was just another great way to show that hockey is for everyone and we celebrate all levels, both men’s and women’s hockey in the state of Minnesota. So I’m really glad they’re bringing that back again this year.
MHJ: What is it about the hockey culture in Minnesota that’s so special?
Hersch: I think it’s just really engrained in our winter culture. I personally didn’t play hockey growing up or come from a hockey family, but I certainly had a lot of friends who did and it’s just everywhere. I grew up figure skating, actually, so I was still around the ice. The fact that you drive through the streets, and you’ll see backyard after backyard and local park after local park flooded with ice rinks. I just think that speaks to the culture of how much we love the game.
MHJ: Congratulations on your recent announcement of a new addition coming to your family this spring! Are you anticipating a future hockey player in the house?
Hersch: Thank you! Yes, definitely. It’s been such a big part of our household. My husband is from California and he didn’t grow up with hockey at all, but when we started thinking about moving to Minneapolis for the new job and I knew I’d be working primarily in hockey with the Minnesota Wild, we both just started binge watching as much hockey as we could. We bought the cable package with NHL Network and just started recording everything, watching all the games and trying to really learn the game a lot more in depth. He’s a huge hockey fan now, and we still watch all the Minnesota Wild games from afar.
So there was really no doubt in my mind that when we were talking about announcing our new addition—our firstborn child—that we wanted to have it be something to do with hockey. I posted this on Instagram and Twitter. I bought these little baby booties on Etsy. Somebody hand crocheted them and they’re so cute. That was the preferred way to announce to the world that I was expecting a little boy. We definitely would love to see him play hockey, so we’ll have to get him on real skates in a few years.
MHJ: What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?
Hersch: I think people, a lot of times, have the impression that people on TV just kind of in a different world and have a whole crew of people—personal makeup artists, personal hairstylists, personal wardrobe people. And while we do have some of that at work, I think people would be surprised to know that while I’m not at work, I don’t wear makeup, I have my hair in a ponytail and I wear sweatpants.
I’m very much just a normal person and especially living out here in the New York area, nobody recognizes me or anything, which is kind of nice to have that anonymity. But it was also kind of fun in Minnesota, being recognized more there and running into people at the grocery store. I think they’d be surprised, and maybe say, ‘you look so different!’ I’m not just dolled up all the time. I actually lead a very laid back, normal lifestyle in my spare time.