Although the University of Montana held its Homecoming back in September, it was my personal Homecoming this past weekend. My birthday wish was to go to Missoula and my wife and parents made it happen. Sidney was my travel companion and my mom and dad watched the kids so we could enjoy an adult weekend in the Garden City.
On Saturday at 5 a.m., we hit the road. I was a tad bit excited to visit Montana and have the opportunity to watch the Grizzlies play football. Consider this…
It had been more than four years since I last visited the city where I went to college and started my professional career. It had been EIGHT years since I last watched a Griz football game. And it had literally been FOREVER since I was an actual paying fan at Washington-Grizzly Stadium sitting in a seat with a chair back (I attended football games as a student for three years, worked on the sideline as a student intern my senior year, and then worked in the press box for five seasons as a professional).
The conditions could not have been more perfect. On a brilliant, sunny fall day in Missoula, Sid and I got to experience Grizzly gameday in all its glory. We walked across the footbridge, tailgated, ate stadium food, cheered on the Griz, and relished a victory. No stress, no expectations, no pressure to please 26,000 people.
But speaking of people, that was the other cool thing. I got to see so many folks who I had not seen in eight years. And these weren’t just “ordinary” people…many of them were individuals who had great influence on me and helped me get to where I am at today. To be able to introduce them to Sidney was truly an honor.
Besides the Grizzly gameday experience, I also had the pleasure of doing a couple of other special Missoula things with Sid. On Sunday we attended mass at St. Francis Xavier, the parish I belonged to for most of my tenure in Montana. I knew Sid was going to be impressed with the beauty of the church and it surely didn’t disappoint. Neither did the music, preaching, and sense of holiness within that 120-year-old building.
Shortly after mass, we ventured over to Mt. Sentinel to hike the M. Sidney had set a goal to make it up the mountain and she smashed it out of the park. We ascended to the top and admired Missoula during its peak beauty in the early fall. What an amazing moment to share with my wife.
I am very thankful I had the opportunity to go back to Missoula and support the University of Montana. To make the journey with my wife and see so many outstanding individuals and partake in so many signature Montana experiences is something I won’t soon forget. Don’t Blink.