This afternoon, the Montana Grizzlies opened their fall football season against the Coyotes from the University of South Dakota. And, thanks to our good friends Scott and Michelle, we were there to see it. Though I missed the Blue Band and cowbell from the school I once called home, I was impressed by the school spirit shown by the 25,000 people who entered the stands.
Since we weren’t able to enjoy hot dogs or huckleberry ice cream at the game, we started the day off with breakfast at Food for Thought in downtown Missoula, home of the Griz. As tradition for home football games in any state, we stopped by the bookstore to view t-shirt options, lines of students getting “new colors” for the game and plenty of maroon and gray. With the sunny mid-80’s weather forecasted for the afternoon, I left with a new hat. (That being said.. we’re still red from head to toe, regardless of SPF 30.)
After a walk through the spirited tailgates, we rented our seat cushions and found our section. Quickly enough, the stands were filled with Griz spirit, football players took to the field to stretch and the countdown to kickoff ticked by. We started the game with Griz Water, but like they say, don’t drink the kool-aid, so we finished the second half with cold sodas form the concessions.
Despite a few poor calls, the Montana Grizzlies set a school record for the number of first downs in a single game - 34. And with each? A chant of “MONTANA!” following every “and that’s another first down for..” that came from the announcer. In the end, we got to see a double pass to a touchdown, a surprising interception with a score, and a winning season opener.
While I have and will always love football of any kind, this afternoon (despite it’s sunny, smoky weather and consequential sunburns) was a warm welcome to Montana and to the Griz family. If you didn’t know, football's a big thing around here.