By ERIC TABOR for GoGriz.com
When Montana senior punter/kicker Chris Lider walked into Washington-Grizzly Stadium as a freshman football player, there weren’t many familiar faces to welcome him from his home state of Washington.
There was a defensive line coach for the Griz that looked oddly familiar to him though.
That familiar face was Griz defensive line coach Legi Suiaunoa, who knew Chris and his family from his days coaching at Western Washington, where Chris’ older brother Josh Lider was a punter/kicker.
“I Remember going my brother’s games, and seeing this coach on the sidelines always going crazy,” said Chris Lider. “It’s weird to think that now he’s my coach. I never really thought about it ‘till he became my coach and I’m like, ‘oh wait, I remember him on the sideline’. So that’s pretty cool. He’s a good coach, and he’s always asking about how my brother is, and how I’m doing. So we have a good relationship.”
For Coach Suiaunoa, reconnecting with the Lider family gives him one of his greatest joys in coaching… a deeper connection with the players and their families.
“Josh was a punter/kicker for us at Western Washington University during my time there, and he did an exceptional job,” said Suiaunoa. “Then to come here and a few years later we get Chris here… It was nice to see a familiar face and familiar family that I got to know when I first got here.
“It’s nice, you get a chance to talk to him, when you actually ask about him and his family and his siblings, you know them. The relationship has been going for a long time. It’s been great to see them at game days and obviously reminisce on old days.”
Lider enters his senior season at Montana with four years of experience during an era where the Griz kicking game has seen its ups and downs.
As a redshirt freshman in 2012, Lider saw success, going 15-21 on his field goal attempts, earning an honorable mention spot on the All-Conference team that season. His 82 points ranked him 17th on UM’s single-season scoring list.
Lider also kicked a career long field goal of 46 yards that year against Liberty, and tied a school record for PATs by going 10/10 against Idaho State. Not bad for a first year.
As with any college football position, competition for spots comes and goes. While Lider saw time in 2013 and 2014, he performed most of his kicking as a backup to Steven Shaw. Now, in his fifth year in the program, he sees his time to contribute.
“For myself, just want to be able to contribute, and be a key part of the team by filling that punting role,” said Lider. “I know I’m filling big shoes with Shaw, but I know I’m willing and capable of doing it. I did a little last year, so I’m excited for that.”
Excitement builds confidence, and they say confidence leads to better on-field performance. As the first kick of 2015 nears, the coach he has known for so long is enjoying Lider’s progression.
“Chris has done a nice job, including the ups and downs, obviously we’ve had some struggles in the kicking game,” said Suiaunoa. “He’s been there the whole time. To see the confidence he’s been able to get and to step up there and execute and what he’s asked to execute, every year he’s progressed. It’s been fun.”
A steak from Lolo Creek Steak House
Financial Markets and Institutions
The Last Lecture
FAVORITE TV SHOW?
IF A MOVIE WERE MADE OF MY LIFE, I’D WANT THIS ACTOR TO PLAY ME:
Anyone as long as the movie is narrated by Morgan Freeman
THE PERSON IN HISTORY I’D MOST LIKE TO MEET?
John Wooden or Abraham Lincoln
FAVORITE SPORTS OTHER THAN FOOTBALL?
FAVORITE NFL TEAM?
Fly Fishing, Hiking, Camping, Anything Active
MANY PEOPLE DON’T KNOW THIS ABOUT ME:
My brother, Josh, was also a kicker and punter in college. He played at Western Washington and West Virginia. We have both been coached by Coach Legi Suiaunoa (Current DL coach), Coach Kefense Henson (Ex-Offensive Coordinator) and Coach Tori Myers (Ex-Wide Receivers Coach)
THE BIGGEST “CHARACTER” ON THE TEAM IS:
He always has something to say about everything.
MY GREATEST MOMENT IN SPORTS SO FAR IS:
Playing in 2014 Griz/Cat game
IF I WEREN’T PLAYING FOR THE GRIZ, I’D BE:
Missing out on a great experience!
THE THING(S) I LIKE BEST ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF MONTANA IS:
The campus, the people and the atmosphere
MY FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE UM COACHES:
Their love for the game of football
THE REASON I CHOSE TO BE A GRIZ:
I heard so many great things about the fans and the atmosphere… They were definitely correct!
WHY I CHOSE MY MAJOR:
I love math and I like leading people so I figured Finance would give me both of those.
MY PLAN AFTER I GRADUATE IS:
I plan to get a job in the corporate finance world and just enjoy life.
MY FUTURE GOALS ARE:
Have a happy and healthy family.