Kip Kesgard has been covering the Portland Timbers since 2009 as a community blogger for OregonLive.com, but has been a supporter since watching his first game in 2001.
1. When did you first discover your love for soccer? Who is your favorite team?
It’s actually a funny story, but it all started with a show on PBS called “Soccer Made in Germany”. I grew up in Boise, Idaho and ran competitively in high school and Sunday mornings were my time for long runs. When I would get back home from the distance runs, it was usually on television when I returned and was eating breakfast. I just flipped it on for background, but after a few weeks, I was hooked on the results and news from over there. I rekindled it more when I moved to Portland back in 1989 after graduating from college.
2. Where did you college and what was your major?
I went to college at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA majoring in economics. I was also on the Bulletin newspaper staff for two semesters as a humor columnist and part time reporter.
3. How did you get involved with the Portland Timbers?
A friend of mine had been watching Timbers matches from the NASL days, and we worked together when the team was resurrected in 2001. We attended matches periodically throughout the years until we both joined the Timbers Army in 2004. That pretty much led to me meeting most of my current friends, my over 40 soccer club and my wife, who I met at a Timbers match. I still regularly attend Timbers Army functions, even having a Timbers Army themed wedding back in 2008.
4. How often do you blog about the Timbers?
I usually blog 3 to 4 times a week, but will post more if there is more news. I always do a match preview, match report and player evaluations of every Portland Timbers match, home and away.
5. Do you get access to the locker room and field during games?
Yes, I have a full press pass that allows me access to all Timbers and Thorns FC matches. While I usually sit in the press box for home matches to get a good vantage point for reporting and evaluations, I have spent previous seasons on the sidelines taking pictures. I am also able to attend Caleb Porter’s post match press conferences and practices when I can arrange time away from my other job. The Timbers do a great job of treating bloggers just like regular members of the media – television, print, radio – and they will go out of their way to help you in any way they can as long as you carry yourself professionally and respectfully.
6. What is the interaction with players like?
The players are extremely cordial and approachable, and we get regular access to them after practices and matches. We do try to be very respectful and take much direction from the Timbers media group in relation to who might not be available for comment (conflicts in schedule). They also regularly provide interpreters so if you don’t know Spanish (and mine is really rusty), you can still have a great conversation with them. Most of the Spanish players appreciate any attempts to speak with them in their native tongue. While we do talk a lot about soccer, the Portland area, past matches and upcoming opponents, you do get to know some of the players personally and it’s more like a friendship than really an interview. That takes a great deal of time and effort, but it is worth it as I know several current and former players and we do chat from time to time.
7. What other jobs in the field have you held?
As far as in media, this is really my first job. I also write part time for Football Nation as a columnist on college football and the NFL, which I will cover usually during breaks in the MLS schedule. In my other career, I have worked for U.S. Bank for 25 years and was a corporate trainer for several years, where I worked hard on my presentation skills. I was also a technical writer for the bank, so I am used to using my writing skills to persuade, describe or inspire.
8. What are your plans for the future?
My wife, who is also with Oregonlive as a photographer, and I are very happy working for the site, and we will continue to contribute content as long as our schedule permits. We also have plans to travel to England, Italy and to several other MLS destinations. I also plan to continue playing soccer for my over 40 club as long as I’m healthy and able to play because I enjoy it very much.
9. Where do you see sports reporting heading to in the future?
I think we are already seeing where reporting on sports is heading – quick bites on Twitter and other social media to take advantage of instant publishing. That being said, there is still room for serious in-depth pieces that go beyond sensational topics as long as they are well written, insightful, interesting, and inspiring. I think you will still see print journalism to some respect, but in the days of instant news, being able to transmit and publish immediately, instant access will continue to be a key.
10. What advice would you give an aspiring sports reporter?
Be confident in your craft, but be accurate in your observations and research. Always be respectful to those that are giving you time and information, and treat others as you would want to be treated. If you show respect and care with your craft, readers can feel that in your work and they will come back each and every time.