June 18, 2014
GopherSports: Mitch, we want to know about your hometown of Lakeville, Minn. We know it is close to the Twin Cities, but what can you tell us about it?
Mitch Leidner: I live in Lakeville, Minnesota, which is a pretty big city. I kind of live on the Elko-New Market side of Lakeville, which is on the south end of it. It’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere. I don’t really have too many houses around mine. There are some big yards. We have two high schools, obviously, North and South. There are three middle schools, too. It’s a pretty good sized town.
GS: As a child, what are some of your favorite memories of growing up in Lakeville?
ML: Playing sports growing up is probably my biggest memory. Other memories are probably getting my driver’s license and cruising around with my friends and doing stuff with those guys. That was a lot of fun, too.
GS: What is your favorite place to eat in Lakeville and what do you get there?
ML: I have two favorite restaurants in Lakeville. My first favorite is the Red Fox. It’s in the southern end of Lakeville, so not too many people from Lakeville have probably even heard of it, but it’s a really good place. Just an old school thing. I like it a lot, and I like to get the chicken strips, because they give you really big chicken strips. It’s worth it. My next favorite’s Babe’s in downtown Lakeville. They have $2 appetizers. I usually go there and get wings and waffle fries.
GS: How intense is the rivalry between South and North?
ML: It’s really intense. I remember my senior year, we both went into that game undefeated. There were 12,500 people who showed up for that game. That was really solid for a high school game. There are definitely crazy fans. The two sides of the stands chant back and forth at each other
GS: You and Lakeville North quarterback Trey Heid had a little rivalry going. Were the two of you friends off the field?
ML: No. I didn’t grow up with him. A couple of my close friends did and they continued to play with him out at Augustana. He’s a really competitive kid, and so was I. We wanted to win at all costs, so we did whatever it took.
GS: Some people have nicknamed you Moose because of your size. Have you ever seen any moose in Lakeville and what do you think of that nickname?
ML: No, I have not seen any moose in Lakeville. But I don’t mind the nickname. Actually, one of my friends growing up is named Mitch and his nickname was Moose as well.
GS: What can you tell us about Pan-o-Prog, the city's annual celebration? Did you attend and what are some of your memories of it.
ML: It’s a town festival. I’d usually go to Pan-o-Prog for the Friday night cruise. They have a long line of sweet old hot rods that just drive through literally for two or three hours straight. It was a lot of fun. There were a bunch of concession stands lined up in downtown Lakeville. One summer I did a 3-on-3 basketball tournament. It was always fun, and everybody went to it.
GS: Lakeville's motto is, "Where nature meets the Twin Cities." Is that motto accurate?
ML: I wasn’t sure that was the motto, but I have a lot of deer out in my yard, so I guess there’s nature there. My mom’s got a garden, too. There are a couple lakes in Lakeville.
GS: Is there anything odd or funny about Lakeville that people don't know about?
ML: There are a lot of people in Lakeville that like to drive their big, jacked up trucks to school. I fit in right with those guys. I had a big truck in high school.
GS: What landmark do you best associate Lakeville with? What is the one thing in Lakeville that everyone knows?
ML: A lot of people know the beach on Lake Marion. That’s where a lot of people hang out and play volleyball during the summer. When I was younger I used to go to the beach all the team and swim.
GS: What were some of your summer jobs in Lakeville growing up?
ML: I umpired for baseball for a few years.
GS: Did you ever get heckled by any baseball parents?
ML: All the time. My brother and I would ump together. He was too scared to talk to the parents, so I’d be the one to have to tell them to settle down.
GS: Is there a Main Street or a busy street in Lakeville where a lot happens?
ML: The road in downtown Lakeville right next to Babe’s is probably the busiest. It gets busy in the summer time because there’s a little ice cream shop down there, too. There’s always something going on there it seems like.
GS: We know you had an accomplished high school basketball career. Were you a terror in some neighborhood pickup games?
ML: I wouldn’t say I was a terror. I did okay in some pickup basketball games in the neighborhood, but I don’t think I was that good.
GS: There are quite a few athletes at the U from Lakeville. How well do you know all of them, like Brady Skjei, Justin Kloos or Rachel Banham?
ML: I know Brady. He went to Ann Arbor, Michigan, for two years of high school, so I didn’t know him that well, but we still talk. Justin Kloos is another Lakeville guy on the hockey team, and Cole Banham’s from Lakeville, too, so I know all the Banhams.
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