Breaking down do-it-all journalist’s career

Breakdown Sports USA”s Tim Kolehmainen has climbed from freelance writer to owner

Webmaster of the Week: December 12-18

Tim Kolehmainen

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Kolehmainen grew up on the scenic north shore of Lake Superior in Silver Bay, Minnesota, and attended high school 51 miles to the south at Duluth East. He played youth hockey as a kid (an almost mandatory exercise in that part of the country) but focused on his schoolwork in high school, where he also wrote for the school newspaper. He attended Michigan Tech, where he earned a degree in civil engineering while continuing his burgeoning interest in journalism by writing for the college’s student newspaper. After graduating from Michigan Tech, Kolehmainen worked in the Twin Cities as civil engineer, but he couldn’t shake the thought that he would have much more enjoyable career as a journalist. “I thought, ‘Rather than do that as a hobby and for fun, why don’t I explore that as job?’ ” Kolehmainen said. He got his first “professional” gig at a newspaper just west of Minneapolis in Buffalo, Minnesota, where he did everything from writing to photography to designing and building pages. Kolehmainen started doing freelance writing for Breakdown Sports USA 12 years ago after an inquiry from founder Justin Hegna. Two years later Kolehmainen, who lives in Moorhead, Minnesota, with his wife and two daughters, was tasked with laying out he company’s preseason high school preview books. He signed on as a full-time employee in 2008 and, two years ago, he took over as owner and president of the media side of Breakdown Sports USA’s operation.

Among his many duties, Kolehmainen manages Breakdown Sports USA’s website, which he recently transitioned onto a mobile responsive template. “That has been fun,” Kolehmainen said. “People have commented on how they are now more easily able to view the site on their phone. We get a lot of traffic that way.” Kolehmainen regularly updates the Call to Action page elements on the home page, targeting coaches, players and fans with relevant links. He uses the site to promote the season preview books he creates for boys’ hockey, boys’ and girls’ basketball, volleyball and baseball. He created a custom Registration session to gather team information from coaches for the books, and he uses the Survey Report page element to show which coaches have submitted their info. He also uses Registration to take orders and payment for the guidebooks. He helps out on the events side of Breakdown Sports USA’s operation, serving as a media liaison, social media director and lead photographer as the organization routinely gathers some of the state’s top players and teams for one- and two-day showcases.

In the About Us section, Kolehmainen created a History page that shows the cover of every guidebook, more than a decade’s worth, as well as the All-Breakdown award winners dating back to 2003-04.

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