A cool part of my job centers on the fact that I get to do interesting things that are not necessarily always completely focused on the Griz. Because of my background as DJ for Montana athletics, I get hired to do similar type work for other functions. I have DJ’d numerous cheerleading competitions, social events, University of Montana academic rallies, Tim Tebow’s stop in Missoula, and various other events and situations. Just a few weeks ago I got to help with an engagement proposal at midfield inside Washington-Grizzly Stadium. However, this past week I got to work an event that topped all the other non-Griz things I have done.
On Friday night, the Missoula Youth Football (MYF) league held its championship games under the lights in Washington-Grizzly Stadium. MYF is the Missoula version of Pop Warner football. In its inaugural season, the league produced strong numbers for kids participating in its two divisions, third/fourth grades and fifth/sixth grades. After a hard fought season, two teams from both divisions faced off to become the first champions of the newly formed league.
At first, I didn’t think I would get the opportunity to help with the championship games. I had been hired to do music for the Missoula Mayhem fights that night. Late Friday afternoon while I was testing equipment for the event, one of the employees of the Adams Center came over and notified me that the Missoula Mayhem organization would bring its own DJ to the fights and that my services would not be needed. I immediately became ecstatic as I am not an ultimate fighting fan and was not looking forward to the evening by any means. Suddenly, my Friday night had opened wide up and I planned to finish my prep for the Griz football game the following day and then go home and relax the rest of the evening.
With only about five minutes separating me from a non-eventful, relaxing evening at home, I heard Christie call my name from her office. I went to see what she wanted. Christie had already volunteered to help with the MYF championship games. She was going to run sponsor ads up on Griz Vision. She also planned to download a National Anthem clip to play prior to the start of both championship games. However, she could not seem to be able to download the certain clip which was way she called me into her office. Not knowing a solution to the problem either, I told her that I would just go up into the press box with her and set up my equipment and play the anthem. It would take just a few minutes to go up into the box, play the song, and then get out of there and head home. That was my initial plan anyway.
Christie and I practically ran up to the press box as we were running late. We climbed the stairs and entered the control room and as I looked out the windows and onto the field, I knew I would not just be sticking around for the anthem.
A large crowd of around 1,500 to 2,000 people had gathered in the west stands of Washington-Grizzly Stadium. Although still light out, the stadium lights were turned on. Our inflatable Griz helmet that serves as the entrance for our own football team was erected. I got audio set up and was told that the teams would soon run out of the tunnel and onto the field. I immediately cued up the entrance song that we use for the Griz and hit play. As “Bring ‘Em Out” blared over the house speakers, the third and fourth graders ran out onto the field, waving their arms up and down in the motion for the crowd to get loud. The sight of how small the young kids looked in the large stadium immediately brought a smile to my face. Here they were playing in their own little Super Bowl inside the best stadium in Montana. Right then, Christie and I knew we were going to give them the best experience possible.
Treating the MYF championship game just like an actual Griz game, Christie and I pulled out all the stops. All the “TOUCHDOWN”, “FIRST DOWN,” “TURNOVER.” etc prompts were used on Griz Vision. Signature clips such as Godzilla and the Animal House “You Make Me Want to Shout” scene were shown during both championship games. The songs synonymous with Griz games including “We Like to Party” and “Cotton Eyed Joe” echoed through the stadium as fans danced along. Griz football color man and MYF board member Scott Gurnsey served as the PA announcer and did an amazing job recognizing the kids. Joining the three of us in the control room included a scoreboard operator, a cameraman, and then two of our hard-working marketing interns.
Instead of leaving work at 6 p.m., I knew I would be there until 10 p.m. But I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Christie and I were having such a good time running our usual gameday production in a non-stressful environment. Darkness finally overtook the stadium and our brand new lights illuminated the field and the youngsters playing on it, making for a great scene. Watching the young kids playing football and reacting to everything that was going on was pretty special. A couple times Christie and I mentioned how these kids would remember playing in this game for the rest of their lives. To know that we had a part in shaping it definitely brought some satisfaction.
In the third and fourth grade championship, the Alamo Rent-A-Car Ravens defeated the Mountain West Bank Chargers. In the fifth and sixth grade game, the Sleep City Steelers became champions by defeating the Lifestyle Fitness Falcons. As “We Are the Champions” filled the stadium as the Steelers received their trophies during the awards ceremony under the bright lights to conclude the evening, I realized that not only the kids would remember this night for a while but I would too. Needless to say, I was very happy I did not leave work early that night. Don’t Blink.