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Johnson makes sure Bison football gear gets to the game

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Tim Johnson, right, volunteers as the “transporter” for the NDSU Bison football team, making sure the team’s equipment arrives safely at its destination. Forum file photo
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Fargo - Tim Johnson hasn’t missed a Bison game in 18 years.
His volunteer job as the team’s “transporter” is one of the reasons he doesn’t miss the Bison play.
Johnson is a North Dakota State University alumnus and former football player at the university.
His full-time job is as human resources manager at UPS North Dakota. The international and domestic shipping company and NDSU are in a partnership to get the team’s equipment from Fargo to wherever the Bison are playing. The partnership has worked well for 18 years, Johnson said.
The transportation manager job keeps Johnson busy on the weekends. During home games he gets to watch the game with his family from seats he’s had since the Bison started playing in the Fargodome.
Johnson has experienced the ups and downs of the football program in his time as the transportation manager, but there’s no question he’s one of the program’s biggest fans.

How did you get started transporting the equipment for the NDSU football team?

Eighteen years ago I was approached by the then-assistant athletic director John Felver. … At that time I was involved with Teammakers.
We were still Division II and we played in a different conference … every game was drivable.
They asked if I’d ever be interested in possibly driving with the team to haul our equipment to all of our away games.
I checked with my district manager, he checked with region and we got a one-year approval … That’s kind of how it all started.

What keeps you wanting to do this?

I played football at NDSU from 1978 to 1980 and I graduated from NDSU in 1981 and I firmly believe that you should give back to where you came from.
As a Teammaker … this is just another way I can help out to help the Bison football team.
Everything I do in life, including in my job as an HR manager is giving back. I believe that everything I do, the more you give, the more you get back.
With the transition to Craig Bohl and then Gene Taylor came in and they moved to Division I, they asked if I would continue doing what I’m doing. I didn’t give it a second thought.

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What are the biggest challenges associated with transporting the team equipment?

A lot of people don’t realize it’s a huge process to set up the headsets. We spend almost three hours each game to make sure the headsets are tested, set up.
A lot of the time we’ll run cord, which means we’ll literally run 300 to 400 feet of wire from way up in the box across the field to the other side.
There’s so much more to what we do than anyone realizes.

Do you transport the equipment with UPS trucks?

It depends on what trips we go to.
When we play in South Dakota or Minnesota, we’ll use a UPS truck and I’ll drive it all the way, but on some trips that are too far to drive, we’ll put it all on the plane.
We actually do three different ways to transport: We’ll have myself drive it in the UPS truck, we’ll put it on the plane and then have a truck waiting, or sometimes we’ll have GMR Transportation pull the 53-foot trailer.

Does anyone else drive with you to games?

The only person who could drive with me is another UPS employee. It used to be that someone would come with me, but over the years, because of time constraints and other commitments, it’s just me.
What do you do to keep yourself busy?
I just drive safely and stay awake. They don’t have radios so it gets to be a long drive.

Do you work home games at all?

I’ll actually at times take a UPS truck, I’ll pick (the opponent’s equipment) from the airport to the dome and after the game back to the airport.
It’s all about showing everybody how we as Bison treat our opponents, it’s all positive … It’s how we do it.

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What have been the best experiences you’ve had doing this job?

It would have to be the last three years as far as just being involved. Even if it had been once, that would’ve been the best experience being involved with a national championship and what we do in Texas.

How long will you continue doing this?

I haven’t even thought about it, I will continue doing it as long as NDSU football will let me and as long as UPS will let me. I haven’t thought about stopping.

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