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Benson grad gets on set of ESPN GameDay

Lead Summary

ESPN’s College GameDay show is the country’s premier college football program. It travels the country each fall following the big name teams and key matchup among teams vying for a national Division I championship.
But last September the GameDay show made an appearance in Fargo, N.D., to highlight the nation’s best small college team – the Bison of North Dakota State University (NDSU). It was just the fourth time, and first since 2008, that the GameDay show traveled to a city to feature a FCS game.
Ranked number one in the nation in their division and looking for a third consecutive national championship, the Bison were becoming a national story.
The excitement about GameDay coming to Fargo could be felt throughout the state. But among the Bison fans in Fargo was freshman Alexa Nissen. A 2013 graduate of Benson High School attending her first year of college in Fargo, she is the daughter of Angela Nissen and Brian Nissen. Though excited about the next day’s game, she wasn’t so sure about the crowds she would encounter at the GameDay show Saturday morning, Sept. 21.
Little did she know that within a couple hours she would have the most enviable seat to the GameDay show in all of North Dakota.
 “There were people who were going to go out at 10 that night and sit out there, and it was freezing cold,” Nissen said in an interview last Friday. “I thought, ‘There is no way I am going to do that!’” Instead, she said, they were planning on maybe going to the game Saturday, because if they showed up for the GameDay event late, they would be in the back and wouldn’t see anything. “I wasn’t even going to go…” to the GameDay event downtown.
That night, while others were getting their camping gear together to spend the evening waiting for the three-hour GameDay production to start at 9 the next morning, Nissen went shopping with her boyfriend Blake Hoium at the mall. He needed a new cell phone and was looking for one at the AT&T store.
“I was bored so I started up a conversation with a gentlemen waiting for his phone to be programed,” she said. After they had talked awhile, he told Nissen that he was with ESPN’s GameDay production crew and was the assistant to one of its main hosts, Kirk Herbstreit.
“I was shocked!” Nissen said of meeting Deron Brown. “He gave me his cell phone number and said, ‘Text me tomorrow morning when you get to College GameDay and I will give you and Blake VIP passes.’ We were so excited!”
Photo: Alexa Nissen had the rare opportunity last fall to watch the ESPN GameDay show up close in Fargo.  From left: Desmond Howard, Alexa’s boyfriend Blake Hoium, Chris Fowler, Alexa, Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit.

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