GRIZ GRIT: The Best Part of the Year

By MICK HOLIEN for the Flathead Beacon

It’s just about my favorite time of year.

I’m not a winter sports nut and not extremely fond of sub-freezing temperatures. And since I live in the woods near a mountain at the end of a 100-yard driveway off an unmaintained gravel road, I don’t especially like abundant snowfall.

But I do cherish the overlap in sports seasons, which in my case involves college football and basketball.

Sometimes when I go out the door there’s a basketball event preceding an early-morning football trip or vice versa. But the challenge of doubling the work load and immersing another 30 or so hoop games into the last half of football season is indeed enjoyable to me.

I’d have a hard time choosing my favorite because each brings different challenges and all types of enjoyment. But I find the pace of basketball and the proximity to the action – I do have the best seat in the house unless we are playing at Cameron Indoor Stadium – let an announcer participate at a level far greater than football, where in most cases you are far removed.

At many venues I choose to be seated next to the Grizzly bench, which, although it’s hard to see around the last two coaches, takes me right inside the huddle during timeouts. It allows me to hear the dialogue with players and other coaches and referees, and makes it possible to fully engage in the action.

I often chat up the officials and have become good friends with some of the veterans. And many Griz fans engage with me, even I have the headsets on and am talking.

Well, remember this isn’t rocket science and I’m a pretty good multi-tasker.

The other thing about hoops – and you’ve probably heard me say this before – I really enjoy getting acquainted with a new group of older teenagers each year. Because the travel party is so much smaller in basketball than it is in football, I develop much closer relationships in hoops than in football. But there are several other things at play here as well.

Basketball action is so fast and furious you really don’t have much time other than to describe what is occurring, hoping that your words match the excitement and athleticism of the play.

And you see a play developing much quicker when you are right in the action near mid-court. And, unless you’re screened, you can anticipate a play developing and add an adequate description.

But make no mistake, switching back and forth between the two sports on consecutive days tests your mettle, preparation, eyes, concentration and, most of all, endurance.

The hoops schedule is set with several conflicts with football. Practice is soon to start – the Lady Griz are already on the floor – and the annual maroon-silver scrimmage is later this month. And my workload is about to double.

And believe me, I’m one lucky guy.

Like this GRIZ GRIT Blog by Voice of the Griz Mick Holien?  Check out his Griz Grit Archive.


Now in his 27th year of broadcasting University of Montana football or basketball games, award winning journalist Mick Holien has a unique and insightful perspective on collegiate athletics.