Company softball outings are a commonality across the nation. Businesses merge their professional world and relationships with a trait more personal – athleticism. Mainly performed to create bonds between colleagues outside the office and away from everyday mundane tasks, these company outings are generally tame. But don’t tell that to Doug Burgum.
Fargo’s most popular entrepreneur took the idea of a corporate softball game to the next level as the Senior Vice President of Microsoft while stationed at the Fargo campus.
Burgum loves his alma mater, NDSU. He’s a 1978 graduate and was on the cheer squad throughout his academic career. But what most people don’t know about the founder and chairman of the Kilbourne Group, is that Burgum was on the freshman football team his first year at NDSU.
He brought the competitiveness of the gridiron to Microsoft in 2006 when he organized a Fargo campus-wide football game. But this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill flag football game. He pinned the NDSU and University of North Dakota employees against one another.
“We had all these former players, former starters working out there at the company,” Burgum said, who retired from Microsoft in 2007. “We put together three very competitive flag football teams.”
With the help of former NDSU star wide receiver Shane Dettman and UND quarterback Tony Stein acting as captains, three football games were played on the lawn between buildings on the Microsoft campus.
Former NDSU head football coach from 1979-1983 Don Morton, who is now the site leader of Microsoft’s Fargo campus was pinned as commissioner. “We thought Don needed to be neutral,” chuckled Burgum, recalling the competitive spirit of the game.[/text_output]
[image type=”none” float=”none” link=”true” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” src=”3982″ alt=”NDSU-UND football rivalry Microsoft Doug Burgum and Don Morton”]
[text_output]Morton and Burgum admittedly both knew which side the former NDSU coach was secretly rooting for.
Microsoft even adopted their version of the Nickel Trophy. Maybe five- times as small as the actual Nickel Trophy played between NDSU and UND from 1938 and 2003, Microsoft’s wooden version still sits proudly on a bookshelf at the Horizon Building’s entrance.
The NDSU alums won the game all three years it was played with every game decided by less than four points.
“I don’t think there were any ambulance runs,” Burgum said, recalling the competitiveness of each game. “But there were three guys that went to the emergency room with blown out knees or shoulders.”
Burgum explained that the unnecessary injuries resulting from the game probably led Microsoft to discontinue the revival of the annual NDSU-UND flag football game. But he still has the game ball proudly sitting in his office.
During the return of the real NDSU- UND game this September, you’ll be hard-pressed not to find Morton and Burgum in their seats. At least this time they won’t have to worry about their employees running to the emergency room.[/text_output]