EVERETT – Sometimes, a prominent career receives a jump-start in unusual ways.
Take the case of one Nathan Mumm.
Talk about your sociologically sound American families. Mumm and his wife, Tracy, have two sons, Justin, 11, and Peyton, 9.
The 33-year-old Mumm has a highly respectable occupation as CEO and owner of the Everett Explosion, which just completed a successful initial season as West Division champs of the International Basketball League. He also has plans to start in 2008 the Indoor Gridiron Football League, for which he will serve as commissioner. Also on the docket in 2008 is a county-based outdoor soccer team.
Mumm is Snohomish County through and through, born in Everett and a 1992 graduate of Marysville-Pilchuck High School.
Cool gigs. Big responsibility. Ambitious plans. Maybe it’s good that Mumm sleeps, on average, four hours a night, for maximum production.
“Even then, he sleeps with his eyes open,” said Dale Cain, friend and godfather to the younger Mumms. “Literally. We were at a kids camp and his wife says, ‘Look at this! Look at this!’ And there he is, dead to the world, with his eyes three-quarters of the way open.”
They’re not closed much. Mumm is a bundle of kinetic energy. An answer to one question turns into a half-hour symposium, complete with graphics he draws on a napkin. Mumm can’t help it. That’s the way he’s wired.
Boy, is he wired.
As Americana as Mumm is and as much as his home life appears to parallel that of the Cleaver family of Fourth of July, Ohio, Mumm’s biggest career break may have come when Everett Community College decided to inform him that his status as a student was no longer needed.
On a dollar bet with someone he refers to as a “computer nerd,” Mumm hacked into and disabled six computers in the school’s library. Mumm’s antics shut down the library for a day or two.
The plot imploded when Mumm’s best friend’s girlfriend ratted him out. She was late finishing a term paper and desperately needed either access to the library’s computers or a convenient excuse for its unpunctuality.
Mumm was busted.
“The Herald actually published it,” Mumm said. “They didn’t put my name in there, but they published that there was a kid who did this.”
Microsoft called three days later. Seems they needed someone with computer expertise and caught wind of Mumm’s antics in ways only Microsoft can.
Mumm submitted a resume that, by his count, contained 32 spelling errors and grammar mistakes.
“My English isn’t very good,” he said. “They had me come in for an interview just as a joke because they’re like, ‘What in the heck is this kid doing? Why would he even submit this to us?’”
The Microsoft interviewer belonged to a company flag-football league. The team’s quarterback was injured. So, naturally, during the interview, they talked sports. The interviewer said, “Let’s go out to the parking lot and see if you can throw.”
Mumm threw reasonably well. The interviewer asked if he’d like to play in tomorrow’s game. Mumm asked what the catch was. The interviewer said that he had to be an employee.
“I’ll go in and I’ll hire you right now if you can come to the game on Saturday,” he said.
Mumm worked there 13 years, received an extensive education in business and built a reasonable reserve of green – enough to afford him the chance to do what he really wanted to do: sports-team ownership.
The ambition and salesmanship appear natural.
“You tell him he can’t do something and he’ll go out and do it,” Cain said. “People told him he couldn’t start up a computer store and he did that. People told him he couldn’t start a basketball team and he did that.”
As much of a financial risk that observers may think Mumm is taking by starting three professional sports projects, it is a risk based on exhaustive research, from population-growth potential to one-to-one contact with fans, asking what they want.
From that, Mumm is absolutely certain the area’s sports and media landscape will be virtually unrecognizable in 10 years. Mumm’s prediction: The county will have three television stations, five to six radio stations and five to six minor-league sports teams.
Mumm’s predictions don’t end with the county. While the major league sports market is tapped out, there is ample room for minor league sports.
“Wenatchee, the Tri-Cities and Mount Vernon are huge hotbeds,” he said. “I think that in 10 years, most of the counties in Washington will have at least one pro minor league team.”
We can only hope that the prospective owners don’t start their careers the same way Mumm did.
Sports columnist John Sleeper: email@example.com