Mindy Leadholm, formerly of Hastings, has been a Vikings fan her whole life. Not even crossing the river into the Packer territory of Prescott could change that.
"It was the hardest thing for me to think about moving to Wisconsin as a Viking fan," Leadholm said.
Changing her license plate to Wisconsin was especially difficult, but she lessened the blow with a speciality license plate — SKOL MN.
She didn't have much of a choice in her team, seeing as she was raised by die-hard Vikings fans. Her parents Ken and Betty Hoeschen of Hastings had season tickets for more than 50 years, and have attended 3 of the 4 Super Bowls the Vikings played. Ken even started the Hastings Vikings fan club, and the original Vikings mascot came to both Ken and Betty's and Leadholm's wedding.
"No one can say that we're bandwagon fans," Leadholm said.
"We got on the wagon a long time ago," Ken added.
This long history of fandom was one of the things that led Leadholm, Ken and Betty to sign up to be part of the Crew 52 volunteers for this year's Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Sunday, Feb. 4.
Making the finals
Of the about 30,000 people that applied for the volunteer positions, only 10,000 were selected.
Signing up meant completing an application, undergoing a background check and conducting one-on-one interviews.
"It was a pretty extensive process," Leadholm said.
Kelly Sweeney of Hastings knows just how much effort went on behind the scenes to get volunteers picked and ready to work. A U.S. Bank employee, Sweeney's involvement started in 2016 with the Super Bowl Host Committee.
"It's a massive undertaking that the host committee has made it look like it's easy, and I know it's not," she said.
Sweeney helped with a lot of background work, including being one of the people conducting the interviews with applicants.
"I personally was just looking for people that have positive energy, happy people that were just excited about the opportunity," Sweeney said.
The interviews covered everything from previous volunteer experience to the important Minnesota question, "Do you mind being in the cold?"
The lucky 10,000 were notified last fall, and attended their first orientation all together.
Selected volunteers include teenagers and those in their 70s, Sweeney said, and everything in between.
"I'm very excited about the caliber of the volunteers we have and I have the utmost faith that they're going to do a great job representing our city and our state," Sweeney said.
Over the last several weeks, the volunteers have been attending smaller sessions to learn more about their roles and responsibilities.
Most importantly, the volunteers are asked to be welcoming and hospitable, guiding guests where they need to go and giving recommendations of what to see. The training did cover a few more serious topics, including security and the concern of human trafficking.
Taking the field
Crew 52 and the 10,000 volunteers that make it up will be spread across the Twin Cities, from Super Bowl Live on Nicollet Mall to hotels in St. Paul. They will be welcoming visitors at the airport and guiding guests through the skyways.
Leadholm and Ken Hoeschen were still waiting for their training and assignments, but the two said they were excited to welcome people.
"We're just going to be there to greet people and show them how great our city and our state is," Leadholm said.
Just short of a miracle
Excitement reached a whole new level after the "Minneapolis Miracle" win against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, Jan. 14. Talking before this past Sunday's game (the Vikings lost to Philadelphia 38-7), Leadholm and Ken had a hard time containing their excitement about a potential Vikings Super Bowl.
The host team playing in the big game would have been an NFL first. Though their team fell short of the big game, this Vikings family is still grateful for what they call a once in a lifetime opportunity.
"It's not really an option for us to go to the Super Bowl," Leadholm said. "This is the chance to participate without ever going to the game."