“Celebrate the story differently.”
This is the personal mission statement that Mike Sautter lives up to when writing and sharing sport stories.
Sautter is currently a sports journalist for Hurrdat Sports. His big focus is sharing high school recruiting stories, updates on Nebraska high school teams and athletes, as well as college athletes from Nebraska. Writing was not always his passion.
Unlike most journalists, Sautter has no journalism experience, nor a college degree. He claims to be a “self-trained writer.” Sautter said he’s worked with connections for information and trust when writing articles.
“I’m not a trained writer like that,” Sautter said. “But I’m knowledgeable and I’ve worked hard with connections.”
Sautter has a big following on Twitter with more than 30,000 followers. His tweets have included transfer portal updates of former high school Nebraska athletes, such as basketball players like Hunter Sallis, who announced March 31 he entered the NCAA transfer portal, and Shareef Mitchell, who also announced he entered the transfer portal. Sautter also live tweets games in any sport.
Sautter has a podcast called, “Engineering Culture,” for which he invites coaches, superintendents and athletic directors to talk about creating winning cultures. Sautter also appears in a podcast called the “Mike Chuck Podcast,” which is a podcast that talks about Nebraska high school wrestling.
The journey goes back to when Sautter was a kid. His dream was to be an anchor on SportsCenter. Fast forward to Sautter’s junior year of high school. He was in a journalism class where the teacher at the time squashed his dreams.
“She told me I was never going to be good enough,” Sautter said.
Sautter thought his dream was over.
After he graduated from Ralston High School, Sautter ran cross country and track and field at York College. After his first year, he quit running and transferred to the University of Nebraska – Omaha. He would quit school after being told he could work full-time as a sales manager at the Buckle, which did not require a graduate degree. At the time, Sautter believed he wanted to work in retail.
He started as a part-time worker and eventually worked full-time. After the Buckle, Sautter would work at various sales jobs.
While working in sales jobs, Sautter created, NebraskaHSHoops. After he attended an NBA Players Association Top 100 camp to support Akoy Agau, from Omaha Central High School, Sautter met sports journalists from around the country who work for basketball prep companies. He realized Nebraska did not have a media account or news service that talked about high school basketball. This gave Sautter the idea to be the first one to create one along with Dave Spahn, who is now an NBA agent. NebraskaHSHoops started out as a Twitter account, and then grew into a website. From there, Sautter created, NebraskaHSFootball, followed by an LLC. The Omaha-World Herald bought the LLC for over five figures, and that is when Sautter’s sports career took off.
Thad Livingston, sports editor for the Omaha World-Herald at the time, was in his car with his son, Jackson, and his basketball teammates. Everyone in the car went on their phones to see what Sautter tweeted. At this time, Sautter travelled to AAU basketball tournaments in Des Moines, Minneapolis, and other cities where AAU teams from Nebraska competed. Sautter posted live score and performance updates on the games going on.
Livingston found out Sautter was using his own money to travel and tweet about these live games, and noticed that he was gaining an audience.
“It was exactly I thought what we should be doing at the World-Herald,” Livingston said.
Livingston talked to the publisher of the Omaha World-Herald to have Sautter work with the newspaper. The publisher agreed.
The Omaha World-Herald hired Sautter to cover high school recruiting in Nebraska.
“He saw the need in Nebraska for somebody to give these kids a voice, because a lot of good talent has been overlooked over the years because other states had their ‘Mike Sautter,’” Livingston said. “Nebraska didn’t.”
Sautter worked at the Omaha World-Herald for three years from 2017 to 2020, and then worked at Striv, a live stream for high school sports.
Taylor Siebert, founder and CEO of Striv, saw Sautter at events such as the NSAA Boys’ and Girls’ State Basketball Tournaments. The two stayed in touch. When Sautter left Omaha World-Herald, Siebert saw the perfect opportunity to work together. Sautter worked at Striv for two years until he joined Hurrdat sports in December.
“He’s changed the game,” Siebert said. “The way his stories are told, utilizing social media. I think he really forced in our state, sports journalism to be covered where the audience is at, which is social media.”
Sausha Durkan is the sports director for Hurrdat Sports. When she used to work for “1620 The Zone” in 2011, a radio broadcast company, Sautter was on the show frequently and talked about sports. At the Omaha World-Herald, Durkan worked on the newspaper’s radio to work on their radio products, where coincidentally, Sautter moved.
Convincing Sautter to join Hurrdat Sports was not hard. According to Durkan, she shot him a phone call about getting him to Hurrdat Sports. After a few meetings, Sautter was part of the Hurrdat Sports team.
“He was really interested in what we were doing and what we’re building in Hurrdat Sports, so it was kind of a non-question,” Durkan said.
During this season of high school sports, Sautter live tweets any sporting event he is at. Whether it’s girls soccer, baseball, AAU basketball, Sautter will live tweet every game and interview coaches and athletes after.
“One thing that I can say about Mike without any hesitation is that he is the hardest working person you’ll ever meet,” Durkan said. “He strives to make lasting impressions in the high school sports world.”
Sautter’s journey to where he is now is a real-life example of realizing that a “dream job” does not require a college degree. If you have a passion, you should go after it, he said.
“I do this because this is what I’m passionate about,” Sautter said. “If you can pair your passion and your profession, you struck gold.”