Project 2,700: Myrtle Beach

Things have gotten real.

This morning I packed up my belongings from my parents’ house after a very nice week in Spokane and with my mom and dad in tow we made the drive to Missoula for the first and shortest leg of my cross country journey to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Upon arriving in Missoula my dad and I reported to an old beat up gas station and U-Haul center where we picked up my ten foot truck and tow dolly trailer for my car. From there we went to my apartment for the very last time. Although I made sure to have everything packed up and ready to go for this day we still had to physically move everything down a couple flights of stairs and into the U-Haul, not the most enjoyable of propositions. But we got it done and after all the hard work we enjoyed a nice dinner at the Laughing Grizzly.

Me in front of the U-Haul truck with my car in tow behind.

Me in front of the U-Haul truck with my car in tow behind.

Tomorrow morning I will say goodbye to my mom and then my co-captain (my dad) and I will start the real heavy driving. Yep, I got my father on board for this voyage across the country. I don’t think you can devise a bonding experience much more intense or scenic than this one. We will of course switch off driving shifts while doing our best to keep each other sane through the long hours and countless mile markers.

My mom gave me this medal today to keep with me in the U-Haul to keep my dad and myself safe.

My mom gave me this medal today to keep with me in the U-Haul to keep my dad and myself safe.

By the end of Thursday we hope to find ourselves in Wyoming. But in all honesty who knows? We have never driven across the country before and while we can look at the map and divide our days out in an organized manner we are aware that unforeseen circumstances can always pop up. However we are both very determined and stubborn guys so when we say we will be in Wyoming by Thursday night that means we will most likely (barring the most extreme of unforeseen circumstances) be in Wyoming by Thursday night…even if U-Haul says to drive no faster than 55 miles per hour.

My plan is to keep my readers updated throughout this odyssey. An experience like this pretty much mandates that I document the literal and figurative twists and turns of the 2,700 mile journey. So, if whatever random roadside hotel we find ourselves in over the course of the next few nights happens to have internet service you can expect updates from the road. I am praying for safe travels and looking forward to a great time with my dad. Don’t Blink.

Game Plan for Meeting New People in Myrtle Beach: Tinder

The first question I most often get when I tell people I am moving to Myrtle Beach: “Do you know anyone down there!?”

Well no, I don’t.

Many of my friends think I am crazy for going somewhere far across the country where I don’t know a soul. But to be honest, I have a tough time understanding their astonishment. I am a very independent person. I don’t get lonely and I don’t need people around me 24/7. I really enjoy my space.

With that said, I can’t wait to meet new people once I arrive in South Carolina. I have an extremely outgoing side of me that will help me make new friends and establish relationships. I plan to develop my new social circle by traditional means such as getting to know my neighbors, becoming very involved with the Coastal Carolina community, joining groups, finding a church, and making an effort to reach out to every person I come across with in the first couple months of my move. But I also look to employ a savvier way of introducing myself to others as well.

This past weekend my brother convinced me to re-download Tinder. Before I go on, let me in a sentence or two explain what Tinder is: Visualize an app that detects where you are geographically and then matches you with others who are in a given mile radius from where you are standing. Imagine that you can refine this search by selecting gender and an age range. If you like someone’s profile and they like yours, a line of communication is established by the app and a conversation begins…I give you Tinder!

Here is a look at my Tinder profile.

Here is a look at my Tinder profile.

Tinder came out to great fanfare and controversy about a year ago. The younger generation fell in love with it while the older generation decried it as nothing more than a modern day hooking up service. I don’t know if I count as the younger generation or the older generation so I feel like I have a neutral authority when saying that the former generation had it right.

When Tinder exploded a year ago I downloaded the app to try it out. However, due to great demand the service wouldn’t work properly so I deleted it and forgot about it. My brother who is glued to his iPhone 24/7 doing a hundred different things will “Tinder” frequently. He informed me that the bugs were worked out and that I should give it a second chance. Over the past few days I have enjoyed the ease of talking with new, interesting, and likeable people around the greater Spokane area. I quickly became amazed at how many people are on Tinder and how quick and efficient it is to connect with likeminded people. You aren’t BSing with deceptive creeps thousands miles away. Rather you are conversing with well-intentioned and honest folks living in your own community.

This is the screen that pops up when Tinder is looking for people in your area.

This is the screen that pops up when Tinder is looking for people in your area.

As some have labeled it, Tinder is NOT an accelerated online dating service for fulfilling desires. Rather it is a social network for getting to know people who live around your area who you most likely would never have else met. It is efficient, precise, and trustworthy. I am excited for the possibilities it could provide me in getting a great start in developing friendships in Myrtle Beach.

I will have to do a bit more research with the people I “like” on Tinder while in South Carolina. Because Myrtle Beach is a tourist destination hot spot I will no doubt come across countless profiles for folks visiting the area for an amazing vacation. While I do enjoy meeting people from all over the country I am more interested in establishing contacts with the people actually living in the area where I call home. Probably for the better though, it will just help me to be that much more selective when viewing profiles.

If you like to meet new people I recommend downloading Tinder. If you are living in a new area I recommend it that much more. Oh how I love technology! Don’t Blink.

Enjoying My Stint of Unemployment

As I sit here in my parents’ newly remodeled living room I find myself in a rather interesting state: I am unemployed. Not since I was jobless during my freshman year of college have I felt the sting of unemployment. Please don’t feel sorry for me, I greatly over exaggerate. While I might technically be unemployed I am just between jobs and I am feeling no sting at all. With my last day at Grizzly Athletics on Wednesday and my first day at Coastal Carolina on May 1 I have a nice little window to recharge my batteries.

Of course a significant portion of that window will be devoted to making the trip across the country. But that journey to Myrtle Beach won’t start until next Wednesday. Until then I am enjoying precious days in Spokane with my family. Here are five quick things I am doing during my career transition down time:

Getting Ready to Move: Since I made the decision to take the job at Coastal Carolina I have tried to accomplish a few things each day pertinent to my relocation to prevent any sense of overload as the move date gets closer. I started early and got the major items such as housing, U-Haul, and packing taken care of. Now that I am at my parents’ house and completely free from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. I have started to do the smaller (yet important) things. In the last two days I have arranged for the delivery of my washer and dryer to my apartment complex, finalized my renter’s insurance, started to review the benefits package I will elect at CCU, taken my car in for inspection/oil change, shopped for new work clothes, looked into buying a new TV, and of course started to really acquaint myself with Coastal Carolina University (as much as I can anyway through electronic means).

I have enjoyed sitting on my parents' new furniture while working on my lap top and making calls.

I have enjoyed sitting on my parents’ new furniture while working on my lap top and making calls.

Pumping Iron With Dad: Once I hit the road for South Carolina I will not have the means to work out until after the cross country drive is completed and I am all settled. That means working out now is imperative to make sure I don’t develop into an out-of-shape slob before May 1 hits. This morning I went along with my dad to his gym to work out. It was cool…I got to see the place he goes each day to exercise, witness his workout regimen, and even have him spot me. Oh yeah, I also got to rise and shine early with him…at 3:45 a.m.! My dad starts his workout at Anytime Fitness at 4 a.m. each morning so I had an early wakeup call. No big deal, I have always loved mornings.

I worked out early this morning at Anytime Fitness in north Spokane.

I worked out early this morning at Anytime Fitness in north Spokane.

Enjoying the Easter Season: I am glad that I get to spend my favorite holiday with my family. I love Easter and I feel fortunate that this transition allows me to spend it in Spokane. Last night I enjoyed attending Holy Thursday mass in the church that I grew up attending, St. Thomas More, and I look forward to attending it again for Good Friday mass tonight and then of course on Easter Sunday for the biggest celebration of the liturgical year. I can’t wait for the Easter feast my mom will prepare and the very nice day we will all enjoy.

My sister and I during Easter 2010.

My sister and I during Easter 2010.

Time With the Bro: I will continue to covet the time I have with my best friend and brother, Glen. When I arrived on Wednesday night we attended trivia at a local wings joint and that was just the start of our plans. Besides doing some training for a race he has in two weeks, playing Nintendo 64, and partaking in some fun evenings I look forward to just hanging out with him around the house and negotiating the dates for the first time he comes and sees me in Myrtle Beach.

I am definitely spending a lot of time with my brother, Glen.

I am definitely spending a lot of time with my brother, Glen.

Enjoying My Mom’s Cooking: I am taking every opportunity to overindulge in everything my mom cooks from now until Wednesday. Up to this point I haven’t enjoyed her cooking since Christmas and after Wednesday I won’t get the opportunity to scarf it down until at least Thanksgiving so I am going a little nuts on what she will put in front of me at the dinner table. Let’s just say I ate a little more than my share of her gnocchi and Italian sausage dish she whipped up last night.

No one can match my mom's cooking!

No one can match my mom’s cooking!

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I would like to wish all my readers a very blessed Easter weekend. Enjoy this special time and I hope wherever you are you get to enjoy some decent weather. Don’t Blink.

Making Plates to Mark My Childhood

Growing up in my parents’ house I definitely didn’t eat off a silver platter. Rather, I ate off of plastic plates decorated with sloppy drawings and scribbles. I promise the food my mom prepared on a nightly basis still tasted great though.

Throughout my childhood my parents did a cool thing for us kids. Each year they sat us down at the kitchen table, put a piece of paper in the shape of a sphere in front of us, and with markers in hand we got to go crazy drawing whatever we wanted. Although I should point out that we didn’t exactly go about the task with reckless abandonment. We knew very well that a few months down the road that piece of paper would come back in the form of an actual plate that we would get to eat off of. Because we were making something that we would take pride in for years to come we took the advice of our parents and drew on a couple practice sheets before drawing the real thing on the special paper.

This is just a portion of the plates stored at my parents' house that the three of us kids created throughout the years.

This is just a portion of the plates stored at my parents’ house that the three of us kids created throughout the years.

This annual event was always one of the special evenings of the year for my sister, brother, and I. We looked forward to it and bugged my parents constantly on when the night would come to create that year’s plates. Of course after we created them we then bugged our parents obsessively on when they would arrive in final form through the mail. Yep, our fascination with the plate process lasted at least a good six months out of every year.

Me and my mom with some of these special plates.

Me and my mom with some of these special plates.

But while the anticipation always lasted for the better half of a year the use of them has lasted almost three decades. Like I said, we didn’t create these plates just for souvenirs to look at. We created them so we could eat off of them. And eat off of them we did…every single night. Although we didn’t have the newest gaming system or swimming pool to impress our friends with we did have the coolest dining ware! My buddies always got a kick when they would sit down for dinner with us and they would have a plate staring back at them with artwork created by the Resers.

I wouldn’t be completely honest if I said the plates didn’t cause a couple headaches though. You could always depend on a fight or two breaking out on a weekly basis between us kids on what plate we would eat off of. My mom would set the table on a nightly basis. Although she would try her hardest to satisfy us there were the times when certain dishes were in the wash and we were not happy with what we got. I was never too keen about eating off my sister’s gymnastics themed plate from 1997 just in the same way that my sister preferred not to dine off of my 1988 plate decorated with green, purple, and brown scribbles. Fits were sometimes thrown and attempts to quickly trade out plates while my mom was not looking were orchestrated.

Although I hope most people understand that I wasn't even two yet when I created this, I do realize it is not very appetizing to eat off of.

Although I hope most people understand that I wasn’t even two yet when I created this, I do realize it is not very appetizing to eat off of.

(BONUS: The most coveted plates we wanted to eat off of on any given night? The ones my dad created! Yes, my parents also created plates of their own and my dad is a fantastic artist. His plates always turned out great).

Some of the plates yours truly created (at no time have I ever claimed to have even a speck of artistic ability).

Some of the plates yours truly created (at no time have I ever claimed to have even a speck of artistic ability).

With us kids now grown up my parents use actual nice china most of the time but several of the plates we made are still in circulation in their cupboards. The majority of the plates, however, are boxed up in a storage closet. Here comes the cool part…

My mom’s intention was to always give us the plates we made when we left the house to start our own lives. For whatever reason I never received my allotment while living in Montana. With my move to Myrtle Beach now just less than a week away my mom plans to send my plates with me to the east coast. I might try to nicely halt that transaction though. To be completely honest I was as inept at art back then as I am now. I think I rather eat off of a blank canvas each night rather than endure the constant reminder of my artistic short comings. Plus could you imagine what a date would think if she came over for dinner and saw my very primitive drawings…on her plate no less? Oh well, whether I take them or not my parents definitely provided us kids with a unique way to mark our childhoods by. Don’t Blink.

To Everyone at Grizzly Athletics: THANK YOU

Earlier today I walked out of the Adams Center for the final time, ending an almost five year ride with Grizzly Athletics. I like to think I left a small part of me behind. With the long hours I worked and the contributions I made I hope I left the department better than when I arrived. But this blog post is not about me (By the way, for all I know my employers could have thrown a celebration party after my car drove out of the parking lot). Rather, this post is to say thank you to the people who supported me, helped me, and listened to me. It is to show gratitude to those individuals who believed in me and let me grow. It is to recognize my co-workers and bosses who helped make me look good and who always took my best interests to heart.

First and foremost I want to thank Christie Anderson. She hired me, she believed in me, she mentored me. Without Christie I would not be where I am at today. I learned everything I know about marketing in intercollegiate athletics from her. For over a year before we got more suitable offices I sat behind Christie and observed everything she did. What an awesome learning experience! I have so many memories with Christie whether it be going on trips, working games, or doing things totally unrelated to work such as going to concerts or bowling.

Next up I want to thank Jim O’Day. My first role model in the college athletics world he treated me with so much respect and kindness. He knew about the power of social media long before many other college administrators even knew what the phrase meant and he gave me the green light to take Grizzly Athletics full throttle down the new media avenue. Two years ago on that terrible day when he had the rug pulled out from underneath him I will never forget the address he gave us at the hastily called all-staff meeting. He epitomized class and humility in a very dark moment and that will always stay with me.

I owe so much gratitude to Brynn Molloy. She came into the Marketing Director position and just kicked butt. Definitely one of the most positive people I know I had a wonderful ten months working for her. We had such a solid working relationship based on collaboration and respect. She was there for me and I was there for her. She allowed me to continue to do my thing and always took the time to tell me good job. We came in each morning on fire for Grizzly Athletics and it made for a great work environment. It is no secret why everyone loves Brynn.

I don’t think I had a bigger supporter when it came to getting me to where I wanted to be than Greg Sundberg. Besides being the best leader I know, no one took the time to help me reach my goals more than Greg. He cares so much about his employees and brings the same positivity to the office each day in the same way Brynn does. I said Jim was my first role model in college athletics; after Greg started overseeing all external communications a couple years ago he became my second. “Sunny” played a big role in getting me to where I am now.

Then there is Kent Haslam…the third person I identify as a role model of mine in intercollegiate athletics. I was so happy and relieved when he got hired as our athletic director. You would be hard pressed to find someone with greater integrity than Kent. Over the past couple years he has been a great supporter of mine. Always sending recognition my way and 100% supportive of my decision to go to Coastal Carolina I feel very fortunate that our AD cared so much about me. Grizzly Athletics is in great hands.

Thank you to our sports information staff! I had the opportunity to work very closely with our legendary SID, Dave Guffey. I earned Dave’s respect and he treated me like a son. I will miss him a lot. I also feel like I got a lot from Joel Carlson (Assistant SID). No one writes better than Joel and I had the pleasure of reading award winning material from his desk on a daily basis. I know by paying attention to his techniques and style that it made me a better writer myself. Rounding out the staff is Renee Valley who never ceased to lend a helping hand when it came to making a few more credentials or helping me find something in the archive room.

I owe big thank yous to the people who generated much of the great content that I was able to use on our new media outlets to give our fan base a great experience. Nate Michael (Griz Vision producer) is an extremely talented individual and one of the best guys I know. Todd Goodrich (University of Montana photographer) works magic with the lens and pours a lot of his time into covering athletics. Jerek Wolcott (videographer, now at Idaho State) really started the video tradition at Grizzly Athletics and was a great friend of mine.

Thank you to our genius I.T. man, Aaron Heiner. This guy gave me a new perspective on what it is like to work under pressure. He also bailed me out of numerous situations involving technology on game days. Speaking of smart people, I couldn’t have succeeded at my job without the help of Chuck Maes. That man has a computer for a brain with incredible knowledge on how every device and piece of equipment under the name of Grizzly Athletics works. . Just like with Aaron, Chuck has helped me out many times when I needed quick assistance.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my office mate, Paul Hengel. Paul became a great friend of mine and provided me an example each day of what hard work is all about. No one works harder in the department or has more demanded of him than Mr. Paul. We got along great and our office arrangement couldn’t have worked out any better.

Much appreciation to Heather Alexander (business manager) who showed great patience towards me when I asked stupid questions or accidentally went away from protocol when completing a business transaction. I also am very thankful for how much she has made my transition between jobs easier. Heather, you better make good on your plans to visit Myrtle Beach during the summer of 2015!

Then there are just the people who have supported me so much during my time with Grizzly Athletics. I am talking about people like Janie Haight, Sue DeMers, Cyndi Steigers, and Celine Fisher. They have acted as moms to me and supported me since I have stepped foot in the Adams Center. I was overjoyed when my “Montana Moms” got to meet my real mom at my going-away party late last week.

I don’t want to forget about the coaches. I learned a lot about the crazy lives they live full of pressure, stress, and travel. Take it from me right here: Our “Big Three” head coaches (Robin Selvig, Wayne Tinkle, and Mick Delaney) are absolutely class acts. They are passionate for the Griz and are incredibly kind. Each one of those men took time to congratulate me when I announced that I was moving on. Special shout out to Griz softball coach Jamie Pinkerton who became a good friend of mine. I am sad that I will miss the first pitch in 2015. Also thank you to soccer head coach Mark Plakorus who always took time to talk to me and even attended my going-away party.

Finally, thank you to all the students I had the privilege of working with over the years. From our student-athletes to our Spirit Squad to our team of interns to our mascots I felt so fortunate working a job where I got to interact with young and motivated individuals on a daily basis. In the end my ultimate mission was to serve them and I felt so lucky that I was able to do just that.

The chapter is closed. I now move onto the next stage of my life at Coastal Carolina. However, I will always be indebted to the wonderful people at Grizzly Athletics who gave me my start. Please know I hold all of you in very high regard. THANK YOU. Don’t Blink.

The Gym That Became A Home

First the bad news: This is another blog post consisting of me saying goodbye to something in Missoula. Now the good news: You only have two more days of this left.

When it comes down to the one place where I have spent the majority of my days in Montana it is surprisingly not at work. It is not a residence I have lived in. It isn’t even Buffalo Wild Wings. From the time I arrived in Montana in 2006 to my departure tomorrow I have spent some part of probably 90% of my days at the University of Montana Fitness and Recreation Center.

Out of my years in Missoula, I entered the doors of this facility more than any other place in the state.

Out of my years in Missoula, I entered the doors of this facility more than any other place in the state.

When I complete my final workout at the rec tomorrow it will put an end to an exercise era for me where I went through the turnstiles of the facility no less than 2,000 times (yes, I did the math). The UM Rec Center provided me with the one constant I had during my entire eight year odyssey in Missoula. It will be strange walking out of it for the last time.

Right when I got to campus as a college freshman I started to hit up the gym. Throughout my time as a student I would rise at 5:30 a.m. every morning so I could arrive at the rec for the 6 a.m. opening. I would get my workout in and then move on with my day. When I got hired by Grizzly Athletics I had the ultimate perk of working only 200 feet from my loyal gym. My exercise sessions transitioned from early morning to the lunch hour but as my iron pumping times switched something else stayed the same: Relationship building.

Me standing outside of the University of Montana Fitness and Recreation Center this afternoon.

Me standing outside of the University of Montana Fitness and Recreation Center this afternoon.

I have met many people by way of working out at the rec center. When you bust your butt to get better at a consistent time each day you notice the other people who are also consistently busting their butts to get better too. A bond forms. Many times the bond develops into a verbal, first-name relationship. Other times it doesn’t get to the talking stage but more than enough is expressed by the nod of respect that is exchanged each time paths cross. I have developed both of these types of bonds over the years.

Besides the people, I will miss other things about the rec center. I will miss the beautiful facility itself, a multiple story building complete with an outstanding weight room floor, top notch cardio equipment, climbing wall, racquet ball courts, running track, and great smoothie bar. I will miss the convenience that I have enjoyed so much over the past 4+ years working for Grizzly Athletics. I will miss the interactions, conflicts, and people watching I observed. I will miss the respite I got each day when I would stop what I was doing at around noon and sweat it all out at the gym.

But with that in mind I still go back to the people. You can’t replace them. When I interviewed at Coastal Carolina my student tour guide took me to their rec center and it is a beauty! I will have no problem getting my workouts in and getting a good escape from the rigors of the daily grind. However, the people who go to the rec center at the University of Montana will still be in Missoula. But you know what? People bust their butts at gyms all across the country. Soon enough I hope to have relationships with the folks I will see on a consistent basis at the CCU facility. But I won’t forget about the regulars who I shared the gym floor with at the University of Montana Rec Center for eight years. With that said, I can’t wait to dominate my workout tomorrow. Don’t Blink.

No! I Don’t Want to be on “Hoarders”

The mad dash to pack for my move across the country has made one thing crystal clear to me: I am (was) a pack rat.

Over the last several days I couldn’t believe the stuff I pulled out from storage bins, boxes, and bags. While I knew I would face some tough decisions on what to keep and what to toss I ended up becoming very accustomed to doing the latter. It was almost automatic for my hand to grab something and then transfer it immediately to the black garbage sack right beside me. In an earlier stage of my life I naively thought that every receipt I ever received or every game program I brought home would somehow enlighten me years down the road. Well, when you are about to move 2,500+ miles eastward the $28.74 receipt from 2010 at Johnny Carino’s doesn’t bring about the wisdom you thought it would.

Besides bagging up eight garbage sacks of clothes, an absolute embarrassing amount for a guy, I bagged up an equal number of bags filled with useless junk. I am talking electric and cable bills galore, hundreds of magazines, an obscene amount of stationary pads, no less than thirty decks of cards, enough shoe boxes to fill a Foot Locker, game tickets for every sporting event I have attended in my life, letters from ex-girlfriends, peechee folders to supply a medium sized elementary school, countless key chains/bottle openers/cozies, way too many hotel room cards, an impressive collection of hats that I would never wear, ripped calendar pages spanning eight years, and probably every single cheesy souvenir that you could brainstorm in five minutes.

With allowing myself to finally throw away many of these knick-knacks it prepared me for getting rid of more important and sentimental items that would just bog me down on my trek to Myrtle Beach. I tossed my JanSport backpack that I had used since high school. I disposed of old cell phones. I sent my two flip cameras to the dumpster. I said adios to cords, chargers, and batteries. I even whispered goodbye to the lap top computer I received as a high school graduation present and that I used all the way through college.

It was tough to do but I tossed my old lap top from my college years into the big black trash bag and threw it into the dumpster.

It was tough to do but I tossed my old lap top from my college years into the big black trash bag and threw it into the dumpster.

So what did I keep? Besides the essentials I made sure to keep the significant number of cards, letters, and notes I have received from my family over the years. It crossed my mind for maybe a split second that I should part with them too but I couldn’t do it. Traveling to South Carolina with me will be over 100 envelopes filled with birthday wishes, holiday greetings, and thinking of you notes that I have received from my parents and siblings. I feel it will just give me one more connection to them as I live far away.

I am getting better at letting go. Of course it is aided by a sense of urgency and practicality but that’s okay. If anyone out there is looking for some real bargains, I suggest dumpster diving at the Crestview Apartments. Don’t Blink.

My Final Sunday in Missoula

The “lasts” keep coming as I prepare to move out of Missoula and the final Sunday that I will ever spend in the Garden City provided me with a lot of them. I enjoyed a packed day driving around town and taking in experiences that are unique to this western Montana town. Let me share with you my Sunday adventure.

I woke up early and attended the 8 a.m. Palm Sunday mass at St. Francis Xavier. I have thoroughly enjoyed attending services in this absolutely beautiful and historic church. I have benefited from the excellent preaching and ministering by the priests and deacons that have presided over the St. Francis altar. I have taken great refuge in the peace and tranquility I have gained while attending mass during stressful and crazy times. This morning I tried to pay a little more attention to the stained glass masterpieces that enclose the church and cemented a mental picture in my mind. I walked out of St. Francis Xavier today hoping that I will find a great Catholic church in Myrtle Beach as well.

Driving out of the parking lot this morning I took one final picture of St. Francis Xavier. What a great church!

Driving out of the parking lot this morning I took one final picture of St. Francis Xavier. What a great church!

After mass I headed over to the Adams Center to watch University of Montana Cheer Squad tryouts. Even though I worked my last football event last night I still wanted to see who would be performing on the sidelines during the games this fall. Most importantly though I wanted to show up and support the returners on the squad who have enriched my life so much. I got to see the tumbling portion of the tryout, talk to a couple of the girls, and meet the mom of one of my favorites on the squad.

I made it a priority to catch some of the UM Cheer Squad tryouts today.

I made it a priority to catch some of the UM Cheer Squad tryouts today.

I stayed too long at the tryouts and had to dash from the University of Montana to the other side of town where I paid my last visit to the hospice family that I volunteer for. Over the past few months I have become very close to this strong couple. Last week when I served my volunteer hours with them I didn’t know if I would be making today’s final visit because of the woman’s deteriorating health. However she was still her kind and thoughtful self this afternoon. Leaving their house today was hard. The husband had a tough time keeping his composure when telling me thank you and I had to do all I could to keep mine when I went inside the room of the wife. Confined to a bed now she used all her strength to reach her arms out and give me the biggest hug while saying “Thank you and God Bless you, honey.”

Needing a little time to just take it easy for a little bit I went back to my apartment and packed a few things while watching the final round of the Masters. I am satisfied with Bubba Watson’s victory and find his achievement of winning two out of the last three green jackets pretty darn good. Once again I was very impressed with the broadcast.

Before I could even see Bubba put his green jacket on though I zipped back over to the University of Montana for a little bit of Sunday exercise. For the final time I hiked “The M.” On an absolutely gorgeous and sunny early evening I trekked up that mountain and sat up at the top for longer than usual, admiring the breathtaking view of the Missoula valley. As I started to go back down I saw everyone beneath me looking over to their right. I of course looked in that direction as well and spotted four elk grazing about 300 feet off the trail. Perhaps they showed up to say goodbye to me?

Myself at the top of The M and also a grainy photo of the elk I saw.

Myself at the top of The M and also a grainy photo of the elk I saw.

I drove down Stadium Way and into the Adams Center parking lot where I went to my office and continued that process of packing up. As I put things away I realized that even though I am 100% ready to leave the state of Montana I am still going to miss Missoula. Don’t Blink.

Tonight’s Spring Game: My Last Hurrah in Washington-Grizzly Stadium

I am praying right now that the current Missoula sunshine will stick around through this evening. Tonight Washington-Grizzly Stadium will host the 2014 Griz Football Spring Game and let’s just say that I rather have our fans treated to pleasant spring conditions rather than the forecasted rain and wind that is supposed to come. No matter, one thing I have learned in my almost five years with Grizzly Athletics is that our fan base will come out despite the conditions. However, I just want to see them as comfortable as possible.

We have a lot planned for tonight. At 4 p.m. the Grizzly Scholarship Association will host a tailgate in Lot W, located at the south stadium entrance. At 5 p.m. a kids’ clinic will be held on the Washington-Grizzly Stadium turf as the coaching staff will give the young ones plenty of opportunities to show what they got. At 6 p.m. the Spring Game will kick off. Although a scoring system foreign to most people will be in force (you can read about it here) it will still be very much structured like a game, a good thing for fans who want to see action that will mirror what they will see during Saturdays this fall. After the game the team will hold an autograph session under the lights on the field.

Brynn, Kristen, and I with our marketing interns in the Control Room during the 2013 season. Tonight will be my last time working in this cramped, and sometimes stressful, space.

Brynn, Kristen, and I with our marketing interns in the Control Room during the 2013 season. Tonight will be my last time working in this cramped, and sometimes stressful, space.

Tonight’s festivities will mark my last time ever climbing the wooden stairs of the press box and performing my duties in the control room. After working 36 home football games plus the Spring Game in 2012, this will be my last hurrah. I am fortunate that I will get to work and sit/stand next to Dave Guffey and Brynn Molloy, two Griz staffers who I have had the pleasure of working with during my entire tenure at Grizzly Athletics. After five seasons I will appropriately take in the gorgeous view I have enjoyed and the special role I have served one final time. If you are in Missoula, rain or shine, come down to Washington-Grizzly Stadium for tonight’s Spring Game. I would love to see you there. Don’t Blink.

My Top Ten Best Moments Working For Grizzly Athletics

I have just one week remaining at the University of Montana and I can’t help but think of all the wonderful moments I have had the privilege of taking part in or helping directly with during my tenure. Tonight I want to reflect on some of the times I will never forget while serving the Montana Grizzlies. I give you my top ten moments working for Grizzly Athletics:

10. 2013 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament: After experiencing the men’s tourney the year prior, I got the opportunity to attend the Women’s NCAA Tournament when the Lady Griz qualified for the Big Dance in 2013. Serving as the Pep Band/Spirit Squad contact while also covering all facets of the trip for our social media audience I enjoyed my time in Spokane at Gonzaga University. Although the Lady Griz ended up falling to powerhouse Georgia they put up a great fight and I got to watch all the action from under the basket.

I snapped this photo of the team at the practice session at Gonzaga the day before the game.

I snapped this photo of the team at the practice session at Gonzaga the day before the game.

9. NACMA Retreat: During the summer of 2012 the University of Montana had the distinction of hosting the National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators Board of Directors retreat. Former Marketing Director Christie Anderson worked her way up to a prestigious spot on the NACMA Board of Directors and spearheaded a successful campaign for the hosting opportunity. She let me come along to beautiful Whitefish, Montana, where the retreat was held and help out with the three day event. I had the opportunity to network with the best intercollegiate athletic marketers in the country. Listening to their ideas and challenges provided me with a wonderful learning and development opportunity.

I hung around these intercollegiate athletics marketers for a few days

I hung around these intercollegiate athletics marketers for a few days

8. 2013 Home Opener Against Appalachian State: In what would be my last football season for the Griz, our home opener was truly memorable. After much buildup to a brand new fan experience in Washington-Grizzly Stadium our advertising did not disappoint as the game went perfectly. All of our planning, brainstorming, and hard work paid off as everything from the sky divers to the Monte entrance to the fireworks to all the intricacies of our protocol went off without a hitch. And oh yeah, on a gorgeous night under the lights our football team steamrolled Appalachian State, 30-6.

My brother and dad got to come over for this great game. After the game I went on the field with them to get a picture.

My brother and dad got to come over for this great game. After the game I went on the field with them to get a picture.

7. The Roots of “United”: After our athletic director and head football coach were let go completely out of the blue in March of 2012 the Missoula community was in crisis mode as people reacted to the news in a variety of different ways. As the dialogue started to get very volatile and as the national media started to converge the young men on the Griz football team gave all of us a true example of what class and restraint is all about. The team provided us with a letter that we posted on www.gogriz.com that gave a nod to their former leaders, took responsibility for the allegations, promised to hold themselves to higher standards, and asked the community to stick with them. At the conclusion of the letter it stated that with or without that community support they would come back stronger than ever. They certainly did.

6. Montana Grizzlies Facebook Page Reaches 100K Likes: In a major milestone for the Griz Social Media program, our department’s official Facebook page went over 100,000 likes in early March of 2014. In a league completely above anyone else in the Big Sky Conference and the FCS, this mark validated the emphasis our department had placed on social media and provided just another example of why Griz Nation has some of the best fans in the country.

5. A Memorable 2013-14 Lady Griz Basketball Season: Although the 2013-14 Montana women’s basketball team did not advance to the NCAA Tournament I will still remember it very fondly for a couple reasons. First there was Robin Selvig’s 800th win. The celebration that ensued with him and his team followed by Coach Selvig’s humorous and touching speech will forever stay with me. Secondly, the two games we got to host for the WNIT were so much fun. The team played their hearts out and our fan base truly showed up to support them as much as possible. Although I really wish the Lady Griz would have picked up the win against San Diego I will just remember the noise level in the arena and the feeling inside of me that our players and fans truly valued the post season opportunity they were given.

I hope somewhere this speech is recorded (photo courtesy of the great Todd Goodrich).

I hope somewhere this speech is recorded (photo courtesy of the great Todd Goodrich).

4. 2009 Appalachian State Snow Game Semi-Final: This game goes down as the most memorable game ever inside of Washington-Grizzly Stadium. Besides the national television audience, the snow, the lights, and the big time victory to advance to the national championship it was also a breakout game for me as the stadium DJ. As a brand new employee for Grizzly Athletics tasked with the big job of running music at the football games, I was always nervous come game time. However, after that game my nerves seemed to permanently go away. Mostly because of the atmosphere that night everything I sent through the stadium speakers seemed to work. Music traditions were born that evening and it was the only time I ever played music postgame at a football event as fans stayed long after to party on the snowy Washington-Grizzly Stadium turf.

3. Griz Demolish Montana State in Bozeman in 2011: During the football season of 2011, the Griz-Cat game was held in Bobcat Stadium with Montana State boasting an undefeated record in Big Sky Conference play. No one gave Montana a chance. It was supposed to be some type of formality for the Bobcats to win and celebrate with the Brawl of the Wild trophy. Are you kidding me? The Griz used the disrespect to kick the tar out of Montana State from the get-go. Early third quarter the fans inside Bobcat Stadium were literally leaving. When the final horn sounded Montana had sealed the victory 36-10 and at the time secured another Big Sky Conference championship. Vacated or not, standing on the sidelines for that game was the sweetest moment I have had as a Griz.

Christie and I during the half at the 2011 Brawl of the Wild Griz-Cat game.

Christie and I during the half at the 2011 Brawl of the Wild Griz-Cat game.

2. Griz and Lady Griz Go Dancing on Same Day Under Same Roof: Just the buildup in general to March 16, 2013 was an awesome moment all in itself. Grizzly Athletics had the pleasure of hosting both the men’s and women’s basketball Big Sky Conference tournaments last year. As I worked every single one of those tournament games I kept telling myself how lucky I was to have the opportunity to be a part of something like this. To get to the final day and realize that we very well could send both our teams to the premier college basketball tournaments in the nation made me know that an already awesome experience could get even better. Boy, did it.

With fireworks going off pregame and confetti falling from the rafters after, the game presentation we put together was almost as good as the play of our teams. The Lady Griz defeated Northern Colorado and the Griz took down Weber State as both Montana basketball programs punched tickets to the Big Dance on the same day on their home floor. Not only had both our basketball teams pulled it off but our staff had pulled it off as well in providing quality tournaments that you don’t see at other conference schools. Along with the 2013 Griz football home opener, I had never been more proud of the experience afforded to fans that day.

March 16, 2013 will never be forgotten in the history of Grizzly Athletics.

March 16, 2013 will never be forgotten in the history of Grizzly Athletics.

1. 2012 NCAA Tournament: By far one of the best experiences of my entire life, getting to travel with the Griz basketball team to Albuquerque for the 2012 NCAA Tournament earns the #1 spot on my list for top moments while at Grizzly Athletics. NCAA Tourneys are so special in general but to have the opportunity to be front and center as a participating institution takes it to a whole different level. I had the opportunity to cover the tournament for our social media outlets and gogriz.com. I got to attend the practice with the team. I enjoyed a tour of The Pit. I volunteered my services passing out tickets to the people on the travel party. I watched the game courtside with Christie and our dance team coach.

But you know what? Besides the responsibilities strictly related to the tournament I also got to have a lot of fun. I soaked in the refreshing Albuquerque sun, ate the best Mexican food I had ever had, stayed in a super nice hotel, toured the town, and had the best time with my co-workers. What an amazing experience!

Monte and I before we went out on the court for the 2012 NCAA Tournament.

Monte and I before we went out on the court for the 2012 NCAA Tournament.

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I am so indebted to Grizzly Athletics for these special moments that I will carry with me forever. I will reflect on them now but in three weeks I will be totally committed to making new top moments and memories at Coastal Carolina University. Can’t wait to start building a new top ten list in the South! Don’t Blink.