GRIZ GRIT: The Value of In-State Athletes

By Beacon Staff

Former University of Montana tight end Dan Beaudin is indeed a rare breed.

From a northwest Montana high school in Noxon, with a student population about the size of the Grizzly football scholarship roster, he not only excelled as part of the best tight end tandem in school history, but also in lettering in three different sports. He accomplished something few modern day athletes have.

But after a Miami mini-camp tryout the player called “Chief” by his teammates, not because of his ethnicity but because of his leadership qualities, will put the cleats aside and move to the next phase of his life.

Married last year to Danielle, the two-time All-Academic and three-time Honorable Mention All-League choice will take his education degree and hope to land an elementary teaching position in the Missoula area.

Beaudin is not just a rare breed because of his athletic prowess, impressive as it is, but because of his attitude, an attribute that I treasured during the time I spent with him during his five years at UM.

An impressive looking guy at 6-foot-5 and close to two and a half bills, he cut a wide swath to be sure, but he did so in a humble, straight-forward non-entitlement manner that surely comes from his upbringing in a town about the size of a postage stamp.

Heck, there are more student athletes at UM than there are people in Noxon, where just 25 percent of the population have college degrees. One of four Beaudin boys of Ken and Kathy, his three brothers joined the military after high school.

Suffice to say when Dan came to the Missoula campus he was going to have to prove he was worthy of an eventual scholarship. But his blue-collar work ethic epitomizes what has made Montana football so successful in recent years.

I was talking to new UM offensive line coach Bob Beers during a recent golf tournament in Ronan about just that, and he pointed out that starting with Don Read in 1985 the Grizzlies have made their living with blue-collar, hard-working earn-their-way-to-the-field Montana kids who come to campus with the proper grounding to be successful.

The list is deep and headed by recent graduates Kroy Biermann of Hardin, Colt Anderson of Butte, Lex Hilliard of Kalispell, Mark Mariani of Havre, Shann Schillinger of Baker and Dan Carpenter of Helena, all currently on professional rosters.

Now surely they aren’t all success stories like Beaudin. Some can’t handle the rigors of balancing campus, class and athletic life and never find their way to the field. But make your way down the Grizzly roster and count the Treasure State products and you’re bound to agree it is indeed an impressive list.

And that’s sure not lost on new Head Coach Robin Pflugrad, who decreed early on that his staff would visit every Montana high school this year and few have escaped notice.

Yes Dan Beaudin will go on with his life and in so doing will positively influence, hopefully, future Grizzlies by telling them there are few athletic limitations – even playing eight-man football in a school with 65 students – if you put your hard hat on, display a positive attitude and sprinkle your work ethic with enthusiasm on a daily basis.

With the limitation of 13 scholarships in men’s hoops compared to 15 on the women’s side, fewer of those over-achiever types have the opportunity to play at UM.

Let’s hope that in football the Grizzlies are able to continue to butter their bread with in-state athletes.