Photo: Bruce Bennett
As some of you know, I have a rare autoimmune condition. Earlier this month, I went up to the Mayo Clinic to Rochester, Minnesota to get some of that crazy stuff sorted out. As someone who’s never been west of Chicago, I was uniquely well-positioned positioned to ask vaguely informed, stereotypical questions about the State of Hockey. I directed them at former Minnesota Golden Gopher Nate Schmidt, who hails from St. Cloud. Here’s our conversation from last week.
So, I’ve now been to Minnesota.
Nate Schmidt: How’d you like it?!
Well I had to go to Mayo Clinic.
Nate Schmidt: Oh, that’s right.
But, but, but, wait! I didn’t get into Minneapolis because we were busy, but there are a couple observations I want to ask you about. It seems very flat.
Nate Schmidt: You were in Southern Minnesota — a lot of flat. I will say the more northern you get, the more trees, the more rolling hills.
It is more picturesque?
Nate Schmidt: You know, you get the waterfalls, the boundary waters, but yes. When you’re probably an hour north of where I’m from, St. Cloud.
And that’s nowhere near where I was.
Nate Schmidt: You gotta go like three hours north to hit anything besides that. Yes, southern Minnesota, central Minnesota is very farmland.
One thing I noticed is that it was snowing and this guy was wearing short sleeves.
Nate Schmidt: Oh yeah, that’s normal.
He said his favorite temperature was minus-20 degrees because his snowmobile runs the best and he goes like 100 miles per hour.
Nate Schmidt: That sounds exactly right. Let me just put it this way, there were times when I was in high school where we’d show up to some of the teams that we played and high school kids would be rolling up to on their snowmobiles to the rink. Ask Nisky. They used to run those things to class.
The other thing they had were the skyways.
Nate Schmidt: That’s pretty much everyone. Minneapolis is very much all connected by skyways and underground tunnel somehow. The campus where I went to school, you could walk pretty much everywhere underground.
I had a problem. I could walk everywhere, but I could also get lost everywhere. I’m like, ‘I’m now in a Marriott. I didn’t intend to be in a Marriott.
Nate Schmidt: Oh, I hear you! That’s not uncommon. It took me like two years to get it down at school. It takes a while. Most big cities, any downtown area like Rochester or Minneapolis — all the big schools have it too.
Okay, the last question is people from Minnesota seem nice.
Nate Schmidt: Are you sure?
Would you confirm that? They seem very nice. I wouldn’t call them Nate Schmidt nice, but I would say they were very friendly.
Nate Schmidt: First of all, we love outsiders. When people come to Minnesota to visit, that’s like a huge thing. Everyone wants to share how awesome it is. You ask everyone from Minnesota, they’ll tell you how awesome it is at any given time. You be like ‘Hey, where are you from?’ And they’ll be like ‘Oh, I love it! It’s great!’ They’ll tell you all about it.
Are you guys nice to each other?
Nate Schmidt: You know, unless it’s family, yes. Everyone just huddles around about how cold it is or how great the weather is in the summer. Everyone just bands together around certain topics. Everyone knows it’s cold. Well, everyone’s been having a cold day today, let’s get somebody a nice hot cup of coffee when they walk in. That type of thing.
Well this was very enlightening. I’m now glad to have visited. I got a Golden Gophers t-shirt — I already had a Minnesota Hockey t-shirt — but I got the big Gopher.
Nate Schmidt: I love it!
And I wore that yesterday.
Nate Schmidt: Wear that everyday!
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