(Editor's note: Carroll College athletics release)
HELENA -- By 2024, the Carroll College Football team will have experienced a decade of consecutive service from the McGrees.
In a lot of ways, the family’s legacy is tied to Carroll College.
When Connor McGree (‘18) signed on to play football for the Saints, he was hardly the first of the McGrees, and Laceys, to pursue higher education in Helena. The family’s blood has run Purple and Gold for quite some time.
The McGree’s mother, Erin (‘88), uncles Steve and Pat, grandfather Con Lacey (‘61) and great grandfather William Lacey all once walked the campus of Carroll College -- though in great grandfather William’s case, the school was known then as Mount Saint Charles College over a century ago. (Carroll College became the school’s name in 1932). And while these are some of the McGrees that made their marks at Carroll College, the family’s athletic and collegiate net casts far and wide across the region. Cousins Whitney McGree (track and field) and Kathleen McGree(basketball) also have their stakes in Carroll athletics.
There have been so many members of the extended McGree family coming through Carroll College that students on campus presume them to all be one set of siblings.
Connor McGree restarted the Butte family’s pipeline in the 2010s. He graduated in 2018 with a degree in Civil Engineering after a football career that saw him shift from tight end to a starting center on the offensive line. His younger sister and brothers would become Fighting Saints thereafter.
Now it’s siblings Lacey McGree, a recent 2020 graduate with a degree in Biology, Nate McGree, entering his senior season as a linebacker and working toward a degree in business marketing and management, and Thomas McGree, an incoming freshman on the football team and currently undecided on a major, who are carrying the torch.
Sports bonded the McGrees growing up.
“It was awesome growing up with Connor, Lacey, and Thomas playing sports because we always wanted to one up each other and no matter what happened we were always happy for one another,” Nate said.
While it’s the male McGrees that many Saints football fans are familiar with, the boys know just how good of an athlete and competitor Lacey is within her own right.
“My family knows this, but I would say Lacey is the toughest person in the family,” Connor said. “She's taking some serious injuries while trying to keep all of us boys in line.”
Connor, Nate, Lacey and Thomas all did track in high school. The sport allowed them to be together and support each other. Connor and Lacey both look back at it as some of their favorite memories with their siblings.
“It was very fun to travel with them and be able to cheer them on and vice versa,” Lacey said.
Connor McGree seconded fond memories of high school track.
“If I could group them together it would be high school track with my uncles coaching and siblings and cousins on the team,” Connor said.
Connor also relishes the opportunities he had to play football in college with Nate.
“It was awesome because then he was around that much more and just adds to those gamedaystories,” Connor said.
Nate McGree remembered beating Montana Tech in Butte during Connor’s senior year as an extra special memory -- especially for the Butte natives.
And the football memories go back for the youngest McGrees too.
When Nate was a senior in high school, Thomas was just testing the waters as a freshman.
“They were beating a team pretty bad so the JV went in and I went to quarterback,” Thomas McGree recalled. “I scored and Nate was the first person on the field to congratulate me so it was pretty cool.”
And while the uber-competitive siblings made no pacts to attend Carroll together -- each weighed their options carefully -- all have enjoyed the college memories they’ve made and will continue to make. Though, each McGree brother knew having a chance to play college football together sweetened the pot.
“Being able to share so many great stories with Nate is awesome,” Connor McGree said. “Looking back and telling stories that he might not remember but I do and vice versa has been a lot of fun. It's a time and group that people can never take away from you.”
Nate and Thomas will continue the McGree tradition at Carroll next fall -- while Nate finishes his senior year and Thomas looks forward to the beginning of his college experience.
“It’s been a great place so far for the first three of our kids,” Erin Lacey McGree said. “ I hope Thomas enjoys it as much in the coming years.”