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.
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
Being raised in Seattle, Washington I did not get many opportunities to drive in the snow growing up. When it did snow, usually only 1-2 inches, everything shut down and people just simply stayed home – no need to drive! With the current snow storm hitting the Seattle area, I though I would share the valuable lesson I learned in 2015.
After high school I decided to go to college in Montana, and as most people know it snows quite a bit in Montana. My first year of college, I decided to drive back to Seattle for Thanksgiving with a few of my friends. It had just begun snowing the day before and I had a 4-wheel drive car so I figured everything should be OK.
I began my drive down I-90 West with a car full of gals, the snow was light and everything was going fine… well, for about 50 miles at least.
Coming around a slight curve at about 60 MPH (the Montana speed limit is 80 MPH) I felt my back tires starting to slide and just like that I had lost all control. My car spun around 3 or 4 times before slamming into a ditch and screeching to a stop. Shock. That’s all I felt. Silence. No one had said a word the whole time we were spinning and crashing. Immediately we all got out of the car to make sure everyone was OK and to examine the damage.
The airbags had deployed, I had a broken front axle, completely messed up front and back bumpers, two popped tires and two bent rims. But most importantly, no one was hurt. Luckily, my friends are much better at handling bad situations than I am because that is when it all set it. I could have killed myself and all my friends. Why? Because I was inexperienced. I didn’t know to slow down. I didn’t know to be on the lookout for black ice – what ended by causing the accident. I just didn’t know.
Driving when there is snow and ice on the road is unlike any other driving condition. Yes, you might have 4-wheel drive but that does not mean you have 4-wheel stop. The ice has a mind of its own and once you begin to slide it can be very hard to stop.
This winter, I beg of you to go slow in the snow. If you are an experienced snow driver, slow down. If you have never driven in the snow before, slow down. Even if the roads seem fine, slow down. It could save your life.
I recently took a school field trip to Japan. We are studying innovation and technology in the MSBA program at UM, so I was excited to see what was happening over there. Throughout our journey we were shuttled to various tourist attractions: Mount Aso (an active volcano), Kumamoto castle, Shibuya square in Tokyo, Senso-ji temple, and others.
One day we were going to visit a place called the Yokosuka Research Park, just a short drive from Tokyo. We were lucky enough to have a UM professor of Japanese language literature guiding us around Japan. On the way he recounted a visit to Japan earlier in his life (maybe late 1990’s) when he noticed some ‘new technology’ the Japanese had just begun using at the time. “It was a way for people to take a picture on a cellular phone and send it to another person….What an odd thing and it was hard to imagine what people would want this for. I was sure this would be a fad and would never catch on.”
BBC news reports in this article 9/18/2001 and asks readers “What would you do with a gadget like this, particularly as it costs nearly US $500?”
“Infinite uses for the teenager, not entirely sure what the rest of us would do with one though.”
“I would use the camera phone to take pictures of my best friend, my dog Benson.”
“Great for spying. The camera could be held against a keyhole, and the images immediately sent to any interested parties.”
Keep in mind myspace.com wasn’t launched until 2003, facebook.com in 2004. In this case, the innovation created the need, instead of the need creating the innovation. This is what we were thinking about as we visited the place where they basically invented the camera phone.
So what did we discover the Japanese are developing there today: the simple answer is 5G.
Here are a few quick facts about 5G:
Data rates of tens of megabits per second for tens of thousands of users
Data rates of 100 megabits per second for metropolitan areas
1 Gb per second simultaneously to many workers on the same office floor
Several hundreds of thousands of simultaneous connections for wireless sensors
Again, it is hard to know exactly what people will do with this, but here is their vision of the year 2020 with 5G
All my life I have abided by this plan. A plan involving a series of life goals to be completed in a particular order at a particular time with little variation. I am very much a perfectionist – refusing to accept any standard short of perfection and breaking at the seams when things stray out of my control. It is something that I found little fault in until I realized that it was actually getting in the way.
I grew up in Charlo, MT, a small town about an hour north of Missoula, MT. You can verify this with my parents, but I believe I got off to a good start – not getting into a lot of trouble growing up, smiling for pictures, and eating my fruits and veggies. Like most small-town kids, I was involved in a lot of school sanctioned activities. I stayed busy spiking volleyballs, dribbling basketballs, or leaping over hurdles after school. I was a part of several student groups aimed at developing various skills and helping the community – all while maintaining good grades. I had the support of my family, the tight-knit community, and all the hours invested into me by my teachers and coaches. When it came to my senior year of high school, I knew where and what I wanted to study before that notorious “last first day.” I was too proactive for my own good. I filled out as many scholarships that came my way to ensure I could afford my college education without taking out loans or burdening my parents. I received my high school diploma and was set to attend the University of Montana and study Marketing through the school of business administration in the Fall 2014.
Everything seemed to be going according to this meticulous plan I had my mind set on.
Although I know many non-traditionalists, adventurers, free spirts and the like that contest this idea entirely (and there is nothing wrong with that), I imagined my life following this ideal order in which I went to high school and graduated with good grades and big dreams for college. I would start college the following fall with an idea of what you wanted to study and make a career out of. I imagined meeting all kinds of people, growing as an individual, graduating 4+ years later, and stepping immediately into the ideal career the day after I receive my diploma. To date, my life has followed this plan. As I near the end of my college endeavors, I fully expected to make the later part regarding a career a reality.
Up until recently, I felt that I had to tailor my life to this rigid plan otherwise I wouldn’t succeed at getting where I want to be in my life. I would fail myself, my family, and everything that had gotten me to this point. I felt so constrained by this expectation I had put on myself to follow this plan exactly that the thought of not knowing exactly what I want to do with my life – let alone after college – was alarming. As you can imagine this was a HUGE obstacle in my plan. I assured myself that I would figure it out. I had to figure it out, but I was running out of time. Quickly the seams of my sanity pulled further and further apart with each passing day.
I finally realized that it didn’t have to be this way at the source of many great epiphanies – a long car ride.
It all bubbled to the surface after spending a much needed four-day weekend away from Missoula. On the ride home with my long-time boyfriend, we started talking about school and how we planned to turn our degrees into a career. As the conversation progressed, I realized that I don’t honestly know what I want to do with my life, and I probably won’t find my ideal job right after college.
The more I thought about it, the more ludicrous this expectation seemed to me. Not only did I come to terms with that fact that it’s okay to not know exactly what I want to do, but how could I possibly know what I want to do for the rest of my life? Why should I base the next 40-60+ years of my life on a mere 20 years of life experience and knowledge? I was fed up with the preconceived idea that I had to stick to the plan. I realized that it was unrealistic, and although it is a potentially suitable path, it is not the only path. I finally committed myself to being less of a perfectionist and letting life take its course.
I don’t know exactly what I want to do and that’s okay – but I’m not going to stop trying to figure it out. I want to be honest with myself and let go of the things I can’t control. I want to search for opportunities to grow and become more of the person I want to be – whether that be job opportunities, painting, internships, traveling, volunteer opportunities, or voicing my thoughts in my first blog post. I am a business student, but I don’t need a big corporation and paycheck for a satisfactory life. I don’t want to get washed up in something to big. I want to be purposeful and make an impact with the work I am passionate about. I want to network with people not because “a bigger network makes you a better prospect” but because I want to have genuine relationships and get to know others who are finding or have found themselves to. I want to be inspired by what I am doing. I’ve realized that there is so much more to life than simply making money and living for the weekends. If I want to accomplish these things, it is unlikely that I will get it all on the first try. So, I need to stop thinking I will.
This is the type of realization that everyone seems to come to at some time in their life – a series of “mid-life crises.” I have shared my quarterly life crisis in the hopes that it might inspire those of you that feel burdened by plans, expectations, social norms or whatever it might be to come to terms that sometimes it really doesn’t matter that much! Even more so, I wrote this for myself – to hold myself accountable and remind myself to let go and live a little looser.
I will always plan, but I have made a pact with myself to not be tied down by it. Someone once said, “Just because my path is different doesn’t mean I’m lost.” I haven’t always believed this, but I’ve decided to start thinking this way. Don’t be afraid to get lost occasionally and embrace your own journey.
Aspen Runkel is a student at the University of Montana pursuing a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration. When she graduates in May of 2018, she will have majored in Marketing with a certificate in Digital Marketing and a minor in Media Arts. She enjoys painting, cooking, DIY, and being active with sports, hiking, and traveling.