When I was 10 years old my favorite teams were the 49ers, the Yankees — and my dad's.
My father, Chet, coached boys' basketball for 33 years at Bishop Hoban High School, which was a Catholic school near Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and for as much as I enjoyed rooting for Jerry Rice, Steve Young and Derek Jeter, my dad's teams were the ones I pulled for the most.
I lived and died with every game. I was inconsolable if they lost, more than he was. I wanted to do everything I could to help him win, even though I wasn't in high school yet. So as I acquired math skills, I became the unofficial team statistician, and I charted every game from behind the bench.
I tracked as much as I could — made shots, missed shots, whether they were two-pointers or three-pointers, offensive and defensive rebounds, free throws and turnovers. I would well with pride when my dad would take the stat sheets during timeouts and halftime, and he never once doubted their accuracy.
That's where my interest with statistics and numbers began. It bled over into other areas of my life. When it came to music, I began tracking the Billboard Hot 100 chart because I wanted to know the most popular songs. Now, if you give me a date since 1996, I could likely name the No. 1 song in the country for that time. I tracked which of my favorite shows and actors were winning Emmy Awards and how my favorite musicians did at the Grammys.
Thankfully, I was able to parlay this love of numbers into a career, one that has led me to here, to the Star Tribune to be its first sports analytics/enterprise writer.
As much as I love numbers and statistics, my favorite thing to do is write. Using numbers to tell great stories and provide some insight into the teams here in Minnesota is what I hope to do with this new assignment.
We've named our analytics mission "North Score." Look for our first articles later this week.
I come from the Chicago Tribune, where I spent eight years, the past three covering the Blackhawks (please don't hold that against me). I saw up close how advanced statistics are changing hockey, and the same is true for every major sport. Hopefully you will be patient as I try to navigate the advanced stats of several sports, some I'm more versed in than others. And if you're skeptical of analytics, hopefully you'll give me a chance.
That's because I want to write about more than just the numbers. I want to write about how these numbers are influencing the Minnesota teams, how science and technology are changing player evaluation and how the players themselves are using all these new tools to mold their games. It's a world of untapped storytelling potential. Come follow along.
Chris Hine's "North Score" analytics stories will begin this week at startribune.com/sports.