By CHRIS WALTERSKIRCHEN
I was delighted with the news last week that former Griz coach and playe,r Blaine Taylor, had gotten back into coaching. Taylor will be the Associate Head Coach at Cal-Irvine of the Big West Conference. The Anteaters are coming off one of their best seasons ever having reached the title game of the CBI post-season tournament before falling to the Columbia Lions in the title game. Ironically during his playing days Blaine Taylor had a memorable encounter with the Anteaters. In December of 1980 the Griz and Irvine met for the Championship of the KOA Classic in Billings. Irvine featured the national leader in scoring in Kevin Macgee and they had just just beaten No. Texas A&M the previous night. The Griz and Anteaters played into 2 overtimes with the lead never getting larger than 4 points, with the Anteaters pulling out a win. By the way, a former head coach at Irvine was Pat Douglass who had a successful six season run as head coach at MSU-Billings in the 1980’s.
The upcoming addition to their schedule the Griz basketball team will venture to the Virgin Islands the week before Thanksgiving to play in the Holiday Jam. Montana opens against North Carolina State. The Wolf Pack had a losing season last year but has added several potential impact players during the off-season. In the second round Montna will either play Creighton or Washington state.
In the category of “Local Boy Makes Good”, Doug Fullerton is a great example. Fullertonis a Hamilton native who starred for the Broncs in the 1960’s as they tried to make the transition from Class B to Class A. Fullerton was a long-time high school coach in Montana and then became Atheltic Director at Montana State and for the last 21 years the Commissioner of the Big Sky Conference. Fullerton guided the league through the departure of Idaho and Boise State and the additions of Sacremento State, Cal-Northridge, Portland State and the University of North Dakota. He helped guide the league in the modern world of high tech communications. This will be Fullerton’s last week as Commisioner but his legacy will live on in the Conference for many years.
For the first time since the creation of the FCS classification in football a member school that plays football at the FCS level has reached the finals of the NCAA baseball tournament. Coastal Carolina has become a player on the FCS play-off stage (including a win in Missoula in 2013) and now the Chanticleers carry the banner of smaller schoosl into thebaseball championship series.
Chris Walterskirchen has been an observer of Montana sports for nearly half a century. A Kalispell native, Chris has worked in various capacities for professional and college sports organization of at various times: ranging from announcing and statistical work to the concessions and even a stint as a costumed mascot.
Chris has academic degrees in communications and elementary education. His style of sports trivia involves more than just who won and who lost, but also focuses on the obscure or human side of sports. In this blog you will learn things like the Grizzly football team has won 210 games over the 19 seasons since they have had Monte as their mascot or that UNLV is the only school that both the Griz and Lady Griz have both faced in the NCAA basketball tournament
When not following sports Chris enjoys taking care of animals of all kinds (a peacock rescue?) and reading to pre-schoolers.