A Minnesota elementary school teacher has wowed "The Bachelor" star Matt James, as well as the show's fans.
Michelle Young was among five contestants who arrived Monday night, a few episodes into the series, irking some women there from the start. But she quickly connected with James, nabbing a coveted one-on-one date.
Young, of Edina, teaches at Normandale Hills Elementary School in Bloomington, according to her LinkedIn profile.
"I'm looking for someone who will change the world with me," she told James.
The first Black bachelor in the series' long history, James seemed smitten, choosing to spend the next day with the 27-year-old. "Let's make up for lost time," the date card read.
They sure did — smiling, laughing and kissing throughout a date that involved a ride down a zipline and a trip up in a hot-air balloon. At one point, they had to answer a question about how many kids they wanted. "Say it on three?" Young suggested, counting off.
"Three!" they answered in unison, erupting into laugher.
At night, the pair connected over her job. (James also works with kids via his nonprofit ABC Food Tours.) She quoted Maya Angelou, without naming her, and James picked up on the reference. ("That's one of my favorite quotes.") She talked about how the police killing of George Floyd has affected her students, especially students of color.
"Some people consider it a touchy topic," Young said. "But parents wanted to have that conversation."
"The work you're doing is going to shape a generation," James said.
Fans of the show sang her praises Twitter. Some noted that Young has only posted a handful times on Instagram, a hint that she might be on the show "for the right reasons," a standard by which contestants are judged.
Young played Division 1 basketball at Bradley University in Illinois. Before that, she was a prep basketball star at Woodbury High School.
As a senior, she made the Star Tribune's all-metro first team in 2011, where she was "perhaps the fastest player." Young "scored in double figures in all 28 games," the paper said then, "averaging 22.1 points per game with a high of 36 (twice, against Roseville and Forest Lake)." The speedy, 5-foot-9 guard was also named Most Valuable Player at the Minnesota Girls Basketball All-Star Tournament that year.
An ABC spokesperson declined an interview with Young, saying that contestants won't be available to talk until after the show.
In future episodes, Young might face resentment in the house from women who arrived earlier. (One of those contestants is a fellow Minnesotan: Anna Redman, who grew up in Owatonna.) She might also reveal her Minnesota accent, telling James, "You'll hear it, I promise."
At the end of their date, James gushed: "It's kind of wild to think about how you can form feelings for somebody so quickly. Everything I'm hearing about Michelle, I love...
"What I've learned about her, her story, who she is as a woman and where's she's going — I've seen all I need to see."
Jenna Ross • 612-673-7168