Mascots, Ice Cream, Golf

Because my brother always complains to me about the length of my blog posts I try to humor him every once and a while and publish a post that is both shorter in length and on the lighter side of things. Thankfully for Glen, tonight is one of those rare occasions where I don’t write a book and I don’t necessarily have a message to get across. This evening I simply want to briefly describe three cool things that have happened so far in this short week.

Monte Defeats Cam The Ram: The most famous bear in Montana got off to a great start in the 2013 Mascot Challenge as he defeated Cam The Ram from Colorado State. The head-to-head battle went down to the wire and I was definitely refreshing my iPhone every few seconds as the deadline approached to make sure that Monte did in fact hold on. Thanks to Griz Nation he did indeed score a victory and is now 1-0 and up against Bucky the Badger from Wisconsin this week. When Monte and I were down in Albuquerque for the 2012 NCAA Tournament we got to meet Bucky because our basketball team was playing Wisconsin. While we came up short to Wisconsin in basketball we are confident that we will have their number when it comes to mascots.

Monte and I were happy campers after defeating Cam The Ram.

Monte and I were happy campers after defeating Cam The Ram.

Cheap Dairy Queen Ice Cream: In Missoula there is a seasonal Dairy Queen located in an old school hut type building that kind of strays away from the typical corporate DQs you mostly see today. Well, I think the season for this particular Dairy Queen is coming to an end because they had a pretty sweet sale going on yesterday. For just $1.25 you could buy frozen quarts of ice cream…yes, that is just one dollar and a quarter. I saw the sign advertising this bargain as I was driving to the Griz soccer game yesterday and sure enough after the match concluded I went straight to the Dairy Queen and bought a lot of ice cream for pocket change. For $2.50 I got two quarts of premium chocolate ice cream. I smiled the whole way home and now I got enough frozen dessert to last me the rest of September.

I am the owner of enough ice cream to last me the month,

I am the proud owner of enough ice cream to last me the month.

Griz Golf Team Wins Missoula Tournament: For the first time in 16 years the Griz golf team hosted a tournament in Missoula. Yesterday and today the team played in the Sun Mountain Grizzly Invitational at the Missoula Country Club. The last time the team hosted a tournament in Missoula was in 1997 and they definitely made up for lost time as they ran away with the team title, defeating six other schools including Montana State. I got to watch the ending of the tournament and then the awards ceremony that followed. It was just another great day to be a Grizzly.


Congrats to the Griz golf team on winning the Sun Mountain Grizzly Invitational.

Congrats to the Griz golf team on winning the Sun Mountain Grizzly Invitational


There you go…mascots, ice cream, and golf! Short and sweet. Hope you approve, Glen. Don’t Blink.

Photography and Social Media

Today while out at South Campus Stadium on an absolute gorgeous evening watching our Griz soccer team thoroughly defeat Utah Valley, 3-1, I had the opportunity to participate in an interesting conversation. While standing on one of the sidelines snapping pictures, I talked with our university photographer, Todd Goodrich. With 22 years under his belt as the main photo man at the University of Montana, Todd is a gold mine of information and cool stories. He is one of those people who you really want to spend some time picking his brain.

University of Montana photographer Todd Goodrich at today's Griz soccer game.

University of Montana photographer Todd Goodrich at today’s Griz soccer game.

We got to talking about his career. In addition to his 22 years at the University of Montana, Todd has also worked for two newspapers in the state of Montana, including a stint at the Missoulian. We talked about how photography has evolved so much over the years and the challenges that have presented themselves throughout the journey. We pointed out the dramatic upgrades in technology and the complete acceleration in turnaround time for the final product as major characteristics in the ever changing business. But while these changes would have any veteran photographer on his toes and his head spinning to keep up, Todd said they never rattled him much. Technology and decreased turnaround times are givens, he said, and he just takes them in stride.

However, he said there was a change inside the world of photography that did take him some getting used to. A change that he was initially weary of and to some degree even fought. A change that pretty much overhauled his industry and that made him look differently at how he valued his work. Todd, what is this major change you are talking about?…

Social Media.

I listened with wide open ears and great interest as Todd explained that my passion was his Achilles’ heel for a short period during his career. The culture changing phenomenon that swept through life as we know it and continues to shape our daily experience today was not warmly embraced by Todd and the photographer industry. Listening to him speak about the detriments that social media had (and continues to have) on the work that photographers do made complete sense.

Todd explained to me that photographers deeply value their work. The photos they capture are essentially their personal stamps, their glory, their labor. When social media entered the picture it made the photographer anonymous and took the beautiful images that he/she produced and made them available for the masses to see but not truly for the masses to appreciate. People could now easily see a cool photo but they didn’t know the back story of that image, they didn’t know the photographer who was behind the lens. Instead of the picture finding a home in a glossy publication or on the crisp pages of newsprint, people could now instantly see it on a computer screen or on their phone. For photographers, it seemed to cheapen their work.

It took Todd time to accept this new (and unfair) direction photography was taking. As someone who directly capitalizes off of the new way we use photography I felt bad. I use Todd’s amazing work all the time through our social media channels to advance the brand of Grizzly Athletics. In an attempt to justify what I do and to see if he really was warming up to how social media has transformed the role of photography I asked Todd if he finds any satisfaction in seeing a photo that he took receive wide viral appreciation and acclaim. For example, just last week I shared a breathtaking skydiver picture that he captured at our first football game that garnered 2,052 likes, 300 shares, and 50 comments. Todd answered yes.

Todd captured this amazing skydiving picture that was an instant viral hit.

Todd captured this amazing skydiving picture that was an instant viral hit.

While Todd has learned to accept the way that social media feeds off of photography, others in his business have not. I honestly can say that I don’t blame those photographers one bit. Likewise, I have an immense amount of respect for Todd that he has come to terms with the very non-reciprocal relationship that exists.

If you ever see a picture on social media that touches you or captures your attention, contact the administrator of that particular social outlet and ask who the photographer is and then send a note of appreciation to that person. If you are in my position and use the work of talented photographers, make sure you let those people know how much you appreciate them. They are just as much a part of your success as whatever you are doing to market/supplement your social outlets. While the photography business gets more and more thankless, it also gets more and more important. Myself and Griz Nation would be lost without people like Todd Goodrich. Make sure to thank a photographer this week. Don’t Blink.

A Stellar Social Media Promotion

As social media keeps growing and growing, the pressure is on for companies, organizations, celebrities, and even athletic departments to step up their game and offer their fans fresh social content. Within Grizzly Athletics, this duty falls upon my shoulders. I make it one of my top priorities each and every day to make sure Griz Social Media leads the way in the FCS and that our program can hold its weight with the major schools in the BCS. To accomplish this priority, we try new things and take risks. Some of the social media ideas I have introduced have not always caught on. On the other hand, some of them have. I would briefly like to share a success story.

This social media success story has to do with Instagram.

This social media success story has to do with Instagram.

I depend on Kim Staninger from EPIO Solutions to offer me a second voice on social media. EPIO Solutions is a marketing/PR/social media consulting agency who we proudly work with. I directly work with Kim and we chat and brainstorm ideas to make Griz Social Media better. One idea she offered me was to institute a “Guest Instagrammer” during the football season. This person would get sole access to our Instagram account (@UMGRIZZLIES) and gain complete access to the Washington-Grizzly Stadium sidelines on Saturday. I was intrigued by the idea and decided to run with it.

At first I had to get past the idea that someone besides me would be posting to our social media accounts. I take great pride in posting about 95% of our content across our platforms so to give up the reins to someone not even within Grizzly Athletics made me just a tad bit uneasy. But it only took me a couple seconds to get over my control-fit because it wasn’t like I could do it myself during the games because of my responsibilities up in the press box. Also I knew we would capture a new perspective from our Instagram lens with someone else providing the content. I also knew it would give a loyal fan an ultimate Griz experience he/she would never forget. We were definitely doing this!

Make sure to follow @UMGRIZZLIES on Instagram.

Make sure to follow @UMGRIZZLIES on Instagram.

The week before our first home football game I wrote a story for our website and posted on our social media outlets the big announcement: We would debut our “Griz Guest Instagrammer” at the Appalachian State football game! I decided to choose our guest Instagrammer from an application process. I had interested parties e-mail me and provide me with the following: 200 words on why he/she loves the Griz, 200 words on why he/she loves Instagram, a copy of his/her best Instagram photo, and his/her Instagram handle. I knew this information would enable me to choose a person who would make this promotion a hit and who would improve our social media program.

I read through the roughly 20 applications I got and ended up choosing a girl named Christina. I looked through her materials and knew she was who I wanted for the first game. I notified her and she met with me on Friday before the game so I could give her the all-access photographer armband that would get her everywhere in the stadium. I also told her what I was looking for, showed her how to access the field, went over policies, and answered questions….oh yeah, I also gave her our Instagram password (the transfer of power!).

Griz Guest Instagrammer - Christina

Our first ever Griz Guest Instagrammer, Christina. This was her the day before the game when she picked up her credential.

On gameday Christina showed up an hour early and one of our marketing interns greeted her and once again confirmed that the whole field was available to her to take awesome Instagram photos. Once I saw from my vantage point in the press box that Christina was set I kind of forgot about the whole Griz Guest Instagrammer thing and went about doing my job. At halftime I was briefly reminded about the cool social media promotion we had going on when Christina showed up in the press box and informed me that her iPhone had died (I still laugh at this). We did some troubleshooting and got her a charger and after that I forgot once again.

It was not until after the game when I was walking to my car did I remember that we had someone else using our Instagram account for the past few hours. I pulled out my phone and looked at Instagram. My eyes lit up more than the fireworks that went off just 30 minutes prior.

Shots like this immediately jumped out at me.

Shots like this immediately jumped out at me.

The shots that Christina took were absolutely amazing. Not only were the pictures themselves just gorgeous but she managed to tell the whole story of the game. She had the skydivers, the band, the fireworks, the students, the mascot, the touchdowns, the crowd, and the jubilant joy of the players after the game. By Instagram standards it was absolutely beautiful.

She captured everything about the game so well.

She captured everything about the game so well.

Not only did she cover the game better than anything I could have imagined but she improved Griz Social Media. Over the weekend we gained 400 new followers! 400! We went from 1200 followers to over 1600 followers. You can’t ask for much better results than that, especially when all you are doing is giving a passionate Griz fan the opportunity to roam the sidelines and capture the game through her eyes.

I loved it how Christina had the presence of mind to run over to where the football team was singing the fight song and take a picture.

I loved it how Christina had the presence of mind to run over to where the football team was singing the fight song and take a picture.

I am excited for our future Griz Guest Instagrammers. Christina said she had a great experience and I am glad I am able to afford that to five more people this season. The bar has been set high and I will be happy if we get half the results over the next five games that we did with this first one. Go Griz Social Media and thanks Christina! Don’t Blink.

Cutting Out Distractions, Enjoying Simple Things

Tonight I realized something. I can no longer sit still and concentrate on one thing. No, I am not talking about multi-tasking. Multi-tasking is a very important skill that is necessary for most people to master but I am not talking about that. Rather, I am talking about just having the focus and patience to sit down and just do one thing. Let me explain…

This evening I sat down to watch the Notre Dame vs. Michigan football game. Watching football has always been one of life’s greatest pleasures for me but tonight I started to notice something. I couldn’t go two minutes without taking my eyes off the screen to do something. I would check my phone constantly, grab for my water bottle, type something into my lap top that I had right next to me, adjust my position on the couch, or have my mind go off in totally non-football directions.

Why was I doing this? I had been looking forward to just relaxing and watching this game all day long but when the time came to do it I caught myself not giving me the opportunity to do so. One thing is for sure, I am glad I actually called myself out on it. I have had a mild case of ADD for quite some time now but I just really had not realized it. To be honest, I don’t exactly know why I took notice of it tonight, but I think that the time I have spent by myself lately has gotten me more in touch with my idiosyncrasies.

After I officially diagnosed my personal focus disorder and after I got on myself for acting so distracted I established a couple of ground rules. I made it mandatory that I would watch a whole series of the football game without doing anything but watching the football game. No phone, no computer, no drink, no adjusting. After the series ended and the game went to commercial I checked my phone, took a big drink of my water, pounded on my computer, and did whatever else I felt like I needed to do. I quickly learned two things. First, the game was much more enjoyable to watch and I found myself thoroughly entertained throughout the three quarters I instituted my plan for (now if only Notre Dame had won). Secondly, doing all the things (phone/computer/drink/etc) on a set schedule made them much more gratifying than just doing them on call every other second.

I think I have trouble getting the most out of my free time just because I am so used to not having any. Instead of switching modes when I am out of the office I instead take those same principles that I use at work and go 100% to get the most done…even if it just entails small, minor things like checking my phone or seeing how Monte is doing in the Mascot Challenge. I need to remember to change gears and realize that work time is different from play time. I am not trying to maximize productivity, I am trying to maximize enjoyment.

I plan to continue to allow myself to enjoy my free time more. Time to focus more and soak in the moments of leisure that I get. I am glad I figured this out now because the football season is very young. Don’t Blink.

The Analytics Part of Don’t Blink

Quite often people will start talking to me about my blog and ask if I have any idea about the analytics that my site garners. The answer is yes. Thanks to my friend Chris Lynn who installed it within the backend of Don’t Blink, I have a program called Jetpack that gives me a day by day account of the number of browsers that access my site. This information is invaluable to me as I like to have a good idea of how many people visit my blog and what topics the majority of my readers prefer over others.

Besides the volume of traffic statistics that I receive, I also get other really interesting pieces of information delivered to me regarding my blog. I am told what key words people type in to search engines to find Don’t Blink, what outside sites are referring people to my blog, what links people are clicking on once they are reading my posts, and a breakdown of what individual posts are getting accessed. I assess this information about two to three times every week to have a better understanding of my readers.

When it comes to my daily volume of readers there are a couple trends. I usually always get a large audience on Sunday nights, especially if I post something (which I always try to do). Also, the more consecutive days I post, the more traffic I will get on the latter days in that string. For example, if I published a new blog post Monday through Thursday my web traffic would increase each day, with an exceptionally high impression number on Thursday night. Readers reward you for consistency. However, there are random days when my traffic will shoot right through the roof even though I had not posted anything in a couple days. For example, last week when I was too busy with work to even think about writing a sentence for Don’t Blink I checked my analytics and saw that 900 people (browsers) had visited my site on Wednesday. After looking at the full report I saw that roughly 700 of those hits came by referral of a Japanese website. I had written a blog post 10 months back about Barry Anderson, the mascot of the Chicago Bulls. For whatever reason, Japan LOVES mascots. Barry visited Japan a couple years back and to this day he still has rock star status in the country. On this site there was some thread about Barry and someone found my blog post link and shared it on there. The floodgates opened.

I love looking at the key words people use to find Don’t Blink. Of course I get lots of searches dealing with “Brent Reser,” “Brent Reser Don’t Blink,” “Brent Reser Bio,” and “Don’t Blink Blog,” but many of the other searches are much more random. Just for today, here are some of the key words people typed in to find my site: “random ugly guy,” “Rascal Flatts time on stage,” “double pan fried noodles at PF Changs,” “cheer camp arrival,” “red robin mascot head, ”Boston Bruins stadium,” “iron horse queso recipe,” “embarrassing loss for Loyola football program,” and “don’t waste money on autographs.” Yep, I am proud to say that I have covered such a myriad of topics while authoring this blog that internet users from all over can type in seemingly random phrases and be directed to my little space on the web. Definitely a little creepy too.

I enjoy seeing which blog posts are performing well. As I mentioned in my 2 year anniversary blog post, my passage titled “Instagram Spam” is my all-time most read post. Even right now it is still the most read post pretty much each day. My newer posts are usually always right underneath “Instagram Spam” and then it is whatever post got shared on some random website rounding out the top five most read posts for that particular day.

Speaking of random websites, I pay close attention to which sites are contributing to my site’s traffic. Of course Google, Facebook, and Twitter are my big top three referrers but I am more interested in the websites that will pop up for a couple days and give me rushes of traffic. Because I wrote a couple posts related to Montana Athletics this week, I have had a lot of people from the popular blogging site eGriz take a gander at what I got going. Many times when I review a restaurant or a product the company will get wind of it and share it from their website or social media sites, thus sending people to Don’t Blink. Sometimes, just like with the Japanese website example, a link to my site will get shared on a random platform and I hit viewership gold.

Part of the fun of authoring a blog for me is definitely scrutinizing these statistics and identifying trends. It is cool to see that my writing has an impact on many people from all over the world. Seeing this evidence on a daily basis motivates me to continue to write and to do my best to put out quality work. Don’t Blink.

Let’s Stop Recognizing These “National” Days

The United States of America is the best country in the world. I thank God each and every day that I live here and I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. But, with that said, there are some things that go on inside these borders that are beyond ridiculous. Let me quickly vent on one of them.

I love holidays! I also like special occasion days like birthdays and anniversaries. I also like days that aren’t holidays but probably should be such as the Super Bowl and the first couple days of March Madness. I appreciate days that stick out a little more than others, it makes them special and it gives us all an excuse to have fun and enjoy each other. However, at this point, I am sick and tired of people and companies trying to make each day on the calendar a “National Day Of…” something.

I just about had it today when I was informed that September 5 was National Cheese Pizza Day. Really? National Cheese Pizza Day? Not even just National Pizza Day? They really had to throw the cheese part in? Of course National Cheese Pizza Day isn’t the only “cheesy” pseudo holiday…practically all of them are. Here are just a few: National Chocolate Milkshake Day, TV Dinner Day, Teddy Bear Picnic Day, National Gummi Worm Day, Hippo Day, Duran Duran Day, National Men’s Grooming Day, National Thesaurus Day, National Handwriting Day, National I Don’t Give A…

The last day I mentioned doesn’t actually exist but in all honesty it is probably the most rational one out of all the others. I can’t put into words how dumb so many of these days are. It is just not needed. We don’t need a silly theme for every single day of the year. This country is not populated by just kindergarteners. After a quick look around at work today and through running my errands I encountered living, breathing adults who probably think the same as me that National Gummi Worm Day is stupid.

To be fair, when I did some research for this post I saw that some people who are confined to hospital beds or who are incapable of getting out much do look to these silly named days as a little bit of comedic relief, something that actually gives them a little bit of joy each day. The last thing I want to do is strip anyone desperately in need of a daily laugh so let me just narrow my point a little more and specify who I am talking to.

I frown upon the people who are strong, able-bodied, and able-minded who latch onto these days. I frown upon the people who blow up social media wishing everyone a “Happy National Scrabble Day.” I frown upon the people who pour syrup on their sandwich because it is “National Maple Syrup Day.” I frown upon people who go out to eat dressed head to toe in purple because it is “National Wear Purple For Peace Day.” I frown upon the people who expect other people to know what “special” day it is and light up with a smile when they are notified about it. I frown upon the people who have expectations of others to actually wear, eat, do, or observe whatever lame topic the national day is commemorating.

I dislike these days because I think it cheapens our calendar. We don’t need something special or goofy every single day of the year. We just need Mondays to be Mondays and Wednesdays to be Wednesdays. I dislike these days also because I think it feeds gluttony and I think it plays to the notion that we have short attention spans and are in constant need of little distractions to keep us entertained. I also think it is a major crutch for people who have outlets to communicate with the masses but have nothing original to say so they rely on topics such as “National Make Cut Out Snowflakes Day.”

Do we really need to have a “National” day for every single date? No, we don’t. But just for the sake of argument let’s make a “National Live Life to the Fullest Day” and have 7/8 of the dates on the calendar be under that mantra. I don’t know about you but I would take that day over “National Measure Your Feet Day” in a heartbeat. Don’t Blink.

A Cool Random Act of Kindness

Late last month someone did one of the coolest random acts of kindness I have ever heard about. Big Dipper is the most popular ice cream destination in Missoula. Although not my personal favorite, Big Dipper is a Missoula original and as far as this town is concerned, Ben & Jerry’s doesn’t hold a candle to it. During the last Sunday of August, someone walked up to the stand, handed one of the workers a $100 bill, and instructed that worker to use the money on free ice cream for the customers standing in line. I loved it!

Even though the grammar might be a little off, you get the idea.

Even though the grammar might be a little off, you get the idea.

No, I unfortunately was not at Big Dipper when the random act of kindness occurred but just thinking about the whole scene made me smile. I would have liked to see the faces on people as they waited in the long line (the line at Big Dipper always stretches a long distance) in the hot sun the moment they were notified that their ice cream on that particular day would be free, courtesy of a random stranger. You hear all the time about people buying coffee, beer, and dinner for complete strangers but rarely do you hear about people buying ice cream.

If I ever spend triple digits to treat random people to something it is so going to be ice cream. I just love the idea and I love the feeling that I know people would get when they learned that their ice cream for that day was on someone else. This particular random act of kindness was new and unique to me so it made me think about other possible random acts of kindness that people could do with $100 that deviates from the norm but would make the day of many. My only criteria when creating the below list was that the $100 would have to stretch long enough to serve at least 10 people:

– Free sandwiches at Subway during the lunch hour rush
– Free admission to Splash Montana
– Free haircuts at Great Clips
– Free “buy all you can for $5” at Taco Bell
– Free carousel rides Saturday morning!
– Free hot dogs for the first 30 people who walk by the vendor stand

How cool would it be if an all-start good Samaritan went crazy and did all six of these things on a random Saturday? Wait…I mean how cool would it be if he/she did all seven of these things? Cause of course ice cream at Big Dipper would have to be included as well.

On behalf of Missoula, thanks to the person who treated the community to ice cream. What a cool and fresh idea to do something so random and nice. Sooner than later I hope to do the same thing. Don’t Blink.

My Two Minutes of Fame

Click here to watch me act in “A Monte Movie :: Monte’s Roommate”

At Griz football games I am sheltered high up in the press box inside the snug confines of the control room. At least 99% of the 26,000+ people who cram Washington-Grizzly Stadium have no idea that I am up there, let alone even know that I exist. I like it that way. I enjoy the anonymity and I enjoy the behind-the-scenes work that I do. However, last Saturday the cover on my anonymity was blown completely off.

On Saturday in front of the largest crowd to ever watch a sporting event in Montana, my ugly mug appeared up on Griz Vision (our video board) for two minutes. By resurrecting an element that was done about a decade ago, I starred in the first modern version of Monte Movies. If you don’t know a darn thing about mascots or if you didn’t read my blog post last night, Monte is the mascot at the University of Montana. And yes, we do make videos of him and feature them at our football games.

The premise of this first Monte Movie was to show what it is like to be Monte’s roommate. Monte played himself and I played the roommate. We filmed the whole thing in my apartment. Yes, that shower curtain really is mine and yes, Monte actually sat on my toilet. We filmed the movie in one night about three weeks ago. Let me tell you, filming is long and tough work. For the two minute long movie it took us about four hours to film. People don’t realize all the takes, all the angles, and all the details that go into making something like this. I was definitely one of those people before my acting debut. If not for my great co-star and if not for our talented director/cameraman/editor/winner at life Nate Michael, I would have looked even worse than what I did in the movie.

The opening scene of the movie!

The opening scene of the movie!

I first saw the mostly completed film in Nate’s office a week before the game. I could barely watch myself. The next time I saw it was two days before the game when we went through our walk-through for Saturday night. With a few other people watching I could tolerate it a little bit more just because they were laughing and it gave me a little bit of encouragement. On Saturday night with our team dominating Appalachian State and with everything going right game production wise I watched the whole thing from the control room and kind of just enjoyed seeing myself act stupid in front of 26,293 fans.


A scene where Monte and I watched a tear-jerker movie together.

A scene where Monte and I watched a tear-jerker movie together.

Although I stomached watching myself the best the third time around, there was something a little unsettling that I noticed. I kept listening (more like hoping) to hear the stadium erupt in laughter but I never really heard that chorus of maniacal giggling that I would have hoped to hear. When “THE END” flashed on the screen I wondered if the crowd even liked it, wondered if I had killed Monte’s thunder and Nate’s hard work with my terrible acting skills. But right when “THE END” flashed away, I had my answer. My phone started blowing up. I got texts from good friends, people who I hadn’t talked to in forever, and from numbers I didn’t recognize. I got tweets sent my way and someone even attempted to call me. The reaction was all positive and they said they loved it.

That was only the beginning.

After the game I went down on the field to meet my dad and brother who came to watch the Grizzlies and by default my performance. As I visited with them people came up and commented on the video. When I went back up the tunnel and to my office, people passed by saying how cute they thought the movie was. The recognition came the rest of the weekend with acquaintances and randos pointing out that I was “The Roommate.” Today with the start of the work week I had several co-workers mention the video. When I went to the gym I had no less than four people point me out.

In this scene our director/cameraman/winner Nate Michael gets to make a cameo!

In this scene our director/cameraman/winner Nate Michael gets to make a cameo!

Even though I talked non-stop for three weeks about how embarrassed I was to have my shabby acting skills on display and even though I tried to tell the people who knew the video was coming not to expect much I have to admit, I liked the well-wishes and recognition that came after it was played on Griz Vision during primetime.

All the kudos in the world to Nate and Monte for using their talents to make me look decent in the video. It was cool to see the process of how everything works and like I said the recognition was pretty nice too but I think I am going to go out on top and retire from acting. I am the ultimate one-hit wonder. Don’t Blink.

Last scene of the movie...time to retire from acting!

Last scene of the movie…time to retire from acting!


A Special Mascot: Support Monte for National Mascot of the Year

I feel fortunate to have a job that I love so much that I constantly feel the need to write about it. I apologize if I have gone Grizzly Athletics overload on you the past few posts but I can’t help it. But let me preface by saying that tonight’s topic is pretty cool!

Once again, Monte, our mascot at the University of Montana, has made the 2013 Capital One Mascot Challenge team. Each year a number of mascots are chosen from across the country to engage in a contest to see which furry creature will come out on top and become the National Mascot of the Year. In the past the winning mascot has been chosen through a voting system. This year a version of the voting system is still in place but there is an added twist to the mix. More on that later.

Monte and I at the NCAA Tournament in 2012.

Monte and I at the NCAA Tournament in 2012.

It is truly a big compliment that Monte continues to get chosen to the Mascot Challenge team (he has made it in 2002, 2004, 2007, 2010, and 2013). Pretty much all the other mascots on the team hail from large, BCS schools. The fact that a mascot from a smaller school in the FCS can continue to crack the team speaks to the talent, creativeness, and marketability of Monte. Each year we submit an application to Capital One. The required materials call for a highlight video, a couple high resolution photos of the mascot, and a completed paperwork form. You can then add any supporting documents that you see fit to improve your mascot’s chances of getting selected. We always see to it that we go above and beyond when creating our application.

When we got word that we made this year’s team we were ecstatic. Besides the great publicity and notoriety that we knew we were going to get from making the team, it also came with a $5,000 prize that went straight to our Mascot program. The payoff for taking the time to create a superb application packet is immense.

Monte and I close up style.

Monte and I close up style.

The senior of the two Monte performers who I oversee traveled to New York City in June to shoot the commercials and other promo materials that make up the Mascot Challenge. This student got the luxury of an all-expenses paid trip to the biggest and best known city in the nation to hang out with fifteen other mascots, stay in a nice hotel, and do some filming. Not a bad perk of the job. When he returned from the Big Apple he told me that he really tried to make Monte standout from the other mascots during all the shooting.

Monte and I goofing off.

Monte and I goofing off.

From the time of us submitting the application to hearing the good news to sending our mascot to New York it seemed like a lot of time had passed. So last week when the competition finally went live I think we were all ready to finally start the long campaign. But before we really started to ask people for their support for Monte, we needed to make really clear how they could support Monte. You see, things this year had changed.

In a quest to create more engagement and to take advantage of the ever increasing landscape of social media, Capital One introduced a three level point system. While you can still go with the old-fashioned way of simply voting for Monte there are other options that can boost his status in whatever head-to-head competition he is engaged in that week. While voting will only get you 1 point, you can complete “challenges” that will award Monte more points. Each week the contest organizers will present a question or task. If you answer or complete the task and use the appropriate hash tag of #CapitalOneMonte on Facebook or Twitter you get 25 points. However, if you want to put a little more effort into your support you can take the 25 point challenge a step up send 100 points Monte’s way.

Monte and I at the UCA championships this year.

Monte and I at the UCA championships this year.

Take for example this week. The 25 point challenge is to write a cheer for Monte. However, if you perform it in public and video it and then submit to Facebook/Twitter/Instagram with the appropriate hash tag you add 100 points to Monte’s schedule. I have no idea what the other challenges will entail but they should be fun for fans to complete.

Here is the cool thing about Monte in this competition: Each time he participates in it he does well. Even though out of all the other mascots he is from the smallest state in the smallest city at the smallest school (population wise), he always manages to make a great run deep into the competition. Because of the strong passion Griz Nation has coupled with the strong social media presence of Grizzly Athletics, Monte has a chance to win a competition that he really should have no business doing so. It is a beautiful thing and a pretty cool tribute to one of the best fan bases around.

I ask that you please go here and complete the challenges for Monte and then vote 100 times for him. Remember to use the #CapitalOneMonte hash tag. This week we are up against CAM THE RAM from Colorado State University and we need your support. Yes, we do have a good lead on him right now but with any competition that hinges on social media things can change drastically and quickly. Hope you had a great Labor Day weekend and please support Monte for National Mascot of the Year.

One Special Griz Football Game

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.

I was so happy that my brother and dad got to see this game and also catch my Griz Vision cameo.

I was so happy that my brother and dad got to see this game and also catch my Griz Vision cameo.

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.

Fireworks lit up the sky after the Griz victory.

Fireworks lit up the sky after the Griz victory.

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.

Brynn and I share a sigh of relief after the game ended.

Brynn and I share a sigh of relief after the game ended.

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.