It could be easily dismissed by saying, hey, it comes with the territory.

University of Montana athletes are expected to be goodwill ambassadors, representing their school at various public gatherings, or at the conclusion of a home game. But the passionate depth to which some of the Griz teams take that roll is what really endears them to the fans. And the sincerity in which it is done cannot be denied.

Go to a Montana Lady Griz basketball game. Win or lose, fans can come on the court at the end of a game and "Ten Minute Mingle" with players and coaches. You don't think writers cramp doesn't start to set in as those players autograph various t-shirts and posters that little kids bring with them?

The Montana Grizzly softball team lines up after each home game, just to high-five and thank fans for coming.

The field at Washington-Grizzly Stadium is filled with youngsters and their parents after a football game, just wanting to get closer to their heroes during meet and greet sessions.

But it goes much further when athletes willingly step out of their comfort zones and make public appearances in venues outside of their home court or field.

Or rink.


UM News Service tells us that the Montana Grizzly hockey team relishes that roll, making community gatherings a part of their experience. And why not? A large, passionate fan base (and oh boy, do they have one) deserves to be acknowledged.

The team feels very strongly that community outreach events have led to the program's growth. UM News Service sited examples like a trip to Philipsburg last year to visit with locals and play on the city’s outdoor ice rink. Players made an appearance at the grand opening of the Scheels sporting goods store in Missoula. Just over a week ago, to help kick off spring semester on the UM campus, the hockey team invited students and community members were invited to skate with the hockey team on the UM Oval’s ice rink.

Maybe the best example? In early January, the team took a 20-mile bus ride to the rural  Woodman Elementary School off Highway 12 west of Lolo. There were 50 students eager to show the players the outdoor ice rink in front of their school, which was built over the past three years, and displayed a Griz Hockey to go with an American flag and Montana’s state flag.

The Griz scrimmaged in front of the students, gave the kids lessons on how to pass and shoot a puck, and answered questions. The team then invited the Woodman kids to be their guests at an upcoming game. The gesture mattered so much to those students that they spent a week posters to bring to the game.

And after the game, of course the players stayed around to sign all those posters.


There is only one home game left on the Griz hockey team schedule this season, and it's huge: a battle with Montana State February 3, 7:30 at the Glacier Ice Rink. While it is not considered part of the annual Brawl of the Wild athletics competition between the two schools - the sports are Club Sports, not Varsity Sports at both schools - don't think the rivalry isn't just as intense.

Sorry we can't tell you the status of remaining tickets, a testament to how good and how popular these guys are. But if we've piqued your interest, you might want to pay a visit to the Griz Hockey site very soon for more ticket info.

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