MISSOULA — When the University of Montana Grizzlies football team heads to the FCS national championship in Frisco, they’ll take more than just their football team.
The UM marching band is raising money to cover their travel expenses to Frisco. While the NCAA does not help with the cost of bringing the band to the championship, UM is committed to seeing its musicians on the field.
The NCAA pays for 145 UM members to attend the championship —and the spots are reserved for the football players, coaching staff, trainers and doctors. With over 100 players on the team and dozens of coaches, there are not enough spots for the marching band, spirit squad, or even Monte.
UM estimates that it will cost about $2,000 per student to travel to Texas. That will cover flights, hotels, bus rentals and meals.
“It's not the kind of thing that you can plan into a yearly budget,” UM band director, Dr. Kevin Griggs, says.
In order to help cover the cost, the band is asking for public support. Any expenses that are not covered through the fundraising will be covered by the University of Montana, according to UM director of strategic communications, Dave Kuntz.
Playing on a national stage will be a first for many of the band members, and will create memories that will go beyond their college careers.
“It's a great experience for us, and like the memories we make on those trips, they last a lifetime,” UM marching band saxophone player Logan Sanders says.
And while away from Washington Grizzly Stadium, the band’s music is still an impactful part of the Griz game day experience.
“It gives the fans something to grab ahold of, you know– a live version of the fight song, some of the tunes that they are used to hearing when they're here at home games– and it makes it feel a little less like a foreign environment and a little bit more like home,” Griggs says. “The team is very focused when they're on the field, they've got jobs to do and they do them very well. What we do is we help to pump up the crowd. We provide that college atmosphere that you don't get anywhere else.”
Sanders has played for the band all five years of his college experience. He says he found an instant community in his fellow musicians.
“It is so much energy all the time. We are constantly dancing, we are constantly yelling, we are constantly chanting, we are constantly playing. For us, it's just exhilarating.”
As a senior, the Frisco championship game will be Sanders last chance to march with the UM band.
“It's mixed feelings,” he says. “It's like, oh, I'm tired. I'm like ready for a break and a change of scenery and life, but it's extremely nostalgic and sad to have it be like this is my last time to play with these people and have this amazing experience.”
Donations to help the band get to Frisco can be made through the UM Foundation.
“We know that we make an impact and all of our fans and the Griz Nation knows that we make an impact, so I think we're gonna have no problem getting there,” Sanders says. “And so I just invite everyone to consider donating and helping us reach our goals and helping us support everyone.”