Montana, the Big Sky State, is home to some of the most beautiful photography spots in the world. Many of these underrated views are within an hour drive from Montana’s second largest city, Missoula. Here are a few of my favorite Missoula spots:
Mount Sentinel “M” Trail
This is probably the most iconic of Missoula views. The trailhead for the widely popular “M” Trail is right on campus, and a 30-minute hike will give you some of the best views possible of the valley.
2. Mount Jumbo
The Mount Jumbo hike is a bit longer than the “M” Trail, but certainly worth it for a lesser known lookout of the city.
3. Blue Mountain Recreation Area
Blue Mountain is a great area for a morning dog walk or a round of frisbee golf. This beautiful area is just a 10-minute drive from the city and has some amazing views of the South Hills.
4. Pattee Canyon
The Pattee Canyon road goes from the southeast corner of Missoula all the way to Bonner, Montana. Just be careful on the roads in winter.
5. “Top of the World”
“Top of the World” is the easiest of these spots to access. Simply drive all the way up Whitaker Drive and loop back down on Spanish Peaks Drive. Make sure to check out this view before the area is completely covered in real estate developments.
It’s not a secret that the University of Montana has found itself in quite a morale slump and fiscal crisis. When I was a freshman in Knowles Hall, I remember a time at UM where across campus the study lounges in the Residence Halls were being converted into temporary bedrooms because of a booming freshman class. Those days now seem like a distant memory with multiple floors of Aber Hall vacant, with only the emergency lights keeping the quiet hallways company. As much as I like UM, it’d be silly not to admit its shortcomings. Between scandals, a history of poor academic advising, a few unhelpful tenured professors, budget cuts, and a declining student population this slump shouldn’t have come as a surprise.
Despite UM’s recent struggles, I’m convinced that little chunks of hope, pride, and enthusiasm hide buried in our campus.
I was about nine years old when I got my first taste of Missoula and the University. Back in 2005 my family drove up from Great Falls to Missoula for the weekend so my Great-Uncle Bud could take me to my very first Griz football game. I watched the Griz play Cal Poly on October 22nd, kickoff was at 1:05 PM, and we beat them 36-27. I don’t remember the game, but I remember being totally blown away by the crowd and energy in Washington-Grizzly Stadium. Selecting the right college wasn’t an active thought in my head then, but that day I subconsciously committed to becoming a Grizzly.
My hometown has the energy of an old industrial town that peaked in the eighties. I grew up on the old side of windy Great Falls. My middle school felt frozen in time with weight-room lifting records from the 1970s still clinging to the walls. My beloved Great Falls High pridefully hangs state championship banners from the fieldhouse ceiling that show how dominant Great Falls was during the 30s, 70s, 80s, but there aren’t many additions since. The town’s economy relies on an Airforce base, an oil refinery, and hospitals due to former residents moving back to retire and die. Great Falls is still riding the high of when Lewis and Clark made an appearance in 1805 and had to port the waterfalls. Needless to say, the excitement and energy of Missoula grew on me.
When I’m on campus I still feel that part of my nine year old self that’s thrilled to be here. I love the opportunities UM created for me. Maybe I’m just glad to not be in Great Falls, but I think it’s something more.I still get excited about having Mount Sentinel as a backyard. I get excited when I see an orientation leader walking around campus backwards. I get excited when I hear about student involvement on campus.I get excited seeing our new handsome President rally hope into people. I’ve worked as a Resident Assistant, I’ve helped submit a KRELF grant, I can actually get excited about going to classes, I’m a captain of the men’s ultimate frisbee team, I accidentally became president of the Judo club, I currently work for UM Housing at the Lewis and Clark Village, and I still get excited about it.
I know not everyone gets dealt the same opportunities, has had my experiences, or loves Missoula as much as I do but I can’t be alone. I imagine that there has to be people like me all over campus, because I’m extraordinarily average. I know I’m not the only one who has made lifelong friends, memories, and found impactful experiences at UM. I understand why people get so critical of UM and I think of it as a sign of endearment. Though right now doesn’t appear to be UM’s peak, we’re all fighting for the same thing. We want UM to be the best version of itself.
I love UM, but I’ll let you know if I love it less after I start getting calls asking to donate.
The majority of people hear the job
title “basketball manager” and instantly think of a water boy who does laundry
but, it is way more than that. Student basketball managers are the back bone to
any successful program. They are the people who are first in the office and the
last to leave. They are the ones who show up to practice a whole hour before
anyone else. The people who strive to be a student basketball manager want only
one thing… and it is not the glamour but, it is to see the players and the team
“People look at managers and they think of guys getting balls and water. The reality is that the manager is managing the program. They’re putting in as many hours as anyone else, and they’re as valuable as anyone in the program because they’re the liaison between the student-athlete and the staff.” – Travis DeCuire (Montana Head Coach)
The real MVP’s in student managers come at the mid-major level. The level of college basketball where the talent and expectations are the same as those at the high major level. The manager staffs at the mid-major realms are quite a bit smaller because of school size and budget. The normal manager staffs at the high major level have an average of 8-12 managers and travel somewhere from 5-6 managers. Compared to the mid-major level, have staffs from 1-5 managers and travel 0-2 managers.
For most managers they are on complete staffs. Meaning, they have a coaching staff that completes each role. But for Montana the role of Director of Basketball Operations has fallen on a manager over the past 2 seasons.
For myself being a manager at the University of Montana it has been a HUGE advantage to be at the mid-major level in my college career. Over the past 5 years I have been behind the scenes for the Griz and mastering every trait that has come my way. I have been thrown some ridiculous tasks and tremendous responsibilities.
When I first came in to college
basketball, I had to send email after email to the former Director of
Basketball Operations for the Griz until I was given an opportunity to prove my
worth. I had to tryout at that year’s basketball summer camps as a camp coach. This
story has a twist to it that is very common in college athletics, a coaching
change. The summer I was auditioning to become a manager for Montana the entire
staff left for Oregon State and a new staff came in. With the unknown of whether
or not I would still have the same opportunity or not I introduced myself as if
I was going to be a part of the team.
Entering season number one and not knowing what to expect from being a student manager and still not knowing what will be expected of me I took all tasks to the best of my ability. Being under a tremendous Head Manager, Kramer Ungaretti, and learning under him and the new staff that was more technology driven than the last. It led me to wanting to pursue a job in basketball front office. I would spend the next 2 years being a student manger and have the tasks of; assisting in creating graphics for recruits, updating recruiting records, setting up practice, assisting in practice, film setup, managing and clipping film, assisting ordering team meals, sending weekly mailouts, and yes, I also was getting water while wiping up sweat from the floor. These tasks helped me form into taking over the head manager position once Ungaretti graduated.
Year three ended up being the year of the most growth. I stepped into the role of Head Manager and brought on more responsibilities. I moved into my own desk into the coach’s offices, where I shared with an assistant coach. I was in the office, FINALLY! In a way for a young professional to be given their own space in a work place that they have always dreamed of working, gave me a peace of mind. I wanted to prove myself and prove that I can fill the shoes of my predecessor and not let the team feel like they took a step backwards. My advice to current and potential managers is to “strive to be the first one in and the last one out” as this has helped me excel in ranks. My family has taught hard work and they believe you have to start from the ground up to really know the industry. The year of being a head manager I was fortunate enough to be able to travel with the team and see what it takes for a mid-major team to travel on a more minimal budget. Traveling with the team has taken me to some remarkable areas. Areas like Costa Rica, the Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, and across the United States. For this year I was still doing all the same tasks as I was before but was granted more advanced tasks. I was in charge of all meals on the road and assisted the Ops with anything else that was needed for travel. I was also the head of Team Communication, was in constant communication with the entire team on upcoming events, travel, academic meetings and community outreach programs. I continued to develop as a video coordinator and started making my own highlight films for the team.
I also spent hours in assisting the coaching staff with scouts and other projects. One skill that a majority of managers overlook is the use of Photoshop. Photoshop is a skill that can put you over the top as a manager. Having the capability of making graphics and other informative tools will separate you and make you more widely used.
Jumping forward to my last two years of being a student basketball manager, I moved into the role of Director of Operations. Not holding the title as the teams Director of Operations but having the majority of the tasks. As the last two seasons I planned all of the team’s travel. Everything from booking flights, hotels, bus transportation, scheduling of away facilities, head coach recruiting travel and team meals. All while keeping track of the team’s budget. I also keep numerous statistics. I keep track of the teams plus/minus, shot charts, teams passing shot percentage, defense and offense efficiency, hustle chart, and the teams different lineups used in a game with how they performed.
For managers it is a very competitive environment and the managers that do not focus on the glam are those who are in it for a career. Managers take this job seriously. You will not find many individuals sprinting to wipe up sweat on the floor or running to give a head coach a board. You always need to be aware of what is going on as a manager and be on edge during every aspect. It is a thankless job. Managers develop skills in all aspects of the basketball world. They become masters at crafts that have nothing to do with basketball. As an Assistant Coach at Montana, Coach Flores, has said to me, “this job is 80% organization/hard work, 15% completing tasks, and 5% basketball”. Summer camps are the bread and butter for managers. They are typically asked to show off their leadership and at some schools run the entire camp. Being a camp counselor all the way to a camp director has taught me the most. The amount of planning and detail you need for a camp is quite extensive. It is a job that takes multiple people and multiple departments throughout the University to make it successful. Not to mention the leadership it takes to speak in front of hundreds of kids and get all their attention and instruct them to do something can be overwhelming for first timers and will take some time to fully develop. As I have mentioned many tasks above, there are so much more that a manager does to help aid the coaching staff and do not forget they are still full time students.
The 4 C’s of Being a Great College Basketball Manager:
Commitment, Communication, Consistency, Common Sense
* To the JOB
* To your TEAM
* To the SCHEDULE
* With your BOSSES
* With your COACHES
* With your TEAM
* With your fellow MANAGERS
* In your ACTIONS
* In your APPEARANCE
4. COMMON SENSE
* With the KEYS
* With the EQUIPMENT
* When TRAVELING
With being a part of a small staff and having full time responsibilities at such a young age for a program that is on the rise, I have gathered so much information that has set me up for a bright future. With a mid-major staff, the majority of them are guys who are from the DII ranks or high major teams, they offer a verity of connections for you to network with. With the specific staff at the University of Montana and the other coaches that have moved onto other programs their connections and experiences are impressive. There have been peaks and valleys to this whole process and I am eternally grateful for what the University of Montana, the Missoula community, current/past players, coaches, and Coach DeCuire have provided for me.
“It’s not an easy job to be successful with, and that’s why a lot of the better managers move on to high positions. Some of the best coaches were managers, because they realized that X’s and O’s aren’t always the biggest thing when it comes to managing basketball programs.” – Travis DeCuire
So instead of people looking for glamour, schools are looking for students who want to:
• Haul luggage onto buses and hotels in the late hours
• Fill and refill Powerade bottles
• Cut and edit film until
their eyes cross
• Chart hustle plays and
other obscure stats at games
• Work camps in the summer
• Sacrifice weekends and
holiday trips in exchange for practices
• Stand, just so far apart,
ball tucked under one arm, other arm on hip, towel over shoulder.
In other words, individuals who are willing to do just about whatever they are asked to do to make life easier for basketball players their own age. At the end of the road you will not want to replace it for anything else in the world. Best college job.
Quotes of Inspiration
“Don’t let the peaks and valleys get to you. Keep rolling.” – Chad Buchanan (Indiana Pacers GM)
“Rest at the end and not in the middle” – Mr. Fisk (Kobe Bryant’s English teacher)
“Inspire the people next to you, that is how you create greatness” – Kobe Bryant
Montana currently produces roughly enough electricity to go completely renewable, yet half the energy produced in the state comes from coal. Why do we continue to produce coal energy if we have enough hydro and wind power to run entirely off renewable sources? The answer, ‘’Exportation’’.
Roughly half of the energy produced in Montana is exported to other states. This explains why Montana doesn’t run 100% on renewable resources. Currently 47% of the energy produced in Montana comes from Hydraulic and Wind power, a significant amount, and yet still less than the 49 percent of Montana’s power that is produced from coal.
So yes Montana could quit coal tomorrow and our energy grid would be able to handle it but, could the states we export to handle the loss? Energy hungry states like Idaho and California need the power we export, and would need a substitute for the sudden loss of imported power. Montana would also need to consider the consequences from the loss of local jobs and livelihoods of families that depend on the income from the coal sector.
While these losses are formidable, they are going to be lost regardless due to increasing automation, growing demand for renewable resources, and the fact that coal is a nonrenewable resource with a limit. The ability to produce electricity from coal will eventually run out but that’s Ok. It is a good thing to embrace the new technologies and the jobs that come with them.
While we may have large coal reserves we also have substantial renewable energy reserves as well. Montana has the potential to recoup those job losses and and even surpass them while also filling the energy gap left by coal. Renewable energy is ripe with jobs from installation to maintenance and Montana has the geographic advantage to do it.
With its rolling hills and flat plains in the eastern part of the state, Montana has some of the largest wind energy potential in the nation. By the start of 2018 the total number of turbines in the state had nearly reached 500, with more projects in various stages of planning and construction.
Critics argue that wind energy is not as consistent as coal-fired power plants. However, a solution for that issue is already advancing; a closed loop hydro storage facility is under construction a hundred miles outside of Billings. Wind has great potential in Montana but it is only part of the renewable energy equation, albeit a large part, however, Hydro, Geothermal Biomass, and Solar are all good resources to fill the coal void.
Hydro-power is currently the largest green energy producer in the state and has the potential to grow. Western Montana is mountainous with many fast flowing high volume rivers. Harnessing this energy with new age hydrologic dams that include fish jumps and silt flushing systems could help fill the coal void.
Geothermal and Biomass
The state also has 50 geothermal areas, with about a third of those having the potential for electricity generation. Although it is not carbon negative, biomass power is another potential powerhouse for Montana. Sustainable logging provides another source of exportable energy. This also helps fight wildfires and keeps our summer air clear from smoke, a serious issue that all Montanans have experienced.
You have probably noticed I have not mentioned Solar yet as a potential green energy replacement. That is because I have been primarily geared toward utility-scale energy production. Solar does have potential for growth in this sector. 2017 saw the construction of the first utility-scale solar project in Montana with others in construction. With this, most of the growth in solar has been residential and small scale commercial building solar installations.
Montana is becoming a green energy power house, that future is already under construction, the question remains of how fast that transition will take.
If someone had come from the future four years ago and told me that I would be living in Montana in my early twenties I wouldn’t have believed them.
As someone who grew up
in the heart of a major metropolitan area less than 20 minutes walking from the
beach I’m the last person that anyone would have expected to move to Missoula.
However, with the
incentive of a good scholarship, snowboarding and fly fishing I found myself
drawn to this little mountain town.
Although moving to Missoula hasn’t been without its challenges, through trial and error over the last 3 years, I’ve managed to learn a few things about the place that I now call home.
If you’re from any other state than Montana you will get poked fun at.
Especially if you’re a Californian.
It is completely possible experience all the seasons in a 24 hour period—learn how to dress accordingly or you will get sick.
Where I grew up the most
layers I ever needed were a winter and summer hoodie. Most of the time
they were the same hoodie.
Winter weather is not bad until it there’s wind or the temperature is in the single digits.
Learn and embrace that 40 degrees is t-shirt weather.
Ice is real and you will fall on it in the wintertime no matter how much you penguin walk.
It builds character.
Everyone knows each other. Get over it.
Despite it’s significant geographic size, it’s a small state. While there are a fair amount of out of state students there are a ton more locals and most of the time they already know each other. It’s a pretty small town and even smaller school. Tread carefully.
The food will take getting used to
Salt and pepper will be the most spice that you see. And although the number of places where you can get a bomb burger or pizza is uncountable the best Mexican food here is still Taco Bell.
The most you will ever dress up will be a nice t-shirt and cowboy boots