I fully intended to write a lead up post about one of the biggest regular season football games ever played inside Washington-Grizzly Stadium but regrettably never got the time to do it. Working long hours that stretched late into the night made it difficult to devote time to my blog. But maybe I shouldn’t regret the missed opportunity to write a lead up post because that means I can just pour more energy and pride into the wrap up post. The last evening in August of 2013 in Missoula will go down as nothing short of spectacular.
Last night the Montana Grizzly football team hosted Appalachian State in a game between two FCS powers. Our fan base had eagerly waited years for the kickoff of this game and once the summer hit, people started getting extremely excited for the marquee game that would bring a start to the football season and an exclamation point type end to the summer season. You experienced the anticipation from Griz Nation everywhere whether it was on the streets, through social media, on the message boards, or just in the sweet Missoula air…it was there, you could sense it…you could feel it.
This anticipation circulated through every crevice of Griz Nation, including right at ground zero within the walls of the athletic department. For about eight months a dedicated team of department employees started envisioning and planning for what occurred on Saturday night. The vision was nurtured along as more and more pieces started to fall into place as the date got closer. Come the start of August it was full steam ahead as round the clock hours were logged to make the 2013 edition of Montana vs. Appalachian State one of the best shows ever presented inside of Washington-Grizzly Stadium. I think we delivered.
Because one of my duties is to serve as the mascot coordinator, probably the image that will forever be etched in my mind was when Monte drove down the middle of the field on his Harley with fireworks streaming from the back of his bike and pyrotechnics booming up in the air from either side of him. But myself, along with everyone else, will still remember all of the other images and memories from Saturday night. Take for instance when Bo Reichenbach was honored at midfield. Or when the Navy Seals parachuted into Washington-Grizzly Stadium. Or when the football team ran out in their sharp looking new maroon uniforms. Or when tunnel walk captured the attention of everyone. Or when the crowd got to party to Cotton Eyed Joe TWICE. Or when the whole stadium sang “Sweet Caroline” in perfect unison. Or when the Montana Grizzlies crushed Appalachian State by the score of 30-6 in front of the largest crowd ever in Washington-Grizzly Stadium history.
Of course these were just some of the highlights that defined yesterday’s game. Everyone will probably take something a little different from the experience. Heck, some people even mentioned that they will forever remember the Monte Movie that aired in the third quarter that stared some awkward, mumbling dude with curly hair (my two minutes of fame). But that is what great game presentations do, they cater to all types of people and present many different elements that everyone can connect with.
Sometimes people don’t realize who is behind the scenes doing all the work at these games but that is okay, because they really shouldn’t have to. They pay the money to get in and should just worry about the experience they see on the field, not necessarily who is pulling the strings. But it is still nice to recognize the people who made it happen last night. First and foremost you got to tip your hat to our marketing director, Brynn Molloy, who pulled every ounce of her energy into making sure this game was special. Beyond setting the stage for success, she executed success as well with her leadership during the game. Then there is our video guy Nate Michael who not only pumps out great video piece after great video piece but he also directs the video board flawlessly. Next there is our IT guy, Aaron Heiner, who works probably longer hours than us all and has incredible talent and patience. He has saved us all on numerous occasions. Can’t forget the people at Grizzly Sports Properties who helped us as much as possible to both introduce and enable exciting game elements for corporate sponsors. Next, lots of credit must go to two of our associate athletic directors, Greg Sundberg and Chuck Maes who did all they possibly could to support us and guide us as we pulled this thing off. They were behind us 100% of the way and when you know you have that backing it makes you feel very comfortable.
Let me not be so blind that I totally forget about the student participants who are the reason why people come to the games in the first place. I am talking about the football team, the Spirit Squad, Monte, and the band. Also, a huge shout out to our marketing interns who helped us immensely last night. Everything from on-field direction, Monte entrance coordinating, Griz Vision element execution, and social media reach was done top notch.
I am excited for the next home game but I must say that I am in no way against the three week period we have until the kickoff of that game on September 21. I think we are all tired and need a little bit of rest. The Labor Day holiday tomorrow is exactly what the doctor ordered. Thank you Griz Nation for being so awesome, you rocked it last night. Don’t Blink.