Each month leading up to BMA’s 50th anniversary celebration in 2021, we present to you a fellow academy alumnus/alumna. Join us as we look “Inside the Den”, learn about how the academy has evolved over time, and gain new insight on how the school shaped these Burkie Bears’ lives in ski racing and in life.
Since its inception in 1970, the academy has been home to 1,178 students, including 36 who have gone on to compete in the Olympics and 145 who have been members of national teams representing the USA, Australia, Canada, Chile, Estonia, Great Britain, Japan, South Korea, and Spain. Above and beyond the athletic success of its alumni, BMA has always embraced a progressive educational model that focuses on engendering creativity, curiosity, and problem-solving in all of its graduates.
This month, we present you Fritz Brumder, a proud member of the class of 1997, and above all, a huge fan of air bands, morning workouts, and all things skiing.
Why did you choose to attend BMA?
I don’t think I could have possibly known what I was actually getting myself into. I had a feel for the culture, fun and hard work from Mt Hood ski camps, but the reality of Burke was far beyond my imagination at the time. I just knew I was a misfit at my school in Milwaukee, WI so I left a note under my parent’s door one night that made the case for me to go off to boarding school at a ski academy. It worked.
What were your ski racing aspirations when you arrived at BMA and how did those evolve over your time at the academy?
I had high expectations for my athletics in general. I knew it was going to be tough coming from the midwest but I made the best of the whole experience. I do often think back about what I took for granted at that time which I could have improved to reach the next level in ski racing. Ultimately, I found bigger mountains in the west and my ski racing experience helps me have a really fun time on the snow.
What memories stand out the most from your Burke days?
The people. The bond I have with my friends from Burke is incredible. Even Burkies I was not that close with at school have a bond.
Did you have a favorite workout or tradition at BMA?
I actually liked PTA (Pain Torture and Agony – the extra:15 in the morning before everyone else). I probably got it for goofing off. Sand soccer games on the volleyball court were creative and really hard. CW Estoff and I also made a frisbee golf course around campus, that was always a blast.
Is there a memorable academic experience from your time at BMA?
Spanish class. I never mastered it but I have been able to get my family around central America.
Where did you attend college and what did you study there?
My original plan was to take a year off then go to UVM or CU Boulder, but at the last minute, I went to Bates. We had a great ski team and had a blast on the college series. There, I made my own major in Film Studies and Economics. I went on to start a video software company so it all came together for me.
How did BMA help to shape your preparation for university?
I was very well prepared for the ski team and contributed to my team for the four years there. I also had a natural desire to be creative and try different things. That combined with hard work and a strong academic background made it clear what I needed to do.
What was your professional journey after graduating from college?
I worked in film production for two years but that was tough. I did not like L.A. so when one of my Bates ski team friends told me about a job with Volkl/Tecnica, I was in. I was a marketing rep for the West Coast. I skied every major mountain west of the Mississippi with a nice expense account and a van full of skis. Not bad.
After a few years, I was hooked on the West Coast and ready to get back into media. So I went to business school and learned software development so I could do video on the web rather than Hollywood.
What field of work are you involved in now? What gets you excited about your current professional projects? What are the challenges you face in your work now?
Most recently, I was the founder and CEO of a software company called Brandlive. Growing a company from nothing to 50 employees, global operations and some of the best brands in the world as customers was a thrill. We also raised venture capital and hit some speed bumps. I ended up transitioning out of the company at the end of 2019. I moved my family to Bend, Oregon and changed our life completely. It has been excellent.
What other personal projects and passions keep you busy now?
Fortunately, I have some transition time right now so I have been focused on two passion projects: the Magic in the Middle is a research project where I interview CEOs and professional sports coaches. My goal is to dive deep into the sports to the business analogy and uncover a playbook for growth organizations. It is very rewarding but hard work.
I also launched a meditation program called Whole Life Meditation – a guided process for visualizing your life in one sitting. I NEVER thought I would do something like this and I am no guru, but so far the feedback has been amazing. The skills I developed visualizing ski courses helped me see why this would work.
Both can be found at www.magic-middle.com.
What is your current relationship to skiing?
I have been a ski coach for many years. My kids are really into it and we love skiing the Northwest. We are now part of MBSEF in Bend.
How has BMA impacted you and what key learnings from your time at the Academy have followed you in your adult life?
There are so many things – hard work, mentorship, honesty, fun, adventure…the list goes on. If I had to pick one thing it would be learning how to be an individual and comfortable with myself. When you are surrounded by an eclectic group of Americans, then throw in Canadian, Japanese, Australian, British, and Swedish it becomes obvious how unique yet bonded we can be as people. That helped me build a diverse company with a strong culture.
Do you plan to attend the 50th?
*While the 50th Anniversary Celebration has been postponed, we do hope everyone will be able to join us once the date is rescheduled!
Final parting comments you’d like to share?
I wish I could do it all over again. I want my kids to go but I really don’t want them to be so far away!