It has been one of those weekends where I sit back and let the pride, thankfulness, and awe of getting to work in the University of Montana Athletic Department just engulf me. Although I am always so proud to be part of something as special as Grizzly Athletics, weekends like this always give you an extra jolt of joy. Three awesome things happened to the Maroon and Silver this weekend that has everyone associated with the University of Montana and really the whole community of Missoula on fire right now. Let me brag for a little bit.
Griz-Cat Triumph: Let me start with the best. Yesterday in Bozeman, the Montana Grizzlies and Montana State Bobcats squared off in the 113th Brawl of the Wild. In a game that at the start of the season any MSU fan would say the Griz would get trounced in, Montana went into Bobcat Stadium and doubled up the Cats, bringing back the Great Divide Trophy to our department with a 28-14 victory.
This one was sweet. I felt very fortunate to stand on the sidelines and watch yet another trouncing of Montana State at the hands of our student-athletes and coaches. While I might have felt a little bad for the record crowd who turned out in Bozeman to watch their team’s playoff hopes die, I felt exuberant for Griz Nation. After Jordan Canada scored the last touchdown of the game and put his finger to his face to quiet the Montana State student section once and for all, the celebration was on. It literally made my year watching my good friend Norm Jones take the trophy out to midfield where the offensive line dutifully picked up the large award and carried it around the stadium for two renditions of the fight song before planting it at midfield where the team then gathered around it to say a prayer. After looking at the scoreboard one last time just to confirm that the Griz had added yet another notch to its side of the lopsided Brawl of the Wild record, I turned around and walked out of Bobcat Stadium with a big smile on my face.
Griz Volleyball Wins on Senior Night: The Griz volleyball team turned a great day into a spectacular day when they defeated Sacramento State on Senor Night. Although a little concerned that I might miss the match because of the Griz-Cat football game running long and the unpredictability of the road conditions from Bozeman to Missoula, I walked into the West Auxiliary Gym in the middle of the first set.
This year I served as the Marketing Director for the Griz volleyball team so I became very passionate about the squad, especially its four seniors. After a couple years of not making the Big Sky Conference tournament, the team clinched a spot this past weekend. With one goal in the books, the next goal of winning on Senior Night was attainable. The Griz didn’t let the opportunity pass them by as they defeated Sacramento State in five sets.
Instead of running the game from the scorer’s table I got to watch the special victory as a fan from the stands. Seeing Brooke Bray, Kayla Reno, Kortney James, and Megan Murphey go out as winners at home made my night and capped off a memorable day for Grizzly Athletics.
Griz Football Receives a Playoff Bye: After Montana dumped the Cats on Saturday afternoon, the question on everybody’s mind was when the Griz would play in the playoffs. Would they receive a bye or would they be playing Thanksgiving weekend on November 30? The debate raged everywhere from message boards to social media to the bus I rode home from Bozeman. With so much talk swirling around I asked our Sports Information Director what he thought our chances were of getting a bye. He told me 50-50.
I woke on Sunday morning anxious for the announcement. I wholeheartedly believed the team should be given a bye but understood the case against them and with the 50-50 prognosis that Dave gave me, I tried to get prepared for both scenarios. I followed the announcement on Twitter and the wind came out of my sail a little as they started to reveal the first several eight seeded teams (the ones who get byes) and Montana was not represented. After the announcement of seven teams without Montana being one of them, I thought I would be working in Washington-Grizzly Stadium on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend. But right when I started to wonder who our first round opponent would be the eighth and final seed was announced and much to my excitement it was Montana.
Of course the bye is most important because it will give our team the chance to heal up, rest, and play a team that they get to watch a week prior. But for us staffers in the athletic department, it also gives us a very nice holiday weekend. I now get to a plan an extended holiday break in Spokane with my family and I couldn’t be more excited. All I can say is thank you so much to the football team for making this a possibility!
It truly is a great time to be a Griz (even though it always is). Congrats to our amazing student-athletes and coaches. This is going to be one happy Thanksgiving. Don’t Blink.