MADISON, Wis. – Mike Bunge’s idea of relaxing is spending a couple hours with 16,000 pairs of eyes watching his every move. By day, Bunge is account vice president-member services in CUNA Mutual’s Midwest Marketing Division. By night (and weekends), he referees high school and college basketball games, including 55 of them last year. With 22 years under his belt, Bunge has earned his stripes and now finds himself officiating such high-profile contests as Wisconsin’s Division 1 (big school) high school championship finals. “To walk out into the arena with 16,000 people looking down at you and knowing you’re going to have a major role in deciding that game . it brings a level of intensity to it,” the veteran game official says. “But my role is to be ethical and fair and do my best to make sure the kids decide the game. It’s all about them anyway. I’m just there to enforce the rules appropriately,” Bunge says. His impartiality extends to games he officiates that involve his alma mater, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. “I didn’t play there, anyway,” he notes. “I was just one of 10,000 students, just a Social Security number.” That said, he adds that there are differences between working at the high school and college levels. “The skill level of the players is much higher in college,” he says. “They were all at least all-conference players in high school, of course. Plus, college coaches are hired and fired based on wins and losses, and you tend to have more interaction with them.” Bunge manages basketball games for a hobby. For his livelihood, he manages relationships with 27 credit unions in Wisconsin that use CUNA Mutual’s lending and member solutions, including MEMBERS Financial Services. “They’re similar in some ways and very different in others,” he says of his vocation and avocation. “In either one, though, you have to have relationship skills, be approachable, fair and honest, and you need to have integrity.” -email@example.com
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