Star-Spangled singer

UND’s own Mark Lindquist

Mark Lindquist, motivational speaker and singer, waves to fans after singing the national anthem at the Ralph Engelstad Arena prior to a UND mens hockey game against Western Michigan in 2016.

Nick Nelson

Mark Lindquist, motivational speaker and singer, waves to fans after singing the national anthem at the Ralph Engelstad Arena prior to a UND men’s hockey game against Western Michigan in 2016.

Nick Erickson, Staff Writer

Walking out onto the carpet laid on the ice as the last two players are introduced, Mark J. Lindquist looks around attentively. He looks at every fan in the building that is, more times than not, sold out. He takes a deep breath, and says “man, this is awesome” every time before he sings the national anthem at the UND Men’s hockey games.

The Ortonville, Minnesota native and Air Force Veteran began his hobby of singing the national anthem at Ortonville High School while he was a student and has progressed to much larger stages since. Lindquist was recently announced as the Cleveland Indians number one choice to sing the anthem if they were to make it to the World Series.

UND students have appreciated having Lindquist as the full-time singer for the last four years. However, not many people actually know the story of how he became such a pivotal piece to the overall experience that makes the UND hockey Friday and Saturday games at the Ralph Engelstad Arena one of the nation’s top displays of entertainment.

Singing the national anthem is something Lindquist has always truly enjoyed doing. It’s his favorite hobby. His career is being a motivational speaker where the main points of his keynote are about passion in a person’s life and doing what you love to do. Lindquist leads his message by example. He had been singing at the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks games before he had auditioned and booked a performance at the Alerus Center to sing at a UND football game. Lindquist was then approached after that performance to sing for the men’s hockey games.

“I can say with absolute confidence and authority, the gig at the Ralph, for UND hockey it’s the best gig in America, and I’ve been saying that for years.”

— Mark Lindquist, Singer and motivational speaker

Lindquist came onto the scene as the full-time singer during the 2014-2015 season. He had originally sung at a half-dozen hockey games during the 2013 season, before he had been approached by the Ralph Engelstad staff to become the full-time singer, similar to how most NHL teams have a national anthem singer on their staff. Lindquist gladly accepted, and the journey began.

“That first game at the Ralph, I was thinking, oh my goodness sakes, there is 12,000 people, this is incredible!” Lindquist said. “That was probably the biggest crowd I had sung in front of solo was the first game at the Ralph in the fall of 2013.”

Lindquist has always been extremely grateful for his opportunity to sing for the hockey fans at the Ralph here at UND.

“I can say with absolute confidence and authority, the gig at the Ralph, for UND hockey it’s the best gig in America, and I’ve been saying that for years. Before this, I was singing for military ceremonies, with like 25 people in the audience.” Lindquist said.

From his start at the Ralph, Lindquist gained the confidence to launch his hobby into orbit and began singing at a multitude of different venues. He then sang at the College World Series, which led him to the Minnesota twins, which then led to the Minnesota Vikings, and to the LA Dodgers after that. He is now singing the anthem all over the country.

Ever since Lindquist started doing more of the major teams in the sports world, his office every year has been reaching out to professional teams. Cleveland called back. The Indians were doing a military appreciation for 9/11 and invited Lindquist out to Cleveland. He sang for game 19 of their second best ever MLB win streak of 22 games. That event was what sparked the relationship between Linquist and the Cleveland Indians to allow him to potentially sing at the World Series.

Even though he has been singing all over the country at some of the biggest venues in all of sports, his favorite moment was singing for the UND hockey game last year at Madison Square Garden.

“I’ll never forget it. It was not only like a home game I think only 50 percent of the people knew I was going to be there, and when the 13,000 strong UND hockey fans, cheering and being excited about the experience of being there, it was like we had brought the experience at the Ralph to Madison Square Garden,” Lindquist said. “The anthem is not about me that’s why I don’t try to sing every note on the piano like some of these other singers, but I’m honored that the UND fans are supportive of me singing it. It’s about the song.”

Lindquist’s experience at the Ralph couldn’t be nearly as memorable if it weren’t for the fans and their passion. Their passion reaches beyond the game to the new tradition of seeing Lindquist in the spotlight standing on the ice ready to fill the arena with patriotism.

“It’s about remembering why you’re proud to be an American. I enjoyed the experience of the people expressing their thanks, of a job well done,” Lindquist said. “The students are my favorite, the support that you give and the cheers. You all make me feel welcome.”

Fans will be able to see Lindquist quite a bit on the national stage this year even if the Indians don’t make the World Series. He will be singing the anthem for sure Nov. 12 at Soldier Field for the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears game. He will also be singing the following week for the Cleveland Browns and Jacksonville Jaguars matchup. Both will be their salute to service games. He will also be singing for his first NHL game for the Las Vegas Golden Knights this year.

We could also potentially see him singing for the Monday night football game for the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots coming Dec. 11. If not, he will be in Miami for the Bills and Dolphins game on New Year’s Eve.

He hopes to be able to sing the national anthem at the Super Bowl to cap off his bucket list. Most times, the NFL decides to go with a big name singer like Luke Bryan who sang the anthem in last season’s Super Bowl.

“I’ve got a lot of Super Bowls to come before I kick the bucket, but that’s the ultimate goal. The fact that I’m only one step away with being picked to do the World Series, it makes that dream seem reachable,” Lindquist said.

When asking him to reflect on his time spent with the UND hockey production at the Ralph, Lindquist only wanted one thing to be focused on.

“The person, whoever does this gig, whether it be me or Lacey, or whoever comes in, I hope that we all have created a standard of excellence, with that part of the production at the Ralph, that would be maintained forever,” Lindquist said. 

Nick Erickson is a sports writer for Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]