MISSOULA — The Montana State Bobcats and the Montana Grizzlies compete all of the time. The rivalry can get ugly, but the two sometimes surprise us all with love and compassion.
The daughter of Montana State head men’s basketball coach Brian Fish died three weeks ago. This past Saturday after a tough loss at Montana, Fish started his postgame press conference, unprompted, with a thank you to all of the Grizzlies that gave their support during a tragic time.
“Travis (DeCuire) called. All of the players on Montana reached out. The athletic department from Montana sent flowers. Bobby Hauck wrote my wife and I a letter,” said Fish. “So I understand all of this: ‘I hate the Griz, I hate the Cats, I hate all of this stuff.’ But when there is real-life stuff, the class that Montana showed to my wife and I is certainly appreciated, and is something I won’t forget.”
“When someone goes through things like that, it’s important for people who might not spend every day with someone, might not be their best friend, but know them, to reach out and let them know they are not by themselves,” said Griz head coach Travis DeCuire when he was asked about the kindness later. “Five years ago I had all of these people calling me when I lost my mother. So, I think sometimes it’s that one extra call that gets you through it.”
Fish and DeCuire have been coaching in the rivalry for five years, but they have known each other much longer. They were both assistants in the Pac-12 Conference before taking over the Bobcat and Grizzly programs.