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Derrick LaPoint Went From Manning The Point To Running The Show As CEO

Derrick LaPoint

In high school, LaPoint was the Wisconsin high school player of the year. In Juniors, the Eau Claire, Wisconsin native was an All-USHL performer. At the University of North Dakota, he was an All-Conference Academic and a team captain. LaPoint graduated and played one season of professional hockey in the NHL’s minor league system before transitioning to a role in the real world as a city planner for Fargo. Later, he would go on to be named the President and CEO of Downtown Moorhead Inc.

Can you take me through what a typical day of yours looks like?

My role with Downtown Moorhead Inc. and economic development for the City of Moorhead is a mix of business advocacy and business development. COVID has certainly presented challenges but I spend many hours on the phone and in virtual meetings working with businesses. I listen to their needs and challenges and work to connect them to Federal, State, and local assistance. We have made a lot of changes in Moorhead over the last few years and building trust and confidence in the development and business community has been crucial. We still have a ways to go but we are starting to see more and more investment and growth.

How did you know it was time to make the transition to the business world at the end of the 2012 season? Was it the injury or something else?

I had a serious injury my sophomore year at the University of North Dakota. It was Valentine’s Day and I broke my tibia and fibula while playing against Mankato. It was a difficult rehab and I pushed to comeback. Ultimately during my second year of professional hockey, I reinjured my leg. I had a difficult time recovering and had to make the difficult decision to retire. 

How did it feel retiring?

It was extremely difficult. I had given everything I had to the game of hockey. The sacrifices you make with your friends and family and all of a sudden it is done. I had a great support system around me and they helped me with the transition. 

Did you know what you wanted to do immediately?

I had an idea but really did not know where to start. Hockey was everything and I did not have a ton of outside work experience. After my injury, I ended up in Indianapolis where my, then fiancee, (now wife) was finishing her graduate school. I remember getting to Indy and thinking now what. I thankfully had the chance to coach a U14 boys hockey team and even made it to the national tournament that year but I knew I needed more to do. My degree from UND was in Geography with an emphasis on Urban Planning and Community Development and I enjoyed all of the classes I took. I ended up sending an email to every municipality within driving distance of me and asked if they would take me on as a free intern. I got a couple of responses and ended up working for the town of Speedway for the year. That was a wonderful exposure to city government, planning, and economic development. I am also thankful to the University of North Dakota for giving me the opportunity to pursue my Masters the following year

Is there anything you struggled with during the transition?

Oh definitely! My mind still wanted to play hockey but my body couldn’t. That was a mental struggle for a number of years. I was also learning a ton of new things with my new work experience so that kept me busy and my competitive nature kept me wanting more.

How did you handle those things?

I constantly wanted to better myself not only in hockey but in life so I was not afraid to ask questions and challenge myself. I think that determination and hunger helped me accelerate my career.

What is something you learned through athletics that you think the average business person out there might be able to learn from?

For me it is time management, work ethic, and professionalism. Looking back at my college and professional hockey career, I was juggling all sorts of things. I learned that to be successful you have to manage your time effectively. I am a morning person so I am up very early still to this day, working out and getting a head start on my day. I also believe that how you handle yourself is extremely important. I try to find common goals and figure out ways to work together as a team to achieve success. 


Accomplishments

  • 2006 4th Round NHL Draft Pick
  • 3x WCHA All-Academic Selection

What do you think?

Written by Brady Drake

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