After a long, long winter, Griz fans are chomping at the bit to get back outside and enjoy some athletics. And it's looking like sports, and the weather, may finally combine to kick off the season later this week.

For years now, the University of Montana has done its best to welcome fans back from winter, honoring both spring sports and getting football fans primed for the season in the fall. But the pandemic disrupted some of those efforts over the past couple of years.

However, this year UM Athletics is jumping into spring with a big opportunity for fans and student-athletes to mingle.

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It all starts on Friday

This Friday, April 7th, Montana's women's tennis, men's tennis, softball, and football teams will all be in action, and UM is inviting fans to come out for what it's calling a "Spring Festival."

Women's tennis kicks off the day with Big Sky league play against Portland State at the PEAK Racquet Club at 9 in the morning. Later in the afternoon, at 2 pm and also at PEAK, the Griz men's tennis team will face Idaho. Across town at the UM softball field, the Griz will be playing a doubleheader against Sacramento State. That starts at 2:30 pm.

Griz football gets into the action with its annual Spring Scrimmage returning to Washington Grizzly Stadium, playing under the lights starting at 6 pm. Then, more play continues into the weekend with a free volleyball scrimmage against MSU at 11 am, a free tennis match against Portland State at noon, and a third softball game against Sac State. On Easter Sunday, the women's tennis team will wrap up the home season with a match against Eastern Washington at 9 am.

Here's how the fans get involved

UM Athletics is encouraging everyone to attend as many sporting events as they can, collecting Easter eggs at each stop. You can then redeem those eggs at the football game Friday night and win prizes like Griz clothing, signed merchandise, and game tickets. One lucky fan will win a pair of suite tickets for the Griz-Cat game in November. The winner will be announced during half-time.

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