Tonight’s Spring Game: My Last Hurrah in Washington-Grizzly Stadium

I am praying right now that the current Missoula sunshine will stick around through this evening. Tonight Washington-Grizzly Stadium will host the 2014 Griz Football Spring Game and let’s just say that I rather have our fans treated to pleasant spring conditions rather than the forecasted rain and wind that is supposed to come. No matter, one thing I have learned in my almost five years with Grizzly Athletics is that our fan base will come out despite the conditions. However, I just want to see them as comfortable as possible.

We have a lot planned for tonight. At 4 p.m. the Grizzly Scholarship Association will host a tailgate in Lot W, located at the south stadium entrance. At 5 p.m. a kids’ clinic will be held on the Washington-Grizzly Stadium turf as the coaching staff will give the young ones plenty of opportunities to show what they got. At 6 p.m. the Spring Game will kick off. Although a scoring system foreign to most people will be in force (you can read about it here) it will still be very much structured like a game, a good thing for fans who want to see action that will mirror what they will see during Saturdays this fall. After the game the team will hold an autograph session under the lights on the field.

Brynn, Kristen, and I with our marketing interns in the Control Room during the 2013 season. Tonight will be my last time working in this cramped, and sometimes stressful, space.

Brynn, Kristen, and I with our marketing interns in the Control Room during the 2013 season. Tonight will be my last time working in this cramped, and sometimes stressful, space.

Tonight’s festivities will mark my last time ever climbing the wooden stairs of the press box and performing my duties in the control room. After working 36 home football games plus the Spring Game in 2012, this will be my last hurrah. I am fortunate that I will get to work and sit/stand next to Dave Guffey and Brynn Molloy, two Griz staffers who I have had the pleasure of working with during my entire tenure at Grizzly Athletics. After five seasons I will appropriately take in the gorgeous view I have enjoyed and the special role I have served one final time. If you are in Missoula, rain or shine, come down to Washington-Grizzly Stadium for tonight’s Spring Game. I would love to see you there. Don’t Blink.

My Top Ten Best Moments Working For Grizzly Athletics

I have just one week remaining at the University of Montana and I can’t help but think of all the wonderful moments I have had the privilege of taking part in or helping directly with during my tenure. Tonight I want to reflect on some of the times I will never forget while serving the Montana Grizzlies. I give you my top ten moments working for Grizzly Athletics:

10. 2013 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament: After experiencing the men’s tourney the year prior, I got the opportunity to attend the Women’s NCAA Tournament when the Lady Griz qualified for the Big Dance in 2013. Serving as the Pep Band/Spirit Squad contact while also covering all facets of the trip for our social media audience I enjoyed my time in Spokane at Gonzaga University. Although the Lady Griz ended up falling to powerhouse Georgia they put up a great fight and I got to watch all the action from under the basket.

I snapped this photo of the team at the practice session at Gonzaga the day before the game.

I snapped this photo of the team at the practice session at Gonzaga the day before the game.

9. NACMA Retreat: During the summer of 2012 the University of Montana had the distinction of hosting the National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators Board of Directors retreat. Former Marketing Director Christie Anderson worked her way up to a prestigious spot on the NACMA Board of Directors and spearheaded a successful campaign for the hosting opportunity. She let me come along to beautiful Whitefish, Montana, where the retreat was held and help out with the three day event. I had the opportunity to network with the best intercollegiate athletic marketers in the country. Listening to their ideas and challenges provided me with a wonderful learning and development opportunity.

I hung around these intercollegiate athletics marketers for a few days

I hung around these intercollegiate athletics marketers for a few days

8. 2013 Home Opener Against Appalachian State: In what would be my last football season for the Griz, our home opener was truly memorable. After much buildup to a brand new fan experience in Washington-Grizzly Stadium our advertising did not disappoint as the game went perfectly. All of our planning, brainstorming, and hard work paid off as everything from the sky divers to the Monte entrance to the fireworks to all the intricacies of our protocol went off without a hitch. And oh yeah, on a gorgeous night under the lights our football team steamrolled Appalachian State, 30-6.

My brother and dad got to come over for this great game. After the game I went on the field with them to get a picture.

My brother and dad got to come over for this great game. After the game I went on the field with them to get a picture.

7. The Roots of “United”: After our athletic director and head football coach were let go completely out of the blue in March of 2012 the Missoula community was in crisis mode as people reacted to the news in a variety of different ways. As the dialogue started to get very volatile and as the national media started to converge the young men on the Griz football team gave all of us a true example of what class and restraint is all about. The team provided us with a letter that we posted on www.gogriz.com that gave a nod to their former leaders, took responsibility for the allegations, promised to hold themselves to higher standards, and asked the community to stick with them. At the conclusion of the letter it stated that with or without that community support they would come back stronger than ever. They certainly did.

6. Montana Grizzlies Facebook Page Reaches 100K Likes: In a major milestone for the Griz Social Media program, our department’s official Facebook page went over 100,000 likes in early March of 2014. In a league completely above anyone else in the Big Sky Conference and the FCS, this mark validated the emphasis our department had placed on social media and provided just another example of why Griz Nation has some of the best fans in the country.

5. A Memorable 2013-14 Lady Griz Basketball Season: Although the 2013-14 Montana women’s basketball team did not advance to the NCAA Tournament I will still remember it very fondly for a couple reasons. First there was Robin Selvig’s 800th win. The celebration that ensued with him and his team followed by Coach Selvig’s humorous and touching speech will forever stay with me. Secondly, the two games we got to host for the WNIT were so much fun. The team played their hearts out and our fan base truly showed up to support them as much as possible. Although I really wish the Lady Griz would have picked up the win against San Diego I will just remember the noise level in the arena and the feeling inside of me that our players and fans truly valued the post season opportunity they were given.

I hope somewhere this speech is recorded (photo courtesy of the great Todd Goodrich).

I hope somewhere this speech is recorded (photo courtesy of the great Todd Goodrich).

4. 2009 Appalachian State Snow Game Semi-Final: This game goes down as the most memorable game ever inside of Washington-Grizzly Stadium. Besides the national television audience, the snow, the lights, and the big time victory to advance to the national championship it was also a breakout game for me as the stadium DJ. As a brand new employee for Grizzly Athletics tasked with the big job of running music at the football games, I was always nervous come game time. However, after that game my nerves seemed to permanently go away. Mostly because of the atmosphere that night everything I sent through the stadium speakers seemed to work. Music traditions were born that evening and it was the only time I ever played music postgame at a football event as fans stayed long after to party on the snowy Washington-Grizzly Stadium turf.

3. Griz Demolish Montana State in Bozeman in 2011: During the football season of 2011, the Griz-Cat game was held in Bobcat Stadium with Montana State boasting an undefeated record in Big Sky Conference play. No one gave Montana a chance. It was supposed to be some type of formality for the Bobcats to win and celebrate with the Brawl of the Wild trophy. Are you kidding me? The Griz used the disrespect to kick the tar out of Montana State from the get-go. Early third quarter the fans inside Bobcat Stadium were literally leaving. When the final horn sounded Montana had sealed the victory 36-10 and at the time secured another Big Sky Conference championship. Vacated or not, standing on the sidelines for that game was the sweetest moment I have had as a Griz.

Christie and I during the half at the 2011 Brawl of the Wild Griz-Cat game.

Christie and I during the half at the 2011 Brawl of the Wild Griz-Cat game.

2. Griz and Lady Griz Go Dancing on Same Day Under Same Roof: Just the buildup in general to March 16, 2013 was an awesome moment all in itself. Grizzly Athletics had the pleasure of hosting both the men’s and women’s basketball Big Sky Conference tournaments last year. As I worked every single one of those tournament games I kept telling myself how lucky I was to have the opportunity to be a part of something like this. To get to the final day and realize that we very well could send both our teams to the premier college basketball tournaments in the nation made me know that an already awesome experience could get even better. Boy, did it.

With fireworks going off pregame and confetti falling from the rafters after, the game presentation we put together was almost as good as the play of our teams. The Lady Griz defeated Northern Colorado and the Griz took down Weber State as both Montana basketball programs punched tickets to the Big Dance on the same day on their home floor. Not only had both our basketball teams pulled it off but our staff had pulled it off as well in providing quality tournaments that you don’t see at other conference schools. Along with the 2013 Griz football home opener, I had never been more proud of the experience afforded to fans that day.

March 16, 2013 will never be forgotten in the history of Grizzly Athletics.

March 16, 2013 will never be forgotten in the history of Grizzly Athletics.

1. 2012 NCAA Tournament: By far one of the best experiences of my entire life, getting to travel with the Griz basketball team to Albuquerque for the 2012 NCAA Tournament earns the #1 spot on my list for top moments while at Grizzly Athletics. NCAA Tourneys are so special in general but to have the opportunity to be front and center as a participating institution takes it to a whole different level. I had the opportunity to cover the tournament for our social media outlets and gogriz.com. I got to attend the practice with the team. I enjoyed a tour of The Pit. I volunteered my services passing out tickets to the people on the travel party. I watched the game courtside with Christie and our dance team coach.

But you know what? Besides the responsibilities strictly related to the tournament I also got to have a lot of fun. I soaked in the refreshing Albuquerque sun, ate the best Mexican food I had ever had, stayed in a super nice hotel, toured the town, and had the best time with my co-workers. What an amazing experience!

Monte and I before we went out on the court for the 2012 NCAA Tournament.

Monte and I before we went out on the court for the 2012 NCAA Tournament.

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I am so indebted to Grizzly Athletics for these special moments that I will carry with me forever. I will reflect on them now but in three weeks I will be totally committed to making new top moments and memories at Coastal Carolina University. Can’t wait to start building a new top ten list in the South! Don’t Blink.

A Special Day to be a Griz

This Saturday I had a first! Never before until yesterday had I worked an overtime football game in intercollegiate athletics. Well, it happened. When things looked very bleak for the Griz football team, the heart and pride of our student-athletes shined brightly as ever as a comeback occurred.

With a little over two minutes left, Cal Poly lined up to kick a chip shot field goal from the nine yard line. This would have iced the game with the Mustangs already leading 14-7. The snap and hold were good but the kick never had a chance as Jordan Tripp, the leader on defense, stormed through the line and blocked the kick.

Quarterback Jordan Johnson then engineered a 90 yard drive that ended in a touchdown on a fourth down and then came an ensuing game tying kick. Cal Poly couldn’t return the kickoff with just a few seconds left in regulation and overtime it was!

 

A photo I took from the press box of the team singing the fight song after the win.

A photo I took from the press box of the team singing the fight song after the win.


Now I had never worked an overtime game before so Brynn and I had a quick “what now?” type moment but that faded very quickly and we just went with it. I silenced the music so the fans could hear the overtime directions/coin toss from the referee and it was on! Cal Poly won the toss and as is custom in a Kansas City tiebreaker format they chose to go on defense first. However, the defense that seemed to keep the Griz at bay for 58 minutes of the game was no longer on the field and it took just two plays for a touchdown reception by Ellis Henderson to put Montana up.

After the extra point went through the uprights it was pandemonium in Washington-Grizzly Stadium as the almost 26,000 fans went nuts as Cal Poly came out for its turn on offense. The noise in the stadium was absolutely crazy and it hit an all-time high when our marketing intern/captain/amazing football player/player of the game/great person Brock Coyle hauled down a spectacular interception to end the game and start a dog pile in the north end zone. It was an absolute emotional swing from one end to the other.

Our marketing team after the game in the control room.

Our marketing team after the game in the control room.

It was an interesting and fun game to be part of. Our Pink Game gets bigger and bigger each year. This season’s game saw us have our team come through the stands with area cancer survivors, a change to the traditional tunnel entrance that up until yesterday hadn’t been touched in years. The players had a pink touch to their helmets, we showed a very emotional video prior to the game, and Team Up Montana had a great day in front of the biggest gathering in the state.

Also making the game special were a couple things that happened after Montana clinched the win. In a total surprise, I got to talk to my high school football coach for the first time since I last played for him in 2005! I went down on the field after the game and right away I spotted Mead High School head football coach Sean Carty standing by the player’s tunnel. He was there watching Bo Tully, a former Mead Panther who Carty had coached. It just so happened that it was the first ever game he had watched in Washington-Grizzly Stadium. He said it was an awesome experience, even after attending games at Notre Dame and Michigan. Then, I got to introduce my parents to our athletic director, Kent Haslam. It was special just in the fact that my parents were able to attend the game…I never even thought about the opportunity about getting to introduce them to the big boss of Grizzly Athletics. But it happened just about five minutes after I talked to Coach Carty. Not a bad post-game if you ask me.

I got to visit with my high school football coach, Sean Carty, after the game.

I got to visit with my high school football coach, Sean Carty, after the game.

So even with the Pink Game festivities, even with getting to see my old high school coach, and even with my parents getting to meet our athletic director, the memory that was most special for me on October 19 was the final 15 minutes of the Montana football team’s comeback win. To observe the heart and passion shown by our guys was really cool. I won’t forget it anytime soon. I am so thankful to be a Griz. 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!

 

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.

My Mid-April Weekend

Another weekend is now in the books for your Don’t Blink blogger. Want to hear about the wild and crazy weekend I had? Yes? Yes, you do? Well too bad, such a weekend did not happen. However, I did have a good past couple days even if I have no crazy shenanigans to report. As I do from time to time I will take a blog post to make mention of a few highlights that defined this past weekend…boring as it may be.

Friday – Conclusion of Spring Ball: On Friday night our football team finished spring ball with a final scrimmage inside Washington-Grizzly Stadium. Played under the lights and with an emphasis on giving back to the community, it was a very enjoyable and fun evening.

In fact, the scrimmage was just not a conclusion for the football team, it was a conclusion for me as well. The scrimmage marked my fourth and final Griz event in the past seven days. The Saturday prior to the final scrimmage we held our spring game in Ronan, Montana. It was nice to take a day trip up north to Ronan and watch our football team fill the town with Griz cheer. Although it was a cold and windy day the rain held off and everyone seemed to have fun. On Tuesday we held our student-athlete talent show, “Griz Got Talent.” I was tasked with running all the sound and video for the show. Wednesday night we staged our basketball celebration for both our Griz and Lady Griz basketball teams for completing amazing seasons. Held in Dahlberg Arena I performed the same duties I did the night before.

Of course this brings us back to Friday night and our spring ball finale. A rainy and cold day had us a little nervous for how ugly conditions might get for the event that night but as most people know, God is a Griz fan. When 5:30 p.m. rolled around and we opened the field to the kids to participate in low key drills with the players and coaches, it couldn’t have been a nicer night. After the kids went back in the stands with their parents we honored two Griz legends, Dave Dickenson and John Edwards, at midfield. After showing a highlight video chronicling the achievements of both men, Dave and John both addressed the crowd. As for the scrimmage, the fans who showed up were treated to an exciting, high scoring battle. After the scrimmage concluded the whole team stayed out on the field and signed autographs for the fans, many using the 2013 Griz football poster they just received as signing material.

 

The football team signs autographs under the lights.

The football team signs autographs under the lights.

The scrimmage was a lot of fun to work. Running music and Griz Vision, I enjoyed working with everyone else up in the control room of the press box. With representatives from sports information, internal ops, the GSA, and the football team all working together up above, we had a great time.

 

A view from the Washington-Grizzly Stadium press box of the scrimmage.

A view from the Washington-Grizzly Stadium press box of the scrimmage.

Saturday – High School Reunion: Although Missoula is only 200 miles from where I went to high school at, I surprisingly didn’t have anyone here in town who I went to Mead Senior High with. Well, that all changed last week when one of my high school friends moved here from Butte. Now throw in the fact that this friend who just moved here has a best friend who also went to school with us living in Whitefish and you got the potential for the three of us to reconnect and have some fun.

That is just what happened on Saturday night. My friend John, who works as a personal trainer, is now living in Missoula. His best buddy, Chase, who works in an important position at a credit card company in Whitefish, decided to come down and check in on John’s new place. This of course led to the three of us hanging out yesterday evening. After the three of us met at my place we enjoyed some fine dining at Hooter’s and then went downtown and played shuffle board (Chase and I won!). We then did some other exploring around town before calling it a night. Earlier today we reconvened and ate breakfast at Stone of Accord before Chase made the trip back to Whitefish.

John, Chase, and I on Saturday night.

John, Chase, and I on Saturday night.

Chase and John were both a class under me in high school. However, despite the year gap we all played football together. The bond that develops from playing sports together is extremely strong and will always carry on as the years go by. Because the three of us shared so many hours together on the athletic field we will always feel connected. Just as we had each other’s backs several years ago, we still have them today. It was so nice hanging out with them.

Sunday – Snow Storm: Even though it is late April, Mother Nature could care less. What looked to be a decent day with the sun shining brightly in the morning quickly turned into deception and deceit as snow started falling at a fast rate from the spring sky. A blizzard in April? Really? Roads were covered and visibility was next to nothing as Missoula received a late season whiteout.

I hate the snow. I hate it even in December so you can get the picture that I especially despise it in April. Of course with my luck the one time that I decided to park my car in general parking as opposed to under my assigned covered area at my apartment complex the sky decides to dump snow on us. Sorry, but scraping/brushing inches of snow off my car does not sit well with me when the month of May is just around the corner. Oh well, I guess I should not be surprised. I just thought that after an Easter weekend filled with temperatures almost reaching seventy degrees that we might not see snow until October rolled around…wrong.

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The weekend has come and gone. Time now to get back to work and start another week. Luckily for me, the next weekend will be here sooner than usual. I have a short work week that will conclude at the end of Wednesday. Come Thursday I will be on the road again as I embark on a fun adventure…but more on that later. I don’t say this enough but thank you so much to all of my readers! I appreciate all of your support and comments regarding my blog. You are my motivation to continue writing. Have a great week everyone! Don’t Blink.

Serving the Youth

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.

The awards ceremony for the third/fourth grade game. Lots of fans came out to watch.

 

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.

Christie and I up in the box on Friday evening. We had a great time.

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.