Raised in Missoula, Montana, Kevin Van Valkenburg fostered his passion for sports by reading Sports Illustrated and playing football as a middle linebacker. He walked on to the University of Montana’s team in 1996, but after two years on the field, he hung up his cleats and joined the student newspaper as a sportswriter.
After earning his undergraduate degree in 2000, Van Valkenburg took an internship with the Baltimore Sun that parlayed into an 11-year stint at the paper. He covered crime, high school athletics, Navy football, University of Maryland football and the Baltimore Ravens. He also wrote general assignment features for the sports department for the final five to six years of his tenure in Baltimore.
He covered the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City at age 24 after the Sun’s initial choice to cover the games backed out of the assignment. He also held the “Michael Phelps beat” and traveled to Beijing for the 2008 Summer Olympics to cover the Baltimore native’s record-setting swimming performance.
Van Valkenburg left the Sun in 2012 to work for ESPN The Magazine. The move marked his achievement of working as a long-form feature and enterprise journalist — a feat he dreamed about while reading Sports Illustrated as a child. With ESPN, Van Valkenburg has covered subjects ranging from LeBron James to Peyton Manning to co-authoring an investigative piece on Ray Rice’s domestic violence fallout.
He’s now a senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine and spent the Fall 2015 semester as the University of Montana’s Anthony Pollner Distinguished Professor, leading a story-telling class and advising the student newspaper he worked at more than a decade earlier. He and his wife, Jen, have two daughters — Molly and Keegan.